CommunicationEducationProductivitySelf-ImprovementUncategorized

Last week I was helping out at a local father-son summer camp outside of Calgary called Arcatheos.  A lot of theatrics and explosions and all those great things.  We like to joke that it’s a camp for teaching boys to become men and men to become boys again.

One of the characters with his fire sword
I mean a LOT of theatrics

Leadership Requires Service

This year the theme of the camp was “To Serve is to Reign”.  We really focused in on this theme of service with the teenagers who would become our version of camp counselors, called “knights.”  To be able to effectively lead the boys in their charge, they couldn’t simply order them around all day without a care for their well-being.  They had to be emotionally invested in both the boys they were in charge of and in the other members of their teams.  with that emotional investment, every order or directive is followed because the boys know its for the good of the camp and themselves.

I was struck by how well this carries into the workplace.  If an employee feels that his boss is invested in him and his life, that he’s not just another cog in the machine, the extra overtime needed to finish an important project becomes a lot easier to deal with.  It no longer feels like a forced task from a faceless overlord but like an urgent request from a friend.

Respect

Aretha Franklin
“Find out what it means to me”

We taught the “knights” that the easiest way to serve their boys is to respect them.  If you respect those around you, they’re more inclined to respect you.  If they respect you, they’re more likely to incorporate your feedback into their behaviour and truly listen to what you’re asking them to do.  They won’t merely sit around after completely a task waiting for you to hand them the next one, and instead they’ll proactively seek out ways to be helpful.

Don’t be a Drill Instructor (unless you are one)

Drill sergeant
Johnson! Did you finish that spreadsheet yesterday!

Meanwhile, if those under you feel they have to walk on eggshells around you with even the slightest mistake causing them to get raked over the metaphorical coals, they might try to work their hardest to not make a mistake, but a lot of their attention that could go towards doing their job right is now going towards watching over their shoulder to make sure they haven’t awoken the dragon.  In addition, if given a choice, people prefer leaders who are caring and compassionate instead of leaders who are taskmasters and drill instructors.  So if your employees have a choice, they will eventually leave for greener pastures.

Don’t be a Door Mat

Welcome
Please ignore all my directives on your way in.

At the same time, you won’t have respect if your employees feel they can walk all over you.  If missed deadlines are never a problem, unexpected absences are rampant, and no one listens to your instructions, sure, you won’t have employees flocking to leave your company in droves for better conditions, but you’ll also obviously end up with inefficient employees wasting the company’s time and money.  Resulting in them, and probably you, being let go.

Be a Compassionate AND Effective Leader

Cool dudes in cloaks

Instead of either of those two extremes, a synthesis of the two is required.  There are times when you need to lay down the law and reprimand the people working for you.  There are also times when those people need an ear to understand the problems and difficulties they’re facing and a helpful hand to guide them.  Using only one method or the other cripples your leadership abilities and it is only when you are both firm and compassionate as a leader that you will earn the respect and trust of those underneath you and unleash your full potential.

Ultimately, these leadership lessons we taught to the boys are vital for everyone, whether or not they’re currently in a position that requires leadership.  Everyone at some point in their lives will be in charge of something.  Whether that’s a multi-million dollar project or 10 children at a summer camp, no matter how large or small the opportunity effective compassionate leadership inevitably leads to further leadership opportunities down the road.

BloggingEducationProductivitySelf-ImprovementSEOSocial MediaTechnology

job application tips

So you’re looking for a new job.  Maybe you’re just entering the work force and ready to put your fresh knowledge into action. Or maybe you just need a new start or a change in careers. It can be difficult for anyone to stand out from the crowd when you send in your application. But with these 4 tips you’ll be able to spark interest with your potential employer and possibly score an interview.

Cover letters aren’t optional

cover letter

Please don’t skim over the area to add a cover letter. Although some job posting say ‘cover letter optional’ this shouldn’t be the case in applicants minds. The chances you will be rejected almost immediately are quite high if you avoid adding a cover letter. Especially if the job posting specifically asks for one. A cover letter should show your personality. It’s your opportunity to talk yourself up without shame. Employers love to see personalized applications, it keeps you fresh in their mind and most importantly stand out from other applicants. Add why you are a good fit for the position, address the employer specifically rather than “to whom it may concern.” Let your personality shine. Tell your strengths, if you are outgoing, love learning new things, have talents that have served you well or could serve you well for the job, this is your chance to include them all.

Grammar

Grammar

If you wouldn’t want grammar mistakes in your reports to clients, college assignments, or Facebook posts then don’t allow them in your cover letter or resume. Attention to detail is included in most job descriptions. Employers want to know you are taking your time and doing your best.. Your resume is a short preview of the kind of worker you are, the effort you put into your work and the value you have for making a good impression when it matters most. Always double check your resume and fix mistakes even if it’s in the final draft stages. It’s noticeable when time and effort are put into an application.

Follow Instructions

Following instructions

Nothing is more frustrating for hiring managers when instructions are added to a job posting and they simply aren’t followed. If it asks for a short description of why you think you are a good fit for the job, add it. Say a cover letter is requested, please include a cover letter. Or maybe instead of clicking ‘apply now’ you need to send it straight to an email. If you really want the job it will make a world of difference to your employer if you can follow their instructions.

Be a Human

Be human

Well of course you’re human. Sometimes we get so caught up in making lists of things we are good at or the experience we have, we forget to be personal. If your resume is boring you, it’s probably 10 times more boring for your employer. Okay maybe not 10 times, but it will be a lot less interesting for the person reading it than it is for you. A well formatted resume is a way of adding personality rather than a blank page with a bunch of lists. It’s okay to use a template, but be sure to customize it to be your own. Don’t worry about making a lengthy resume with every single skill you obtain, but customize for the position you want. A quick tip, add where you can find examples of your work . If you’re a photographer, include your social media accounts, so they can get to know your style and you better.

It can be tough to stand out during the application process but these few things will go a long way with employers. Don’t let to the process discourage you, and definitely don’t take job rejection personally. Apply to each job seeing it as a fresh start and a new opportunity for your career.

BloggingEducationMarketingSEOUncategorizedWeb Development

Today when people are searching for your business they are mainly going to their phones or computers to find you. Google is the biggest search engine out there, and if you aren’t on board, people may be missing you. Starting a Google My Business account or optimizing your existing one is vitally important for your business and how it appears in searches.

Setting Up a Google My Business Account

Google My Business listings

If you haven’t set up a Google My Business (GMB) account yet, you’ve got one mission for today…set up a GMB account! No seriously, it may seem like just another place to add your business to but this one is important and here’s why. When people are searching for a product or service they jump onto Google. For example, searching “office supplies” pulls up the Google accounts of places that offer these supplies. This image is what your GMB account will show up like. You will see the rating of your business, location, some images and much more as you go in further. If you have a good GMB account, this may even show up before your website listing. The initial set up is straight forward, but it’s the actions you take in each of those steps and after your account is set up that makes or breaks your account.

Images Are Everything

images are everything

When you have the option to add pictures of your business, always, always do it. You don’t want to resort to stock images because Google will find them and remove them. Take this chance to show off your business, inside and out. Take multiple pictures of the front and inside of your building. People feel comfortable when they can see different aspects of your business. You don’t need to hire a professional photographer either. Take clear, well lit images of the first place you see when you walk in, the staff and definitely your products. Don’t make people feel like they are going on a blind date when they are coming to you. If a business adds stock images as their product photos or avoids images of their building, I usually question why their products weren’t deemed “good enough” to make it to the front page. Or what the building looks like so I wont drive past, or wonder if I’m at the right address. Including these images shows you are proud of your work and prepared. Add pictures of the people working there, recognizing a face when walking into a business, even if it’s just from a picture, helps puts people at ease and builds trust.

Take advantages Of Features

using features

Just recently, Google made it available to get a short name for your business. Creating a short name makes it easier for people to send links to others to leave a review. When adding a logo to your profile be sure corners aren’t being cut off and it is a good quality image, a square usually works best. Choose a header that represents your business well and be creative when writing your business description. Please don’t copy and paste directly from your website, make your description unique.

Post regularly

Post regularly

Be active on your Google My Business account, post every week about new features or products. Bring to life aspects of your business that go unnoticed. Posts will expire so keep your account updated for the best reach. Regularly check your categories because they are often updated and new categories are added that you may want to be found under.

Reviews

reviews

Reviews aren’t as scary as they seem. We have an entire blog post about how to manage bad reviews. So when it comes to Google reviews, don’t be afraid to ask customers to leave a review after their visit. It’s a great way to hear about their experience and gain exposure! Although in the event that a bad review pops up, don’t take it personally. Be professional, address the issue, create a solution, if it hasn’t been solved already, and apologize for their experience. Keeping emotions out of it is the best way to professionally solve a problem. Since you can’t control the actions of others, it starts with you. Don’t become aggressive or invalidate their experience. Accept it and always apologize, then respond to them in a positive way. This is important. Always respond to reviews, good or bad, in a positive manner. Recognize that some bad reviews are good. Many people want to look at bad reviews just like they want to look at good reviews. They take note of how you responded and what your solution was to the problem.

Creating a Google My Business account increases the amount of people you reach. It helps give more information about who you are and what you do. It encourages people to find you in other areas, like Facebook or maps. You don’t want to skip on an opportunity for people to see your business and to gain more customers.

BloggingEducationSEOTechnologyUncategorizedWeb Development

Improve Your SEO

Everyone wants to be seen and heard, but when everyone wants to be seen that means almost no one is. In case you got lost at the title, I’ll briefly explain what exactly SEO is.

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization which is the process of getting more quantity and quality traffic to your website through the free, organic, or natural search results on search engines.

This of course is something you want for your business, free, organic, natural traffic. We’ll dive into some tips you can practice to achieve good SEO on your website.

1. Create Relevant Content

Blog content

Did you know the amount of time people spend on your website affects your SEO? This means, you want to put out content that people will want to read. Ideally content with more words does better than those with fewer words. But this doesn’t go to say that a post with 2,000 words will do better than one with 500. Pay attention to the quality and relevancy of your posts as this is what makes the biggest difference. The idea behind “the more words the better” is that, you have more space to add keywords, add more outbound links and get people spending more time on your page.

2. Add Quality Photos

good quality photos

Adding photos increases the legitimacy of your website. You can easily find high quality photos for free or take your own pictures for your website. Make sure when adding photos to add keywords to the various components of the image. Such as the file name, alt text, title, description, and caption. Images are processed 60,000 times faster than text and 65% of people are visual learners. Images hold a tremendous amount of value for readers and SEO.

3. Readability

Readability

To make posts inviting to viewers always try to break up text with headers. Just think, if you click a link that is only somewhat interesting to you and are greeted with a huge block of “mono tone” looking text, the chances of you sticking around are pretty slim. The title would have to be extremely compelling for you to read past the first sentence. Don’t give your readers “Mount Everest” type of  content to tackle. What I mean by this is, you can have a heavy or highly informative topic to write about but if you just lay it all on your readers you will overwhelm or even lose them. Break up your text with images, headers, and shorter paragraphs to avoid exhausting or boring readers. To give your SEO a boost try adding keywords into your headers. The easier your content is to read the better you will rank.

4. Mobile Optimization

Mobile Optimization

Back in 2015 Google started penalizing websites that aren’t mobile friendly by pushing them down in search engine rankings. In fact, taking a look at some statistics on just how many website visits were from mobile devices in 2018, 58% were from mobile devices. This number just keeps jumping each year, if your website isn’t mobile friendly good chance you are also seeing a high bounce rate. If you are a B2B marketer mobile optimization is especially important. 77% of executives use their smartphones to research a product or service for their business.

5. Website Speed

Website Speed

Search engines pay attention to your websites loading speed. The chances of users leaving your site increases if they have to wait  longer than 7 seconds for pages to load. Try optimizing the size of your images, larger images can slow down your page. Reduce the number of plugins, the more plugins you have the more resources are needed to run them which slows down your website. The recommended loading speed for your website is under 3 seconds. Since so many websites fall short of the recommended speed, you will have an advantage on your competitors if you increase your website speed.

There are many aspects to SEO but making these few changes will increase your search engine ranking and drive more traffic to your website.

EducationMarketingSelf-ImprovementUncategorized

Client Relationships

Have you ever bought from a business knowing full well that you could go somewhere else and get a better price? Some people have, but why?

Maybe it’s that they’re closer to your business, or the quality of the product, but the main reason people keep coming back is because of the relationship you have with the staff, manager, or owner. Sometimes companies buy from other companies because there’s a history between them. Maybe it’s a personal friend you want to support. But most likely, it’s because they have great customer service. Client relationships are valuable for your business and your customers. In fact, avoiding taking an interest in your clients or taking too much interest can hurt your business as much as a poor product.

Learn your customers

Client Relationships

Getting to know your customers helps you get to know more about their business, why they buy your product, and their buying habits. This helps you anticipate their needs and fulfill them. But on a deeper level, learn the person. Learn their interests, if they have a family, and how they got into the business in the first place. This helps you leave a lasting impact on them. I’ll give you a story of how asking about people and their lives leaves people feeling valued and wanting to come back.

I used to always go into the bank to do all my business, walk up and talk to a teller instead of stop at a machine and tap a screen. The one particular teller began to recognize me every time I came in. She recognized my mom and sister and took an interest in their lives as well as my own. This lady would ask about trips we were taking, offered places my (fresh out of high school) sister could stay as she traveled abroad. This teller became the person we all looked forward to talking with when we went in to do business. Before leaving she would always ask us to say hi to the rest of the family and knew us by name.

She started with small personal conversations, asking about our family, what we do for a job and how we like doing it etc. I’m not necessarily saying offer your home to anyone who walks into your shop or even at all, but you may share similar interests that you never knew about. You my gain a golfing buddy or a fellow sports fan of your favorite team. Building trust with customers is so important, you can easily ask questions about their life, go beyond the small talk, and bringing up the weather. That’s how you become familiar with clients but never create a relationship. 

Client loyalty

Shaking hands

These two seem to go hand in hand. If you invest time into the clients that walk through the door they will keep coming back. In a marketplace where your customer competition is high it’s vital to rise above the rest and show amazing customer service. Don’t promise too high and deliver low.

Recognize the people who buy from you, and remember things about them. If a person buys three cans of paint and is telling you about a project they are working on. Remember it and ask them how it turned out the next time you see them. As easy as it is to walk to the ATM machine, I preferred to go to a teller because of the positive experience I had. If you give this to your customers they will chose to buy from your flower shop instead of buying at a Walmart, or stop at your coffee shop instead of Starbucks.

Angry customers tell their friends

Angry Customer

People don’t generally say anything if they are satisfied. That’s because they aren’t blown away if their expectations are met. But if they are mistreated, the word will likely spread fast. If someone has a bad experience they will tell friends and family. They don’t want others wasting time and money if they are getting mistreated or their needs won’t be met.

 

Client relationships are extremely important when running a business. Building trust and community with your customers will keep people coming back and make it easier to get new work.

 

BloggingEducationMarketingProductivitySelf-ImprovementSocial MediaUncategorized

Learning

Leah Learns has been in the works for a while now. What started as an office joke has grown into a fun opportunity. We finally released a new video on YouTube last week you don’t want to miss it. It’s comical, entertaining and educational all in one!

Leah is our SM (Social Media) specialist at Panda Rose, we have started a YouTube channel challenging her each week to learn something new. We have plenty of talent within our team, and community. She will be learning skills we never knew she needed to learn.

Origami

Our First Video

Last week a video was made teaching her how to open bottles without a bottle opener. It is both practical and fun! One method was placing the bottle in the heel of a shoe and forcefully banging it against a hard surface. The momentum pushes the cork out of the bottle and the shoe prevents the glass from breaking. After many swings it was surprisingly successful! The other, more risky, method was sabering. This includes a bottle of champagne (or sparkling wine) and a knife, or in our case a bayonet.  This idea here is to follow the seam of the bottle (which is the weak point of the bottle) and carry the knife in one quick swift movement up the seam and against the top of the bottle. This force will literally slice off the top of the bottle and cork. The other way to open a bottle which unexpectedly had it own difficulties was to simply twist off the cap. The trick here is to twist left, not right.

What’s Next?

In the future we will be teaching Leah a variety of skills. It’s exciting to get to know the small businesses around the community through learning small aspects of their work. You can look forward to a new video every week. Simply Subscribe to our channel so you don’t miss out and comment on the videos ideas you have for our next Leah Learns!

youtube image

We want to hear from you! Leave a comment with an idea for a new video!

BloggingEducationMarketingProductivitySocial MediaTechnologyUncategorized

DSLR camera

Your product is ready to sell, and one of the most important aspects of selling a product is how you display it to your customers. Today I’ll give you some simple tips on how you can take amazing product photos on your own.

Eliminate Distractions

Remove any background distractions and place your object on a clean surface or in front of a clean bright wall. This gives your product all the attention it deserves. A clean background or surface keeps your products and photos looking crisp and professional.

Busy and distracting:

Crisp and clean:

Choose Your Lighting

Choose your lighting carefully, take a few seconds to find space near a window with indirect sunlight (natural light). Taking photos indoors can sometimes be tricky. If you’re under florescent lights your pictures may turn out more blue. If you are under incandescent lights, your picture will have more of an orange tint to them. Natural light gives a good balance and shows the products truest color. Steer clear of dark hallways or rooms as this will also distort your image and make it difficult to see the details and quality of your product.

Natural light:

Dark Hallway:

Incandescent:

Florescent:

Focus

Lets take your photography skills one step further now. A really simple trick that will set your pictures apart from the rest is to give your pictures a blurry background, called “bokeh.”  Bokeh  (BOH-kay) is the aesthetic quality of the blur produced in the out-of-focus parts of an image produced by a lens. If you are shooting from a DSLR camera, like I am in these images, you can change whats called the aperture. On your camera it will look like this:  f/5

Changing the number higher like f/10 will give less blur but changing the number lower to f/4 will give more blur.

This image is at f/25

while this image is at f/4.5

See how the glass is blurred drawing the eye towards the mug. This feature is great to use if you are taking pictures of multiple products but want the closest one to stand out or if you want all products in focus. This simple trick takes your photography skills to a whole new level.

Choose your camera

If you take your pictures with a phone, the new iPhone’s have a feature called “portrait mode” in your camera settings that allow you to artificially create the bokeh look. Select Android phones offer this feature as well called “live focus.” Keep in mind with a smartphone camera your outcome may not always give the same effect. The trick is to keep a steady hand when using portrait mode. Shaky hands can confuse the camera and your outcome won’t be as impressive.

iPhone portrait mode (fail): Right corner of the mug has been incorrectly blurred. Shaky hands or improper focusing may have caused this. Sometimes, certain objects confuse the camera. In this case the clear glass and liquid was difficult for the camera to properly blur out.

iPhone portrait mode (success): Steady hands, focus is directly on the mug and a different background object is in place = success!

With these simple yet effective techniques you will notice a huge improvement on your images. It’s always worth the little bit of extra time to play around with your products and camera. Taking great pictures can seem intimidating. These tips will help your pictures look clean and professional, all from the comfort of your office, home, kitchen, shop, etc.

BloggingEducationMarketingMobile AppsProductivitySecurity & PrivacyShoppingSocial MediaTechnologyUncategorized

In our office we share memes, eat cake and brainstorm… a lot. But there’s one thing we do even more of.

We use our phones, like a lot, a lot! We use them for testing apps, testing websites, social media management, communication, the list goes on. So with that said, we want to give you the inside scoop of what apps we love to use day in day out, and why they are vital to our entertainment, productivity, communication and lifestyle.

We wrote an article a few weeks back about some of our favorite phone gadgets. Some were for pleasure, others for productivity. If you missed it, you can check it out here as today’s article goes hand in hand. So between, web designers, developers, digital marketers and our CEO, these apps are the ones you need to download, like yesterday!

Let’s begin with entertainment.

Head phones

Apple Music, Spotify, and Google Play Music, we need music like we need our coffee!

Podcast can be under entertainment and productivity as there are so many different types of podcasts out there. Our top favorite podcast apps are Podcasts (Apple) and Castbox. Castbox has over  95 million volumes of content and is available for almost all devices.

A few musicians came forward in the office and shared their favorite apps. Guitar Tuna was recommended by a few as an app to tune your guitar on the go or as a back up. It is available for both Apple and Android. Tabs is an app that has thousands of guitar, bass and ukulele tabs and chords for all your favorite songs. If you are looking to take up an instrument here’s two apps that are a go-to’s for the musicians in the office.

Audible is another app that fits into productivity and entertainment. Audible is a mobile library, with loads of books you can listen to or read.

Quora is an app to share opinions, knowledge and feedback. Ask a question and get a helpful answer.

Productivity

editing

Lynda.com is a popular app for taking online courses. You can choose a topic you would like to learn, for example: photography, web design, film, finance, interior design. The list is endless. You can also choose software you would like to learn. So if you are a photographer, maybe a course that is beneficial to your business is learning how to use Photoshop. If you are looking to get into finance industry, a valuable course might be learning QuickBooks, you can learn QuickBooks for payroll, online, for a Mac, etc.

We also have a lot of photographers in the office, so photo-shop apps or editing apps came up right away. Our favorites are Lightroom and Photoshop Fix, both are easy to use and high quality.

Our office uses Microsoft Teams to communicate and share info with each other (as well as a truck load of memes) it’s a secure way to create group messages. There are so many features within the program to expand functionality: like creating different groups, include files, planners and meetings.

If you want to create logos or invitations an extremely useful app is Canva. You can create logos, Pinterest graphics, resize images to fit other social media platforms, create business cards and so much more! We use this everyday to create our graphics, and images.

Lifestyle

Family Organization

Everyone has those apps they use regularly or occasionally that just make your life so much easier. When it comes to lifestyle, the office has a variety of favorites.

Some of us are obsessed with the weather, so we’ve got you covered with choosing the best weather apps. WeatherCan and The Weather Network are our most reliable apps we would recommend to anyone and everyone.

Cozi is a popular app for family organization. You can add shopping lists, cleaning schedules and upcoming events that your family has planned. It’s the perfect app for a busy family and even busier parents.

If you are prone to migraines which some are in the office the Migraine Buddy app is the best app according to both patients and doctors. This app helps you record and identify all aspects of your migraine. For example; what triggers them, your symptoms, medications and so on.

Headspace is a meditation app that helps you let go of stress, learn to relax and get a better nights sleep. If you don’t already have this app it’s definitely a must! Everyone can use a few techniques to reduce stress and anxiety during our busy lives.

 

What are some apps that are essential for you or just plain fun? Let us know in the ‘leave a comment’ section at the bottom! We’d love to hear from you.

 

BloggingEducationMarketingProductivitySEOSocial MediaTechnologyUncategorized

pinterest

Pinterest: An app where women find recipes and DIY projects, right?

recipes

Many people see Pinterest as an app women use to find home improvement ideas or recipes, but it has far progressed from when it was first released in 2010. Marketers are using it as a platform to drive more website traffic and increase sales. Pinterest has become a major visual search engine in the past few years. So how can you use it for your business in 2019?

 

Pinterest is 80% more viral and 3x more effective at generating leads than Twitter

traffic

1. Pinterest Drives Heavy Traffic 

Pinterest has a hover feature that when clicked it directs users directly to your site, This eliminates the amount of steps people have to take to get to your site. The other benefit is that users can pin pictures directly from your site, increasing your websites visibility.

watch

2. Longer Post Exposure

The average lifespan of a Pinterest post is three and half months,  that’s 1,600 times longer than a Facebook post. Pins last forever, meaning that it’s easier for people to search for you and easily find your latest pins. As time goes by and your pin gets shared by other users it continues to spread like wildfire. No need to re-share content and repeat your pin over and over.

3. Excellent SEO Strategy

Use keywords in your description for higher visibility and your target audience to find you easier. Continue to post with those keywords and create boards that are relevant.When a google search is made with that keyword, your pins will show up.

4. Free Marketing From Your Fans

The more your content is pinned the more visibility you gain, just like with any social media, although you don’t need to invest in content marketing, just spend time getting quality images and a good description and your pin is ready to be shared countless times. Users want to be inspired, so inspire them.

share

5. Engage Easier With Customers

Even though Pinterest is smaller than Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, it is easy to engage with people on this platform. Users are eager to share, they want to send their ideas and dreams with others, so if they like your content they will be eager to share it.

 

We’d love to hear your Pinterest strategies. Leave us a comment below!

 

EducationTechnologyUncategorizedWeb Development

Panda Rose Learning Solutions

Online Training, Learning and Educational Platforms

At Panda Rose we really believe in offering technical solutions in a wide variety.

We offer many services, one of them being building programs and platforms online for clients. Check out a few examples of some of the work we have done for clients.

Ideas Roadshow 

Ideas Roadshow is a supplemental learning for people in IB (International Baccalaureate) programs and creates standardized international learning. This programs are offered through various channels such as specific school, libraries and teachers.

Panda Rose was able to supply support for the website, including code updating and also build the newest IB viewing version.

Aim

Aim is an online language learning platform.

Panda Rose did some of the textbook mapping, meaning we were able to create the online textbooks in multiple languages for resources for students/teachers. In addition we created a chat forum for teacher and students to be able to communicate with each other on the website, rather than needing a separate app or platform. Leaving the user on AIM’s site, instead of another’s.

Curriculum Services Canada

Curriculum Services Canada (CSC) is the Pan-Canadian standards agency for quality assurance in learning products and programs. CSC is a not-for-profit organization that provides services including the development, implementation, evaluation, and accreditation of teaching and learning resources.

Panda Rose was able to update the trillium list (the list of approved textbooks and resources for education) as well as offered updating of their code base. Their website was running on an older version, meaning they were no longer receiving updates, so updating their code allowed them to get them again.

 

 

EducationTechnology

If you are anything like me, you’d like to spend more time with your kids, but find it hard to connect with them in a way that means something to the both of you. Mine is a homeschooling family, and there are many hours to fill each day. A friend of mine has been pointing out the reasons to invest in a 3d printer for our family. I’ve been cautious about the whole subject… it is quite a bit of money to begin with (for us… we are on a tight budget). So I took some time to look at the benefits of saving up and getting a 3d printer, and I’d like to share them with you.

1. It’s economical.

This is the first consideration for our family and probably for most others as well. It’s normal, and it’s a fair question. The good news is that a 3d printer can save you thousands of dollars over the years. A kilogram of plastic costs thirty loonies, and most items (I’m told) are only 10 grams of plastic. Consider that for a moment… for $30, I could print 300 items that I would otherwise buy in a store. Recently, my friend printed cookie cutter party favors for his son’s birthday party… I would spend at least $10 in a store for this project. That’s only one consideration. I’d love to immerse my children in concepts such as art and architecture, even with them being seven years and younger. Instead of just reading about it, we could print out an exact replica model with the right plans, which anyone can find for free online (I checked). So many great 3d printing model instructions are online. With our homeschooling lifestyle, I’m sure a 3d printer would more than pay us back within the first year. For families who don’t homeschool, I can see the same being true, especially if it’s used for more than just educational purposes. This brings me to my next point…

2. It’s practical.

Did you know that the only true difference between AA batteries and C batteries is their size? This is certainly news to me! Yet, it was easy to find this info online when looking for easy 3d printing projects. You can print adapters to use AAs in C battery electronics. Need a quick cell phone holder and amplifier? Just download the plans and go. Do you desire a carabiner for your key chain? Bottle openers? Coasters? Yes. These are all easily accessed and free for use online. 3d printing is revolutionizing the way we consume goods in this new millennium, by making us producers as well. And when you get bored with those projects, you can build robots, candy sorting machines, alarm clocks, simple watches, and even droids like those seen in Star Wars films (it may be expert level, but it can, and has, been done).

3. It’s tangible.

Most of us learn more easily through the senses. By using a 3d printer, you are connecting one more sense to your children’s impression of the world and what they are studying. Architecture, airplanes, and the human skeletal structure can all be made more real to your child through this revolutionary technology… the possibilities are limitless. Is your child interested in chemistry? Print out some molecules. Do fossils fascinate your child? Make some trilobites and dinosaur bones. Australia, mate? You could easily teach a lesson in aerodynamics, featuring different boomerang designs.

4. It can help save the planet.

At first, I wondered how this could be true. I mean, it’s plastic and other materials, so how is this helping to save the planet? It helps because all those plastic goods that used to be bought in stores can be printed at home… saving the fuel spent on freight, whether It’s by ship, airline, truck, or railway. Also, you wouldn’t be packaging these goods after you print them at your house… you wouldn’t be testing and using different types of ink, scraping what didn’t test well with consumer panels, etc. You would have a specific idea in mind, find the plans for it, and just print it. That’s cutting out a load of energy waste. Much of the plastic material for printing is recycled, and there are possibilities for recycling your projects when you are done with them.

5. We’ve only just begun.

I recently learned that wood, ceramic, and even glass can be 3d printed. You may have to have some different kinds of extruders and work at different temperatures, but the idea that these materials can now easily be 3d printed blows my mind. Can you imagine how far 3d printing can take us within the next 10 years? Will we be able to print circuitry? I’d be interested in being able to print all the parts of a phone or camera at home. With imagination and such an adaptable medium, there seems to be no end to what we could invent, assemble, or artistically create.

I’m sure there are other reasons to own a 3d printer as well. Especially after the research for this article, I don’t know if I can imagine *not* buying one when we can afford it. I’d be thinking of all the fun we’d be missing.

by Sarah Bennage

EducationProductivityTechnologyWeb Development

A client who wants a web app, and their internal IT told them they should use Ruby on Rails. During our initial exploratory period, we discovered that there was no existing quality libraries or Ruby Gems that covered their needs in Ruby. Now, Ruby is not a terrible language by far, but there simply wasn’t the tools to build this at this time.

Now, if we were a Ruby-only house, we would just charge them more to develop everything from scratch, and charge them to maintain it for the foreseeable future. Great short-term business model for us, but not so perfect for them; In other words, precisely why we are not that way; we want to save our customers money because when they succeed, we succeed.

How do we help you reach your goals? Well, we are your dedicated CTO, we are not just a Ruby-only house. In our exploratory meetings, we had our PHP and Node.js experts on hand. Both of whom quickly pointed out that there were specialty libraries that were established and clean in their languages, and that we could implement this entire system in likely half the time using those software libraries.

So, we finished off the work outline document with a quote for Ruby which ended up being almost double the quote for developing the same app in Node.js or PHP. We explained the reasons we felt that we did not need to stick with Ruby; They wanted to use a cloud service that supported Ruby, and there were similar, equally-priced ones that supported other languages. Moreover, we explained why we felt that using PHP or Node.js would save money in the long run.

If we were a one-trick pony house, but exquisite at that one trick, you would not get the best options.

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