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Vibrating Tattoos: Never Miss a Tweet Again!

2 May

Nokia, a Finnish-based company, has come up with a patent to prevent people from ever missing another ping from their phone. Sometimes your phone can be in the other room, on silent, or you might just be too distracted to notice it through your pocket. The way Nokia suggests you may be able to do this is through a tattoo. The magnetic ink will vibrate along with your phone to ensure you note your phone is calling to you.

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Amazons Kindle Books Outsell Hardbacks

22 Jul

Amazon Kindle book sales are now outselling Amazon’s hardback books in the U.S. Amazon says in the last month they have sold 180 Kindle books for every 100 hardcover books. This includes the sales of hardcover books that aren’t being sold in a Kindle book form. Although Amazon hasn’t revealed its sale of paperback books it is still believed that they are selling more paperbacks than Kindle books currently. This could in part be due to the fact that Amazon has millions of books on site but only 630,000 Kindle books available.

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E-reader, Here to Stay or Gone Tomorrow?

15 Jun

If you have stepped into a Barnes & Nobles lately, you would have noticed all the advertisements about the Barnes & Nobles e-reader, the Nook. It’s impossible not to notice since the booth is set up directly in front of the doors with a salesclerk holding one of the Nooks up in your face. And who hasn’t heard of the Kindle or the iPad? I always have been curious about these new e-readers. Would it really be more convenient for reading? Would it hurt my eyes over time? And then, if these answers were encouraging…is it going to be worth the cost?

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Web-Based Applications: Issuu

14 Mar

issuu-logo1One of the things that we’ve been looking for lately is a good online book previewer to integrate into the individual product pages at our e-commerce site (as well as using elsewhere as applicable). The first good application I remember coming across like this was Amazon.com’s system. Another one is used by National Academies Press. Both these systems, though, are proprietary and what we needed was a system that was robust enough for our purposes and, because we don’t have tons of money for a new stand-alone application or one off the shelf, at the right price.

Thankfully, I think we’ve finally found what we’re looking for with Issuu.

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Strategic Publishing Initiatives: TechCareers Guides

25 Sep

And then, you know, every once in a while—that is, in between screeds on POD publishers or the pleasures of doing pro bono projects or the ever-increasing price of textbooks (It’s shocking I tell you! Shocking!)—we actually get around to publishing a book now and again. In addition to the newly published and highly epic Hand Tools Manual—every intern for the last two years has worked on it in some capacity and all have trembled in awe and terror (I’m moderately kidding) when contemplating the majesty of its demanding technical illustrations and editorial guidelines—our most recent title is Biomedical Equipment Technicians, the first in our TechCareers series focusing on different technical professions.

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Conferences & Conventions: National Council for Workforce Education 2007

30 Oct

ncwe-logo.pngGreetings from sunny Savannah, Georgia. Or, rather, given that it’s 3:56 CST and I’m in the Savannah airport waiting for my 5 a.m. flight to Houston, greetings from pitch black Savannah. Anyway, however you look at it, I’ve spent the last two days here at the NCWE (National Council for Workforce Education) convention where Jim Brazell, a co-author of several of the technology forecasts commissioned by TSTC Emerging Technologies that we’ve either published and/or distribute, was one of the keynote speakers. I flew out early Sunday morning to attend the convention—the first time I’ve been to it—and mill around Jim’s booth in the exhibit area to see what kind of business I might be able to rustle up. (I think the technical term for this is “networking.”)

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Book Publishing Operations: New Media vs. “Old” Marketing

17 Apr

Lately I’ve been doing a lot of reading (and a lot of surfing the Web) investigating different aspects of New Media. In general, this term means—if you follow its link to Wikipedia—media that is created, distributed, and viewed through digital means (primarily computers).

So, for example, if you have a product you’re promoting and selling, you might use a dedicated Web site, a blog, podcasts, email, “expert” articles and/or newsletters posted online, listervs, rss feeds, and the like. Then, of course, you use all kinds of tracking software to see who is coming to your site and how exactly—referring pages and search engine terms used—they wound up there.

To that end, of course, we have the official TSTC Publishing site, our e-commerce site, this blog (and its accompanying rss feed, also available by email), a few articles at Squidoo.com, and other miscellaneous examples that fall into the New Media marketing category.

On the other hand, I often wonder about the ultimate impact of these efforts by way of our baseline indicator: how many sales and how much revenue was generated as direct result of these activities. Or, rather, given that we do track the success of these online initiatives, I wonder how “old” marketing methods might fare in comparison.

So, just this morning I took a thousand direct mail pieces—6×9 postcards—over to TSTC Printing Production for a bulk mailing. These postcards have their own particular discount code for the Technology Forecast 7-Pack, a specially priced bundled package of the first seven technology forecasts published in conjunction with TSTC’s Emerging Technologies. (We’ve been generating a database of contact information for our target market for the last few months thanks to the efforts of Tammy Turner, our outstanding departmental secretary.) If all goes well over the long haul—that is, a significant percentage of sales are generated using this particular discount code as well as with some other test mailings we’re doing over the next month—we’ll continue to send out targeted bulk mailings for a variety of products.

Mark

Emerging Technologies: Advanced Digital Manufacturing

28 Feb

In today’s increasingly technological and global marketplace, higher education must proactively anticipate future market demands. Texas State Technical College’s Emerging Technologies provides timely insights, analysis and recommendations for college leaders to support informed curricular decisions. Each publication provides recommendations and supporting data regarding the development of new curriculum, revisions to existing curriculum and other wildcard considerations that may impact occupational demand and market projections.

Since 2006 TSTC Publishing has worked in partnership with TSTC Emerging Technologies to publish new emerging technology forecasts in addition to distributing forecasts published prior to 2006. In this post, Jacqueline Deavenport, Baylor journalism student and TSTC Publishing intern, provides an overview and update on advanced digital manufacturing, one of the topics examined in the 2005 publication Emerging Technology Programs.

Advanced digital manufacturing (ADM) is a process that reduces the design and production cycle of manufactured goods. In short, ADM makes mass-producing anything from plastic eye goggles to non-functional car part prototypes quick and cost effective.

ADM differs from traditional machining procedures, which is labor intensive and requires several different steps and cutting tools. ADM technology was first introduced in 1987. Technological breakthroughs since then have increased the machine’s production rate and its manufactured parts functionality. Jerry Franklin is the director of Manufacturing and Technical Services at Danville Community College in Danville, Va. The lab he uses helps develop new products for local industries.

ADM technology depends on two things: 3D CAD modeling and simulation software and a layered manufacturing machine, which produces parts in a succession of layers. ADM uses a range of materials that can be made into a variety of shapes, including intricate geometries and cavities. Many of the latest developments in this technology have increased the use of 3D CAD software and also increased the types of materials used in manufacturing.

In the past a major setback in the ADM industry was cost. In 2004, the estimated cost of 3D printing machines was between $40,000 and $70,000, plus $30,000 in maintenance costs. Franklin states that currently, 3D printing technology is affordable for educational institutions, including some high schools and more industries. However, he says despite the price reduction for ADM equipment, the price for functional manufacturing materials must decrease to be competitive with their counterpart in the machining world.

The key to advanced digital manufacturing is its ability to produce finished products quickly and out of a variety of materials. For example, some of the materials used in ADM production are nylon, polycarbonate, ABS, A6 tool steel, elastomer (a material similar to rubber), casting sand, titanium, aluminum, plaster and cornstarch. “There are more materials, and their strength has increased in the past few years. Now it is possible to make finished products in a truly rapid-manufacturing mode,” Franklin said.

In addition to using new materials and equipment affordability, advances in 3D modeling and simulation software have increased the capabilities of ADM. The program’s ease of use has improved since earlier versions. Advancements in software almost entirely eliminate the need for drawings Franklin said. Product reverse engineering can be accomplished nearly all electronically. “Programs can import the 3D data from scanners almost seamlessly and create a 3D drawing,” Franklin said.

Although having made much advancement over the years, the ADM industry still faces constraints. ADM technology lacks the ability for the use of more than one material, and it lacks close tolerance precision. ADM technology can’t make parts better than +/- .0004 of an inch. Compared to traditional manufacturing, ADM is still more expensive to be universally useful. Plus, it’s not as fast. Franklin commented as research and development continues, new methods, materials and equipment will help overcome these constraints. Also, he said acceptance, increased production volume and competition in the industry will make it more affordable.

Despite these setbacks the impact of ADM technology is apparent in everyday life. “I don’t know specific examples quantitatively, but you can just look at the cosmetics and personal care aisles at Wal-Mart and see the impact. There are new packaging designs almost weekly, as is true with almost any consumer product nowadays. This would not have been possible earlier,” Franklin said. As a result of ADM technology, new, quality products are on the market more quickly than with previous product development methods.

More information about the ADM technology forecast and other technology forecasts currently available may be found at TSTC Emerging Technologies.

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