Allow Your Clients to Schedule Their Own Appointments

Do you ever play phone tag when trying to schedule appointments with your clients? We've got a great solution for you. A couple months ago, we signed up for an online appointment scheduler called TimeTrade. We absolutely love how easy it is for our customers/clients to make appointments with our company. It has saved time for both our company and our customers/clients.

integrates with your existing Outlook or Google calendar. You can create multiple event types with different blocks of time. When a client selects a desired time, your Outlook or Google calendar is automatically filled in with their information.

Try it for yourself for 30-day free trial. The single user price per year is only $49.

Want to see how easy it is to create an activity with TimeTrade, watch this video on YouTube.


Marketing with Facebook

I listened to a great webinar today hosted by Gail Dody with Design Success University presented by Amy Porterfield. The subject was marketing with Facebook. Amy is a very engaging down to earth speaker. Visit her on Facebook and like her page, you're sure to get lots of great marketing tips from her.

She also mentioned that she was one of three authors that wrote the book "Facebook Marketing All-in-One for Dummies." This book discusses everything you ever wanted to know about how to effectively use Facebook as a marketing tool. Check out the book, it has a wealth of information. Amy shared a lot of great tips on the webinar today. Thanks Gail for having the insight to have Amy do a presentation today.


You Won't Believe What Your Mobile Phone Can Do Now!

Have you seen these funny looking squares that resemble a computer chip and wondered what the heck? You've probably noticed them on printed materials you're receiving in the mail. They're showing up everywhere! Or, you might have even noticed them on a few business cards. Keep reading to see how to begin using those funny looking squares today.

First, let me explain how and why these codes are used. They are called QR Codes (Quick Response) and they are able to be read with an app in mobile phones such as iPhone, Android and Blackberry. These unique scanner apps read the QR Code and instantly displays any type of information from the vendor's website, a shopping cart page, or contact details.

You can even generate your own QR Code to add to your marketing materials. We're in the process of adding QR Codes to our business cards, brochures, flyers . . . well you get the picture. You can generate a different QR Code that is specific to each marketing piece. For instance, your brochure QR Code might take a person directly to the homepage of your website. A QR Code on a flyer might take your client to a specific page on your website. A QR Code on your business card could give them your contact details. In this world of technology, it's all about giving our clients the information they want RIGHT NOW!

Below is example of a QR Code online generator that can create a QR Code for your business card by using the Create a meCard option. If you want to create a QR Code to direct someone to your website you would simply click on the drop down menu and select Bookmark a website. There are several QR Code generators available on the web. We selected Qrafter, anyone can visit this website and generate QR Codes for free, however, their current mobile phone app is only for iOS devices which are the iPhone and iPad. I also like Mobiletag and their app is for Andriod, Blackerry and iPhone users. Download an app for your phone today; be prepared to take interesting journeys with your phone.

You can upgrade to the Pro Pack ($2.99) and create QR Codes right from your iPhone.


Paying & Reimbursing Yourself in QuickBooks

Yesterday, Vickie Ayres, The Countess of QuickBooks, hosted our free monthly QuickBooks webinar and discussed the topic of how to pay and reimburse yourself in QuickBooks. She also demonstrated clever ways of making sure everything is tracked in QuickBooks properly. Below is an article from Vickie based on the webinar. The recording of yesterday's webinar will be available for purchase in our shopping cart next week.

Paying and Reimbursing Yourself in QuickBooks
by Vickie Ayres

How to decide to pay and reimburse yourself can be a difficult question, especially when you first open your business. Almost all new businesses have to re-invest most of their profit back into the business. Think about how much it would cost to replace yourself doing the tasks you do. If you hired someone to do your job, what is the going rate in your area? That is the minimum base rate you should choose to pay yourself. Some business owners pay themselves based on a percentage of the job, sometimes that is easier in the beginning when cash flow is tight.

After deciding how much, let's look at how to enter that in your QuickBooks company file. You will want to discuss this with your accountant of course, as everyone's entity and personal situation will vary. If you create payroll for employees, you can make yourself an "Employee" and pay yourself, letting payroll taxes accrue as you go along. This is how I have paid myself for years. Pay as you go and even it all up at the end of the year on your tax returns.

You need two accounts in your Chart of Accounts to show money drawn and money invested. Depending on your entity type there will be different account names for each entity. Essentially, whether it is a Partner Draw or an Owners Draw, the name is different but the concept is the same. Your company has money, it isn't taxed yet, and you want to put it in your pocket. That's OK, it's your money.

Below are three examples of Chart of Accounts's set up as three different entity types, notice how they have similar names for the money drawn and money invested equity accounts?

Owner Draw

Partner Draw


What your accountant and the government care about is that when you take or put money into your company, you record that information correctly. Show how much you take and how much you put in, so the accountant can arrange it all on your tax return at the end of the year and assess the proper payroll and income taxes on it.

If you don't create payroll you can write yourself a "Draw" check, remember to use the equity account in your Chart of Accounts that is for draws, don't get hung up on the difference in names in the different types of entities. Here is an example of a check written to the owner of the company for $1000.00 as a salary.

The other thing you need to account for is business expenses that you make with personal funds or credit cards. Very, very important to keep track of these. You can do them as you go but most people let them pile up in a file and reimburse these expenses periodically. This money that you "invest" in your company is money you can take out of your company with no payroll or income taxes assessed; it is money the government has already taxed. Let's look at two ways to get that expense posted in QuickBooks and/or pay yourself back.

If you want to pay yourself back just write yourself, a check and use the appropriate expense account. If you used your personal credit card to buy some paper at Office Max, below is a check showing how to pay yourself back.

Now here is the really cool trick, how to enter the expense and NOT pay yourself back right now. We are going to create a "Zero Sum Transaction in a Clearing Account." Won't you look smart at your next tax appointment throwing that fancy phrase out on the desk? It's very easy!
  • Create a new bank account called "Clearing Account" (List > Chart of Accounts > right-click, select "New" > Type, Bank > Save & Close.
  • Now create a check and make sure you choose the "Clearing Account this time, the example below shows the same copy paper expense, but it makes an expense number for Office Supplies and an Investment entry for the amount invested.
  • Notice there are two entries on the expense tab. The second entry uses the Owner's Capital: Investments account and the exact same amount in negative format was entered.

You can stack numerous transactions on the same check here. Simply list all of the transactions with explanations and make just one entry with the negative number for the investment, like this...

If you use QuickBooks in your design business you need Minutes Matter QuickBooks & Quoting! Included with your purchase is a free one-on-one set up with Vickie, The Countess of QuickBooks, to make sure you're off to the perfect start with our QuickBooks & Quoting.


Use your phone to accept a credit card payment from your client

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Hi ~Contact.FirstName~,

Do you accept credit card payments from your clients? If not, now might be a great time to seriously consider it, if you have an iPhone, iPad, Android or Blackberry phone. I have read about Intuit's GoPayment device with interest for sometime, but decided I didn't want to pay for the reader or additional monthly fee.

Recently, I was on the phone with Intuit and the person mentioned GoPayment and how Intuit had made big changes in regards to GoPayment. They are now offering a TOTALLY FREE reader to everyone with a low swipe rate of 1.6%. The GoPayment App to install on your device is also free. All business owners that accept credit cards know if you can actually swipe the client's credit card the discount rate is much lower. All the sudden, I began to sit up and listen with great interest. He went on to say since I was already using Intuit's merchant services for the Desktop version of QuickBooks they would simply add GoPayment to my existing account with NO additional monthly charge. Immediately, I was sold. Of course, I confirmed this offer didn't have any hidden charges and I quizzed him over all the terms and conditions. There is no contract, you can cancel at anytime and it is extremely easy to sign up as new merchant with Intuit. I think he told me the monthly fee is $11.99 per month.

I received my FREE reader this week. Dandelion Interiors is ready to accept charges using our iPhones or iPad. Did I mention Jerry and I love our iPhones? Jerry and I both tested the reader on our phones and indeed it works as advertised. You can even void a charge right from your phone. Absolutely, love it! Isn't technology amazing?

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Join Webinars from your iPad

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I had to share some exciting news from Citrix with all of you that have an iPad or that are thinking about getting an iPad. I attended a webinar yesterday via my iPad ~ WOW! All I did was click on the webinar link in my email and I instantly began to connect. I wasn't even prompted to enter my name and email, my iPad did that automatically. The audio and video worked perfectly with no lag time. Love the ability to zoom by tapping and pinching. I connected to the webinar via our office WiFi; using a 3G connection will use too much of your 3G plan. Just one more reason to think about getting an iPad.

Citrix (GoToMeeting) announced this week that you can now join webinars on your iPad. Download the free app from the Apple App Store and join meetings on your iPad in seconds. This exciting addition to GoToMeeting, built specifically for the iPad, makes online meetings more accessible than ever. Use your iPad to attend online meetings on the go - at a café, in a hotel, wherever you happen to be.

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Using GoToMeeting on an iPad, you can:
  • Attend online meetings wherever you are - at no charge.
  • Join meetings in seconds by tapping a link in an email or enter the meeting ID in GTM App
  • View presentations, mockups and reports - whatever the presenter shares on-screen.
  • Connect to audio through your iPad or over the phone.
  • Pinch to zoom meeting content.
  • Switch between portrait and landscape.
  • Increase the viewer size with a double tap of the finger.
Using GoToMeeting on an iPad, you can't:
  • Ask questions (Citrix is working on adding this functionality)
  • Raise your hand
NOTE: To enjoy webinars without internet interruption, I recommend you join a webinar only when using a WiFi connection.

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I recently purchased an stand for my iPad. A stand is a perfect solution when I need hands-free viewing for webinars or when I'm cooking. Did I mention I love allrecipes.com?


Do you feel the need for speed?

Have you ever checked your internet speed? Occasionally, everyone should check their internet speed to confirm they're actually getting the speed they're paying for. There are several speed tests that will clock your download & upload speed. The download speed will be the most important test, since 95% of the time you're surfing the internet, viewing videos or downloading files and images. You would only use the upload speed when you're uploading a file to a forum or sending an email with an attachment.

Do you feel the need for speed? Check out your internet speed by clicking on one of the links below. Check your speed multiple times as your speed will vary based on the time of day.

Below are the speed test results from a few of the Minutes Matter team:

  • Minutes Matter Office ~ Comcast Business Class Internet 22Mbps ($99 per month) our download speed ranges between 16 - 24 Mbps. (see screenshot above)
  • Anna, Studio's Tech Support ~ Comcast personal ($52 per month) her download speed ranges between 9 - 12 Mbps.
  • Vickie, QuickBooks Tech Support ~ Hughes Network (she lives in a rural area and paid one upfront fee) her download speed ranges between 5.79 - 5.82 Mbps.
  • Merlyn, Studio's Coach ~ Comcast personal ($55 per month) her download speed ranges between 15 - 32 Mbps. (Merlyn, you're kicking with that 32 Mbps)
Do you have to wait several seconds for a website to load or 15 - 30 minutes to download a software program like Studio? If so, you're experiencing a slower internet connection. The normal time to download our Studio software should be 2 - 7 minutes. More than likely your IP (internet provider) offers multiple speed levels of course a higher price tag comes with the higher speed. Contact your IP and find out if you're actually receiving the speed you're paying for. If you're paying for the lowest speed you might consider increasing your speed to the next level. In this day and time none of us like to wait. We all want instant results. Today, so much of our design research is done on the internet; business owners need a fast connection to reduce wait times. DSL connections are typically a little slower than cable speeds. Mobile Broadbands or Aircards are slower than DSL with speeds ranging from 1 - 3 Mbps. Hardwiring your computer to your router will increase your internet speed. The further away your laptop is from your router the slower the connection. When possible, try to download large files and watch videos when you're hardwired.


Four Great Ways to Use Twitter for Your Design Business

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Have you signed up for an account with Twitter? If not, you should sign now and secure your company name and your personal name. I know what you're thinking, I don't care what people are eating for dinner or when they are going to sleep. And you're right most people don't care about that type of chatter. Twitter is much more than when people are eating or when they are sleeping. I use Twitter for multiple reasons and I keep finding more ways all the time.
My top four reasons to use Twitter:
  • Search a topic: Twitter is a great vehicle to search a what people are saying on a specific topic or product. Almost EVERY business has a Twitter handle. (That's definitely a reason you should sign up for a Twitter account today, if you haven't already.)
  • Your website: For those of you that have new and updated website, you can add your Twitter feed on the homepage of your website. Your homepage will always feel fresh and up to date. You never know when a visitor might see a Tweet that peaks their interest. It might prompt them to pick up the phone an make an appointment. Best of all Tweeting is free! Your clients will begin to know, like and trust you through Tweeting. See screenshot of our new Minutes Matter website. Casey is working hard again!
  • What's happening at a conference? Hashtags are another great way to use Twitter. Attending a seminar, market, convention or trade show? Search to see if the event has created a hashtag. Using a hashtag is totally different than following someone on Twitter. Here's how they work. Say that you were attending an event and the event promoted the hashtag #hpfall (High Point Fall Market) every Tweet that includes #hpfall will be organized and listed into that specific search. Say you're at a conference and the presenter has some great tips or inspiring ideas; you could Tweet what you think; don't forget to include the hashtag. Everyone that searches the hashtag can see all those Tweets. When lots of people are Tweeting during a conference using the same hashtag, people that aren't able to attend the conference could get a glimpse of what's happening at the conference and what they are missing. The next conference Minutes Matter is attending will be the WCAA Inspire 2011 conference. Hopefully, they are reading this ezine and will create the hashtag #wcaainspire hint, hint!! We have created a hashtag for our monthly webinars. If you didn't receive your webinar confirmation or have a question or comment during the webinar you can Tweet using the #mmwebinar hashtag. We'll be monitoring the hashtag during every webinar as well as one hour prior to the webinar. Here's an example of a Tweet using a hashtag: I'm trying to join the Studio Live webinar today, HELP! #mmwebinar
  • Vendor Help! Tweet a question to a vendor, post a concern (be nice), or better yet give a testimonial. Recently, I was having trouble with my Comcast Business internet. I Tweeted: "@comcast My internet has been intermittent for two weeks. Hard to do business!" A tech had already come and gone trying to correct the issue, but couldn't find the problem. After my Tweet, I received a reply within 30 minutes, asking me to email them with more details. I emailed them the details, my area Comcast supervisor called me personally and dispatched three techs to come out the next day. I now have the supervisor's cell phone number. Love that! I am happy to report my internet issues seems to be a thing of the past. Of course, I also Tweeted about their great customer service.

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Minutes Matter's new website ~ Coming Soon!

I usually try to Tweet one - three times a day. Of course, you'll want to keep your Tweets short and sweet because you're only allowed 140 characters per Tweet. I love using Seesmic, I can view most of my social networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn all in one place.

If you would like to follow me on Twitter search @minutesmatter. Have a question or comment about Studio or need to get activated? Tweet us!


My Dogs Ate My Rendering!

Below is an email Merlyn received after today's Studio Live webinar. Merlyn copied me on the email and I laughed out loud when I read it. Susann gladly gave us permission to post her email. It is really funny when things like this aren't happening to you.


"Hi Merlyn, Great webinar today (as usual!). I have to tell you about how Studio saved me a trip recently... I have two dogs that I rescued 5 years ago. They were holy terrors when I first got them and have come a long way since then, but they still have a few "quirks" that drive me crazy. I had just heard from a client that she wanted to go with one of my renderings for her MBR, and she asked me to send her a quote. I said sure, got her folder out and went to another room to get my calculator. By the time I got back to my desk, her folder had been ripped to shreds and partially eaten by one (or both, who knows?) of the dogs. (Yeah, two years ago they did that to my taxes just as I was going to deliver them to my accountant). Anyway, as I sifted through the shards of paper, I found my initial measurements showing all but the length of the window being quoted. I wanted to get that quote in the mail that day and not have to wait a few days to go out to measure yet again. Then it dawned on me...when I did the rendering for that window, I did it on a photo and used the set scale tool. So, I checked the rendering and had the measurement that was close enough to do the quote! Bet you haven't heard that one before!! I told the client (who also has dogs) who got a big kick out of the story (as did my accountant two years ago)...I'm so glad everyone else thinks it's so funny!
Susann S.
Pittsburgh, PA"

Susann, I know your dogs aren't as bad as the dog in the photo, but I thought the photo added a bit more humor to your story. Thanks for sharing!

Do you have a story you would like to share regarding how you have used Studio?


How to Build Year-end Momentum and Profit for Your Interior Design Business

I read a great book in June that said that your revenue and profits are a lagging indicator of the quality and quantity of your relationships. Boom! That one statement was worth reading the entire book.

How well are you doing on a scale of 1 – 10 for relationship building? Be honest with yourself. Your numbers are the symptom of the problem.

Every relationship is important, yet some are more important than others. Your relationship with your current and past clients is the fastest way you can get more business. What are you doing to nurture those relationships? Are you keeping in touch frequently and more than just for job reasons?

What about past clients? Do you have a nurturing program to keep them informed? Do you have a monthly newsletter that you send either physically or digitally?

What about your referral partners? Are you constantly seeking to build relationships with the top advisors who serve prospects you prefer to work with?

Here are seven tips to transform your results:

  1. Start a 12-touch program prospects, clients and referral partners. Plan this in advance and have an intern, virtual assistant or junior designer manage the process.
  2. Invest in lots of cards – thank you, sympathy, congratulations, birthday, anniversary, new house, etc. Have note cards printed with your branding and carry them in your car with stamps and a pen. Literally write a thank you note after you meet someone new. Add their name to your database immediately (delegate), and follow up frequently with offers of connections for them.
  3. Ask your current clients about other projects they’ve considered and make an offer for a new service. (50% is the typical close rate)
  4. Contact your past clients to “check in” and see how they are doing. Let them know you’re doing a short survey to improve your services, and would like their feedback. Ask for a testimonial if you haven’t gotten one from them in the past, and of course, ask for referrals if they are happy and not interested in a new project. It’s a perfect time to remind them that they can get projects done by the holidays if you start now. Give them an incentive to do so. (33% is typical close rate)
  5. Have a “Client Appreciation” party and have them invite a friend they think might be interested in your services. Create a memorable event, and even invite a local celebrity. It can be less expensive than you think.
  6. Make a list of the most connected and influential advisors in your city, and reach out to them to meet. Ask them if you could get their advice about how they grew their businesses so successfully. Keep the interview short. Find out what their biggest challenge is in their business and ask how you would know someone who would be an ideal client for them. Always send a thank you note. Maintain your contacts frequently.
  7. High visibility creates implied credibility. Get published frequently in magazines and newspapers, get interviewed on TV or radio, send out press releases online and offline, get involved in one major charity that you are interested in, and speak locally and nationally. You can even write an eBook that you can publish on Amazon.

What’s your favorite way to build your business?

Gail Doby, ASID is an author, speaker, writer, interior designer, and Chief Vision Officer of Design Success University, your shortcut to a more profitable and passion-filled design business. Click here for your complimentary copy of the Interior Design Fee and Salary Survey eBook. ($79 Value) You’ll also receive our complimentary weekly newsletter, New IDEAS.


Is it easy to do business with your company? WiseStamp can help!

What's in your signature? Okay, I played on the Capital One credit card slogan What's in your wallet? Have you given thought to the fact that your email signature could be marketing for you? Your email signature can be an effective way to give clients a glimpse of who you are and what you're doing. The same concept applies to emails to your family and friends.

All of us at Minutes Matter use the WiseStamp App for our email signatures. WiseStamp is a downloadable add-on for Firefox, Chrome and Safari and can be used with Gmail, Yahoo, AOL or Hotmail. Last week, I decided I wanted to make my life even easier and upgraded to the Pro version of WiseStamp. For years I used the free version, but lately I began to visualize more possibilities if I were to upgrade. When you upgrade you can create unlimited signatures, assign email accounts to a specific signatures, remove the WiseStamp promo link and more. When I send an email, I feel compelled to include a signature that is appropriate to the recipient(s), therefore, I would spend time editing signatures. Think about the emails you receive with and without out customized signatures. How do they make you feel? Are more emotions triggered with a carefully crafted signature?

Have you ever received an email and wanted to know a little more about that person or company? What if your email signature sparked an interest in you or your company. When you include your Twitter feed and post on Twitter once a day, not only will you begin to increase your web presence you'll begin to let your customer know, like, and trust you. Tweets can definitely begin to create a buzz. Since the Twitter feed displays your latest tweet your content will always be current.

You can add other social links like Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Calendar, Plancast, favorite quotes, blogs and so much more. With the Pro version you can even add a custom banner with your company logo. Below are a couple examples of my signatures.

Minutes Matter signature ~ I include all my social links that pertain to Minutes Matter or Debbie Green. Anytime I send an email on behalf of debbie@minutesmatter.com my Minutes Matter signature automatically displays.

Also, note the three circles in the screenshot below; the circles highlight ways you can access WiseStamp. Simply click on the WiseStamp icon and click Edit Wisestamp.

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Dandelion Interiors signature ~ In my Dandelion Interiors signature I include all social links that pertain to Dandelion Interiors and Debbie Green. Of course, some like Facebook, LinkedIn, Plancast and About.me are the same for both of my businesses. Anytime I send an email on behalf of debbie@dandelioninteriors.com my Dandelion Interiors signature automatically displays.

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My Family signature ~ This signature is very informal with a casual photo, however, I included my social links since my family loves to know what I am up to and where I am going.

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My Mom signature ~ I decided to create a mom signature when I email my two sons, it seemed to give be more of the sentiment I want to convey. I even included one of my favorite scriptures about not worrying about tomorrow and being happy today. Since I have unlimited signatures I can create, why not? When my two granddaughters get old enough to email me I'll create a grandmother/DG (DG is the name my granddaughters call me) signature. It will include a casual photo of me and the two girls.

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I also created a friends/church signature which is very similar to my family signature. The closing and my signature are the only two differences.

Time Saver: WiseStamp allows you to save and backup all signatures to the WiseStamp server. Which, in turn allows you to download the signatures to all of your computers. Setup signatures once and you're done! When you make any changes to your signatures make sure you go into the WiseStamp Settings and Save & Backup.

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Presentations Have the Power to Change Lives

Last week I attended a B2B marketing conference in Boston hosted by MarketingProfs. The event was fabulous and very thought provoking! The speakers were incredible. Nancy Duarte, one of the keynote speakers, she spoke on the how to present powerful and persuasive presentations. Nancy's voice was calm but extremely engaging. Her presentation left everyone wanting more. Watch the video below to get a feel of what I experienced. Tweets were flying right and left giving her high marks and sharing mini highlights of her session. You can check out all of the Tweets for Nancy's keynote speech by performing a search in Twitter on #mpb2b @nancyduarte. Wow, who wouldn't want these type of comments during and after a presentation?

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After her presentation, most of us in the audience began to ponder how we could improve and apply what we had learned to our own presentations. She released a book last fall which complemented her presentation. Check out her book and reviews on Amazon. Of course, I had to purchase her new book, Resonate, and get a signed copy.

Here are my five top takeaways from Nancy's presentation:
  • Remind your audience how things are now
  • Enlighten your audience how things can be
  • Tell your audience stories
  • Make your audience laugh
  • Show your audience the new bliss
Nancy's book explains step-by-step how to develop these type of memorable presentations. The book is also chock-full of beautiful illustrations. Creating powerful and engaging presentations is great skill set to add to your designer's toolkit.


Save Passwords with LastPass

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Recently I discussed how to setup and use Xmarks, in this article I'll discuss how LastPass can save all of your secure data, passwords and even fill out forms for you. It seems the more you're on the internet the more passwords you end up creating. Keeping up with passwords can be a daunting task.

You can sign up for a free account or their premium account which gives you access to a few more features. Premium accounts can sync bookmarks with their phone. The Premium account bundle with LastPass & Xmarks is $20 per year. I think it is worth every penny. Browse their website and watch the videos below and I think you'll be convinced LastPass is the perfect solution for your password dilemma.

Lastpass Features:
Click Here to Download LastPass

Things I love about LastPass:
  • Form Filling: You'll want to create at least two form fill profiles, one for personal and one for business. When I want to purchase an item for my business from the internet I select my business profile and LastPass fills out the entire form including my business credit card information if applicable. When LastPass detects a fillable form a pop-up appears asking if you would like to auto-fill the form. Great time saver!
  • Secure Notes: I really love this feature. You can add multiple types of secure notes i.e. Credit Cards, Bank Accounts, Email Accounts, etc. (see screenshot below) Very easy to look up any secure information from your phone.
  • Access from your Phone: Access your secure information from your phone when you subscribe to the premium version. NOTE: You always enter the main password to access LastPass on your phone.
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(LastPass Secure Note ~ Types)


iPad case with keyboard

Recently, I was in Boston at a MarketingProfs event B2B Forum. There were lots of amazing tech savvy business owners there. During the sessions many were tweeting highlights of the sessions via their laptop or iPad. I found one person using the Kenningston iPad case with a keyboard. Wow, I loved it. It is so compact and easy to use if you want to take notes. And you can't beat an iPad for a lightweight note taking device. I have a thin cover for my iPad which I use most of the time. I would use this case with the keyboard when I am going to a seminar, convention or any meeting I will be taking notes. Very handy.


Create Design Projects Faster with Xmarks

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In my recent iPad posts I've mentioned Xmarks and promised to elaborate on exactly what Xmarks can do for your company. Xmarks is a synchronization tool that allows you to sync bookmarks across all of your browsers and devices. This is one of my most favorite time saving tools I use in my business. I can logon to any of my devices and be able to access the same exact bookmarks. When Owen, my son, showed me Xmarks several years ago I downloaded it immediately and went right to work getting my Firefox browser organized. I guarantee you'll love it.

You can sign up for a free account or their premium account which gives you access to a few more features. Premium accounts can sync bookmarks with their phone. The Premium account bundle with Last Pass (a secure online password keeper) is $20 per year. I think it is worth every penny. (Last Pass will be explained in a future article.)

Why install Xmarks?
  • Have you ever forgotten a vendor's web address?
  • Have you spend too much time looking through your never ending list of bookmarked websites?
  • Would you like to have your favorite and frequently visited websites one click away?
  • Would you like to have all of your favorite bookmark icons instantly setup when you purchase a new computer? Who doesn't want that!
  • It's easier to recognize an icon (picture) instead of reading text. Website name is displayed when you mouse over an icon.
What type of websites should you save?
  • All fabric vendors
  • All paint vendors
  • All furniture vendors
  • All accessory vendors
  • All hardware vendors
  • All social media websites
  • All business vendors i.e. Comcast, At&T, Verizon, State Government
  • All miscellaneous websites i.e. Shutterfly, YouTube
  • All personal websites i.e. Church, Directv, weather, sports
Ready to get started?
  1. First, visit Xmarks.com and register for an account. You can sign up for the free account or they offer a premium account. I signed up for the premium account since I use Last Pass as my secure online password keeper. TIP: As you signup for the account, don't check any of the browser/search help boxes. They can slow down your internet browsing.
  2. Next, install the Xmarks add-on for each of your browsers. Once Xmarks is installed on your browser, sign into your Xmarks account.
  3. Make sure to enable the Bookmark Toolbar in Firefox; right click next to a tab and place a checkmark next to Bookmarks Toolbar. (see dia. 1) In IE you want to place a checkmark next to the Favorites Bar. I recommend unchecking all other toolbars except for Navigation in Firefox and Menu Bar in IE.
  4. Right click on the toolbar to delete all default Bookmarks that Firefox or IE installed. Make sure you have a totally clean toolbar before you begin to add your favorite bookmarks.The Bookmark Toolbar is located right under your main Navigation Toolbar or Menu Bar. (Tip: In Internet Explorer these toolbars are called Menu Bar and Favorites Bar.)
  5. Let the fun begin! Visit EVERY website you use on a regular basis and drag the icon to the Bookmark Toolbar. That's right, just grab the icon and drag it down to the Toolbar.(TIP This icon is located next to place where you enter a website) (see dia. 2)
  6. Right click on every icon that has an image > click Properties > delete Name > (DO NOT delete the location) > click Save. The text take up valuable space on the Toolbar.
  7. In Firefox, you can group all similar types of websites together on your Toolbar. Right click beside each desired grouping and select New Separator. You can easily move icons by dragging them to another location on the Toolbar.
  8. Create separate profiles one for work, another for home and a mini profile for your phone. (I created two profiles, one for work/home and a mini profile for my phone.) Profiles can be renamed. IMPORTANT: First, create a home/work toolbar with all favorites and then you can uncheck the unnecessary bookmarks for the mini phone profile. NOTE: Phone sync is a premium feature. Profiles can be managed on the Xmarks website.
  9. I found a great video on YouTube EXCEPT he does enable the Bookmark Toolbar. He demonstrates the old fashion way of keeping bookmarks. What's the matter with him? Dia. 1 & dia. 2 illustrates an example of the Bookmark Toolbar. The toolbar is the secret to less clicking.

ezine: xmarks toolbar3
dia. 1 (Firefox - uncheck all unnecessary toolbars; I also uncheck Tabs on Top)

dia. 2 (Firefox browser screenshot of Bookmark Toolbar)

ezine: xmarks toolbar2
dia. 2a (Firefox browser additional screenshot of Bookmark Toolbar)

I have found that Xmarks works well in both Firefox and IE. Firefox crams the icons a little closer together, so Firefox still wins out as my default browser. However, the Safari toolbar does not display the icon images. Therefore, on my Mac computer I do not use Safari.


17 Personal Apps for the iPad

Last week, I gave you a list of the my top 13 business apps I use on my iPad. This week I'll share my top 17 personal apps. I have hyperlinked each app to the iTunes App Store. Make sure you keep all of your apps up-to-date. It's amazing how many enhancements the developers add at no cost. If you can't find an app, wait a month or two and search again. New iPad apps are developed and launched everyday. Why use an app instead of visiting a website? iPad apps are specifically designed and formatted to fit the screen size of the iPad and the features and functions are tappable. Is that a word? It is now!

Special Note: There are several apps that are not native iPads apps. The iPad version may still be in development. However, you can still use an app designed for the iPhone by simply clicking on the x2 button in the bottom right corner to enlarge the screen when you open the app. Using the x2 button can make the text appear blurry. :(

My favorite personal apps:
  1. Holy Bible (Free) This app is truly amazing. I use it all the time. You can read scriptures in multiple versions, make notes or bookmark specific text and even perform a search. This app is available for multiple devices. You have the ability to download and store multiple versions on your iPad which eliminates the need for an internet connection.
  2. Allrecipes Pro ($4.99) They have a free version, however, it doesn't sync with the desktop version. You pay a yearly membership fee for enhanced membership. This is one of my favorite sites/apps. I use my iPad to prepare my favorite recipes. No more cookbooks. I enter all my favorite recipes in my account. My chef name is MinutesMatter. Who knew?
  3. My FitnessPal (Free) This app is native to the iPhone, but of course it works just as well on the iPad. This app makes you aware of the food that you eat and tracks your physical activity. 20,411 people have given this app a 5 star rating!
  4. Weber's On the Grill ($4.99) Love to grill? You'll love this app and it is beautifully illustrated.
  5. Yelp Hear what the locals are saying about businesses near you.
  6. Trip Advisor (Free) Love this one. . . looking for something to eat, place to stay or something to do? You can either enter a location or use your current location to locate just about anything. They even have forums for almost anywhere you are planning to go.
  7. aSleep HD (.99 cents) If you like use a sound machine when you sleep this is a must have app when you travel.
  8. DIRECTV (Free) Whether you subscribe to DIRECTV, Dish or Comcast be sure to add their app to your collection. You can quickly set up a recording (if you have subscribe to that service) check out what is going to be playing on your favorite channels. Searching via the iPad app is much faster than viewing the guide on your television.
  9. PhonePower (Free) We use a VOIP for our personal phone service. One thing I love about VOIP phone service is that you can listen to your voicemails anytime and from any place. You can listen to your voicemails form your computer, iPhone or iPad. Complete incoming and outgoing call logs are available. Technology is amazing.
  10. Cake Doodle (.99 cents) Sand Slides (Free Limited time) Talking Tom Cat 2 (Free Note: free version has a button to purchase items for the dog; don't fall for it) Great games for your children or grandchildren.
  11. Redbox (Free) This app is native to the iPhone, but of course it works just as well on the iPad. Rent and reserve movies for only $1.
  12. TWC Max (Free) Check out the weather conditions in any city.
  13. WebMD (Free) Sick and no doctor in sight? Check out this app.
  14. Merriam Webster Dictionary (Free) This is another must have app. Wow is all I can say about this app. I can't believe it is free. Touch the mic inside the app and speak any word you want to look up. The app will also recite the word for you so you can learn to pronounce it correctly. Love that!
  15. FoxNews, CBSNews, ABCNews, NBCNews (Free) Get a quick snapshot of what's happening in the world today.
  16. Wikipanion Plus ($4.99) or Wikipanion (Free) Want to know more about something? Wikipedia is the place to look.
  17. Appstream (Free) Displays the hottest apps in the IOS universe. You can set a filter to only displays free apps and control the animation speed.


Inaugural Mocha Cafe

Gail Doby and Erin Weir of Design Success University, welcomes you to the first inaugural Mocha Cafe. Each week Gail and Erin will introduce the theme for the week along with the designer and resource spotlights, activities for the week, and one of their interesting and design stories.


interior design education, interior design university, business interior design


Workflow - Best Practices for Connexion

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Anytime you can standardize or systematize any process or any micro-procs as a part of your day to day tasks, you're better for it. Your business benefits, you benefit and your bottom line benefits. So because of the importance of todays' Cafe', we want ensure those who couldn't attend receive the same easy-to-follow, easy "flow" information as those who did.

Here's how our review of CONNEXIONs design & fabrication project work flow can work for you:

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There are so many more features and business tools found in CONNEXION that we could not cover today. But we felt it was so important to give you a top-level overview of how to process your design and fabrication projects. It's the very important first step to understanding just how much CONNEXION can do for you each and every day.

We save you hours of management and data entry time, we organize your business and your custom design projects automatically, we take care of all the communication that takes place, we help you look professional and feel good about all you can accomplish ...

We're CONNEXION and we mean business . . . your business!

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