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Remote work builds community, grows revenue

In Business, Economy, Education, finances, Jobs, Local News, National News, Opinion, Technology, Uncategorized on February 26, 2018 at 10:22 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

As an entrepreneur, I have founded and grown three businesses over the last two decades. Each of them was started from my home office and eventually moved to another building, but still on my home properly.

When I first became an independent professional and started my own company, there was a stigma attached to “working from home.” For some reason, what we now refer to as remote workers were seen as less professional than our cubicle-bound counterparts.

Today, remote work, whether it’s from home or your favorite café, is becoming more common and better accepted by the business world. Remote workers are found in a variety of industries from journalism and finance to business coaching to insurance.

For all of that, however, there are essentially just two categories of remote worker. The first type, we used to call “telecommuters,” or people who are employed by a company which allows them to work from home or other off-site location.

According to a recent Gallup survey, 43 percent of all American employees work remotely at least some of the time. The survey found that workers who spent up to 80 percent of time outside the office had the highest rates of engagement. They were more productive and reported greater job satisfaction.

The remote work support informational website, Remote.com, noted also that remote workers exhibit lower stress and better morale. It also noted a lower rate of absenteeism.

The second type of remote worker is the independent professional, or what most people would commonly refer to as a freelancer. Many freelancers, like myself and other writers or consultants, are almost totally nomadic, needing only a computer and a Wi-Fi connection to be productive.

In the past, most “freelancers” were expected to be writers, photographers, artists, and the like. But today, independent, remote workers come from a variety of market sectors. Coding, for example, is more commonly a remote job. Coders develop websites, create apps, and work in areas like cybersecurity.

Perhaps one of the greatest advantages of remote work, either to a corporate employer or a freelancer, is significantly reduced overhead. For a freelancer, setting up an office could be impractical, operationally and financially. Large companies with off-site staff can save millions of dollars a year in real estate, utilities, and other overhead costs.

Another benefit to working outside the corporate maze is potential interaction with a larger business community and the collaboration that can result from those connections. Many independents and corporate remotes are getting together at co-working meetup events, giving them the opportunity to network and collaborate.

As much social as it is professional, the experience allows those workers who might spend a great deal of the time working alone to build a community. Plus, there are also opportunities for a more formalized co-working environment.

Co-share workspaces have cropped up around the country offering remote workers a member-based workspace and the chance to exchange ideas and projects with others. These spaces charge memberships that come with various amenities that could be as little as a desk space or multi-employee workspaces, with many different types of independent professional under one roof.

If you’re a business owner with jobs to fill that don’t necessarily require the employee to be on-site all the time, consider hiring a remote worker. Remote and independent professionals are the ideal self-starter, typically efficient time managers, and are less likely to contribute to high turnover.

You won’t be sorry, and it’s the future of work. Embracing it now and developing policies and procedures will put your business light-years ahead of everyone else. Flexibility can greatly encourage productivity and increase profits.

For remote professionals looking for a co-working community, just visit Meetup.com and search on “Dayton co-working.” Most of the activities are free of charge, except for whatever refreshments you might purchase on your own. Or visit deerinheadlines.com for some links to local co-working activities scheduled throughout the area.

 

REMOTE WORK RESOURCES:

Co-Working Meetup / Yellow Springs: https://www.meetup.com/Creative-Pros-Collaborative/

Job Postings: https://weworkremotely.com/

Working Remotely (Twitter): https://twitter.com/workingrem

Resources for Full-Time Freelancers: https://www.themuse.com/advice/every-resource-a-fulltime-freelancer-could-ever-need-plus-some

Business Consulting / Coaching for Remote Workers & Freelancers: http://www.gldenterprises.net

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd. More at gerydeer.com

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The invisible side of caregiving.

In Children and Family, finances, Health, Jobs, Local News, National News, Opinion, psychology, Senior Lifestyle, sociology, Uncategorized on January 10, 2017 at 9:32 pm

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

12191385_10153464406329342_2088873762632508759_oWhen you think of the term “caregiver,” you might have the image in your head of the dutiful family member looking out for an elderly parent or disabled child. What you see in public or on the surface is someone helping a senior citizen do her shopping or teaching a child with limited mobility to use an iPad. But, it’s the stuff you never see that is really the hard part of the job.

Caring for a family member is not something that comes with many benefits. Actually, there is only one benefit – looking after your loved one. Yes, there are some people who get paid to take care of a family member, but that’s rare and extremely difficult to

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Shower prep for caregivers can be like gearing up for battle. Helping a senior parent with every day personal care can be hard to get used to – for both – but extremely necessary.

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Medicines must be cataloged, dosed, and set into daily dispense containers. Tracking of administration is also necessary to ensure proper care, safety and financial maintenance.

Personal care is one of the hardest parts of caring for a senior parent. Different than helping a child with these issues, an elderly adult has a different perception of self-sufficiency and personal dignity. I can’t even imagine how hard it is for my father that he now needs help just to do something as simple as shaving or taking a shower.

As a Parkinson’s sufferer, Dad can’t hold his hands still enough to shave with a safety razor and we’ve had to go to an electric model. He does his best to try to do it on his own, but his hands can’t apply any pressure to the razor on his face so it misses, well, pretty much everything. So once a week, we do a complete, clean shave starting with a trimmer.

Showers also require some consideration to personal dignity while trying to ensure complete cleanliness. When I help Dad with a shower, it’s like gearing up for battle. It’s tough to get used to, for both of us. But we do our best. I just try to make sure he gets in and out without injury, get him clean and get him dressed. How would you feel if, suddenly, your children had to help you with trimming nails, combing hair, or washing? You have to be aware of your charge’s discomfort while still meeting the needs.

Managing medications is also a challenge for caregivers. I’m actually pretty lucky in our situation because Dad’s meds – for now at least – can be divided into two daily packets. Every Sunday, I refill a daily box dispenser and we have a record book to record every dose administered and by whom.

14192078_10154177027939342_4999691246789055042_nMoney is probably the biggest sore spot for many caregivers as well because we end up having to handle our own homes as well as the finances of our charge. It wasn’t long after my mother became ill that I learned who the money manager of the house was as I grew up.

As is common with many elderly folks, Dad was letting bills go unpaid, utilities were being cut off, debt was mounting and statements lay unopened, piling up on the kitchen table – Never again. My siblings and I took over managing his money and paid off all his major debt so we only have living expenses, medicines and doctor bills to worry about.

The problem is that things won’t stay that way. People don’t understand how little Medicare and its supplements really cover and the expenses continue to mount as a senior’s care grows more complicated because things like Parkinson’s continue to progress.

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Adjusting work to caregiver life is rarely easy, sometimes it is impossible. Many caregivers have to choose one over the other.

Naturally, The U.S. Congress is far too busy voting itself another ridiculous raise and cutting Social Security to bother considering how to better spend money to care for its citizens. After all, it’s “our” money. And there is no outside financial support for caregivers.

So, the bills continue to roll in – co-pays, lift chairs, vaccinations, home care (yes, it’s mostly self-pay), unforeseen changes in the health of the patient and the understanding that with Parkinson’s, diabetes and glaucoma, my father will get worse, even with the best possible care.

Tons of other things come into play too. When you’re a caregiver, you’re often the housekeeper, accountant, chef, chauffeur, nurse, clothes and dishwasher, and much more. The rest of the world doesn’t see the countless hours spent making sure the things like cracker packets and juice bottles are stored in a way he can easily open them with limited mobility.

Over the years, I’ve written many times about my experiences in helping to care for my parents. But people I meet always seem to be shocked how much we have to do that no one ever sees. So, when you see someone out in public dealing with something like this, just remember how hard it is and open a door for them or be patient when they’re sorting groceries for two households at the checkout. We appreciate it.

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is available as a podcast at MyGreeneRadio.com.

Media doesn’t control anyone

In Economy, Education, finances, Media, News Media, Opinion, Politics, psychology, Religion, sociology, Technology, Uncategorized on August 4, 2016 at 10:01 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGOIf you do a Google search for, “how the media controls what we think,”you’ll find dozens of articles, videos and feature stories on the subject. Each claims that news programs, TV commercials and even movies are so powerful they can actually control your mind.

To say that I find fault in these kinds of reports would be an understatement, but what exactly are they talking about? Let’s briefly examine these as separate concepts. First, there’s the advertiser. How is it that advertisers create commercials that convince people to buy things they didn’t even want in the first place?

Well there are countless components to creating an effective advertisement, but the primary way to get customers to buy is through media saturation. This is where you see and hear an ad for a product or service over and over again, on every medium – radio, TV, online, everywhere. Eventually, the message is so engrained into your mind you can’t help but remember it.

If you’re a commercial radio and television consumer, the best example of this kind of advertising is from auto dealers. Car dealerships flood the media with the same, nauseating advertisements, chock full of shouting announcers or gimmicky slogans.

Actually, when advertisers saturate the airwaves like this, the ads don’t event have to be particularly good, just slightly memorable with the name and product repeated over and over again. It’s the frequency that causes you to remember them.

There is no question that the media gets in our heads. Today we are so connected by the Internet and on every manner of device that some people struggle to be away from the constant flow of information even for a brief period of time. All of this has led to the idea of what is sometimes called “media mind control.”

You're probably far more likely to be "brainwashed" by a company like Apple that convinces you how "cool" something is and play on your own vanity. You're still making the choice.

You’re probably far more likely to be “brainwashed” by a company like Apple that convinces you how “cool” something is and plays on your own vanity. You’re still making the choice.

But, in my opinion, as a working part of the media in question, all of this is nonsense… sort of. If you really believe an ad can “make” you buy something or that the news can force you to vote for a particular candidate for office, then that’s pretty sad. Where is your own free will? Why follow the lemmings?

Media can “influence” the decision making process by presenting information tooled towards a certain message or ideology. But the decision to buy into any of that is all on you. The people writing the mind control articles I mentioned earlier have forgotten one, basic idea – we all have a freedom of choice and will.

Even though it might not seem like it sometimes, people choose what they’re going to believe. Advertisers and politicians are hoping you don’t exercise that free thought component of your brain and just follow blindly where their media leads.

Yes, they will play your heartstrings like a cheap fiddle and go at your sense of need and desire until you feel like you can’t live without … whatever they’re selling. But if you are so brain dead that you actually fall for their nonsense, then that’s your fault, not theirs.

We must stop blaming the media for everything and take some personal responsibility for our own bad judgment. News outlets reporting on a shooting did not cause the next mass murder, the guy on the trigger chose his actions. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton didn’t “manipulate” anyone into following them, the choice was made by each individual. Period. Any other conclusion is a bit delusional and conspiracy-minded.

Again, influence is the key word here. You can be influenced easily enough, but full on “manipulation” by the media, or anything else, is based on a level of control that we, as individuals, have to give up in order to be affected by it. If you choose to hand over your independent thought and free will then the problem rests with you, not the media you consume.

This, no doubt, will be an unpopular statement considering the “my bad behavior is someone else’s fault” society we live in today. But it’s true, nonetheless. Without threat of harm or other level of duress from an outside source, the only person who can make you do anything – is you.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd. More at deerinheadlines.com

Yellow Springs company, DMS ink, elevates inkjet capabilities

In Business, Dayton Ohio News, Economy, finances, National News, Technology, Uncategorized on June 15, 2016 at 3:56 pm

 

One-stop print shop opens the doors to new business opportunities

MELVILLE, N.Y., June 15, 2016 – Canon Solutions America, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Canon U.S.A., Inc., today announced an advancement in its ongoing strategic relationship with DMS ink, a full-service direct mail marketing company located in Yellow Springs, Ohio. The installation of the Océ VarioPrint i300 and Océ ColorStream 3900 color digital presses in the DMS ink facility serves to expand their services to their customer base, and illustrates Canon Solutions America’s ongoing commitment to advancing customers’ print output through cutting-edge inkjet technologies.

DMS ink, formerly Dayton Mailing Services, recently moved its headquarters and most of its production to Yellow Springs, Ohio from Dayton.

DMS ink, formerly Dayton Mailing Services, recently moved its headquarters and most of its production to Yellow Springs, Ohio from Dayton.

DMS ink, originally known as Dayton Mailing Services, was founded in 1983. The company has thrived in the direct mail space for more than 30 years through its ability to adapt, staying at the forefront of the industry with cutting-edge concepts and solutions while serving a dynamic customer-base. Since its inception, DMS ink has been known throughout the region for providing best-in-class mailing services and handling its customer projects from design to distribution. With a team of dedicated professionals, the direct mail marketing leader helps a wide range of businesses including healthcare, financial, retail, insurance, and many others, to reduce their costs by offering unique capabilities that go beyond industry benchmarks.

As successful and reliable as DMS ink is within the mail marketing business landscape, to put an emphasis solely on those capabilities would be a disservice to a company that has recently expanded its operations to include leading data services and digital print offerings. Over the last five years, the Ohio-based full printing and fulfillment center has grown into a prosperous digital print provider that now boasts some of the most game-changing technologies that are redefining the industry. This transition began in early 2005 when DMS ink began its shift from a traditional letter shop to a variable data printing provider, and is most recently represented by the company’s acquisition of the Océ VarioPrint i300 sheet-fed inkjet press and the Océ ColorStream 3900 inkjet press. Since the arrival of these advanced presses, the early adopter of inkjet has opened the doors to even broader business opportunities.

“I cannot stress enough the level of activity and excitement within DMS ink as we continue our migration to a critical document company with state-of-the-art digital print capabilities,” said Christine Soward, president and owner of DMS ink, whose commitment to innovation and emerging technologies has grown the company’s revenue by double digits over the last several years. “The enthusiasm around our company is perhaps best highlighted by our purchase of what we feel is the product that will lead the charge in the industry-wide inkjet movement, the Océ VarioPrint i300.”

When DMS ink went to market for an answer to its crucial digital print needs, it specifically searched for improvements in print quality and a press that could provide commercial-type color at transactional-type costs. With a commitment to innovation, Soward and her team put an equal focus on finding a digital press that could help diversify their client roster and overall offerings while handling new and more diverse applications with an eye toward profitability. Additionally, DMS ink knew that with the emergence of new inkjet technologies, there was an answer to its ongoing quest to break down the barriers it was finding that pertained to offset printing, short-run jobs, postal optimization, one-on-one personalized communications, and the ability to maximize uptime.

“The new Océ products have allowed us to run jobs at an unbelievable rate and with incredible quality,” added Jim Hoffman, vice president of Business Development at DMS ink. “Of course you always want to get the most out of your investment, and with the Océ VarioPrint i300 and Océ ColorStream 3900 we can now fully leverage our finishing capabilities, which has resulted in heightened efficiency and automated workflows. Our core goal of becoming less of a mail house and more of a strategic partner has been greatly enhanced with the print functionality we now have with our newest acquisitions.”

Built to allow its users the ability to grow within a market that is evolving rapidly, the Océ VarioPrint i300 bridges the gap between the application flexibility and efficiency of sheet-fed presses and the economy and productivity of web-fed systems, without compromising quality. As witnessed by DMS ink, the digital press was designed to offer premium quality output with proven inkjet productivity and flexibility. Operating as the ideal complement to this leading press is the Océ ColorStream 3900 full color inkjet printer. Recognized as one of the fastest growing inkjet presses in the industry, its production and media flexibility enables a simplified transition of applications and business models to more sophisticated documents with variable personalization and smarter communication in color.

“With the confluence of new technologies and the ever-apparent shift to inkjet, we have dedicated ourselves to finding the best way for our customers to accelerate the offset-to-digital print migration with products that will set the bar for the inkjet movement,” said Francis A. McMahon, senior vice president, Marketing, Production Print Solutions, Canon Solutions America. “However, none of that is possible without feedback from our valued customers like DMS ink, which allows us to modify the technology to best fit their business goals and prepare them for expansive growth.”

The collaboration between Canon Solutions America and DMS ink did not end with the installation of the Océ VarioPrint. With the intention to migrate the rest of its inkjet products and to further enhance its workflow, DMS ink additionally implemented the Océ PRISMAproduction print workflow and output management system. This addition is set to provide DMS ink with the ability to create a unified platform for mid to high volume, high speed printing for its entire production print fleet.

“This is very much a time of change and growth here at DMS ink, and we could not be more excited to experience that growth alongside Canon Solutions America,” added Soward. “The future looks bright for DMS ink and our customers!”

 

About DMS ink
DMS ink (formerly Dayton Mailing Services) has thrived in the direct mail, digital print, and data management industries for more than 30 years. Their goal is to become a true partner to their customers and an extension of their business through trust and dedication. DMS ink provides innovative, cutting edge solutions using the latest technology to increase capabilities, improve efficiency and reduce costs, while maximizing consumer response and meeting the needs of the client. DMS is a minority and woman owned certified business serving clients nationally. Their unique capabilities are sought by a wide range of businesses from healthcare, financial, retail, political, energy, automotive, non-profits, and many others that require full project management of design, material acquisitions, complex data programming, variable content, printing, fulfillment and mailing services.

About Canon Solutions America, Inc.

Canon Solutions America provides industry leading enterprise, production, and large format printing solutions, supported by exceptional professional service offerings. With the technology offerings of the Canon and Océ brands, Canon Solutions America helps companies of all sizes improve sustainability, increase efficiency, and control costs through high volume, continuous feed, digital and traditional printing, and document management solutions. A wholly owned subsidiary of Canon U.S.A., Inc., Canon Solutions America is headquartered in Melville, N.Y. and has sales and service locations across the U.S. For more information on Canon Solutions America, please visit csa.canon.com.

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Canon is a registered trademark of Canon Inc. in the United States and elsewhere. Océ is a registered trademark of Océ-Technologies B.V. in the United States and elsewhere. All other referenced product names and marks are trademarks of their respective owners and are hereby acknowledged.

© 2016 Canon Solutions America, Inc. All rights reserved.

Preventing student debt will take work

In Economy, finances, history, National News, Opinion, Uncategorized on August 5, 2015 at 11:10 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGOIn recent months, democrats seem more upset than ever about the level of student debt, with President Obama leading the charge to loan forgiveness. But as tuition continues to rise for state students in a still struggling economy, why has nothing been done to limit massive salaries paid to state college administrators, many near the million-dollar mark, while students struggle to pay skyrocketing fees?

Constantly up in arms over the greed of wealthy conservatives, liberals seem to maintain a blissful ignorance toward millionaires who help to push their own political agenda, such as college administrators. But limiting the salaries of these academic fat cats could help to ease the financial burden on the schools and the students.

According to the salary database of the Ohio State University, for example, former President E. Gordon Gee “earned” a whopping, $859,566 in 2013. And that’s only the cash salary; this figure doesn’t include any sort of benefits or bonuses. You could easily surmise that his nearest underlings earn somewhere close to that, at least in the middle six figures.

What could a state employed “figurehead” possibly do to be worth that kind of money? After all, it’s OSU, not Harvard. That’s simply ridiculous, no matter how many letters are stacked up after his name.

IMG_3970Universities aren’t alone in this outrageous salary model, however. According to a December 2015 report by the Dayton Business Journal, Sinclair Community College President Steven Johnson now earns a base salary – without benefits – of $371,454.

Why are the taxpayers shelling out nearly a half-million dollars for a community college president? Keep in mind that these people are not teachers and most high-level administrators continue to receive raises and bonuses even when the schools are making budget cuts everywhere else.

Still, while it could help lower tuition slightly, even if the salaries are cut back in top-heavy administrations, it wouldn’t do much to help people actually pay for school. College students need to take on some of the responsibility to limit their own debt, in ways that no one wants to talk about because they’re politically incorrect.

First, here’s a thought just way out of left field – get a job. Most of the people I went to college with were not from wealthy families and many of the loans we’re talking about today didn’t exist three decades ago. So, they did what I did, applied for every grant and scholarship available and worked as many as three, part-time jobs to help cover the costs. Some did take out small loans, a semester or two at a time, and paid them back as they went.

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when “work” became such a bad word? A student who works while in school gains a better sense of responsibility, learns how to handle money more efficiently and is more self-sufficient. That also makes them less likely to return home after they graduate because they aren’t afraid to take jobs to make ends meet while looking for their career spot.

Another major sticking point of the American university mentality is that you have to finish your degree in no more than four years. Those who don’t hit the mark may end up at the bottom of the placement pile, labeled as disengaged or unmotivated, and that’s just ridiculous.

Common sense suggests that if it takes longer and the student works during their higher education years, future employers will benefit from applicants with more real-world experience and the worker is more likely to excel faster and make more money.

The simple fact remains that the American economy is still wounded, and all of the handouts in the world won’t change that. Students today would be far better off to work while going to school. If that means they don’t get done in four years, so be it. In adult life, you don’t always have it easy and you need to take responsibility for yourself.

Loan forgiveness is treating the symptom, not the disease. With the foregone conclusion that they’ll never have to pay back a student loan, there is simply no incentive for people to try to stay out of that debt in the first place.

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications. More at gerydeer.com

A national, online university is impractical.

In Economy, Education, finances, history, National News, Opinion, Technology, Uncategorized on March 9, 2015 at 12:59 pm

DIH LOGOA recent CNN.com article by Kevin Carey proposed the idea that America could bring to reality George Washington’s dream of a national university by utilizing the Internet-based programs of existing institutions. Colleges and universities already receive millions every year in federal money, so some of that could be allocated towards low-tuition, online education. Good idea in concept, but not practical.

Although Internet-based programs have been in place for some time at universities around the country, many educators still believe that online education lacks the face-to-face contact necessary for students to connect with the subtleties of concepts and ideas. Questions cannot be answered immediately and written communication skills become more vital since intent and personality don’t always come across the same way virtually as in person.

Obviously, online options are not well-suited for every course of study, particularly where hands-on work is vital, such as the physical sciences or engineering. The ITDL article notes that videos would need to be produced, substantially increasing costs, while still lacking in the ability for students to get direct, immediate feedback. Flaws aside for a moment, online options have some positive aspects as well.

booksA few years ago, one article in the International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning noted that some educators employ online discussion boards to compensate for absent face time. One professor referenced in the article also suggested that, “a virtual environment reduces gender differences,” creating a more equal educational setting for men and women.

A national university could potentially be cobbled together from existing web-based programs and at a considerable savings. With online education there are fewer administrative issues, no buildings to construct and no libraries to collect.

But if the intent of such a program would be a stepping stone towards achieving President Obama’s promises of free community college education, further examination is probably needed. On the surface, a virtually-based, national community college program looks like a great solution to a daunting issue. Digging down, however, the financial and educational factors that sparked the idea in the first place would also be its greatest hindrance.

In order for such a program to be of value, it would need to be within the reach of the poorest of American citizens. Computers, for all they seem readily available by the upper-middle class, are still fiscally out of reach for those of lower income.

A computer at the local library is great for submitting job resumes or checking Facebook, but long-term study on public computers is impractical and insecure. Add to that most public computers are painfully slow and out-of-date, with restricted web search capability, and they seem like a thoroughly impossible option.

Additionally, free (or nearly free) dial-up Internet access would be wholly insufficient for higher learning programs so students would need to use high-speed broadband service. Once again, pricing and accessibility become the major issues. It simply costs too much for most lower-income families to afford high-speed Internet service and, in rural communities, availability remains shockingly limited.

Finally, there is the issue of prerequisite education. Besides whatever background might be needed for enrollment and future success in any particular program, a lack of computer skills can also hamper online class work.

The average computer user has a parenthetical set of skills: they can surf the web (but tend to stay on websites they know how to navigate), use a simple word processor, send a basic email (without attachments), print something and turn the machine off and on. That’s pretty much it.

Some of college coursework would require the student to possess advanced computer skills related to online research, clerical software manipulation, media production and so on. That might be a problem for someone coming from a background of limited resources or a family where technology didn’t play a major role.

None of this is impossible, but the limits on infrastructure, funding and practicality might be too great a challenge to reach those who would most benefit. An online program alone is just not the answer to America’s higher education deficiencies. Sorry George, no national university just yet. But, hopefully, there are some smart people out there trying to make something like it a reality in the near future.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications. More at gerydeer.com.

E-commerce that supports local business

In Business, Economy, finances, Holiday, Local News, National News, Technology, Uncategorized on November 26, 2014 at 4:25 pm
GLD Enterprises Commercial Writing's "e-commerce kiosk," at Amazon.com

GLD Enterprises Commercial Writing’s “e-commerce kiosk,” at Amazon.com

JAMESTOWN, OH – Shoppers are being encouraged to buy from small, local retailers this holiday season, but did you know there was a way to support local business and still buy from Amazon.com? They’re called “Amazon aStores,” and they allow local business to set up a virtual storefront through Amazon.com and offer products of their own choosing.

Retailers can set up what is essentially a virtual kiosk inserted within the company website. Each item is selected individually and can be categorized for easy indexing. Shoppers can then visit the main website for the company, providing the owner with valuable marketing information about how often the site is frequented, and then click on the business’s amazon store to shop further.

The hosting business is then paid an advertising fee by Amazon for each product sold through its store. Such a store doesn’t generate a great deal of revenue, but it can provide some helpful cash flow, if people know to use it.

Gery L. Deer, owner and creative director fro GLD Enterprises of Jamestown, Ohio has three such Amazon stores in operation on different websites. “We do a great deal of work with local authors, and the Amazon store allowed us a way to market the electronic versions of books, as well as other specialized items, often unavailable from local retailers.”

Deer says this kind of pre-packaged e-commerce is a good way for small businesses to have an online sales presence, even if the company is not necessarily a retailer. “Our business is primarily a business-to-business marketing and copywriting agency,” Deer says. “As a service business, we don’t have retail sales, but the products we provide through our online store can benefit the customer by offering another way to both save money on shopping and support local business, all at the same time.” For more information visit Amazon.com.

Here are links to the Amazon stores managed by GLD Enterprises and its partner companies:

GLD Enterprises Commercial Writing Amazon Store: Features locally-authored books and related products. Some product sales benefits the Western Ohio Writers Association.

GLD Enterprises & Production: Features a wide variety of books, electronics, specialty items and locally-authored material.

Deer Computer Consulting, Ltd.: Books, software, electronics, and more “computer” related products.

 

 

E-commerce shoppers beware price steering

In Economy, finances, Holiday, Media, National News, Technology, Uncategorized on November 17, 2014 at 2:28 pm

DIH LOGORecent surveys suggest that nearly 60 percent of shoppers will do their holiday buying online this year. That’s probably not too surprising to most people.  But did you also know that many e-commerce websites actually adjust pricing based on your personal information to get the most money they can from each shopper? It’s called “price steering,” and it’s perfectly legal. Here’s how it works.

Let’s say Bob goes online to buy a hammer using his smart phone. The e-commerce hardware site offers the item for $10 with a $2 shipping charge. From his desktop computer at work, John looking up the very same hammer on the same website, but his price is showing at $15 with a $5 shipping charge. The cost variation is based on data collected from each buyer’s Internet device.

Whenever you visit a website it leaves a “fingerprint,” on your computer, smart phone or tablet in the form of cookies, browsing history, and so on. For our example, let’s say Bob and John live in different parts of the country, work in different occupations, and have individual buying habits, so their computers, smart phones and other devices portray a very different “electronic personality,” or “E.P.”

The E.P. information is used to “steer” each buyer to the same product but with different pricing based on the collected data. That level of electronic tracking might sound a bit distressing, but it’s really been going on for quite some time.

Deer Computer Consulting, Ltd. recommends checking e-commerce prices from different devices.

Deer Computer Consulting, Ltd. recommends checking e-commerce prices from different devices.

Internet users receive a plethora of personalized information every day. As they go about their day-to-day activities, complex programming is used to sift through online profile data and previous online activity, constantly processing it through something called a “personalization algorithm.” If you’ve ever wondered why Amazon knows that you like country music or white tigers, and constantly offers you products related to those things, that’s how they do it.

A similar process is used at grocery and other retail stores, using a combination of product placement and special pricing. I often refer to it as “the milk effect,” because dairy products, meats and other essentials are positioned in the back of the store and shoppers must pass a myriad of floor and end cap displays to get to them.

This “steers” the shopper past all of the sale items, incidentals, and virtually everything else, as they make their way to the household staples. Unlike price steering online, however, this practice is fairly transparent and has few components to allow unique pricing adjustments for each buyer.

User data collection and manipulation may provide many people with better pricing but it can also be used to force others to pay more. A recent study by researchers at Northeastern University brought into question the level of transparency offered by popular e-commerce sites and price steering practices.

Price steering actually hap­pens every day and is well-advertised. In a standard retail setting, for example, senior citizens might get a dis­count at the movies or a col­lege stu­dent pays less for books. And, according to the university’s website, authors of the study note that there is nothing inherently sinister in the processes.

But before you click “buy now,” it’s up to you to make sure you’re getting the best possible price online. Here are a few simple tips to help.

First, clear the browsing history on your device and turn off tracking cookies. Websites can’t access your history if there’s nothing there to see. Be aware, however, that some websites require that cookies be allowed or the site will not work properly.

Next, view the website on different devices. Some of the data collected can tell retailers that you are using an expensive smart phone and may be more inclined to pay more at checkout.

If you’re a regular user of a particular retailer’s website, log out and log in as a guest through another device. Sometimes guests are provided with lower pricing to entice them to buy.

Finally, scroll around, making sure to check the very bottom of the web page. Lower-priced products may be displayed elsewhere besides the top of the page. Do your homework, get the best price and enjoy this holiday shopping season.

(TUNE INTO WDTN-TV2’S LIVING DAYTON AT NOON ON FRIDAY NOVEMBER 28TH FOR A SPECIAL SEGMENT ON THIS TOPIC PRESENTED BY DEER IN HEADLINES AUTHOR GERY L. DEER.)

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer based in Jamestown. More at gerydeer.com.

 

 

 

All In One from CMG Financial pays off mortage faster, builds equity

In Business, Economy, finances, Local News, Uncategorized on July 7, 2014 at 12:43 pm

By Gery L. Deer

Business Editor

With interest rates at historic lows, American homeowners are constantly on the lookout for the best way to pay off a mortgage loan at the lowest cost and in the shortest time. CMG Financial has a loan solution, just made available in Ohio, specifically designed to help borrowers put idle money to work reducing mortgage debt.

CMG Financial was established in 1993 as a privately held, mortgage-banking firm based in San Ramon, California. The company is widely known for responsible lending practices, industry and consumer advocacy, operational efficiency and market innovation.  Among those innovations is what the company refers to as the All in One mortgage.

Joseph P. Beach is the Ohio Operations manager at the firm’s Dayton area office, opened in 2011, and a thirteen-year veteran of the mortgage industry. “The All in One mortgage has been offered in California since 2005, but is now available in Ohio and seven other Midwest states exclusively from CMG,” Beach says. “It’s designed to benefit the disciplined borrower who is interested in paying off their mortgage and growing the equity funds available as fast as possible.

According to CMG Financial, this type of mortgage option has been available in England, Canada and Australia, where interest regulations are different. Essentially, the All in One mortgage, “Puts lazy money to work.” That is, money that would normally just sit in a checking account doing nothing is used to lower the balance of the mortgage loan until the cash is needed elsewhere.  The idea is to lower the total interest expense over the term of the loan by paying down the balance right from the beginning using the idle cash in checking, certificates of deposit and other low interest-earning accounts.

Beach notes that there are some specific advantages to the All in One mortgage, unavailable under other products. “A borrower can significantly cut the total interest expense over the life of the loan, pay off your mortgage in as little as seven years with no change to your spending habits, and still be able to access home equity 24 hours a day, seven days a week, without refinancing.

Stein_CMG-CapturePopular economist and author Ben Stein has personally endorsed the CMG loan stating in a promotional video now available on YouTube, “I think it’s the greatest invention in personal finance in my lifetime.”

Of course, the All in One is not for everyone and certainly not a product for those in an upside down or problematic financial situation. Beach’s description of a “disciplined borrower” is very accurate. To qualify, borrowers require a credit score exceeding 700, are active savers and use funds that would normally be sitting in a checking account earning minimal interest.

For more information, contact Joe Beach at CMG Financial’s Dayton office by calling, (937) 937-723-8095 or email jbeach@cmgfi.com. The All in One was patent protected in 2009 and is a trademarked mortgage product of CMG Financial. Catch Joe Beach on WDTN-TV2’s “Living Dayton” program, 12-Noon, Thursday July 10.