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ShorpyShorpy Higginbottom was a greaser who worked in an Alabama coal mine around 1910. He was 14 years old.

So why do we care about Shorpy? Well believe it or not Shorpy has his own blog! Nearly 100 years on from when he worked the mines Shorpy is now famous.

Actually the blog is named after him, I think basically because he’s such an interesting looking example character from the time but obviously he doesn’t write it and nor is it about him really.

Shorpy – The 100 Year Old Photo Blog features everyday pictures from a bygone era and makes a point of giving you as much or as little information about the photos as possible.

It’s a fascinating blog to visit everyday as there is always a new character to see from what would appear to be an endless supply of pictures.

What I find really interesting though is the amount of everyday pictures with people that come from that era. Was this because photography was a relatively new thing at the time? Were people more proud in those days about their work, their jobs, their everyday life?

In this age of digital photography surely there must be more of this kind of thing going on, yet there is little evidence of the proud people showing off their modern, high rise jobs (etc.)?

Has the passion for the evidence of where we worked disappeared into the archives?

I know if I had to tell my grandson about where I worked in years to come I wouldn’t have one photo of the office and the people working in it.

Maybe it’s time we did something about it.

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216642.jpgWhy make your website or e-learning programmes accessible to everyone? Because it’s fair? Because it’s the law? Because  it makes business sense? the answer is all three – it’s fair, it’s the law and it makes business sense.

By everyone this means people with sight problems, hearing, mobility and cognitive impairments, as well as those using older browsers and slow, dial-up connections, or newer technologies such as mobiles and PDAs.

More and more sites I’ve looked at recently now meet W3C A standards for accessibility which can be found here but to varying degrees. Some sites only let you, for example, increase font size where as others have a well thought out approach.

One webite that does it really it well (and sorry if you’re not a Harry Potter fan!!) is www.jkrowling.co.uk. According to the RNIB’s website this is a good example of a site that has been made as accessible as possible. If you want to know how they’ve done this or want to check out the standards they’ve used please read this article.

If you come across sites that do not yet meet the standards then check out the tools within Internet Explorer which allow you to override font, style and colour settings set by a website. Go to Tools/Internet Options/Accessibility to check them out.

It seems there is still a challenge to us all to be more Accessibilty Aware in whatever we are building or designing.

Ever thought about hiring a life coach?  Maybe you should check out this video first.

josh.jpgJealous of other blogs having their own 12 year old marketing geniuses (that’s you David!), we thought we’d go one better and have our very own 14 year old guru to write today’s post. So without further ado it’s over to Josh to tell you about his week here at Marton House Towers.

Hi, my name is Josh and I’m here to tell you about my exciting week at Marton House…

I’ve been here for work experience and I’ve been having a look at what they do here: from making videos to arm wrestling in the board room…

1. Monkeys – They are big fans of monkeys here at Marton House and hence they have 4 rather large monkeys placed around the office (excluding the other monkeys of the office). Now being a monkey-lover myself, I can understand their love for these fine primates but what I can’t understand is the reason that I am talking about this in the blog.

2. The Boardroom – The Board room is very important at Marton House. It contains a rather large Samsung screen, which is used during the ‘In-house lunch’, and a rather large table. But after all this I am still completely mystefied by the complexities of the usage of this room: arm-wrestling and ham sandwiches.

3. Mac – Microsoft are gods on Earth when it comes to their PCs. This is what I used to think. On my forth day, I was introduced to my new companion and friend for life. I had previously never used an Apple Mac PC, however deeply I wanted to I could never get hold of one. Well this experience has arrived and now I’m a changed man. With the shiny display and one-button mouse, the Apple Mac has introduced me to Video Editing, Graphical Design and a prettier performance. So in the future I plan on stripping my father’s account bare and hopefully get one of these white marvels. Now all that’s left to do is break the news to my XP at home. It’s not going to be very happy…

Now as you may have noticed, I’m absolutely rubbish at this blog-writing thing and have waffled on continuously. I must issue my sincere regret at wasting your time and hopefully you can forgive me. All in all, Marton House has been an enjoyable experience and has given me a lot of insight into what I’m going to do in the future.

So yeah that’s about it,

Josh

P.S. Thanks to all the team at Marton House and I hope that you go on to lead happy lives.

Thanks Josh, a job well done there. Hang on a minute, Josh just told us he hasn’t got a MySpace page! Josh, you’re 14! What 14 year old doesn’t have a MySpace page??? Sort it out mate…then come back and see us again!

A bit of fun (or is it???), for you today as supplied to us by our very own Sarah via the wonders of email.

Enjoy.

TESTICULATING
Waving your arms around and talking Bollocks.

BLAMESTORMING.
Sitting around in a group, discussing why a deadline was missed or a project
failed, and who was responsible.

SEAGULL MANAGER.
A manager who flies in, makes a lot of noise, craps on everything, and then
leaves.

ASSMOSIS.
The process by which people seem to absorb success and advancement by
sucking up to the boss rather than working hard.

SALMON DAY.
The experience of spending an entire day swimming upstream only to get
screwed and die.

CUBE FARM.
An office filled with cubicles.

PRAIRIE DOGGING.
When someone yells or drops something loudly in a cube farm, and people’s
heads pop up over the walls to see that’s going on. (This also applies to
applause from a promotion because there may be cake.)

MOUSE POTATO.
The on-line, wired generation’s answer to the couch potato.

SITCOMs.
Single Income, Two Children, Oppressive Mortgage. What yuppies turn into
when they have children and one of them stops working to stay home with the
kids or start a “home business”.

STRESS PUPPY.
A person who seems to thrive on being stressed out and whiny.

PERCUSSIVE MAINTENANCE.
The fine art of whacking the crap out of an electronic device to get it to
work again.

ADMINISPHERE.
The rarefied organisational layers beginning just above the rank and file.
Decisions that fall from the “adminisphere” are often profoundly
inappropriate or irrelevant to the problems they were designed to solve.
This is often affiliated with the dreaded “administrivia” needless paperwork
and processes.

404.
Someone who’s clueless. From the World Wide Web error message “404 Page Not
Found,” meaning that the requested document could not be located.

OHNOSECOND

That minuscule fraction of time in which you realise that you’ve just made a
BIG mistake (e.g. you’ve hit ‘reply all’)

Where the hell is matt

I’m feeling a little under the weather today and I need something to cheer me up. This video always does the trick.

Where The Hell is Matt? is fantastic fun and so simple. It’s also uplifting and motivational too in an original way.

Next time you need a motivational video for a conference or a speech or whatever think about the simplicity behind this video and what you’d like to achieve… and then give us a call!

😉

John fordPractise, practise, practise. That’s one of our mantras at Marton House. We even run an actors workshop for non-actors where we teach people to do take after take of a particular everyday scenario they feel uncomfortable with until they are the best that they can be.

Sometimes though the first take is the best. This was more often than not the attitude of legendary film director John Ford, who regularly surprised his actors by not shooting further takes or alternative shots for the scene. He rarely rehearsed with his actors either so how could he possibly achieve the best results from one take?

The answer is simple. John Ford knew every single detail for the history of his characters. He intricately plotted back-stories, character traits, emotional history and so on. This information was then embedded into the actors minds, so much so that when he was done with them they would become living versions of the characters for a period of time.

This is a form of rehearsing, in its own way. It’s also a form of method acting, but without the need for the actor to ask the questions the director provides the answers.

John Ford’s trick was simply this – when you turn your actors into the characters they can only perform the scene in one way, just like the character would do if they were real.

John Ford was also a bit of a bully and employed some techniques to get his actors to perform that nobody could recommend.

In the film “3 Godfathers” there is a scene between John Wayne, Pedro Armendáriz and Harry Carey Jr. where the 3 characters have to dismount their horses and shelter from a sandstorm. When the storm is over they all get up and shake the sand off at which point Harry Carey Jr.’s character looks around wildly for the lost horses. John Ford hated the action in the scene and as a show of his disappointment he threw a rock at the actor who looked around “the whole of death valley” for the horses.

It missed and injured actor Pedro Armendáriz instead, which meant they couldn’t film another take anyway.

Let that be a lesson to you!

We’ve been talking a lot recently about customer issues and retention so today I thought we’d talk a little about what the Customer Life Cycle is.

There are 3 elements to the Customer Life Cycle, namely acquisition, growth and retention.

Companies are generally very good at the first two steps, and that’s what they focus all of their attention and creativity on but when it comes to retention that is where many of them fall down.

It’s not a case anymore of once you get a customer they are with you for life. Nope. In a market full of choice the Customer Life Cycle is getting much shorter.

Customer acquisition is expensive. Advertising, marketing campaigns, freebies, hooks and glittering prizes are all on offer to draw the potential customer in so is it not cheaper for companies to focus that little bit more effort on the retention end, after all they’ve spent a fortune in the first place to get the customer.

Growth goes hand-in-hand with retention and growth occurs partly because of the relationship that develops between business and customer.

More and more we are now seeing companies offering freebies and the like for customers to stay with them.  I recently had an experience with Virgin Media where they bribed me to stay with them by shaving £20 off my monthly bill, upgrading my broadband and give me free phone calls.  The problem was that this didn’t happen until I called to make a complaint and now it’s cost them (particularly if every customer is doing the same).

Growth should lead to retention.

A radical idea to extend the life cycle and cost less would be for Virgin Media to call all of their loyal customers and offer them something for their long standing relationship.  For example if they’d rang me and offered me a free broadband upgrade for my loyalty, I would have been a very happy customer but because I had to call them it meant I had the upper hand and demanded more because of it.

Even worse for them now I know I can do that there is every chance I will try a similar tactic six months down the line.

It’s time for businesses to take the initiative.  Get off your back foot and try moving forwards.

UK music store HMV are living in the past, it’s official.

Spearheaded by CEO Simon Fox, HMV have a 3 year plan to save itself as a viable business – with computer games being the saviour.

Speaking about their plans, Fox said “Games are already a vital component of our overall product mix, but will continue to play an increasingly important role in our business going forward. Games are likely to be a key feature of our ‘store of the future’ concept, which we hope to start trialling within a few months.”

So is moving away from the nearly dead store-based music sales market to a market which is fast turning towards a digital download format a great move?

In the short term they have some well established competitors in the games market to fend off and in the long-term – well there is no long-term highstreet prospects for gaming.

So what can they do? Like everybody else in retail they must find their niche. For many years most older members of the music listening population have been a little frightened of going into stores like HMV, with the opinion that they’d feel out of place with all the young ‘uns. Well guess what HMV, these people could now be your new market!

Many music listeners want fast access to their music and are downloading their tracks from online stores and the like but the technophobe crowd, people who don’t want the new technology still need to buy their music from somewhere.

Make your shops more appealing to this market, redecorate, re-brand, employ less spotty people and more music connoisseurs.

Maybe this isn’t your niche HMV, but it is a niche and a niche that has needs.

We all know what we are good at right? The question is does everybody else in the office?

Our obvious abilities are the stuff we do everyday, the stuff we get paid for! So what about the things that we are actually really good at but choose to keep them to ourselves? That’s our hidden superhero power!

For example, I’m pretty handy at DIY tasks. One day somebody found out about this, asked me to build some shelves and ever since I’ve been the “go-to” guy when it comes to fixing something up in the office (today I’m fixing an LCD TV to the wall, gulp!).

I don’t mind this at all, in fact it’s nice to do something different around the place once in a while.

Other people around our office have different, unique superpowers which makes them the “go-to” person for their specialism.

  • Richard is our English guru, if you need anything proof-read you go to him
  • Brian is an ex-history teacher and is a great resource for facts
  • Steve keeps his ear to his pod when it comes to music and is a fountain of knowledge
  • Ilias is a PC wizard and knows his stuff
  • Laura has a keen eye for wildlife photography and a fine knowledge of nature

Etc, etc.

What’s your superpower, and does everybody know it yet?

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