Am I “Micro-managing” My Kids?

The “Mom”

The high school my son attends has implemented Edline, a program which allows students and parents online access to assignments, course calendars, grade sheets, absence reports, team practice schedules… essentially every aspect of the high school student’s academic and extra-curricular life. Of course I am thrilled with this new tool! It should help my son to manage his life. But really, I am thrilled because it’s easier for me to keep on top of what’s going on and what my son should be doing. It gives me more material for those daily chats. Instead of asking “What homework do you have tonight? Can you get it done before baseball practice?”, I can say “So, you have Math and Latin homework and a History test to study for, better get moving or you won’t be done in time to go to baseball practice. Oh, and by the way, you’d better plan on starting that Chem project this weekend.” And, to myself I am saying “Haha! There’s no hiding now!”

Again, I am thrilled with this! I am a control freak – and I know it. But I have this nagging concern. I know that my reminders help in the short run, but what about the long run? When does he learn to manage all of this for himself? Am I really doing him a favor when I “manage” this? If he doesn’t learn to juggle these things now, what happens when he goes off to college, where there will be even more distractions?

I certainly never had anyone making sure I got my homework done. Up until now I have sorted of prided myself on being so much more involved than my parents were, but now I wonder if that’s for the best. I know the answer is “a happy medium”…but I’m just not sure where to draw the line for “medium”.

The “Dad”

All too often, our kids see “communication” and “control” as pretty much the same thing, so yes – it’s our job to know what’s going on even if they’re not inclined to tell us, and not just about the juicy stuff like sex and drugs, but about the boring, everyday icky junk like history homework.

We’ve run into the Miracle of the Sliding Grades with all our girls at one point or another, most recently when the Elf, a consistent A/B student, brought home (no, wait – when they mailed home) a B-/C semester report card, and boy, did the fur fly (little Fluffy the Cat has never been quite the same). It wasn’t any major life-crisis, as it turned out; just The Elf easing up and getting lazy, but we were none the wiser until it was a little too late.

Hereabouts we’re not helped much by the schools; where they loved us and begged us to be involved in the classroom and curriculum during elementary school, by middle/high school were useful only as fund-raisers, and then only at arm’s length. It’s time, they tell us, for the kids to take responsibility for their homework and grades or they’ll never learn…and at the same time they’re telling us that grades and academic performance are hugely important, now more than ever, for college and life at large. So, what, we let them fail (and damage their lifetime-chances-options) so they can learn…once again, just a little too late?

I think the grade grubber 6000, or whatever that system is, is a nice compromise: you can spy on them just as you should without being intrusive, and offer help when they really need it, not just when you think they might (or just when you – I mean me – really wants to.) Go forth and kibbutz – guiltlessly!

“The Teen”

It’s cool technology, I’ll admit. But I think it’s a bad idea.

High school students have their whole days planned out by teachers. When we get home, we don’t want our parents telling us that “you’ve got math problems, government notes and that big literature paper due tomorrow, oh, and you’ve got to set the table, help make dinner and babysit the kids across the street later tonight.” That’s a lot, and we know it! But we can handle it. Emphasis on the “we.” We the students. Not we the family.

Teenagers do a lot of juggling, but if you’re going to be juggling it for us… how will we ever learn?

I understand the need to control some aspect of your child’s life, but when it comes to homework. It should be up to them. A little help might be good, but it should be their responsibility to ask for help if they need it.

If you see your child struggling to get things done on time, or if their grades are slipping, ask if they need some help (with time management or studying) – don’t just give it to them.

Blog Action Day – The Environment

The first Blog Action Day is almost upon us. On October 15th, nearly 7,000 blogs will be all writing about one central theme, the environment. I think the concept of uniting writers from around the world to focus on a single topic is both interesting and exciting. I have no expectations of sudden world peace as a result of this effort, but an increased awareness may be a result. I feel fortunate to be doing my small part in this, and I am hoping that some of you may also be interested in participating in the event. If you have a blog, you are more than welcome to register at www.blogactionday.com no matter how small or large your blog is. They do prefer established blogs though, not ones started up just for the sake of participating.

If you do not have a blog but would like to participate I would really enjoy seeing some guest posts on What’s Gotta Go or What’s Gotta Stay for that day. The posts need not to be literary masterpieces; they can simply be your thoughts on the thing that are good or those that need to be fixed. The posts can be short or long, whatever your style or the amount you want to say. I have a few choice topics I plan to cover, but I am more than happy to have anything you might want to contribute.

If you are interested in writing, please contact me by submitting a comment on this post or emailing me at wgg (at) whatsgottago (dot) com. As always, sorry for the cryptic way of writing the email, but it helps in avoiding spam.

Please keep in mind that I am more than happy to receive your articles/posts prior to the 15th; I can hold on to them and post it on that day. I look forward to hopefully hearing from some guest writers!

I’m Fine On The Bench Thank You

car drive

Ok, when did life turn into the Super Bowl? Or better yet WWF SmackDown?? EVERYTHING is a competition! This all came apparent to me this morning while driving my daughter to her high school. Her drop off area is in front of her school and every morning it is like the Indy 500 meets a Walk-a-Thon with cars all competing for the front spot and kids on foot darting in and out rushing to make the first bell. No parents are willing to wait and all insist on pushing down the cattle shoot to be able to drop their little darlin’ off right in front”¦this is almost impossible as really the driveway is only large enough for two cars to be side by side but somehow 3 squeeze thru”¦unless one is an SUV and then they are King and take up the two spots. I find it interesting with all the cars so close together no eye contact is ever made between parent drivers”¦shows weakness I guess. Heaven forbid you might look at someone and have to nod and give up the right of way.

car drive

My suspicions were confirmed we have moved into the ESPN Zone when driving thru my older neighbor where the streets are narrow. If cars park on either side of the street it makes it a slalom course and only one car at a time can fit thru. And this morning I met a Fiesta ready and willing to play chicken with me. Being the non-competitive person I am”¦gladly pulled over between two parked cars allowing the Fiesta to speed by. All of this got me to thinking”¦yes, that is a dangerous thing.

I take notes”¦I make lists”¦I worry I might not be prepared if there IS a test at the end of all this”¦”Ah I’m sorry God but I didn’t know we really had to pay THAT much attention.” So once home I ran my morning thru my head and came up with this theory”¦hypothesis”¦idea”¦REVALATION! Sorry, had 2 cups of coffee today”¦.

1. The world is divided into 4 Teams”¦The Haves, The Have Nots, The I’m Takin’ Yours and the I Don’t Care (this Team use to be known as I Don’t Give a Rat’s”¦but was found to be too controversial)

2. Training starts at birth

Rules change daily

3. Rules change daily

4. Team uniforms vary wide from Dior to Wal-Mart. Some Team members try to trick you by wearing other Team colors as status…that in itself is a competition.

5. There are no subs”¦once you’re in you’re in for the game!

6. Team equipment consists of cars, clothing, houses, iPods, cell phones, pets, gym memberships”¦heck anything goes into play at some point!

7. Extra points are given out randomly for front parking spaces grabbed, having “My Kid Is On The Honor Roll” bumper stickers, the loudest cell phone ringtone, longest Christmas Newsletter and maxing out more than 5 credit cards.

Ok”¦I’ve made my point (well in my mind at least). Call me a whiner”¦but I’m so NOT interested in making first string. I’ll gladly warm the bench and watch everyone else huff and puff their way thru life”¦stressed out and pushing to be first in line, first on the block with the newest model cars, TV screens so big I can sit in MY living room and watch”¦I given up trying to keep up with the Jones”¦heck it’s hard keeping up this level of average!

Anyone else wants to join me on the bench?

Blast-free open pit mining meets production targets

Knauf Latvia produces construction materials in Sauriesi near Riga, the capital of Latvia. The main source of raw material is the company’s gypsum mine a few kilometres away. Blasting was used as main mining method. Blast-free open pit mining meets production targets

To decrease blasting impacts on environment around the quarry for its mining operations the company is now using an excavator equipped with an Atlas Copco HB 7000 DP breaker. Although new to the operators, blast-free mining has become the main method at the site and the daily production of the breaker unit has already reached the target level.

Because of blasting impacts, Knauf began looking at blast-free mining as an alternative. The company invested in a Liebherr R974 excavator equipped with an Atlas Copco HB 7000 DP breaker and the unit started production at the end of January.

JUMP START FOR PRODUCTION

Originally the breaker was intended to support production in the quarry and to be used in areas closer to deposit borders and residents. After the experiences of the first three months, blast-free mining has now become the main mining method. The breaker unit runs in two shifts about 15 hours a day.

Blast-free open pit mining meets production targets

1100 TONS PER DAY TARGET REACHED

Atlas Copco’s latest generation of heavy breakers requires less hydraulic input from the carrier while maintaining maximum impact performance. At the Knauf gypsum quarry the average production of the excavator with the HB 7000 DP breaker attachment has already reached the target of about 1100 tons per day.

Atlas Copco further notes that thin layers of brittle material are ideal for blast-free mining. When material quality varies between the layers, or there is undesired material between them, the breaker method has a great advantage over blasting in that it readily enables selective mining.

Junior gold producer under the radar

Junior gold producer under the radar

Galane Gold (TSX-V: GG) has kept a low profile in the stock market for the past couple of years and it has not found it necessary to embark on any capital raising roadshows in the world’s financial centres. However now it feels it has perhaps been too quiet and is conducting briefings in London – but again not because it needs capital, but just so that it can fly a little higher above the gold investor radar. To this end it took on a London-based PR company earlier this year to help introduce it to the UK financial sector.Junior gold producer under the radarGalane currently has one operating asset – the Mupane gold mine, Botswana’s only primary gold producer. It was acquired from IamGold in 2011 following that company’s successful merger with Cambior as it was not seen as a core business as being too small an operation for the enlarged IamGold’s forward plans. (I am Gold retains a 41% interest in Galane.)

Galane has a current production capacity of around 40-50,000 ounces of gold a year and in terms of existing reserves and resources is a short life property, but again, as long as it is not looking for a transfer to the TSX main board – which it may wish to do in the near future – there is no particular pressure on it to spend the money to delineate a full blown resource assessment, but is happy to maintain perhaps a 3-year forward reserve, with new resources replacing depleted ones as mining progresses. If one goes back perhaps 30-40 years this was the way many mines would operate before ever-stricter stock market requirements began to demand more and more disclosure. However, according to chairman and acting CEO Ravi Sood he is confident there are major brownfield and greenfield prospects for significant life extensions within the highly prospective Tati greenstone belt which Galane controls.

Thus Galane Gold is Botswana’s only gold producer and has tied up virtually the whole of the Tati greenstone belt to the south of Botswana’s second largest city, Francistown. According to Sood, gold has been mined here since around the 12th Century and he reckons there is plenty more to come. There have been a number of small mines within the concession area in the past and the current concentration for exploration and expansion is mostly on areas around these brownfield sites.

Junior gold producer under the radar

Apart from a blip in Q2 due to lost production from a SAG mill motor failure, Galane is profitable at an operating level and has been generating free cash flow. Sood also reckons there is enough flexibility in its resources and operating plans to survive any likely further gold price downturn, although All In Sustaining Costs have been in the region of $1400 an ounce. But looking forward the company is confident it can bring these down to around $1000 or even lower as its current mining plan progresses. So far capital expenditures have been kept to a minimum and Galane has had no need to go to the markets for cash, although does have a forward gold sales agreement on generous terms with Samsung which netted it a loan facility of $5 million towards its development programme. It also carries a $60 million tax loss dating back to the previous operating company on its books which means it is not currently paying any tax.

Botswana is considered a great mining destination with a pro-mining stable government which is open to foreign investment – indeed it is consistently the most highly rated country in Africa in the annual Fraser Institute surveys. Also helping it is excellent power and transportation infrastructure including an international airport at Francistown only around 35 km from its main operating area.

Junior gold producer under the radar

Asked if the company proposes a listing in London, Sood was basically positive on this possibility although the costs of both obtaining and servicing a listing can be significant for a junior. He intimated that any such route would be preceded by a full board listing in Toronto – which would almost certainly require expenditures on developing a new NI 43-101 resource and reserve statement – and then perhaps applying for a secondary listing on AIM.

On dividend policy Sood suggested that once certain other commitments had been finalised the company could be open to paying a dividend, or perhaps to a share buyback and that given the poor share price performance of junior gold stocks the latter might be a more attractive route.

Galane is effectively unhedged (apart from its forward commitment to deliver a minimum of 1,607 oz/month gold to Samsung for a period of 2 years – but this is only at a discount to the prevailing gold price at time of delivery of 1.5% for the first 12 months and then 0.5% discount for the following 12 months.) With only 50.7 million shares outstanding and no plans for any equity raising, and as a producer with positive cashflow, Galane has excellent leverage to any pick up in the gold price, yet says it can cut its cloth to handle any further falls.

Faxed to Death: Can This Old Technology Adapt to a Digital World?

Believe it or not, the need for faxing still exists, especially for businesses that handle private customer information such as healthcare providers, insurance companies, or financial service providers. In addition, many businesses continue to use old fax machines supported by expensive dedicated analog telephone lines. While some businesses may still need fax, they don’t necessarily need those legacy phone lines.

Why fax at all?
So why do businesses migrating to cloud-based or IP telephony continue to keep a dedicated analog telephone line for fax?

  • Some industries require faxing and traditional analog lines are reliable.
  • IP faxing may not be regulatory compliant.
  • Faxing over IP (FoIP) has had issues in the past with latency and jitter causing fax transmissions to fail.
  • Many companies have made investments in expensive multi-functional printer/copier/fax machines.

Faxed to Death

With fax, timing is everything. A successful fax session requires real-time, uninterrupted communication between both the sending and receiving ends. That said, it makes sense that a dedicated circuit-switched connection is ideal for faxing. IP, or internet protocol, faxing includes signal conversions, protocol translations and inevitable network congestion, all of which can affect timing and cause problems. So why bother?

Why FoIP?
Cost reduction is most popular among the many reasons business choose FoIP over the status quo. Faxing over the internet is not only much cheaper, but the demand for secure, reliable FoIP has also resulted in service that delivers the quality businesses have come to expect from traditional telephone lines. IP faxing is now an HTTPS secure, web-based cloud service that avoids the voice network entirely. Fax functionality integrates with email clients, desktop and mobile applications for a fraction of the cost while fitting seamlessly into unified messaging and communications strategies.

Faxes can be sent, received, archived and searched like email. They can be accessed and managed from any device by multiple users. Not only is this convenient, but it also eliminates the expense of supporting and maintaining those legacy analog fax machines.

Faxed to Death

If a complete migration to cloud-based IP faxing evokes fear and loathing, or is simply not possible, the benefits of IP faxing can still be enjoyed with existing fax machines. Fax ATA converters enable the machine to connect directly to the data network. This hybrid solution leverages the fax hardware and offers the rich feature set of FoIP. Many of these devices even create an HTTPS connection to the cloud; checking the security box for those businesses that must comply with various privacy regulations.

The benefits of making the switch to fax over IP start with cost savings and extend into convenience and reliability. The challenges and misconceptions long associated with IP faxing have been addressed by advancements in technology. Increased available bandwidth, more reliable/secure protocols, unified messaging integration, and even mobility make it nearly impossible to devise a reason to continue paying for that old analog fax line.

Is Augmented Reality The Future Of Retail Marketing?

Augmented Reality is very hot these days with many experts recommending widespread adoption of it across any and all industries. A little caution however may not be a bad thing.

The term “Augmented Reality” has many different meanings and definitions but I like this one best:

Marketing Retail 1

“Augmented reality is a term for a live direct or indirect view of a physical real-world environment whose elements are augmented by virtual computer-generated imagery.”

Augmented Reality is going so much publicity and attention these days that it’s now perfectly acceptable to refer to it as simply AR. And many are predicting that AR will be the cure-all for all that ails you… regardless of industry.

Marketing Retail 1

However for this post, let’s keep it refined to the world of retail. And having worked in retail – I come from a long line of former supermarket workers, there are some basic tenets that will always be the most important when it comes to retail sales:

  • Product
  • Price
  • Customer Service
  • And of course, location, location, location

Any retailer worth his/her weight in coupons knows this to be true and while there are some very cool things going on right with re: AR and retail – see below for some examples, I would caution retailers to NOT forsake traditional marketing methods and techniques for AR.

Marketing Retail 1

Now, if you want to “augment” your current traditional campaigns with some AR, by all means go for it. Just don’t believe a lot of the hype going around that AR is all you need.

It’s the exact same thing being spewed by all the Social Media experts claiming SM will cure all your ails.

Marketing Retail 1

No one singular method, medium, approach, platform and on and on will ever work. There needs to be an integration of carefully selected methods, etc., which are best suited to your particular wants and needs.

As promised, here are some cool AR things going on right now in the world of retail…

So, what do you think of AR?
Is it the future?
Is it a fad?
Have you ever personally used it in a retail setting?

YouTube Time Stamp For Brands, Because “Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That”

How brands can take advantage of the new YouTube Time Stamp feature for targeted messaging and fostering social engagement.

In situations when a GIF or Vine just isn’t enough to fully convey the context of your brand’s message, you’d likely take the next logical step and include video. Problem being, that you usually only want to share a specific part of the video before your target audience loses interest, believes you’re crazy or responds with the dreaded “tl;dr”. If you were web savvy you could have included the #t=0h0m0s coding at the end of your YouTube link so your video started right where you wanted, but let’s be honest “Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That”

YouTube Time Stamp For Brands, Because “Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That” YouTube has recently and quietly introduced what I am coining as the “Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That” button. Now, instead of adding the time stamp coding to your link, you can simply click the “checkbox” and generate a link to the video starting it at the point where you want it. This is a good move for YouTube to help foster additional social sharing and make YouTube clips as ubiquitous as GIFs.

YouTube Time Stamp For Brands, Because “Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That”

This should be enticing for brand managers, as it gives the freedom to show and express ideas via YouTube by cutting the through the fluff and sending people directly to the intended point of interest. Brands could also use this for directed messaging, allowing the use of one video with multiple responses, rather than creating a number of videos, cutting down on expense and increasing overall views. By linking users directly to the content they’re looking for, brands can drive views on one particular video, increasing the potential for engagement without diluting the potential view count.

Check the screenshot out below and try out the “Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That” button out today! (Feel free to shoot us a link of what you’re sharing in the comments section below)

The Single Most Effective Marketing Tactic For B2B Marketers

Marketing

According to the 2011 Marketing-Sherpa B2B Marketing Advanced Practices Handbook, the most effective marketing tactic identified by B2B Marketers all centered around one thing.

The far reaching handbook revealed many interesting insights into the world of a B2B Marketer and when asked to choose the one tactic that is the most effective in their marketing efforts, 93% of respondents said it was their company’s website – and the optimization, management and design thereof, which is the most effective and vital.

The Single Most Effective Marketing Tactic For B2B Marketers

To me, the high number of B2B Marketers who identified their website, management and optimization as either “very effective” or “somwhat effective” speaks to the growing popularity of social media in the B2B Marketing world. Consider that according to a recent study by BtoB Magazine, 93% of all B2B marketers are engaged in some form of social media marketing.

Another form of inbound marketing falls under optimization and SEO which was also identified as being an effective marketing tactic for B2B Marketers.

All of these inbound marketing tactics all lead back to one place – the website which is why so many B2B Marketers consider it to be so important.

From the 2011 Marketing-Sherpa B2B Marketing Advanced Practices Handbook:

There is a growing trend of utilizing inbound marketing tactics that is demonstrated in the above chart. The top two tactics are inbound and two of the three least effective tactics are outbound. The top-rated tactic is website design, management and optimization, partly due to the growing popularity of inbound marketing tactics. Inbound tactics like search and social media drive traffic back to the hub, or an organization’s website, for conversion. With an increased level of inbound traffic, even marginal gains in website conversion rate can have a great impact on the number of leads generated and an organization’s and bottom line.

Social media is undervalued in terms of effectiveness — a result of the infancy of this marketing tactic. As B2B marketers become more mature with their social marketing practices, perceptions on the effectiveness of this tactic will improve.

Another finding that came out of the Handbook was the fact that once again, the #1 challenge facing B2B Marketers is finding leads – both a high quality and high volume of leads.

The Single Most Effective Marketing Tactic For B2B Marketers

For her part, Jen Doyle, Senior Research Manager, Marketing-Sherpa and lead author of the Handbook, offered these high-level suggestions to B2B Marketers re: uncovering new prospects:

  • Adapt a customer-centric approach
  • Identify compelling value propositions that resonate and convert
  • Deliver content and messaging through an optimal mix of lead gen tactics
  • Continually test your efforts
  • Adapt to an evolving marketplace
  • Embrace sales conversion as a Sales and Marketing responsibility, and support it with funnel optimization strategies

These are all great tips for sure but here’s one more:

If you’re responsible for increasing business to business sales, don’t be afraid to ask for help. As a B2B Marketer you are faced with an incredible number of day-to-day challenges and obstacles and so on. Don’t be afraid to reach out to a business to business marketing communications agency who will partner with you, kind of lighten the load so to speak.

So, how important would say your website is when it comes to B2B Marketing? Do you agree with the respondents who put so much emphasis on it?

Or would you identify something else as being the most effective marketing tactic?

Shoppers Want Integration, Retailers And Marketers Not Delivering It

Marketing

In two separate reports/surveys issued by my-buys, a provider of cross-channel personalization for retailers, revealed that integration, along with convenience and service are what consumers want most but find most retailers and retail marketers don’t deliver.

Their 4th annual Consumer Insights Survey queried over 1,000 adults, evenly split between men and women who shopped online for products 4 or more times in the past year, spend at least $500 online annually and make shopping purchases both online and in stores.

They asked these folks to rate/rank what they would want from their favorite retailers in an ideal world vs. what they are actually experiencing in the real world. You will see there is a quite the disparity between the ideal and real worlds.

To me, this is the most important take away from this survey…Marketing

Integration (consistency) – What Consumers Want

  • 85% want an integrated shopping experience
  • 72% want an integrated marketing approach

Integration (consistency) – What Consumers Currently Get

  • 50% get an integrated shopping experience
  • 39% get an integrated marketing approach

Those in marketing retail and retailers alike, the people are speaking loud and clear. They want to see and experience the same thing be it on your site, your store, your mobile site and they want to see and experience the same message across all marketing collateral – AKA they want a branded experience across ALL channels!

Marketing

Now there are some findings which are perfectly logical and are to be expected, i.e. people want good service. I am a little surpised hower to see how low Personalization scored – could be The Big Brother theory at play as people don’t want retailers to know them too well. But what really surprised me was how low Mobile and Social scored. With both Mobile and Social so prevalent today, it is quite surprising to see only 26%, even in an ideal world, say they would want to be able to make a purchase via their phone.

The other report/survey my-buys issued was their 10th Annual e-tailing group Merchant Survey, which surveyed merchants across 32 different categories of products and services.

What was most-troubling to me was this chart below which showed a staggeringly low number of retailers using an integrated approach to their customers…

Shoppers Want Integration, Retailers And Marketers Not Delivering It
22% not currently planned?

6% will always remain siloed?

16% don’t know?

What’s going on here?

Is just this a case of these retailers not knowing how to go about creating an integrated approach?

Or is it a case of these retailers not seeing the value in creating an intergrated approach?

Or is it something completely different?