Science & Technology
When Your Website Powers Your Business PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Monday, 02 July 2012 09:57
By: Joe Thomas of Left Brain Digital

If you can afford to have your brand new warehouse built from the ground up, who are you going to hire to build it?

The intelligent answer is simple: a reputable building contractor with happy clients and lots of experience, right? I mean, why on earth would you invest your hard-earned dollars to hire anyone less than a pro?

What about your office building or store? As a business owner, you know that it needs to have the right look and feel to be successful. Go ahead, go shopping or to the insurance guy or the doctor. Are the stores and offices run down with bad paint jobs and worn-out carpeting? Does the store you're buying from have empty crates and clothes blocking the aisles? Of course not. They’re all clean and neat and professional – and most are decorated to impress the customer.

So why, then, would anyone take the opposite approach with their online business?

Believe it or not, at least half the people reading this right now have done exactly that. You’ve spent months, in some cases years, developing your product, becoming an expert in your field or writing your book, and then paid absolutely no attention to where or how it's presented and sold. That's just like buying beautiful new furniture and not having a house to put it in.

Do yourself a favor, when you've made the decision to open your business or sell your product online, make sure you have ALL the tools to make it successful. And for Pete's sake, make sure you hire the right developer. Here are a few tips to help you find that person;

1. Look for experience, reputation and track record. These are the three attributes to consider when engaging any professional. Find out about who you're entrusting your brand to. Ask for references – don't just look at the testimonials they’ve posted. Take a good look at their website. If it looks like a fifth-grader put it together, imagine how yours will look. Look at their portfolio or ask for a list of sites they have developed. If they can't show you immediately, or if they don’t have at least four or five sites to review, what are they afraid of?

2. It's not always about the price. Do NOT cut corners. Don't go with the cheapest deal you can find just because it's cheap. Think about what you’re buying: It's the vehicle that’s going to generate your revenue. Your website is the last thing you want to cut corners on.

WARNING: Not going cheap does not mean you should go with the most expensive deal either; expensive doesn't always equal better.

3. Listen. You’re buying talent and experience. You listen to your doctor, your lawyer and your accountant – they're the professionals, after all. Now think about that when you decide that you know better or more than your web developer. If you made the right choice in hiring the developer, then listen to what he or she tells you. If you're not willing to trust their judgment or advice, then save your money and build the site yourself. But don't complain about THAT decision later.

4. Have a plan. You need to know what your goals are and how to convey them to your developer BEFORE you hire anyone. If you aren't sure of your goals – WAIT. Do not hire anyone unless you are completely sure that they have a solid understanding of your needs and objectives.

5. Avoid any company or freelancer that has a “package.” You've seen it before. You're searching for a web designer and you find 25 sites that have the Gold/Silver/Bronze package (or some cute little package names). They offer hourly rates and "additional page" costs. Here's a tip: stay away. There's no way a designer can give you exactly what you need based on his/her "package rate." Ask me 10 times and I will tell you 10 times – I can't give you a price if I don't know what your project is all about. Any pro developer will tell you the same thing. We need to know what we're developing before we know how much it's going to cost.

6. Know how to request a quote. Please don't ever email a developer and say, "Can you look at my site and tell me how much you would charge to redesign it or make it better?" Now, that's just asking for trouble, and here's why:

a) You are already telling the developer you have no idea what you need.
b) If the developer sends back an email that says, "I looked at your site and it would cost $xx.xx to redesign it or fix it" – RUN. Never hire a developer who doesn't want to talk to you first. A developer worth hiring is the one who wants to know about your project.

About Joe Thomas

Joe Thomas is the founder and owner of Left Brain Digital (, a web development company. He’s an award-winning web designer/developer with more than 18 years of experience in print and web design and development. Thomas' work became a major influence in graphic and web design in the "Y2K" era of the Internet's dot-com explosion.

Local Company Offers Major Innovation in Green Wall Technology PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Jake Glimco   
Friday, 29 June 2012 10:28

LiveWall® - A New Way To Grow Vertically


Davenport, IA/ June 27, 2012 – Whether you’re converting to energy saving light bulbs, driving gas efficient cars, or recycling more everyone seems to be looking to make their world a little greener these days.  Now, one Quad Cities based company has another innovative product available which will make a huge impact on the green movement in the Midwest. Established as a licensed grower for LiveRoof® in 2007, Roof Top Sedums is now a representative for the new green wall product, LiveWall®.

LiveWall® is different from other vertical growing systems in that it is designed to grow healthy plants. Traditional green walls consist of either trellis or cable systems that rely on vines growing vertically from the ground upward to cover a building wall. Some other vertical growing systems require the plants to grow in an unnatural horizontal orientation, by planting into pockets or mail-slotted compartments mounted sideways onto the wall of a building. After 4 years of research and development, LiveWall ® answered the question, “How can healthy plants be grown on a vertical surface and attach to a building wall?”

Co-founder Teresa Nelson explains, “We are excited to have the launch of this new product available here in the Quad Cities.  This development is a big innovation in the green industry and is so versatile that it can be bought by the Do-It-Yourselfers for a personal fence, screen, or wall installation. LiveWall® can be planted with perennials, annuals, tropicals, vegetables, and even herbs. It can be custom designed to create unique wall installations on large commercial buildings or purchased as a smaller kit, with or without irrigation.  We are excited about the unlimited possibilities.”

Inspired by traditional window boxes, LiveWall® features rows of easy to install planters oriented upwards to mimic natural plant growth. LiveWall® uses an integrated irrigation system with nozzles to deliver water resembling traditional rain flow over the plants. Planter inserts can be pre-planted and fully-grown ahead of time, so they look immediately beautiful and lush upon install, and easy to switch out as the seasons change.  Even during the dormant season, LiveWall® retains an attractive look, because the planters are offset and designed to have a brick-like effect.

About Roof Top Sedums: Roof Top Sedums was established in 2007 and is a Regional LiveRoof® Licensed Grower servicing Iowa, Western Illinois, Eastern Nebraska, Eastern Kansas, and most of Missouri.  The business is 100% women-owned and certified nationally as a Women’s Business Enterprise as well as an Iowa Targeted Small Business.  Co-founder Roxanne Nagel explains, “Green roofs have become widely accepted as an integral part of sustainable renovations. We are equally excited about the future of LiveWall® and our role to provide an exceptional product in our region.”  For more information on projects previously grown by Roof Top Sedums or information about the LiveRoof® System, visit



5 minutes to a faster Firefox PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Mozilla Firefox   
Wednesday, 27 June 2012 10:49

More, More, More.

Firefox That's what this issue of Firefox & You is all about: more. It's full of hints, features and other information to help you get more out of your online experience: more speed, more features and more safety.

Here's a look at what you'll find this month: Keep reading for the complete stories and, well, more!

Jane & Winston
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5 Minutes to a Faster Firefox

Whether you know it or not, you probably have some extensions running in your browser. These could be add-ons, plugins or other programs that let Firefox do various extra tasks. There might even be some you're not using, which could be slowing things down. And that makes Firefox sad. More importantly, it can make you sad.

Why not take five minutes to clean things up and give Firefox a performance boost. Find out how.

Share this story with friends.

Why Wait Till Gas Hits $10 a Gallon? PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Monday, 25 June 2012 09:08

There’s a lot of moaning and hand-wringing whenever gasoline prices approach $4 a gallon. But all it would take for them to hit $10 a gallon overnight would be hurricanes wiping out a couple of refineries or saboteurs disabling a couple of pipelines, says Dr. R. Paul Williamson, founder and CEO of the non-profit Sustainable Systems of Colorado.

“The United States is still almost completely reliant on finite fossil fuels, which are rapidly being depleted,” says Williamson, author of Winning the Energy Wars: A Sustainable Energy Plan for America’s Future ( “We should be following a plan now that transitions us to sustainable energy sources but, believe or not, there is no plan.”

The country faces oil shortages, international security turmoil and expanding environmental impacts, he says.

“Our entire future hinges on a sustainable energy plan,” he says. “A crisis will impact our whole quality of life. It’s not just gasoline; petroleum products are used in pharmaceuticals, plastics, things we rely on every day. The time to put together a plan is now – not when we’re in crisis.”

After studying the details of the nation’s looming energy crisis, the former executive director of Hydrogen and Alternative Research and Development for the University of Montana says he’s drafted a detailed plan that is systematic, non-threatening and sustainable. Three key features are:

• Abolish the U.S. Department of Energy. Though the 1973 oil crisis led to its creation, the Department of Energy has done nothing to create a sustainable energy plan in its 35 years of existence. Such a strategic plan isn’t even a goal. Why? Politics. The big, all-powerful oil companies would not benefit. “To ensure America’s security and prosperity’’ is the department’s stated mission.

• Create a Governors National Sustainable Energy Council. Direct the work of implementing the energy plan to leaders who are already doing that. Thirty of our 50 states have adopted goals for sustainable energy, and some have already achieved them. The council would have a rotating two-year board consisting of two governors from each of five regions, and three at-large governors. Funding from the decommissioned Department of Energy (currently, $25 to $35 billion a year) would be diverted to the council, which would be located in America's Heartland away from Washington, DC.

• Enact legislation to establish funding. Williamson proposes a National Alternative Energy Bond Fund to provide low-interest loans to new and redirected companies; entrepreneurs and other businesses focused on domestic energy development. This could be funded through sales of Alternative Energy Series “AE” bonds, trading stocks or bonds in the market as part of the Invest in America program, and establishing a surcharge of the use of products that use finite energy resources.

“We have enough domestic finite, transitional and sustainable resources to become energy independent and we can do so if we get focused, establish a new leadership paradigm and implement what I call the ‘USA Sustainable Energy Plan,’ ” Williamson says.

What can Americans do – besides their individual efforts to reduce reliance on gas and oil? Williamson suggests taking these steps:

• Call or email our elected officials. Contact your governor, your U.S. representative, your U.S. senators and the president.

• Tell them you support adopting the USA Sustainable Energy Plan. Ask for their support on the three action steps: decommissioning the Department of Energy, creating the governors’ council, and creating and funding the alternative energy fund.

• Follow up each week. Reiterate the action items and ask what progress is being made.

For more information on the energy plan, visit

About R. Paul Williamson

R. Paul Williamson is founder and CEO of the non-profit Sustainable Systems of Colorado. He holds bachelor’s degrees in secondary education and communications; master’s in curriculum and instruction and media technology, and a doctorate in technology education. He has served as a dean at four colleges including the University of Montana, where he created the Montana Hydrogen Futures Project, a plan incorporating the state's human, natural and renewable resources to create a statewide, hydrogen-based economy. Presently, he is working to create a sustainable future for the US; deployment of a self-sustaining, hydrogen-powered, magnetic levitation personal rapid transit monorail system; a sustainable smart home development; and an H2 Futures Business Park.

3 New Firefox Features PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Mozilla Firefox   
Tuesday, 19 June 2012 12:28
New Ways to
Boost Your Browsing

We're always working to make the Web easier, faster and more enjoyable for you to access and use. That's why we created thumbnail previews and a redesigned home page. You'll find them both in the latest version of Firefox for desktop.

Download Firefox

Privacy PolicyOther Systems & Languages

New Tab icon
Thumbnail Previews

Now when you open a new tab, you'll see thumbnail previews of the sites you visit most. You can even pin, rearrange or delete them to fully customize your new tab experience. Or, if you prefer, you can click the grid in the top right to turn the feature off.

Learn more about making this page look and work exactly how you like.

New Tab screenshot
Sync screenshot New Tab icon
That's Not All (Oh No)

If you use the Firefox homepage (about:home), you'll find a new look with quick and easy access to your downloads, bookmarks, plugins, Sync and more. You can learn more about the redesigned page or change your homepage to something else.

You'll also enjoy faster startup times when loading tabs from your last browsing session.

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