Category Archives: Biz Journal

March 2008 GWB Technology Column

McKim & Creed wins design award for website.

McKim & Creed, a engineering firm, started in Wilmington, with an office in downtown Wilmington, won the 2007 Construction Writer’s Association (CWA) for best website.   CWA a non-profit organization for professional journalists, writers, editors, and publicists serving the the construction industry and presented a total of  three national awards this year for electronic communications. Web sites are judged on criteria such as quality of content, overall design and use of innovative and accessible technology.

The number one challenge for this industry is hiring and retaining good people and this site helps attract quality employees, especially recent graduates,  said Pete Kienle, Chief Marketing Officer McKim & Creed and past national president for the Society for Marketing Professional Services.  Kienle stated that the firm has put a greater emphasis on their online presence than most of their competitors and that more employees are increasingly using the web to research employment.

“Most firms in this industry would not have spent as much money and time on their website but we felt it was money well spent, the owners are thrilled to death,” said Kienle.

The firms has also hired a full time person to administer the site and create a company intranet and used video of staff throughout the site.

The website (, launched in July 2007 and was built by Signal, a design, marketing, and technology firm with offices in Wilmington and Raleigh. The website includes a custom-built content management system that enables McKim & Creed staff  to update key portions, add pages and content to the site, said Bryan Kristof, Director of Marketing for Signal.   “McKim & Creed was easy to work with because they already understood the design and construction process.”   Since the award, there has been “huge activity” on the site, said Kienle.

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Trend Funnel Accepted in PTEN

Since being featured in the November issue of the GWB, Trend Funnel, a web based software program that organizes home furnishings, flooring, paint and accessories by style and trend, has been accepted in Piedmont Triad Entrepreneurial (PTEN) 2007-2008 Growth Accelerator Program (GAP) competition.  Trend Funnel is one of sixteen finalists who will receive a scholarship to PTEN’s FastTrac Tech Course, a 10-session training program. The classes are followed by a business-plan competition and an announcement of the top three GAP winners will take place by May.

Cofounder Mary Elizabeth Beal, an Allied Member of the American Society of Interior Designers, will be participating in the classes since she is based in the Greensboro area.   “We are excited about the program and believe it will help solidify and refine our business plan and identify ways to grow the business on a much faster track,” said cofounder Thera Storm, who lives in Wilmington. According to Storm, since being featured in the “pitch” section,  the company has seen an increase in interest in the idea but have not secured funding.   The site is live and in the second beta phase, increasing in membership and  the company is starting to work with key groups; REALTORS, builders and sponsored marketing partners.  The next step is to work with a group of UNCW entrepreneurial students to test the software and offer new ideas.  Storm said they are analyzing the data that is coming through the software to see how target groups utilize the application. “Right now the number one goal is to raise $150,000 and then six months later an additional $500,000,” said Storm.

Why now is a good time to invest in an Apple computer.

This article was originally published in the Oct. issue of Greater Wilmington Business
Unless you have been hiding under a rock all summer, you have been well aware of the public relations machine behind the launch of Apple’s iPhone. With all the focus on the iPhone and iPod, it sometimes looks like Apple is not in the personal computer business any more. October will mark the launch of the new Macintosh operating system (OS), Leopard, which promises to improve to include some pretty interesting and useful new features. All indications are that users will not face the types of problems that have confounded Windows Vista upgrader and the new version should run on most modern Apple hardware without additional RAM or other improvements. Traditionally, Apple OS upgrades have actually made older Apple computers run better.
In honor of the release of the new OS, I have compiled some reasons that now is a good the time to purchase a Macintosh computer.
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The Case for VPNs: Part 2, Remote Access

Originally Published in the September Issue of the Wilmington Business Journal (

A remote access VPN connections is sort of like a cell phone. At first, people said “why would I need one, I have a phone at home?” Once you are able to access your work computer from a remote location you will find yourself saying “how could I imaging living with out it.” Connecting to your office network remotely can be incredibly helpful when you travel or simply forget to send that email before you leave for the day.
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The Case for VPNs

Originally Published in the August Issue of the Wilmington Business Journal (

The “information super highway” was once the common way to describe the internet. Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska became fodder for late night comedians when he said the internet “is not a big truck. It’s a series of tubes.” But however you envision this global network of connected networks, it is important to know that data is handled by a number of computers and can be read unless it is encrypted.

The founders of the internet did not see any reason to protect the data flowing around the networks because all of the information was for education and government uses. Today the internet is a very different place and digital data is often very private. Internet connections also now have the bandwidth to allow us to access company files, applications and servers when outside of the office or to link offices together to share resources. A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is designed to allow data to be shared securely over the internet by encrypting the information as it travels. There are a wide range of options for VPNs and this article only scratches the surface, but should serve to illuminate some of the reasons why you would want to utilize some method of VPN in your organization. Continue reading

Cool tools from Google

Originally Published in the July Issue of the Wilmington Business Journal (

I have made some funny spelling mistakes in my life, but unfortunately none of them have led me to owning a company with market capitalization of $160 billion.

The name “Google” originated when founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin misspelled “googol,” which refers to 1 followed by 100 zeros, while registering a domain name for a website. Since its creation in 1996, Google has become the dominant search tool on the Internet, and with the addition of advertising revenue, it has become an economic powerhouse. In addition to becoming an outlet for advertising sales and web search, Google allows employees to spend up to twenty percent of their weekly time working on new products. Google also has been buying successful web sites, and they now offer ancillary products that do not directly relate to online search, including an online office suite that competes with Microsoft Office.

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Backups for personal and business data

Originally Published in the June Issue of the Wilmington Business Journal (

As this is my first article (for the business journal), I wanted to make a good impression on my editor and get it in early. Unfortunately, my computer crashed, or I accidentally deleted it, or my dog ate my hard drive. Actually, none of this really happened to me, but it did happen to the magazine Business 2.0, which is published by Time. They recently had a catastrophic hardware failure that caused the complete loss of the June issue. Lucky for them they had a paper copy, but page layouts had to be redone from scratch.

If you have ever lost a computer file, then you know how important it is to back up your work. If you have never been there, done that, consider yourself lucky—in today’s digital world, data loss is as inevitable as death and taxes. Therefore, you must have a backup strategy in place to guard against these would-be catastrophes.

For a backup strategy to be effective, it must be regular, complete and verifiable. If your backup strategy ignores any of these three components, you are asking for trouble.

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