Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Book review: Glimmer by Warren Berger - How design could change your life and maybe even the world

Warren Berger, a journalist, describes in "Glimmer" what and how we can learn form the thinking of designers. He addresses different areas and it becomes clear that design is so much more than just pretty package design or nice posters and flyers.

Berger explains, how designers think, reinvent things and combine them in different ways. Designers have the power to change the world. He shows this with different examples, so the reader can see how to go about it.

The auther presents the history and the future of proactive design with many anecdotes and interviews. He also mentions important international designers, such as Dean Kamen, Yves Béhar, Brian Collins, Paula Scher, Stefan Sagmeister and of course Bruce Mau.

Berger relates the design philosophy of Bruce Mau - for whom everything is a design project, even his own life - with endless possibilities of what design can do in order to improve our lives.

The book also contains little sketches and drawings that help understanding everything.

Reading "Glimmer" is really worth it: The book presents a hopeful and fascinating view on the area of design and shows us how a "glimmer" can change the world - or at least your life!

More information on the glimmer movement can be found on

Glimmer: How Design Can Transform Your Life, and Maybe Even the World
by Warren Berger
Penguin Press, Oct 2009, 352 pages
ISBN 1594202338 / ISBN-13 9781594202339

To get a cheap copy of the book, go to, enter the ISBN and press "Compare Prices".

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

10 steps to your new printer - laser printer vs. inkjet printer

Mobiler Tintenstrahldrucker von Canon

As an entrepreneur or member of a board, in spite of paperless e-mail communication you still have a lot of communication printed on paper. In order to print your correspondence on paper, you either need an inkjet or a laser printer. Think about what you consider important in a printer and find out in these ten steps, whether you should buy a laser or an inkjet printer.

Your requirements
Before you buy a new printer think about your requirements: How many pages do you print per week/month? How many of them are in color? Do you print many photos (on special paper)?
  1. Speed
    Laser printers print faster than inkjet printers. If you often make a lot of prints within a short time, it might make sense to buy a laser printer.
  2. Quality
    When printing with laser printer, the print quality is better.inkjet. In addition, the ink of the laser printer is (somewhat) water-resistant and abrasion-proof. Printing with inkjet printers, your prints are neither water-resistant nor abrasion-proof.
  3. ! Health !
    If you decide to use a laser printer, you should set it in a well ventilated area that is not someone's office. The toner dust is toxic and damages the genetic material of human cells! An inkjet printer on the other hand can be safely put right next to you in your office.
  4. Purchase and printing costs
    Inkjet printers are cheaper to buy than laser printers. Since the cartridges of inkjet printers are relatively small, they are much cheaper than the toner cartridges for laser printers.
  5. Size
    Inkjet printers are relatively compact and can fit on any desk. For a laser printer, however you need a separate table and of course a seperate room - unless you want to ruin your health.
  6. Media to print on
    For inkjet printers you will find an incredible number of different media to print on, such as photo paper and other special papers in all kinds of sizes, labels, t-shirt transfer paper, printable CDs/DVDs). For laser printers, it is more difficult to find different printing material.
  7. Ports for memory cards and cameras
    Most new printers (both laser and inkjet printers) have connections for various memory cards or digital cameras. So you can print directly from your memory card or digital camera without having to go the detour via your computer.
  8. Photos
    Photos can be printed in very good quality with a sharp image on any type of paper when printing with a laser printer. For an inkjet printer you need special photo paper to ensure that your pictures look good.
  9. Scanning, copying, faxing
    If you scan many documents, but do not really have room for a separate scanner, consider a multifunction device. Inkjet printers with integrated scanners are still relatively small. The multi-function devices and laser printers however really take a lot of space.
    If you often make copies, but do not want to buy a copy machine, a laser printer with a copy function could be a good solution.
    Among both inkjet and laser printers you can find multifunctional devices that also have a fax option.
    A multifunction device (whether laser or inkjet printer) does not only save space, but also money, since you only need to buy a device and not several different ones.
  10. Maintenance
    With inkjet printers, you have to ensure that the ink does not dry up and the print head does not get clogged. Laser printers require relatively little attention from their owners.

Friday, September 17, 2010

How to improve your Facebook page in 5 steps

Creating a facebook page for your business or organization is simple. However, your page should look professional. Follow these five tips to improve your facebook page:
  1. Choose an appropriate profile pictures. If you own a business, add a picture of it to your facebook page - preferably with the opening times in the photo. If you operate an online store you should use your logo together with the URL as a profile picture.
    Your facebook profile picture can be 200 px wide and 600 px high. It should not have more than 4 MB.
  2. Create a short URL, such as To make your URL shorter, go to Here you can set a username for your own facebook account and/or the facebook page of your association or company.
    It is best to use the name of your association or company, if it is not too long or already taken. Try to choose a user name that is easy to remember.
  3. On your facebook page add as much information as possible about your business/organization, such as the opening times, locations and a brief description.
  4. Add the links to your website and blog on your facebook page.
  5. If you sell products, you can upload pictures of them under the tab "Photos". Of course, you can also add pictures of your events etc.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

What is creativity? - 4 tips for creative problem solving

Everyday, you do a lot of different tasks - many of which are routine. However, sometimes all your knowledge and skills do not help you. That's when you have to get creative. If you are not able to solve a problem in a conventional way, you will have to find a new solution by getting creative.

There are different kinds of creativity:
  • People who make a groundbreaking invention and come up with a brand new product are creative in a different way then people who create a text for a website.
  • New inventions and new trends require engagement with the topic for years.
  • Changes of existing things, such as improvements or modifications (great ideas everybody has once in a while)

Here are four tips, that can help you with solving problems in a creative way:
  • Some people are more creative then others, but everybody can be creative!
  • Do not make the mistake to press your ideas into a tight system immediately.
  • If you are not able to move forward with a problem, it may be helpful to involve outsiders. Non-professionals see things in a different light and judge them differently than professionals. In order to really be creative, you need at least a little clue in the area that you want to be creative in.
  • Younger people are not necessarily more creative than older people. Young people might have more ideas. On the other side, older people are creative in a different way. They have more ideas that are usable and more useful.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Are you a procrastinator? - Tips for stress-free productivity

Do you often sit on your computer refreshing your facebook page for the nth time, reading the latest news, checking your emails, drinking coffee …? You would like to be more productive, but you are easily distracted? Do you postpone necessary, but unpleasant tasks again and again instead of just doing them?

You can change this habit. Here are a few helpful tips from experts against procrastination:

Merlin Mann suggests the (10+2)*5-rule. Work for 10 minutes – solely concentrating on your task. Once 10 minutes are over, take a two minute break, doing whatever you want to do, such as surfing the web or drinking coffee. Do this for exactly five times – 10 minutes work, two minutes break and so forth.

On his website, John Perry explains how structured procrastination can be useful. Structured procrastination means you structure your tasks in a certain way.
The list of tasks you usually have in your head is sorted by significance. The most urgent tasks appear on top of the list. However, there are other tasks at the bottom of the list that are also worthwile. Doing the tasks from the bottom of the list is a way of not doing the tasks on the top of the list. However, that means even though you are a procrastinator you get things done – but not the ones that are urgent.
Procrastinators often follow the wrong path. They try to minimize their commitments, as they think they will be able to do everything on their list if there are only a few things on it. According to John Perry this does not work, as the tasks left on the list are now the most important ones. So now, the only way to avoid them is not to do them. This will turn the procrastinator into a couch potato.
So change your list and put the right project at the beginning of it.

A great book that can help you with your organization of daily tasks is „Getting Things Done“ from David Allen (ISBN 978-014-200028-1). The author gives helpful advice on time management, stress-free productivity and organisation.

Additionaly information on procrastination can be found on Wikipedia,, or

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Quote by Thomas Jefferson - don't stop advertising

“The man who stops advertising to save money is like the man who stops the clock to save time.” / Thomas Jefferson, third president of the United States, 1801-1809

Do you stop the clock when you are running out of time? Of course not! However, many businesses and organizations stop advertising, as they think they cannot afford it any longer.
How come that many businesses are able to advertise big time when everything goes well and they are in a good financial position? Once business slows down and they make less profit, the budget for marketing and advertising is cut. But shouldn’t you expand the marketing budget at this time?

Once the economy slows down, many businesses – big and small – cut their advertising. That means if you advertise now, you will be recognized much easier, as the advertising landscape is not as crowded. The chance of people actually noticing your advertising efforts increases. Maybe you are lucky being the only business in your industry showing consumers that you are there.
If you hide once your sales go down, your customers will not recognize you anymore and your sales will keep on going down. When your competitors hide is the perfect time for you to advertise and show that you are there for the consumers.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

How to differentiate yourself from competitors - why it is important to have a USP

If customers buy your product or service depends on how you position it on the market and how many alternatives there are. Your customers should actually be able to perceive your product or service. That means, you have to do something outstanding, for example be better than the competition or offer additional services to your customers.

Even if your competition is big, you can carve out one or more features of your product or service in a way that you have a USP (unique selling proposition) over your competition. This means you can set your business apart from other businesses.

For an apartment complex in a U.S. city it can be hard to find a USP. 'Sedgefield Apartment Homes' in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia, was successful in doing so. They decided to address Latin American customers ('Se Habla Español' - 'We speak Spanish') and also offer an additional service to families with kids and teenagers ('Free After School Program & Teen Center'). However, with 'Free Rent' you can hardly attract anyone as most apartments offer 'free rent'. Also, this statement is not entirely correct, as only the first month's rent is free.

Unique selling propositions (USPs) can be the following:
  • An innovative concept, such as the combination of a product with a service
  • Innovative product features that were not existent before
  • Extraordinary quality
  • A long lifetime
  • Extremely low price
  • Extraordinary price-performance ratio
  • An accelerated process (for example with services)
  • Extensive service that goes beyond what competitors offer
  • Special size
  • The usage of environmentally sustainable material or the usage of environmentally sustainable processes