A Conversation about Our Upgrade to Windows 7 for a Happier New Business Year

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The first 2010 edition of The Bella Buzz Podcast of 2010 brings to light the computer operating system upgrades that both Desiree and Joe went through during the holiday break. Stemming from good advice accumulated over the years, reformatting the hard drive or conducting the manual process of updating the files and clearing the desk always makes for a fresh start to the new year. 
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This year, we both decided to upgrade to the new Windows 7 operating system as a next logical step during our holiday break. This also provides the opportunity to try out the Windows Office 2010 Online beta that is available which is free until October for anyone willing to be a guinea pig. (We can say it works very well.)

Desiree went through an upgrade from Vista to the 64-bit version of Windows, while Joe was jumping all the way from XP to the 32-bit version, which is simply a limitation of the software and hardware combination.

Both went through a full install process, in Desiree's case getting an entirely new hard drive that she installed into the computer case, while the installation process for an XP to 7 jump requires a complete formatting of the drive to complete. This can be a very scary process. The key is to make sure all of the important data has been backed up to an external drive, getting the system drive to a clean state, installing the operating system, and finally re-importing all Settings and Data.  All of the steps are clearly outlined in the accompanying documentation to Windows 7.

The real take away from our experience is that it CAN be done by anyone with a fair amount of know-how. (In Desiree's case, a screwdriver came in handy to take out the old drives and replace it with a new one.) Credit goes to the Microsoft team for making this a realistic process to successfully achieve.

NOTE: During the podcast we discuss the ability for Windows 7 to operate with a simultaneous Virtual XP mode. The reason as specified was to continue to use Quickbooks 2008.  Since the time of that recording I have been able to install and successfully use my version of Quickbooks within Windows 7.  The word from Intuit, the makers of Quickbooks, is that they do not "support" the version compatibility.

During this process, it was discovered that "it's not always what it seems".  Some of the challenges with the use of the computer in the past were blamed on the old operating system, when in fact it really was a result of putting numerous Add-Ons in the Firefox browser. These additional programs for the browser can have some great benefits and are written by some extraordinary coders. However, in various combinations and configurations it can greatly reduce the browsers reliability, and since an enormous amount of time is spent computing in the cloud, the speed of a browser can be a major factor in effectiveness.

If you are considering making this upgrade, we recommend that you pay attention to which version of Windows 7 is best for you amongst the Home, Professional and Ultimate editions.  They also have a nice three pack option which allows for upgrades to three machines with one license. 

Desiree gets into her use of Windows 7 new feature Home Group a little bit.  If you need to share files and printers among a group of computers using Windows 7, this option might be for you.

Please tell us about your experiences with upgrading to Windows 7. How did it go for you?

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You can subscribe to The Bella Buzz directly from ITunes by following this link, and we would be happy to receive listener feedback and ratings at The ITunes Store.

The Top Five Technology Stories of 2009

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During the month of December, it is appropriate to take a look back and a look forward. In this first part of our series, Desiree and Joe  talk about the five biggest technology news stories of 2009 that made a significant contribution to the technology map moving forward. We also discuss what they might mean as we move into 2010 in our next podcast.

This is in no particular order as per the importance of the topic.

1)  The rollout of Google Wave
Google_wave_logo
With much fanfare and hype, the developers at Google announced a new product that was going to be the "next generation of email!"  The technorati were in a ferver over getting one of the limited number of invites, some even looking to purchase invites on eBay.  Slowly but surely the invites were being distributed and people had a chance to get a look at what Google Wave was all about.

At this point Wave continues to be an enigma to even the most ardent supporters.  There is no question that it is still a work in progress so even something as simple as an immediate notification of a new Wave is missing. 

There are some applications that appear to be best use cases. For example, if there is a need for a collaborative environment where multiple people need to be passing information back and forth with a single final output. Desiree's nephew Kyle is attending The University of Illinois-Chicago and has determined that Wave can be beneficial in his study group, so we extend the invitation to him to appear on an edition of The Bella Buzz to give us a review of their usage.

2) Twitter as a news source

When the news of the Iranian election uprisings broke this past June, right here on the Bella Buzz we called Twitter_logo it possibly one of the biggest news stories of the year … and our prediction turned out to be correct. The story from our perspective is actually broader than just the population of Iran taking to the streets (and still in the streets), the story was more about how Twitter posts and cell phone video uploads distributed the coverage far in advance of anything that the mainstream media could provide. It was such a blatant shift in our expectations of news organizations, that actually CNN went on the air to defend their actions.

By the time of Michael Jackson's passing later that month, we had come to expect that the pervasive, simple nature of Twitter would be getting the message around quicker than a news report.

3)  Facebook reaching 350 Million Users

Facebook In an open letter from Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg at the beginning of December, he stated that "more than 350 million people around the world are using Facebook to share their lives online."

This might in fact turn out to be the year that really puts Facebook over the top.  What was once the playground of college students, then early adopters, has now extended to baby boomers and beyond.  Facebook has fast become the way to connect, re-connect and to stay in touch.

Part of the reason for the expansion is adding functionality outside of the walls of Facebook such as Facebook Connect.  By allowing web sites to incorporate a login function using Facebook credentials, it extends the content from the site back into Facebook.  Web site owners like the ability to build a community that will port their content in front of a News Feed of potentially 350 million, while simultaneously making it easy for users to sign up for a Facebook account.

4) NASA adopts Social Media
Nasa
Somewhere in the halls of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration there was a smart decision made. There was a decision to implement some social media strategies to help the general population rediscover the exciting missions taking place in our space program.

Programs that used these tools include the Mars Phoenix lander, sending out tweets during it's trips around the Martian surface and its demise.

There was Astronaut Mike Massimino, known as @Astro_Mike. He continues to use Twitter to distribute information about his endeavors. He is getting lots of votes currently on Mashable for his nominated Tweet of the Year.

The coolest implementation happened around the anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing.  NASA developed an interactive web site, We Choose the Moon.org, complete with actual audio as it happened in 1969. They also established Twitter accounts for each of the parties as if they were using Twitter to communicate; Apollo CapComApollo Spacecraft, and the Eagle Lander.

Upon announcement of the 2010 NASA Budget, an additional $2 billion has been added to NASA's 2009 and 2010 budgets under the Obama administration.  President Obama nominated ="_blank">Charles Bolden as NASA Administrator.

5) Google Android Phones

The new open source operating system for mobile phones has reached the mass Google-android-logomarket.  The release of  the Droid phone from Verizon is the first in what will be a line of many phones that are incorporating the Apps and useability currently found in the iPhone. There is a now a decision to be made at the end of the AT&T contracts that users had to sign when they acquired an iPhone.  The decision now can be simply which carrier works best for me, which has the plan that I want, and which phone gives me the best value. 

Please let us know if we've missed any stories you would consider most important this year. Leave us a comment with any stories you think deserve a mention!   Look for next week's episode for the predictions for 2010 and beyond!

Theme music for The Bella Buzz is Fallen by Digital Chemistry, available for download at the Podsafe Music Network.

You can subscribe to The Bella Buzz directly from ITunes by following this link, and we would be happy to receive listener feedback and ratings at The ITunes Store.

Is Google Taking Over the World?

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We get into a lively conversation this week about all things Google on The Bella Buzz podcast. One of Desiree's family members instigated the conversation by claiming that Google is "taking over the world." Based upon a quick search (on Google), we were able to identify over one-billion results with titles such as GoogleWorldDomination.com.
Google-chrome-os
After a quick rundown of all of services that we use from Google, ranging from Apps to the Chrome browser  we try to pinpoint where the concerns might be coming from.  The topic seems to have picked up some steam lately with the announcement of the Google Chrome OS.

It's not hard to understand the fear and concern when listing all of the information that Google is collecting and how it could be used inappropriately in the wrong hands.  However, when you extrapolate that the most common use of this information is to target more relevant advertisements for you, it doesn't seem that sinister.

An interesting parallel conversation about the release of Chrome OS is how it impacts Microsoft.  The initial machines targeted for running Chrome are the inexpensively small netbooks.  This comes directly upon the release of Windows 7 which has also been commended for it's lightness when running on a netbook. With Apple's Snow Leopard on high-end laptops, Chrome on the low-end laptops, where does that leave Windows 7?

In order to help eliminate some of these fears that are surfacing about Google's dominance, they have taken two direct steps towards making it easier for you to control your data.  The first is the Google Dashboard. Every account that is registered to you is listed so that you can control details, read up on privacy policies and manage them from one single location.

The second action that they have implemented and consistently stood by is the ability to easily export data from any of your accounts.  This blog post from Matt Cutts explains that it has been a company directive going back to an Eric Schmidt statement about "trapping users data".

In the end, we can't take a company that is constantly innovating efficient forms of communication for granted.  We have to be aware of how to use the applications that they provide for us, but understand that there are trade-offs.  Let's keep an eye on any security lapses.  That is the bellwether for any mass exodus away from using Google services.  We are all willing to give them the data and to use the applications they provide, but the minute there is a sense that we (and they) have lost control over the data .. that's a whole new ballgame.

We don't want to dig too much deeper into the other elements of services that Google is proposing such as Google Books and Google Music. Those topics could take us entire Bella Buzz episodes on their own, so we will explore those at a later date!

We would like to get listener input into their opinions about using Google services.  Do you have an opinion one way or another?  We would love to get your input into this topic.  Leave us a note in the comments and we'll discuss this further.

Theme music for The Bella Buzz is Fallen by Digital Chemistry, available for download at the Podsafe Music Network.

You can subscribe to The Bella Buzz directly from ITunes by following this link, and we would be happy to receive listener feedback and ratings at The ITunes Store.

Secrets of The Bella Buzz: How We Stay On Top of Social Media News

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Transparent_PNG_RSS_logo_by_TarnicDotComDesiree and Joe give you a little peek behind the curtain on this edition of The Bella Buzz podcast with a glimpse at the news aggregators we use to keep up with all of the goings on in the world of social media and online marketing and how we find topics for our podcast.  It is a significant challenge to stay informed in this fast paced field and without the various blogs, podcasts and online tools that are available, it would be much harder to keep up with it all. This is how we do it.

We start with Desiree detailing her iGoogle start page in her Chrome browser with RSS feeds coming into her Google Reader such as Mashable, Chris Pirillo and Chris Brogan.  She also watches CNN, LinkedIn and Typepad blogs for information.

The key technology that has allowed the web to build this structure where information can be easily distributed is RSS or Real Simple Syndication.  RSS subscriptions can be created for almost any content imaginable, including mentions of you or your company through Google Alerts, so you can stay on top of anything that you might need to respond to right in your Reader.

Besides the blogs listed above we discuss how TechCrunch is a great source of information, and locally we have watched a news aggregator called Regator sprout up and start to really gain some traction in this space.

If you use the Google Reader and don't have a good sense of what blogs you should be following, try the Bundle feature.  Here are some great instructions for activating the bundle feature of your reader.

As we talk about the use of an RSS reader it becomes apparent how important a great headline becomes in this format.  With lists of hundreds (thousands?) of blogs feeding content into our readers every day the headlines that are catchy and interesting are going to get clicked and read more often than a boring one.

There are a couple of iPhone applications to get when you want to read news articles including the New York Times which is a great app and Desiree recommends Fluent News.

We share that many of the topics for discussion are saved up for future reference as the most relevant timing comes about but as Desiree pointed out on the #BlogChat taking place this past Sunday, a nice mixture of spontaneous and planned out topics makes for a more interesting podcast and blog schedule.

Although it may be Web 1.0 of us to admit, there are actual print magazines we like to keep up with.  Desiree reads Inc. Magazine, Fast Company and Entrepreneur while I get excited every time my Wired magazine appears in my mailbox.

Here's our Listener Challenge.  In the comments for this post please tells us the blogs, podcasts or individuals that we should be subscribing to in our RSS readers. We want the entire community around The Bella Buzz podcast to help surface some great content that is out there on the web to be discovered.

Theme music for The Bella Buzz is Fallen by Digital Chemistry, available for download at the Podsafe Music Network.

You can subscribe to The Bella Buzz directly from ITunes by following this link, and we would be happy to receive listener feedback and ratings at The ITunes Store.

Interview with Todd Eury – Pharmacy Technology Resource about Using Social Media for Independent Pharmacists

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Todd Eury, Executive Director of Pharmacy Technology Resource joins Desiree and Joe on this week's Bella Buzz podcast. Todd has established a fantastic niche as the "go-to" guy in the independent pharmacy industry regarding the implementation and use of Social Media and Web 2.0 technologies.

Before we get to Todd, we have a followup to the conversation on the October 13th Bella Buzz regarding Google Voice.  Last night on the Google Voice Blog they announced portability for your existing phone number. It is not total functionality yet, but it does provide you with Google voicemail features such as message transcription and custom messaging per caller.  Check it out!

Todd catches us up on how his business has taken off by focusing on a niche of the independent pharmacy and apothecary. Initially his social media efforts were implemented as a way to market his own services, but he has since adapted to include an educational element, where he is teaching his target market to take advantage of social media marketing.This is an excellent strategy in that it can be a challenge to champion the benefits of using new media tools to those that don't understand its significance.

America Pharmacist Magazine approached Todd about writing a 3000 word article regarding the use of these technologies in the industry. It worked out perfectly since he had already started developing an educational document on how to embrace social media as a community pharmacist. As part of his business plan he grabbed Pharmacyweb20.com as a location to start developing and posting his educational content.

Todd has the great approach for his clients in that he understands that social media must be part of, and complimentary to, an overall business plan and is married into traditional marketing tactics.  He points out that the community pharmacist has already built a reputation of trust, has customers visiting the store in person, and can be easily transitioned to greater levels of customer service via the web through an "offline ask."

A challenge for any independent operator these days, whether pharmacy or other industries, is getting exposure to the most relevant information regarding marketing strategies.  Todd is looking to establish a relationship with the Pharmacy School at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh to add an element of social media training into the curriculum.

The pharmacy industry is having initial discussions about how cloud computing will impact operations.  There are many privacy concerns of course, and this delicate balance exists within the realm of the larger US health care conversation. 

If you are in the industry, make sure to look for Todd at upcoming conferences where he is on panels and making presentations.

His various web locations you can find Todd at:

http://pharmacyweb20.com

http://www.pharmacytechnologyblog.com

http://www.pharmacywebsitedesign.com

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/pharmacytechnology

Theme music for The Bella Buzz is Fallen by Digital Chemistry, available for download at the Podsafe Music Network.

You can subscribe to The Bella Buzz directly from ITunes by following this link, and we would be happy to receive listener feedback and ratings at The ITunes Store.

Improving Business Communications with Google Voice

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Voice_logo  It's all about Google Voice telephony service on the Bella Buzz Podcast today.  Hosts Desiree and Joe talk about their experiences using the free service that allows for phone calls to find them wherever they may be, using one phone number. 

This service was once called Grand Central until it was purchased by Google in the summer of 2007. They have refined and scaled the service so that it is becoming more readily available via invitation. (Complete this form here to get on the waiting list.)

With a Google Voice account you can have one phone number — forever.  As they say in the video below, the number is tied to you, not a device or a location. This free service can easily be set up to provide you with complete control over which phone rings and when it rings, voicemail transcription service, caller grouping that provides customized greetings, sms notification of messages and many more detailed functionalities.

Having a Google Voice number removes the concerns about losing contact with people who may have an old business card with an office number or a different cell phone number.

The biggest challenge out of the gate using a Google Voice number is getting all of your contacts and family to use it.  Of course the easy ways are to include the number as part of an email signature and business card, but you may also need some help with the process.  Here is a Lifehacker article about easing the transition.

There have been some regulatory as well as business relationship controversies about the service that we point out.  Initially battles developed over the use of Google Voice on the iPhone, with AT&T concerned over ability to text and talk for free via an App. The rationale behind the banning of the app is that the functionality is too similar to that of the iPhone. Google still continues to claim they've been banned, while Apple states it's under review.

Currently, the battle also incorporates Net Neutrality concerns regarding phone service getting blocked based upon specific locations.

For someone starting a new business, Google services provides you with a complete operational dashboard that includes phone, documents, email and the list goes on and on. It is a way to get off the ground immediately and just another way to keep your business in the cloud.

Theme music for The Bella Buzz is Fallen by Digital Chemistry, available for download at the Podsafe Music Network.

You can subscribe to The Bella Buzz directly from ITunes by following this link, and we would be happy to receive listener feedback and ratings at The ITunes Store.

Interview with John Damiano – Social Media in Real Estate

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Johndamiano  Guest John Damiano appears on this week's edition of The Bella Buzz podcast.  John is the CEO of The Providence Group and Associate Broker for RE/MAX Greater Atlanta. He provides some great insight into the application of comprehensive social media campaign for the real estate industry during his conversation with Desiree and Joe. (John is also one of the best dressed real estate professionals we've ever met!)

John points to the fact that he can differentiate himself from other realtors by being on social networks and in front of younger generations who will be buying homes now and in the future. He references Who Moved my Cheese a #1 Bestseller about coping with change in the workplace. By posting on Twitter and Facebook he is able to get referrals from other agents who consistently send him business.

The Providence Group blog incorporates many guest authors from a variety of sources who are involved in real estate transactions including attorneys, financial advisors, accountants and many other resources.  This helps John generate much needed content as well as provides great value to his clients or potential clients.

Real estate is a relationship business and using social networks enhances the top of mind awareness for agents. It also helps to brand individuals beyond the agency umbrella which is important for agents because it makes them stand out from their competition.

The YouTube channel for Providence Group of RE/MAX Greater Atlanta is a perfect example of extending the distribution of content.  You can view the tours of homes using a collection of stills and appropriate music to give the potential buyer a taste of each property.  The stills end up on a Flickr page as well.

We've mentioned on other podcasts that you cannot forget personal networking, the face to face connections that can really solidify a relationship.  John hosts quarterly Business Mixers that get the business community together to socialize. 

John has determined that the best way to achieve all of these activities in social networks comes from discipline.  By having the discipline to allocate an hour or so each day to participate in social media, he is able to make these efforts pay a large return on his time investment.

John references The Power of Full Engagement, by Tony Schwartz, which discusses how a world class athlete manages time to achieve great accomplishments.

A bit of advice is to start slowly when moving into various social networks, so that you can get a feel for how to best utilize them for your business, but also take full advantage of any opportunity that comes along to dive into the great new tools we have.

Theme music for The Bella Buzz is Fallen by Digital Chemistry, available for download at the Podsafe Music Network.

You can subscribe to The Bella Buzz directly from ITunes by following this link, and we would be happy to receive listener feedback and ratings at The ITunes Store.

Taking Your Business to the Cloud and Beyond

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This week the Bella Buzz podcast gets into the tools and technologies that can be classified using the term "cloud computing." Cloud computing moves the application or software off of the desktop and places it onto the internet where users interact completely through a web browser.  This technology has proven to be a very efficient and affordable way to ensure that companies have access to information wherever there is an internet connection.

The transition to cloud computing has been a slow but steady one as applications are built that can compete with the desktop apps in terms of performance.  Microsoft's Office suite with Outlook, Word, and Excel can be replicated entirely on line through the Google Apps engine which is where Joe has transitioned all of his email and documents.

The straw that broke the camel's back was the second crash of the Outlook PST file.  Another option needed to be explored and that lead to using Google Apps for the company document systems.  This allowed ultimately for Fluid Media to go to a virtual environment where there is no longer a physical office address with a networked server set up to share information within the company.  With a cloud computing setup, employees work from a remote office and access and collaborate on proposals, presentations, any type of document on the web.

Desiree uses the Google presentation application which is like Powerpoint, and can make the presentation via an internet connection on the spot.

Two common concerns among those considering whether to use cloud applications are usability and security. Usability continues to improve as features are updated and added bringing them closer and closer to the same user experience as the Office products.  You will still find a bit of adjustment to using them, but over time they become minor.  The security issue is truly the crux of the transition to more cloud based activity.

If cloud based applications are going to become the prevalent form of computing in the future, it is going to take diligence on the part of the providers regarding security.  The minute there is a breach of trust or a significant breakdown in protection of documents that are in the cloud .. the entire category could break down.  New adopters will be slow to come, large corporations will be hesitant and suspicious, and we will see a complete reversal of this trend.  With this in mind, it is fair to say that the focus for any company providing cloud based services is security.

There can be some confusion over which version of Google apps we are discussing.  What was once called Google Apps for Domains is a service that allows for mapping a domain main name to an account.  This provides a company with the ability to manage access, sharing rules, and sets up the account so that emails appear from the company's domain email address rather than the generic Gmail address.  Something that Desiree echoes as being extremely important for maintaining a business brand.

The future of the adoption of web based computing can be foretold in announcements about Google Wave and the Chrome operating system.

Desiree has had tremendous results from using Salesforce as a CRM (customer relationship management) tool.  She is able to manage her business leads to ensure that the proper team member handles the communication, follows up with the contact or numerous other ways to manage a customer through this cloud-based technology.

GoToMyPC is a great tool for those who need access to a remote computer. It may not necessarily be cloud computing by definition, but it's a great way to stay completely synched up with documents no matter what machine you are on.  Basecamp is a related project management tool that can help clients through a long development process. Desiree's clients love the fact that they know exactly what to expect during a project by using this tool to collaborate and set up a timeline that can be shared by everyone involved in a Bella Web Design project.

Jungledisk is a service that will allow you to back up data to the Amazon S3 service so that you have a backup tool in the cloud, especially if you have large files to work with like photos, podcasts, video files etc.. Could computing doesn't necessarily have to be apps in the cloud, it can simply be using the massive amount of storage capacity that is available to you.

How about you? Have you moved to the cloud or simply considering it? Drop us a note in the comments to let us know how you feel about the future of cloud computing.

Theme music for The Bella Buzz is Fallen by Digital Chemistry, available for download at the Podsafe Music Network.

You can subscribe to The Bella Buzz directly from ITunes by following this link, and we would be happy to receive listener feedback and ratings at The ITunes Store.

Meet Brent Leary — Social Customer Relationship Management Rock Star

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ICRM Essentials Imaget is Brent Leary's turn to appear on the Bella Buzz podcast with Desiree Scales and Joe Magennis.  Brent is the co-founder and Partner of CRM Essentials LLC, a CRM consulting/advisory
firm focused on small and mid-size enterprises. CRM Essentials has
trained thousands of business people on the benefits and best practices
of implementing CRM strategies and technologies.

Brent and Desiree recently worked together on the Moving Business Forward panel this past July and will also be appearing together on September 25th at the New Media Atlanta Social Media Summit.

Brent is also the host of Technology for Business Sake and an accomplished author and writer. You can follow all his work via his blog. (He's hard to keep up with sometimes!)

Social CRM means developing a systematic approach to finding, catching and keeping good customers. The space has some very heavy hitting companies including Microsoft and Salesforce.com focused on the internal operations of CRM. Social CRM helps with the transition from the conversations that are taking place on social networks to the business functions within the sales channel.

As Brent discusses where he sees the future of Social CRM going, he points out that it was only just two years ago when there was any type of insight into the integration of social networks with CRM processes, so it is certainly changing at a rapid pace.  He specifically mentions that Twitter as part of the sales channel has become much more prevalent and integrated into the process. 

BatchBlue is a company that focuses on small business CRM services and has caught Brent's attention. (Company president Pam O'Hara recently appeared on an edition of The Bella Buzz.)

An interesting perspective that many small businesses need to consider concerns metrics.  There are a number of potential metrics to determine success of a social media strategy, however since we are all focusing on very specific niches, it is very challenging to determine what "success" actual means across each niche.  Brent points out that having the patience to acquire enough data so that a realistic analysis can be made is critical.

Brent also gives his insights into his passionate analysis of the Barack Obama presidential campaign leader's use of social media. His analysis first appeared as a webinar, later published in numerous blogs, magazines, and newspaper articles and has now been published in a book.  The web site can be found at Barack20.com.

It would be hard to keep up with all that Brent is doing these days beyond the New Media Atlanta event, he has an conference presentation in Orlando for American Express coming up, then he is off to Buenos Aires speaking at the International Direct Marketers conference…. but you can't overlook his playlists on Twitter during #fridaynightmix check it out!

Theme music for The Bella Buzz is Fallen by Digital Chemistry, available for download at the Podsafe Music Network.

You can subscribe to The Bella Buzz directly from ITunes by following this link, and we would be happy to receive listener feedback and ratings at The ITunes Store.