Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Revealed! All-New Chevrolet Camaro Convertible

I was invited to Detroit for a special event. The Chevrolet people were a little cagey about what was going to happen during my visit, but since I am a sucker for almost anything automotive, I made the trip. There was so much to see, so many places to go. I got to visit the General Motors Social Customer Service team (but that's a topic for another post) and see some amazing vintage Corvettes. But the definite highlight of my visit was the reveal of the all-new 2016 Camaro convertible, featuring the segment’s most-advanced top.

The 2016 Camaro is the only convertible in the segment to offer all of the following:
Fully automatic operation with latches that automatically release and secure the top
Capability of opening or closing at speeds up to 30 mph
Remote opening with the key fob
A hard tonneau cover that deploys automatically, providing a more refined, finished appearance when the top is lowered and stowed.
Check out the video below to see it in action, I used the Periscope app to broadcast the big reveal and got an audience of 1,200 live viewers, so I guess I am not the only one excited by this car. This sexy vehicle arrives at dealers in early 2016..
The electro-hydraulic power roof system features multilayer construction – including acoustic and thermal barriers – designed for a comfortable, quiet driving experience in all seasons. The top emulates the sleek silhouette of the Camaro coupe.
“The 2016 Camaro coupe will set the benchmark for the segment in terms of technology, performance, and design,” said Todd Christensen, Camaro marketing manager. “Adding the most sophisticated top in the segment brings another level of refinement, and driving enjoyment, to the Camaro convertible.”
Like the Camaro coupe, the convertible benefits from a stiffer, lighter structure that helps reduce total vehicle weight by at least 200 pounds compared to the model it replaces. Consequently, the Camaro convertible retains the coupe’s sharp chassis tuning and nimble reflexes.
“From the beginning, the Camaro’s architecture was developed to incorporate a convertible with uncompromised driving dynamics,” said Al Oppenheiser, Camaro chief engineer. “Customers will appreciate what they don’t feel: quivers, cowl shake or an under-damped chassis typically found in a four-seat convertible.”
The architecture also enables the Camaro convertible’s sleek design, allowing the top to fold down completely beneath the belt line. The hard tonneau cover automatically covers the folded top, creating a finished appearance.
“With many convertibles, you have to affix a tonneau cover manually – if it’s done at all,” said Tom Peters, design director. “The Camaro convertible’s automatically deploying hard tonneau not only makes it easier to enjoy convertible driving when the inspiration hits, it ensures the car always looks its best.”

About the 2016 Camaro

The sixth-generation Chevrolet Camaro offers higher levels of performance, technology and refinement and is designed to maintain the sporty car segment leadership earned over the past five years.

Offered in LT and SS models, it provides a faster, more nimble driving experience, enabled by an all-new, lighter architecture – at least 200 pounds lighter than the current model – and a broader powertrain range.

Six all-new powertrain combinations are offered, including a 2.0L Turbo rated at an SAE-certified 275 horsepower, an all-new 3.6L V-6 producing and SAE-certified 335 horsepower, and the LT1 6.2L V-8, which is SAE-certified at 455 horsepower and 455 lb-ft of torque – the most powerful Camaro SS ever. Each engine is available with a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic transmission.

Camaro’s leaner, stiffer platform and slightly smaller dimensions are accentuated by a dramatic, sculpted exterior. Meticulously tuned in the wind tunnel, the exterior contributes to performance through reduced aerodynamic lift for better handling while enhancing highway fuel efficiency.

Inside, the driver-focused cabin integrates class-leading control technologies, including a new Driver Mode Selector, configurable instrument cluster and a customizable ambient lighting feature.

The 2016 Camaro coupe and convertible will be produced at General Motors’ Lansing Grand River assembly plant in Lansing, Mich.
FAST FACT: In 1967 – Camaro’s first model year – the available convertible model came with a manually operated top. A power-operated top was a $52.70 option selected by 47 percent of buyers.  
Founded in 1911 in Detroit, Chevrolet is now one of the world's largest car brands, doing business in more than 115 countries and selling around 4.8 million cars and trucks a year. Chevrolet provides customers with fuel-efficient vehicles that feature engaging performance, design that makes the heart beat, passive and active safety features and easy-to-use technology, all at a value. More information on the new Camaro can be found here.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Revealed today! 2016 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible

The 2016 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible makes its world debut Wednesday, June 24, 2015 in Detroit, Michigan. The Camaro convertible car has a hard tonneau cover that deploys automatically, providing a more refined, finished appearance when the top is lowered and stowed. It is capable of opening or closing at speeds up to 30 mph. (Photo by John F. Martin for Chevrolet)

Monday, June 01, 2015

You've Got to be "In It" to Win It Never Applied More #winning

After I graduated and got in the real world of advertising, my observances of the small business people taught me far more than a classroom ever could. There were those (no matter how great their customer service) who just couldn't make a go of it. Others succeeded in ways which were a mystery to me. Dumb luck, I guess.

But for those who achieved some modicum of success, they found their niche and were able to grow. Their business built jobs for family and others. Some expanded their enterprise to other locations and many, eventually online.

These people took a challenge and grabbed it. They worked out what they knew and studied to learn more of what they didn't. It takes a special kind of entrepreneur to succeed and build a business for a lifetime. It really made no difference whether they chose to stay small or to expand. Their accomplishment spoke volumes.

Now that anyone with a plan and some gumption has access to an international marketplace on the Internet, it brings new challenges. I would have never thought that my small, online business would be shipping product to Moscow, or Buenos Aires or Tokyo. But I have; and now service customers worldwide.

Which brings me to the point of this post. The idea of sending merchandise to customers overseas used to scare the heck out of me. I knew there were customs regulations and I knew it would be ever more expensive (even if the customer paid the shipping).  Who would even care to spend extra to buy from me?

I took the step first by selling action figures and opened up sales to a worldwide audience. Amazingly, even in the early 2000s, there were people willing to buy and pay a premium for my goods!

The first step is getting past that fear. This week I will go to IRCE (Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition). If you ever intend on stepping into a full-blown ecommerce business, there is no better place to start (once you've read my books - of course). The sessions are most excellent sources of information.

Granted, going to the conference is quite expensive for a small business. So I recommend going for the first time to just the exhibits, where a pass is $75 (when you purchase in advance). The exhibits at IRCE cover a 250,000 square foot show floor and boast over 600 vendors showing off the latest in technologies for the new retail economy. The ideas that will come to your mind when walking the floor will be dazzling. Plenty of ROI to cover your transportation and hotel!

No doubt when you're there, you will see a badge of someone you've met online or a representative for a service you've considered using. Its the perfect place to get recommendations and network with other businesses like yourself.

I will be at IRCE 2015 sharing the experience recording videos (using Periscope too) and doing a book signing in the Pitney Bowes booth (#743) on Wednesday and Thursday.

Pitney Bowes has been around a long time, and as a forward thinking company, has some new ideas for cross-border commerce. Talk to one of the people in their booth and learn how to take the next big step in enterprise level fulfillment. They will have experts who can help you develop and execute your international growth strategy.

It's a big step from shipping First Class International packets to moving your full business online. The Pitney Bowes folks are there to hold your hand to help you succeed. Stop by the booth and say hello. Tweet me @MarshaCollier or @PB_digital during and after the show and we'll be glad to point you in the right direction.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

How to Boost Strong Wi-Fi in Every Room

Is your Wi-Fi network more important than sex? Surprising data from March 2015 IDC study on home networks, sponsored by Linksys

Since the early days of computing, sharing content from place to place has been a challenge. Networks in the old days required installation by those who were expertly trained in their field. Small businesses used “sneakernet” (the process of carrying disks from one computer to the other). Now we have wireless connections and we all share. Yet in the age of this cutting edge technology, we often find ourselves waiting for that Netflix movie to stop stuttering or pixelating. Buffering is just plain annoying.

The first thing we think of, (and the most common solution) would be to purchase higher speed plan from our internet service provider. But wait before you make a sizeable ongoing investment. There’s a whole lot more that you can do on your end.
#TIP: If you haven’t spoken to your ISP in over a year, give them a call and they will probably offer you savings on your current plan with faster internet included. I just did that and doubled my speed.
Your internet connection comes in via a cable of some sort and is received by a modem. To build a wireless network, you cable the modem to a router, which broadcasts your internet thoughout your home or office. You may get a fast signal coming in, but what happens at your end can make a big difference in the quality of how the signal is delivered to your devices.

How many devices do you currently connect to the internet?

Take a moment to count them. Today we demand a lot from our networks. In my home, we have smart TVs, a gaming platform, multiple tablets and smartphones, Nest thermostats, WeMo security cameras, music streaming devices, satellite TV adapters, a weather station, wireless printers and, of course laptops. Not every device is online all the time, but it would be fair to say that we have at least 10 devices connecting to the internet at any one moment. What about at your place? Make a list and see how many device are competing for your bandwidth.

Where is your router?

Ideally you should position the router in the most central location in your home, preferably on top of a desk or (even better) on top of a bookshelf. If you have a multi-story home, its best to put your router on the 1st floor higher up in the room like on a book shelf so the wireless signal can be closer to devices on the second floor.

What is in “line of sight” of your router?

I realized that I had my router on top of a desk, but on the other side of the wall was a kitchen counter with a granite backsplash. Granite degrades a Wi-Fi signal as well as all of the pipes and appliances in the kitchen. Centrally located brick fireplaces, fish tanks (full of water), built in bookcases, hardwood furniture and even plaster walls are dense objects that cut down your signal. Older routers send the Wi-Fi signal in a single stream. As the signal reaches each device, the strength is leeched until the furthest device has a pathetically weak stream.

Why not consider a Wi-Fi Range Extender?

Very few of us live in an ideal world. My router is at the far end of a long, ranch style home. Your home may have more than one story and no doubt you have some dead zones. Because I have almost every barrier to a clear signal, I use a range extender. The best range extenders you can buy are compatible with all brands of routers (even the ones you get from a service provider). You place the range extender halfway between your router and your deadzone. It will pick up the Wi-Fi signal and increase the range. The one I am using, Linksys AC1200 Amplify, model RE6700 will extend your network up to 10,000 square feet.

Does your router support “Dual-Band” and are you taking advantage of it?

I first learned about bands when I learned about wireless phones. Their early roots were in the 2.4 GHz band but to beat interference from microwave ovens and went to 5.8 GHz then Dect 6.0. In practice, it was clear that the less crowded the band, the clearer the signal would be. Radio waves are everywhere and older routers only broadcast in that same 2. 4 GHz band.

Without going into a tutorial on radio waves, broadcast frequencies and connectivity, take my word that the 2.4 GHz band has a lot of traffic. It is crowded with cordless phones, Bluetooth devices, baby monitors, garage door openers, microwave ovens and more.

If you have a router that supports Wireless-N or AC, you have two bands: 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. Run both at once and let your devices connect to the bands that work best for them. The range of the 5 GHz band is shorter than the 2.4, but the latest routers with this technology have a more sophisticated beamforming antenna array and MU-MIMO.

The 5 GHz has a wider wireless spectrum available compared to the 2.4 GHz, which leads to significantly better performance as the 5 GHz is best for usage that requires uninterrupted throughput. That is why it is recommended for media streaming and transferring music, pictures, and video throughout your home network.

What channel are you using?

I know, right? Wi-fi networks use channels! There are 14 available channels in the 2.4 GHz band. If you and your neighbors are using the same channel, it could degrade your signal too. There are a few ways to find out which channel has less traffic. I use an app called WiFi Analyzer (see below). The app will show you all the networks within range of your devices and recommend the best for you to use. You can also use it like I do. I open the app and walk around my house. As I walk, the graph below changes, picking up and dropping new networks as I move (no I do not live next door to a 7-Eleven). After a full walkaround of my home and office, I selected channel 11 for my network.

You can change the broadcast channels of your router from the router’s interface.

How old is your router? 

No matter how fast your ISP is pushing the internet to your home or office, you will not be able to benefit from speed if you are using old technology. New routers that feature Max-Stream MU-MIMO send out three streams, thereby allowing three devices to basically have their own dedicated high speed connection.

Many people I know are still using the router rented from their ISP, or one they purchased years ago. I remember when wireless-G was cutting edge, then Wireless-N; today it’s Wireless-AC. It’s doubtful that all your current devices support the latest versions of 802.11, but the latest technologies need more throughput as well as bandwidth. Why spend hundreds of dollars on new devices if your current router degrades their performance?

In upcoming posts, I will explain the facts behind the types of 802.11 and the things you need to know before buying a new router. If you have questions about your wireless network, please send them to me and I try to answer in a future post.

This post was sponsored by Linksys