sexta-feira, 22 de abril de 2011

Exclusive article: V for Vendetta.

I just wrote an exclusive Triond article that talks about this amazing Graphic Novel. V for Vendetta isn't your ordinary comic: it's a one-of-a-kind work. Read more about it here:

and don't forget to press 'like' if you do like the article!

quinta-feira, 21 de abril de 2011

Using Yammer to increase workflow and reduce dependency on email lists

Hello, everyone! I'm sorry about the lack of daily updates: it is because I've been writing a lot lately. Anyway, I'm excited to show you the article that just got approved: this one was written for Yammer through MediaPiston. For those who don't know, Yammer is company that sells integrated communication solutions to over 100,000 companies. No, I didn't get the number wrong. Check out their website. (By the way, I got 4 stars out of 5 for this article – pretty nice for a company this big, isn't it?)

Anyway, without further ado, here is the article.

Do you know how old emails are? 10 years old? Of course not. 17 years old, dating back from 1994? No, not even close.

Believe it or not, emails are a technology dating back from 1962, when the first rudimentary electronic network was created. That would be... 49 years, considering it's 2011 right now! This means, of course, emails may be older than you ever imagined they were. In fact, they might be older than you are.

Since emails have been there for so long, you probably also know what email lists are: you setup a server, and then addresses may be added automatically (as people send emails through them) or manually (as you setup a private list. Setting up a mailing list also requires you to decide if you want them to be "announcement lists," (a type of list that only sends email), "discussion lists" (where everyone is free to join – not very suitable for internal communication, right?), and the subscribing model. Oh, let's not forget spam, which requires a lot of time and money to get rid of.

This is your typical 1962 computer – it's amazing how old emails
are and how they have evolved together
with technology, isn't it?
Another problem inherent to emails, as you might have already noticed, is their slow response time: if you need something solved now and you only have an email address – well, don't count on it. Having a phone number might help these times – but what if you need to send messages to everyone, quickly?

Right after that, corporate (and internal) communication tools were born. These you might already know: Windows came with one built-in in their earlier versions. However, they were still very limited. It was the release of tools like ICQ that changed everything: now you could interact with a co-worker or employee even if they were outside of work, and messages were sent instantly. Then, MSN, AOL, Yahoo Messenger, and many other tools were born. However, the many choices of a myriad of tools also meant co-worker communication could be very hard – very quickly. If you are old enough (and now you don't have to be that old), you can probably picture yourself as John, James, or both of them.

John (on the phone): Hey, James. Say, I need to discuss some company issues quickly and send you a report. Do you have an MSN account?

James: Sorry, buddy. I only have an ICQ account. I don't trust MSN. It just keeps crashing.

John (irritated): Well, can't you create one?

James: Ah, that stuff is too complicated. Can't we discuss this through email? You attach the report and I get it as soon as I can.

John: (*Sigh*.) Ok. Bye.

John and James after they traded emails. They don't look very happy
about  the outcome of their conversation, do they?

Not to your surprise, the issue that was so urgent took more time than the expected to be solved, right?

Attempting to solve all these problems, many other social media tools that were born just the last decade: Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, Digg – even YouTube can be considered a form of social media, however visual. Now these were even better: no need to install software, friend searching, customizing applications: you could create an entire different world – your world – within your own account. Unfortunately, these tools lacked what the seriousness of the email and the sense of urgency of instant messaging.

Let's face it... can a company handle all this information? What to choose, among all of these tools? And why did I read up to here only to read about Yammer? What's so special about it?

The reason Yammer is unique is that it changed the whole corporate communication system: before 2008, the answer would be to deploy your own communication strategy, alternating between a myriad of tools. But no more. In 2008, Yammer was born – and now, 3 years later, it is even more powerful than before.

You see, with Yammer you don't need to choose between tools: Yammer can unify them all into a single solution for you, with no need for installing any software at all – that means no crashing, reduced maintenance needs and improved workflow! Key features include:

  • Send long messages through email integration, or short, instant ones with Twitter (or Google Talk) integration.
  • Connect everywhere, from nearly any phone: Yammer supports iPhones, BlackBerries, Androids, Windows Mobile – and even regular cell phones through SMS integration!
  • Don't you like the official Yammer apps? Access Yammer through many third party apps: Gabble, OneLogin, itDuzzIt – even a Firefox extension is available!
  • Is the flow of messages too large for you to handle? No problem – specify the keywords you need and Yammer will search relevant data for you!

Wait – you might protest – you haven't described how to reduce dependence on email lists!

Indeed, I haven't: that's because there's no need of setting up email lists when you use Yammer: after all, Yammer only allows connections from within your network. This is because, to sign up, all you need is an email address and your business contacts, and it also translates into no spam and a productivity increase of up to 60%.

After hearing to all this, it may seem Yammer is expensive: in fact, it isn't. Yammer is "Freemium": you can get access to the most basic services for free, and advanced services cost only $5 per user/month.

You don't trust us? Great. Skepticism is good! Trust the 100,000 companies and organizations that opted for our services instead. They include, but are not limited to: UNICEF, Fox International Channels, AMD, LG, eBay, PayPal – and so on.

Guess what all these companies have in common?

Yammer: THE Freemium integration social network.

sexta-feira, 15 de abril de 2011

Child's play: Underwater kites fly deep under the ocean and turn the sky green

This article was originally written for Cooler Planet, Media Piston's client, who requested an article about Green News.

I bet you have never seen this kind of Kite

The sky has never been greener. Minesto, a Swedish company specialized in converting tidal currents into green energy, has created undersea kites that will expand United Kingdom's green energy. Called "Deep Green", this project has ambition of amplifying UK's power supply by 1% by 2020, but if the projects goes well, this kind of technology could provide the country up to 5% of their technology in the future, Minesto's press release states.

A video demonstration of Minesto's Deep Green Technology 

Although skeptics comments in Minesto's Youtube video question the idea, stating that it may not generate enough energy or threaten Marine life, or be threatened by algae comments both at Youtube's link and Daniel Carrington's blog (the head of the environment section of British news portal "The Guardian", pro-tidal visitors state that "the device is noisy, and unlikely to attract Whales and Sharks", that the device can be made algae-resistant either "chemically or electrically", and that tests could be made in a few areas to ensure this device can be redesigned not to harm marine life, if needed. It's also worth noting that the project has been under development at least as early as 3 years ago, as reported back then by Clean Technica, another news site about green energy.

A fact, however, cannot be denied: United Kingdom's government is not going to give up the idea anytime soon. RenewableUK Wave Tidal 2011, for instance, states that "the UK is already the global leader of wave and tidal energy", which is being held today, as of March 2nd, 2011. This event will discuss the technology's future, which is heavily competing with alternative energy sources as renewable gas technology, solar panels, recycled landfill gas, and wind turbines (which, among them, one that deserved praise, according to Clean Technica, is the AeroEnvironment Architetural wind, capable of adapting to urban areas and architeture and "producing 28,000 Kw/hour under normal wind conditions".

Despite the challenges renewable technology has to face, any new, renewable green technology is welcomed. Oracle ThinkQuest Education Foundation, for instance, states that as of now, ways to permanently handle nuclear technology – one of the major energy alternatives to coal today, are not satisfactory, as it usually takes thousands of years for nuclear energy to be fully decomposed. Therefore, extracting energy from the ocean can prove to be a great source of energy – even more reliable than, for instance, wind technology, as wind currents are not always reliable.

1. Minesto's website:

2. Daniel Carrington's Environment blog:

3. Clean Technica News portal:

4. Oracle's ThinkQuest Education Foundation:

quinta-feira, 14 de abril de 2011

Why buy a Mercedes?

This article was originally written for Mercedes-Benz of Bellevue, a branch of the ever-sophisticated Mercedes-Benz. It tells you about the Mercedes E-class – and why you should buy it.

When you buy a car, there usually trade-offs as, "should I buy a car with a more powerful engine or the one that will save me money?", or, "should I buy a car filled with accessories or one that will last?"

Security, economy, handling, choose as you wish: a Mercedes E class fares among all them very wisely. Although only a little slower than a Lexus in accelerating - an E350 will go up to 60 mph in 6.8, and the E550 up to 60 mph in 5.3, against 60 mph in 5.2 seconds in a GS450h, having a Mercedes E class just feels a lot smoother to drive: the new Bluetec technology achieves about 30 mpg in a highway, compared to 23 mpg of a Lexus. Buying a Mercedes not only is Luxurious, but it is Luxurious to suit your needs and safety: AttentionAssist, for instance, tells drivers when they are drowsy, and Pre-safety ensures you will rest assured: unlikely the Lexus GS450h, it doesn't act during the collision: the E-class has 200-meter sensors that will react to any danger before it happens, from moving seats to a less threatening position to the passengers to dynamically adjusting airbags that fit the frame of a person, light-framed or heavy-framed; small or tall.

A Mercedes-Benz E-Class – in all its Glory.

If you insist into buying a Lexus, you have a few options to choose from: 
  • Lexus of Bellevue: 101 116th Avenue Southeast Bellevue, WA 98004-6365, phone: (425) 455-9995. 
  • Lexus of Seattle: 20300 Washington 99 Lynnwood, WA 98036, phone: (425) 774-7900. 
  • Lexus of Tacoma: 1708 40th Avenue Ct E, Fife - (253) 922-7100.
But, if your choice is a Mercedes E-Class and the safety, comfort and sophistication it offers (included being government-tested, with excellent ratings, compared to Lexus GS450h, which was not government-tested yet), visit Barrier - the Mercedes-Benz of Bellevue - which complies to everything a Mercedes offers:
  • Customer care hotline.
  • Online service scheduling - why bother going out home? Schedule services in your house easily and safely! 
  •   90 day Barrier extended guarantee for pre-owned vehicles - because we trust our work!
  • Urgent care service, with no scheduling needed - because we're there when you need us, anytime.
If you need to contact us, don't hesitate - here's our address: 
  •   Mercedes-Benz of Bellevue 11950 Bellevue - Redmond Rd Bellevue, WA 98005 Sales: 1-866-509-9650 
  • Service: 1-866-509-9649

quarta-feira, 13 de abril de 2011

Travel All Over the World for Just a Few Cents (Client: Park Plaza Hotels)

This article was originally written for Park Plaza, a big chain of 40 hotels spread in 15 different countries. It was rated "5-star" by my client.

Westminster Hotel, London

Does a romantic trip all over the world sound like a fantasy to you? Well,  Park Plaza deals are here to prove you otherwise. You see, Park Plaza is present in 15 countries worldwide, with a pleasant choice of 40 hotels to choose from. With them, you can taste London's finest breakfast, enjoy the lovely scenario of Amsterdam with your loved one riding a bike, or witness the beautiful scenario of Bangkok. A trip like this need not be expensive, but you can still have the luxury that you deserve. 

Sukhumvit Hotel (Lobby)

Let's explain how Park Plaza makes your trip all over the world cost less than half a penny: first, you pack your luggage and fly through one of their airline partners to London, earning gold points. Then, you spend a night into Westminister Bridge London, one of their most Luxurious hotels, opposing Big Ben. After that, when you decide to travel to Park Plaza Victoria Amsterdam to enjoy a typical Amsterdam bike walking, you can use those gold points to get a great discount – while still earning more free points. Then, you go to their Sukhumvit Bangkok hotel, which offers stylish facilities, and from there you rent a car from one of their partners, visiting central Bangkok to eat exotic thai food. In the end of your journey, you might have so many points you might earn a free flight and stay into Liau Hotels in Brazil, Sao Paulo, so you can enjoy the typical warmth of Brazilian people, witnessing a tropical paradise and their wonderful hospitality.

If you visit Victoria Amsterdam Hotel,
you'll have the opportunity to visit
this city's famous canals.

Do you think your advantages end there? Think again. We from offer many deals and coupons from many different companies, among them: cloth shops, bookstores, electronics shops, drugstores – you name it. When your dream comes true – because that's certainly not of a matter of "if", but "when" – you'll certainly be able to send "those" special shoes for your best friend for almost free, too. And, if you visit our site, you may also grab a Park Plaza discount code: after all, you never known about the wonderful surprises that are waiting for you.

quinta-feira, 7 de abril de 2011

Right, I write

Right. All Right. I write, and it's past midnight. Left, the pen, right there. And from my head, nothing comes all right!

Stiff, stuck, stopped and blocked. And then, I'm back to my computer – I am completely locked.
Right, All right. This is not poetry; this is prose. And yet – just yet – I feel the need to express myself freely, properly.

Right, all right. Nothing comes to my mind. Over and over I read different books wanting inspiration and then I break the rules of punctuation and the commas suffer and the periods suffer. And then, no inspiration – no motivation – to write.

But hey, it's ok, right? Over and over, the same words I write – and then, thinking I'm escaping from these rhymes, I do the evolution:

Right. All right. Nothing comes to my mind. And then – just then – I get away from the computer and grab a pen.

As I write, my fragmented thoughts become organized; as I write the same words on a different sheet of paper,  shit happens – then, shit vanishes.

No, not right. In fact, this is completely wrong. You aren't reading this; this text doesn't really exist – but that's how my text is, and published with all the might and courage it shall be!

(P.S: What do you guys do when you feel your writing feels the same all the time? Leave me a comment.)

domingo, 3 de abril de 2011

Document generation software, part III: how to impress your boss quickly and easily

Monday. Another rainy day at the office. As your boss arrives – grumpier than his usual self – he says: 

"Joe, I need you here. Now."

Your heart pounds. Sure, your boss is a person with lots of responsibilities – but something looks definitely wrong. What could it be? Did you miss something important? Does he think you're killing off time during your work hours? Did he find someone else to replace you? – No, that can't be. You have always been a dedicated employee. Maybe not perfect, but you've always been there. 

But then, what could he possibly want?
Your heart pounds. And then, it races. But you need to go to his room and face what he wants. And, trying to be as calm as you can possibly be – at least on the inside, you walk into your boss' room, expecting the worst. 

"Joe," – he starts talking again, showing now nervous and anxious he is – "we have a reunion with one of our most important clients today, and that company said that they need to see a report showing how concrete their return of investment has been 6 months ago and wants to see how estimates 6 months from now. We only have one hour to get this data and to create a presentation that will impress them, so hurry."

Your heart pounds. How come you have been told just now of something so important?! How can you do that in one your with the complicated reporting tools you have at your disposal? And – most importantly – how can you do that in one hour? You need to use all that complicated software again and do the job thee times: once to get the data, another to get it imported into the file format you want, and, finally to tweak your presentation – because, more often than not, your presentation will be broken "out of the box", and you need to tweak it!

Knowing how much is at stake, you tell yourself, "I'm so fired. I can't do this in one hour."

Stop right there. Who told you that you can't do this? You can! But we have bad news and great news: the bad news is that there's no software that can do that in an hour. The good news, however, is that there's something out there that can do it in less than five minutes. 

The Light at the End of the Tunnel
Meet Windward Reports. Windward Reports, this is Joe User. Joe User, this is Windward Reports – wait, what am I saying?

Believe it or not, Windward Reports  knows you already. Although you probably don't know much about it, this software knows what type of user you are, what you want, and what you need to get your job done as painlessly as possible. But how come, after all, that Windward Reports knows about what you need?

The reason Windward Reports knows and understands you is because they have been spending years researching what you really need and want. After experiencing it, retrieving information from a database with a program and then using another program retrieving information from a database and then using another to get your presentation formatted into a certain file (DOC, DOCX, PPT, PPTX, et cetera) will be a thing of the past. And why is that?

You see, Windward Reports is something different from the competition: after it gets installed, all you need is to use Microsoft Office to get your job done – and you'll need to do it only in a single step, which will take not an hour, but five minutes. You can get as innovative and flashy as you want, or just as austere and minimalistic – you see, Windward Reports is versatile, and can impress you with many different template styles – or you can easily create your own in Word, just as you are always used to do. No longer you'll need to read lengthy instructions about how to get started: now, it is you that are in control – not your software.

Wait – what are you still waiting for? Hurry! Convince your boss to purchase Windward Reports right now: buying it takes less than one or two minutes, as it is available digitally. Also, integrating it into your workflow will take virtually no time. After your purchase, watch as your wonderful presentation gets generated instantly – getting your boss out of his grumpy mood and getting you some time to relax. In fact, your buss might be so happy about that deal with his big client he might give you a big promotion.

sexta-feira, 1 de abril de 2011

Document-generation software, part II: how should them be?

You already know the story:  your company is growing and you need standardized tools to generate help manuals, FAQs and technical manuals in multiple languages. Maybe, just maybe, you are a computer-savvy user already, and even tried free alternative like LaTeX or Docgen yourself.
But let's face it: some tools are very time-consuming. Do you really want to get a book to Learn LaTeX or to face the limited quirks of Docgen?
No, I'm sure you don't.  Therefore, document generation tools should be easy and reliable to use, and provide a minimum learning curve.

How a document-generation tool should not be.

  • A good document-generation tool should not be outdated. Take a look at Docgen again. As you can see on their site ( the last update was two years ago. That's a lot of time! Who knows how many bugs are lying right there, waiting for some hacker to get them exploited?

  • A good document-generation tool should not have a bad support team. And this is not just the problem of Docgen; many open-source tools, as LaTeX or Doxygen, have an informal support team that consists, basically, of technical members – usually developers of the project themselves. That would be all nice and great, except for something: they hate when laypeople ask them "dumb" questions. Well, newsflash: of course they are "dumb!" The developer knows everything about the project, and the user just to generate his report and be done with it. He certainly does *not* want to look at the project's source code just to figure out some obscure functions.

  • A good document-generation Tool Should not be filled with half-baked tools. We've seen this everywhere – even in commercial software. Now imagine the world of *free* software: it has the same problem, except it is multiplied by tenfold: LaTeX, for instance, requires you to be proficient with a text editor. If you aren't, well... you can use some interfaces like Lyx, but beware: your source text may misbehave, the manually inserted formula you just posted might give you the wrong output, and the templates are just plain hard to modify.

  • A good document-generation Tool Should not be hard to use. Again, this is true when it comes to most of the document-generation tools out there, both open source and commercial: they might require that you spend time on IRC (Internet Relay Chat), hoping that some developer will be there, answering your question – which is usually urgent, as you have business to do, too – and then, he asks, have you seen the [outdated] documentation of our project? Or worse: you can hear things like, just google it, or RTFM (search this one out and see what it means; it is not something nice). And be certain of one thing: if you rely on these tools, you might end up reading this words on IRC a lot. If you are fired by your boss because you spend a lot of time "chatting" (which it obviously isn't true), don't say you were not warned.

But then... how should a good document-generation tool be?

  • A good document-generation tool should focus on the user, not on the developer. And yet, many developers seem to ignore this, which is truth not only to these tools, but it the basis of well-developed software. If you are developing software for an artist, you must think like an artist; if you are developing software for a book publisher, then you must think like a book publisher; and, obviously, if you are developing for people that want documents generated without concern of how they should look like, how should you develop a this piece of software? Yes, exactly: with the user in mind. If you ever meet a developer and he talks to you about a killer feature, then ask him this: "well, how does this killer feature helps me boost my productivity?"

  • A good document-generation tool should have a low learning curve. This has been discussed before, but it cannot be stressed enough: people that look for document-generating software are looking for something that will generate beautiful, quick documents for them. If they have to spend 6 months just how to generate a document, then what's the point? They could just grab a word processor or a presentation tool and do it themselves, and it would be faster and more productive.

  • A good document-generation tool should have a well-trained support team that speaks the language of its users. Again, this sounds obvious, but believe it or not, many projects (and commercial companies) forget about this. A well-trained support team should speak the language of the user, and not force him/her to do the opposite. Furthermore, check if the software you want to download / purchase has online support: it's certainly useful if you do get stuck at some point while doing your tasks.

My life as a writer: biggest fears

You know, usually, when I write, my work is done for a client: I rarely write for myself, about myself.

I wish I knew why.

Wait – I do know why. When I send a client a text to be approved, that text does have my essence in it – but who I am, or my ambitions, and dreams... no, they must not show up. Therefore, the request I'm given is neither fully the voice of my client nor my own voice, as I portray his/her dreams. The final result, thus, is a mix of the essence of my client and of my own.

Writing for a client always makes me shiver: I always get that feeling that I'm not going to make it – even though, more often than not (and, sometimes, after a few revisions – I do make it. But hey, feelings aren't easily tamed, right?

But what wasn't my surprise today when I got an unusual request: submitting a writing sample for future works. This, alone, wasn't unusual, of course: what was unusual is that my client asked me to write in the first person and to convey my own feelings.

This time around, I wasn't shivering: I was downright terrified. Writing a text in the first person that conveys strong emotions? I felt I would be naked, writing about myself. Of course that I didn't really need to write about myself; yet, I decided to overcome my feelings. I decided I *would* write about myself.

Yes. Writing about myself... and evoking my deepest fears; face my "dark mirror." And when I face it, I don't like what I see: my fears, my sins. You might see me clothed, but I see myself naked.

I fear being alone. And, sometimes, I fear the afterlife: what is there after we die? God? The Devil? Nothing? Will I be reborn as an animal – maybe as a cockroach, a bug which I love to kill?

I also fear my how my life will be tomorrow: will I be able to "get a life?" To be happy, and to have more personal freedom? Will I ever overcome my dreadful "dark mirror?"

You see, it turns out this article, too, is for a client. Yes, it is more like me, but I don't usually write about myself. It makes me feel as if I'm exposing myself to you. It makes me feel fragile.

I'm sorry, Mr. Client. I can't be fully myself here either. But I hope I was a bit "like me," as you wish to see this side, and I do hope you like this.

To end my writing: I can only thank you so much, Mr. Client. Not only for the opportunity you are offering me, you know – but because you are giving me an opportunity to be emotional.