Sunday, July 30, 2006

Google is NOT the answer to passing the Florida Accredited Claims Adjuster exam

To the person who found my blog googling "florida accredited claims adjuster exam answers", I would like to suggest you first google "florida accedited claims adjuster".

By definition, you can't become a Florida Accredited Claims Adjuster without taking a class. If you take the class, you'll have the answers to the exam. It's that simple. What you are probably seeking are the answers to the standard Florida Claims Adjuster exam. That's the exam you can take if you don't take the class. And it's much harder. If you really want to be a claims adjuster in Florida, take my advice and take the class.

Now, that said, I'd also suggest you think about what motivates you to become a claims adjuster. Bocona, seeing dollar signs flashing before her eyes after two years of horrible hurricanes, made me get my license, but without any practical experience in auto repair or construction, it was truly a waste of money.

For what it's worth, I'm still looking for an IT job.

While I have your attention

If you haven't done so, please take the opportunity to visit Your World News, where you have the chance to not only read the news - you can make the news!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Volunteer editors wanted at Your World News

Last time, I wrote about a social networking project I started. The site,, is shaping up nicely, but I could use some volunteer help getting more links into the database.

I'm now looking for volunteer editors who might find it entertaining to seek fresh articles on all kinds of subjects. These volunteers will take responsibility for single categories, locating articles and publishing links and descriptions to the database. Categories will be assigned on a first come, first served basis.

You might be surprised at what you find, when you actually go looking for published material on various subjects.

If you think you're in the know, and this sounds like a fun hobby, drop by the site, look it over, then drop us an e-mail at adjuster [at] and make your pitch for a category.

Who knows? You might be getting in early on something big.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

"Your World News": My Spare-Time Project

With a little time on my lands, due to my recent layoff, I dusted off some software I had used at ICA, upgraded it, and tossed together an experiment in social networking.

Social networking is all the rage, these days. Blogs, wikis, they're all part of this trend to build a society out of the Internet. I'll save the discussion of the Internet as a society for another blog. Today, I'll spend some time discussing my spare-time project.

I call it "Your World News" and it can be found at I think of it as a news gathering site... kind of a digital newspaper where I don't actually publish the articles. Instead, I link to articles from all kinds of sources, on all kinds of subjects. I'm adding categories on the fly, so I built an "Other" category for people to put links that don't yet have categories.

Oh, right, I forgot to mention, I'm not the only one collecting these links. Visitors are encouraged to register and contribute links to their favorite articles. Further, registered users can bookmark their favorite links, and can create public bookmark folders where other registered users can check out their selections. The links are moderated by myself or an editor before they go online, so they can be kept reasonably clean. To help pay for the site (remember, I've returned to the ranks of the unemployed), the site sells classified advertising links, and I'll negotiate banner ads/sponsorships if anyone is interested.

So, check out my news gathering site, and let us know what you think.

Meanwhile, I'll get another batch of resumes ready to go out!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

I think I was here before

What an interesting ride...

The idea behind was to market website design services to small, local businesses. These are businesses that have a very limited geographical market, such as family-owned pizza shops or auto repair shops. Such businesses have no use for the global market (or even the national market) traditionally served by the Web, and because of this, they've given very little thought to building a website.

Pressure is on local companies to establish a web presence, however. Their traditional marketing channel, the phone book, is losing market share, as people become even more comfortable doing their pre-sale shopping online. Shoppers have been turning to search engines to find the products they seek, even when they plan to make the purchase at brick-and-mortar locations. The losers in this picture are those small, local businesses without an effective web presence. Those that do catch on often pay hobbyists for low-price, ineffective sites, or they go to boutiques that charge high design fees as well as high hosting fees for better sites. Even those well-designed sites tend to get little traffic, as they are lost in searches to the national chains.

Small local businesses have a few unique needs typically not addressed by traditional website design. These companies rarely need true e-commerce capabilities, yet they still need to be designed to inspire action by the visitor. Just as importantly, these sites need to be search-engine optimized (the right way) for local results. It isn't important for a pizza shop to rank high on a search for "pizza" but it is important that the shop ranks high on a search for "pizza [town-name]". Most designers seem to miss that point.

Run with the idea didn't miss that point. They knew what needed to be done locally, but to be very successful at it, they needed local, physical presence in those communities. They needed right-minded people to guide the local businesses in getting the job done right.

They didn't want to be a boutique. They wanted to be thousands of boutiques, scattered across the U.S., with the advantage of a central development team and the economy of centralized hosting. So the plan was to franchise the concept. And they thought they had all the pieces to do just that.

They started with the domain. Their domain name,, was perhaps the only two-letter domain name that had never actually been put in use. It cost them dearly to acquire, but it held a potential gold mine; without actually providing any content, the domain was ranked well inside Alexa's top 100,000 sites in the world. So exposure shouldn't have been a problem.

Next, they acquired a boutique that had already demonstrated an understanding of the local business' needs, and supplemented that by hiring one of the top names in Cold Fusion development, Hal Helms, to head their programming efforts. Because the hosting operation was going to do some serious growth, they pulled together a team of serious systems administrators, and hired a couple guys (including yours truly) to head up the technical support department (no outsourcing for this company!). Their SEO squad was trained by one of the best in the business: Bruce Clay. They even hired a crack team of franchise marketers to sell the concept.

Did anyone get the license number of that truck?

Ducks in a row, they launched their website mid-June. The visitor count soared.

And one month later, went out of business. The one thing they didn't count on was that no one was interested in learning more about how to become a franchisee.

Now, until they closed their doors, I was restricted from talking about them... trade secrets and all. I was released from that restriction when they released me from their payroll. If anyone cares, I can offer up my more detailed opinions on what went wrong, but for now I'll say this.

Any true entrepreneur should know that you can't expect any start-up to turn a profit during the first 2-3 years. These guys didn't give the business the time it required. They expected too much, too fast. And now a good idea is left for someone else to capitalize on.

And I'm back where I was four months ago.

Anyone in Tampa Bay need an experienced IT manager?