Facebook

Facebook

I attended a Facebook and social media presentation this morning.  It was a little on the basic side as to the “why” a business should be on social media.  Again, it focused on getting “Likes” and having people see your post.  Personally, from a business standpoint, I think income outweighs social media.

I told the teacher, “I would rather have 100 people liking my Facebook page and 10% of them buying than I would 1000 people liking it and only 0.1% of them buying.”

Social media is great, but you’ve got to look at the reality of things.  First, Facebook is set up now to extract money in order to get your post seen more.  That’s right, you can pay to become popular.

For a business, that’s advertising.  But, for a business owner, what is your return-on-investment?  (ROI)  If you pay $200/month on Facebook ads, you better be getting at least $500/month in profits.

Speaking of which, if you haven’t liked the Beckwith Mansion FB page, please do…

https://www.facebook.com/beckwithestate

Today has been another one of those rainy days.  That makes it hard to go outside for exercise and harder to take some pictures.  It is supposed to rain through the weekend and not let up until Monday.  Sigh.

We’ve been getting a trickle of people looking to come visit during non-Pageant times.  (Sorry, no vacancies during Pageant.  Next year, try booking your rooms in November.)  Share the word that we have great rates and we’re in a great location.

 

May 2014 Ensign

May 2014 Ensign

If you read the Ensign Magazine, you’re thinking… wait, it isn’t even out yet.  That’s right, the May 2014 Ensign is not out yet, but that didn’t stop me from getting a sneak peak.

Today in our mission meeting, we get a sneak peak of the Ensign.  They went through page by page pointing out photos taken by our colleagues.  Let’s just say that you’ll have to find the picture that is tied to Palmyra Stake.

May 2014 Ensign
The Beckwith Mansion 2014

No, the above photo isn’t going to be in the Ensign… that I know of.  I just wanted to show what the place looked like before the rains hit.  Oh, and it sure did rain.  The temperatures are back in the 50s and it is raining cats and dogs.

We had a fairly busy night at the temple tonight largely due to a large group doing baptisms and also the newly called summer missionaries.  We have 19 new couples and a good number of them were assigned to come to the temple tonight.  By the time we got out of the temple, the rain had stopped.

It’s funny… so many companies and people claim they can drive traffic to your web site, but none of them are willing to work off a commission.  I tell you, SEO is the snake oil of our day.  I’m not saying all SEO is shady, but a lot of people who know nothing about the subject want you to pay a lot of money to drink their magic potion.

Ad Council

Ad Council

The MPWCC is working with the Ad Council to rebrand.  This shows how serious we are about making the local Chamber of Commerce a viable entity in our community.  We want to see businesses thrive and prosper.

Our meeting today was a coached session about developing a brand and brand promise.  I was impressed, very impressed.  In all the years at AT&T I never saw a marketing meeting go so well and end with some solid results.

Branding is an interesting concept, but it is also a guiding factor in business.  Businesses without a solid brand seem to flail and falter.  Good branding keeps businesses from splitting interest and diluting they efforts.

Kudos to Kaitlin at the Ad Council of Rochester.  She did a great job facilitating the process.

I got home in time to catch up on e-mails and other administrative stuff at work.  The whole process today got me thinking about my own brand and how I’m doing with it.

—–

You know, politicians don’t really get it about small business.  Take for example Governor Cuomo’s Start Up New York.  The concept on the surface says start-ups can get up to 10 years of tax breaks.  Okay.  Sounds good.  But, there are a lot of restrictions.  For example, the start-up cannot be a real estate office, dentist office, doctor’s office, beauty solon, clerical service, and more.  But, here’s the real clincher… the property has to be within 1 mile of a state-run college.

Well, that eliminates Palmyra, Macedon and several other villages, as well as many businesses.

What were they thinking in Albany?

Who does that benefit?

I’ll tell you who it benefits — property owners adjacent to NY colleges and universities.  Imagine how easy it is for them to rent and/or sell their property.

It stinks.  The law stinks and on the surface you’re supposed to think this is some great program that will create jobs.  Let’s see the statistics in 10 years.  Let’s weigh the benefits verses what it cost in lost tax revenue.  Let’s see who the winners were.

Temple Fireside 2014

Temple Fireside

Tonight was the annual temple fireside for the temple workers.  We had a good sized group present, including our 19 new couples.  We filled the chapel plus the 1st over-flow.

To me, the highlight was a young lady who played a violin solo of If You Could Hie to Kolob (tune of Dives and Lazarus).   I love a musician who plays with feeling.  You could tell this young lady was feeling what she was playing.  As an artist, there is an exhilaration that exists when you put yourself in to your art.  It was amazing listening to her make that violin sing.

Elder Walker from the temple department was also there and addressed us.  He shared some stories about traveling with President Monson to various temples.  You can’t help but like President Monson, but listening to these stories, you like him even more.  He’s an amazing man.

I was thinking today about the church and technology.  I remember back in the late 70s being asked by my elder’s quorum president to develop a program to track home teaching.  He even provided me with a TRS80 Model III to develop the program.  Around the same time, there were other members writing programs, one of which evolved in the church’s current Member Information System.

Today, we have so much at our finger tips, but so much of it goes untouched or underutilized.  As part of the move to get members more acquainted with technology, the church has started issuing iPads to full-time missionaries.  This allows the missionaries to become acquainted with the various videos and on-line tools.  I think it is a great move for helping members get more on-board with what the church has to offer as far as technology.

I’m laughing… I still have my flip-chart from 1978.

Progress

Progress

I love days when I feel like I am making progress.  I managed to get a lot of photos retouched and in their final state.  And, since it rained most of the day, it was a good thing to be doing on a rainy day.

My web site, www.dbwalton.com, has been completely re-worked.  Part of the re-work was driven by the web software I purchased and had installed on my server was replaced by a different package.    They vendor offered me a free upgrade to their new package since I only owned the other for a few months.

The new package is a lot more powerful, but it has required a lot of re-work.  I also had to change my photo blog (http://blog.dbwalton.com) to somewhat match the new package.  I still have some work to do to make them look like they are the same, but for now, it is close.

It is hard to believe that April ends this next week.  Time just goes by too quickly these days.  If time flies like this when you’re approaching 60, what is it like when you’re 80?  Or, 90?  I imagine for a 90 year old a week goes by like a day does for a child.

Near the end of the day, I was tempted to call out for pizza because I was so beat from all of the work.  But, I resisted and used up some leftovers.

 

Morning Shoot

Morning Shoot
Fence looking towards the Grove

Morning Shoot

My first task this morning was to do a morning shoot out at the Smith Farm.  I’m working on a project and the light looked good this morning so I headed to the farm.

I ran in to Elder Muir opening the barn and cooper shop, and a little later I ran in to a couple from Florida out seeing the church historic sites.  We had a nice chat about Israel.  It turns out they visited last winter too.

Morning Shoot
Stafford Road by the Frame Home

After the shoot I had to rush home to make my hair cut appointment.  After getting my hair cut, it was back to the studio to work on getting setup for Head Shot Days.  (Head Shot Days is when you can get a $40 (plus tax) head shot – fully retouched, with a limited license for use on social media, business cards, and web sites.)

After my head shot appointments, it was off to ward temple night.  (Yes, busy day.)

After the temple, Elizabethe and I ate at Acropolis.  You know, every time I eat there I am impressed.  I had shrimp and scallops.  It was cooked to perfection.  Elizabethe had a chicken dish, and the chicken was a little tough, but it was tasty.  Either way, I recommend it for dinner in Palmyra.

 

Lemmings

Lemmings

Oh, those poor little misunderstood creatures who have been associated with following the pack to the extent of driving themselves to mass suicide.  Lemmings, nonetheless, has become a noun to describe people who follow the pack, even when the pack is wrong.

Nobody likes to be a lemming, yet so many people are.  Look at the fads in electronics!  Look at the number of people still using the iPhone in spite of better technology now existing.  Look at the number of people who use Facebook when there is more secure and better social media.  I could go on.

For me, I like quality.  I choose equipment and software based on quality, not public opinion.  That’s why I get really torqued when I pay good money for software and it crashes.

I spent a good 6 hours today dealing with an Adobe issue.  Sorry, but I can no longer recommend someone buy Adobe products.  Today was the last straw.  And, to top it off, when I went to report the bug, I got caught in an infinite loop on their bug reporting site.  UHG!  Not only does Lightroom 5 have some major bugs, but so does Adobe’s bug reporting site.

(banging my head right here  –  can’t you tell?)

Back when Adobe came out with Lightroom, someone at Adobe had this harebrained idea to do public beta testing.  Basically, the way it works is you put it out there to the public to use for free, and hope (emphasis on hope) they report the bugs.  You know what?  That doesn’t work.

Features vs Quality

I would much rather have quality over features.  Imagine a car with every bell-and-whistle, and how frustrating that car would be if every time you turned the radio on, the power steering died, or if every time you got an oil change the car wouldn’t start until you re-installed the battery.  I’ve just described my frustrations with Lightroom 5.

When you take all of the time I have wasted dealing with restoring my huge Lightroom catalog after a Lightroom 5 crash, it probably totals up to about 40 hours.  At my billing rates, that over $4400 Adobe owes me for dealing with this piece-of-junk release of Lightroom.

Perhaps this belongs in my photography blog, but for now, I’m venting my frustrations here.  If you’re looking for a good alternative to Lightroom, check out ACDsee Pro.  When it comes to file handling and organization, it actually does a far better job than Lightroom ever has.  Another good alternative is DxO Labs’ Optics Pro, however, they don’t support enough cameras for my taste – specifically the X-Trans Fujifilm based sensors.  And, it is a slow running program compared to all the others.  Finally, there is AfterShot by Corel.  AfterShot actually does layers and that, is very cool.

Shooting Themselves in the Foot

The sad part is it is Adobe that has shot itself in its own foot.  Lightroom 5 crashes when you are working in it at the same time an Adobe update arrives.  When that happens, LR5 goes bonkers, dies, kills your computer, and corrupts the database.  Yet, when an updated arrived from Java, it didn’t cause LR5 to lock up.  Neither have updates from other companies.  But, Adobe’s live update somehow interacts with LR5 in a way that LR5 wanders off in to regions where there is no return.

As a former software developer, I find this unacceptable.  With all of the bugs in LR5, they have the audacity to release a new update that offers mobile iPad support for LR5.  FIX THE BUGS and forget the features for now.  Adobe and their Lemmings have ignored the bugs in Lightroom 5 in lieu of features.  They are great features, but the bugs win out in this latest update.

Head in the Cloud

I guess you can say Adobe has their head in the cloud (pun intended) and is more concerned about the masses than they are the select few who have put them at the top.  I’m debating on calling (on the telephone) to report the bug.  I think I will, and when they try to get me to troubleshoot it I will ask what credit card they want my time charged to.  After all, if you want something truly tested, you’ve got to pay your beta testers, and as far as I’m concerned, Lightroom 5 has never made it out of the beta test phase of software development.

Flossing

Flossing

Make no doubt about it, I hate flossing.  There is nothing pleasant about running a string between your teeth.  My teeth are so close together they will shred most floss making it even more difficult.

Well, I got chewed out at the dentist today for not flossing enough.  I think the hygienist was being punitive when she then took the probe to measure the pockets.  She really jammed it down in there and after doing that on each side of each tooth, my mouth was sore.

“Okay, I get the point.  You’re going to stick me with that thin wire 112 times because I didn’t floss.  I’ll floss everyday to avoid this,” I was thinking to myself as she got about 1/2 through.

At one point, the dentist came in to take a look.  When he left, I thought it was over.  Nope.  Instead, she repositions her stool to get better leverage so she could drive that wire deep in to my gums.  Tears are forming in the outer corners of my eyes and I thinking, “This hurts!”

Perhaps I need to set an alarm in my phone.  I call it “FLOSS”.  In fact, they should make a cell phone case that holds a few yards of floss.

We can figure out how to send a tiny camera through someone’s intestines.  Why can’t we make tiny little robots that floss your teeth as you sleep.  In fact, they could just completely clean your teeth while being gentle enough that they don’t hurt the enamel.    Instead, we spend billions for phones that allow us to be rude at the drop of a hat.

Six months from now, I’m going to walk in to the dentist office and say in a grumpy voice, “Flossed every day!  Are you happy!”

Never mind… I’ll wait until the appointment is over.  You don’t want to tick off your hygienist at the start of your appointment.

Better Than Last Week

Better Than Last Week

I feel much better than last week.  Last Tuesday was one of those days when you think you’re getting better, but you aren’t quite sure.  Well, today I feel better than I did last week.

Today was my weekly meeting with the other CSMs  (Church Service Missionaries) serving as photographers.  There were some interesting tidbits brought out about photographing General Authorities while serving as CSM photographers.  In fact, a photographer did a demonstration on white balancing using a snapshot of President Uchtdorf.  I kind of whish President Uchtdorf would have been there.  I’m sure he would have had some funny things to day.

It is rainy and cold today.  I am glad it isn’t snowing, but I do wish to see some sunshine.  The good part of this is that everything is turning green and the daffodils and hyacinths are in full bloom.  The yard is starting to look colorful.

The new photography web site is shaping up.  You have to resign yourself to the fact that these days, a web site is going to change every 1-2 years.  If not, it is going to get left behind in technology and technique.  And, probably by the search engines too.

Tonight at the temple things weren’t real busy, but we did have a family from Utah visiting.  We are also starting to get the new wave of missionaries.  They will be here for 6 months.  Two new couples, both from Arizona, arrived today.

By the end of the night, I was starting to feel myself dragging.  I sure don’t wish that bug I had on anyone.  It knocked me down and held me there.  And, like anything that hits the body hard, it takes time to heal.

FHE at Cumorah

FHE at Cumorah

We had FHE at Cumorah tonight.  What’s FHE?  Family Home Evening.

A couple of times a month the site missionaries gather for a Family Home Evening at the Hill Cumorah Visitor’s Center.  Tonight, Matt and I gave them a presentation about Israel.  People still keep asking for more.  It’s a fascinating place and those who haven’t been there love to see and hear about what it is like.

FHE at Cumorah
Priest Reading at Mt. Tabor

I have too many things on my plate right now.  I’m going to have to start saying, “No”, to new projects.  I have print competition coming up, and a couple of books I’m writing, and my normal day-to-day things.  All of this and there are only 24-hours in a day.

With the weather warming up that means yard work too.  Mowing the lawn is 2-3 days a month where I have to block out a day to mow it.  And, my temperamental Cub Cadet sometimes makes it take longer.  (Yeah, I can’t recommend their product until they fix the deck-lifting mechanism.)

So, here’s a big question…  Does Cub Cadet have Google Alerts established so they know when someone is blogging about them?

It’s funny.  Only twice have I mentioned a company and that company has contacted me to resolve an issue.  Once was Sears, and the other was LensPen.  Both companies deserve kudos for customer service and attentiveness.

Also, Google Alerts is how I found out the Democrat and Chronicle wrote a small blurb about my upcoming presentation at MPWCC.  (Thursday night I will be talking at the MPWCC Business After Hours about my book – 25 Things Business Owners Do to Undermine Their Business.)  I set up Google Alerts a while back and this is evidence that it works!

—–

Speaking of Hill Cumorah, Hill Cumorah Pageant is a big thing around here.  It is in the middle of July and it brings tens of thousands of people to the area.

There’s one catch:  Housing is sparse.

When planning to attend Hill Cumorah Pageant, here are three things you should do:

  1. Start making your reservations before Thanksgiving the year before.
  2. Plan to stay 2-3 nights minimum in Palmyra.
  3. From Palmyra, plan one full day for Palmyra and the pageant.  Plan 1 full day for the Whitmer Farm, and while out that way see Watkins Glen and visit Sauders.  Plan a day trip to Harmony.  (Right there you’ve used up 3 days.)

I believe people cheat themselves when they rush through here.  Also, be good tourist.  I had a conversation with a new restaurant owner.  I suggested she prepare herself for pageant and do some publicity to drive people to eat at her shop.  She responded with something to the effect, and I paraphrase, “I’ve been warned about those Mormon tourist.  They come in with their large families, buy one or two meals, and then want to split it.”

Our economy here in Palmyra depends on you.  At the same time, the goodwill of the church depends on you too.  Plan your meals accordingly.  We have several small diners (no fast food chains) that have reasonable prices and good food.  Patronize them and treat them how you would want to be treated if you owned the place.  I.e. Order meals for everyone and tip well.

And, for that matter, if you know someone who wants to open a business that caters to the Palmyra tourism, we need them here.  We need a good bakery.  We have a candy shop that the owner would sell in a heartbeat because of her age and recent death of her husband.  We need a good souvenir shop that also sells toys aimed at the LDS clientele.  We some fast food franchises.

Come to Palmyra.  Either vacation here, or move here, we’ll accept you either way.