Friday, March 17, 2006

Ask Not What Your Country Can Do For eClips

When eClips was born, the intention was to provide a repository of digital media on entrepreneurship, business and leadership that could be used by educators in the university setting.

What has shocked and thrilled us has been the creative use of the database by groups we had never anticipated assisting. Take a look at how eClips is impacting women in Armenia!

The Women's Business Society of Armenia is an organization established in October 2005 in Kapan, Armenia. Created by United States Peace Corps workers, Hillary and Philip George, the organization provides a positive learning environment where young women can gain business knowledge and acquire practical experience through the implementation of projects that benefit their community. The group offers an opportunity for young, professional women to gather in a supportive environment and to gain an overview of business and entrepreneurship.

Each week the Society holds educational sessions focused on various business topics ranging from customer service to business writing to professionalism. EClips is used to provide tangible examples and resources for the sessions. The women enjoy being able to hear real stories from business professionals and their perspective or experience on many different topics. EClips is the perfect resource for inspirational quotations that capture an idea or concept.

Though there are some cultural differences between the environment that the interviewees work in and the business world in Armenia, there is certainly an ability to understand personal examples. Eclips excerpts help to take a complex idea from the business models taught in the sessions and simplify them using realistic examples. Armenia is a culture that struggles with vague generalities. Providing concrete examples and information that allows the women to grasp basic business concepts is essential. Working in a post-Soviet country where entrepreneurship does not come naturally, eClips help to illustrate fundamentals that are needed to understand creating, owning, and running a business.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

PowerPoint and Rich Media - Not Exactly Friends

Sometimes, it seems as though tools - like Powerpoint - that we have at our disposal for presentations just aren't built with our goals in mind.

Powerpoint holds all the promise of being the perfect tool for incorporating rich media (sound and video). The reality is close - oh so close - but not quite there. At least, as eClips' Manager of Media Production, the one responsible for testing how things work and posting the instructions on the web site, I feel the promise of Powerpoint falls short when it comes to incorporating rich media, especially on the PC.

The major problems people have are:
  • When they move the presentation, the videos and/or sound files aren't where they should be
  • What plays on one computer won't play on another

Despite these shortcomings, I realize that PowerPoint is the "drug of choice" on most campuses. To help you out, I've put together some basic instructions for using and transporting PC PowerPoint presentatioembeddedimbedded video.

Rule #1: Remember to use "Pack and Go" when saving your presentation. (It is called "Package for CD" in PPT 2003.)

Rule #2: Consider what computer will be used to present your slideshow. If you have a choice, use your own laptop where you created the presentation with video. In our experience, that is the solution with the least trouble. But remember, if you need to move the presentation, save it using "Pack and Go", which creates a packed up file that includes the video and will unpack onto another PC in the right order for Powerpoint to find and play the video.

To be sure that the presentation will play, include the "viewer" (happens by default in PPT 2003). Note: don't try to go across platforms. On the Mac, the mpg format plays the best; while on the PC, you'll need the .wmv format. For more on formats see our Tech Tips on the Teacher Tools Section.

Rule #3. Make sure your have enough room. Remember, the video files are very big compared to a regular PowerPoint file and it takes processing power to play video. So if you move the presentation to another computer using a small USB drive or CD, you may not be able to play the presentation from the drive itself. Move it to the other machine using the Pack and Go files.

Rule #4. Test ahead of time and make sure there are speakers in the room. It is important to have speakers available - or connect them to your laptop - relying on the laptop itself will not likelvolumee you enough vlume to make the clips effective when played in class.

Concluding notes...

Take heart. If you're new to eClips and haven't attempted to put video into a powerpoint, don't fear. Be diligent with your workflow and you can tackle the beast. After you work with it a few times, it will be much easier. See earlier our earlier blog for Newbies.

For more information on playing multimedia files through Powerpoint, you can check out this Microsoft link.

Good luck!

- Jamie Kalousdian

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Spread Those (chicken) Wings and Fly!

Don't tell Kurt Zitzner that you plan to build a startup based on an idea sketched on the back of a napkin!

This motivated entrepreneur's ideas for his startup restaurant were born as an undergraduate at Cornell University's School of Hotel Administration. He built the business plan for his restaurant (that focuses on serving amazing chicken wings) over his four years in college and used his undergraduate coursework to further refine and test his idea. Upon his graduation in May 2005, he had already secured a location for his restaurant, Mugzee's, and was open for business later that Fall. This interview, conducted by Deborah Streeter, is part of the eClips collection of "Young Entrepreneur" stories.

During the interview, Zitzner discusses some of the challenges of building a business from scratch as a recent college graduate. He shares lessons learned related to hiring, managing, marketing and cash flow and discusses some specific ethical challenges he has faced with food suppliers.

Exhibiting a maturity beyond his years, Zitzner states, "You have got to realize whether you are going to start your own company or go work for somebody else - you have got to be the entrepreneur of your own life."

Listen to what this fascinating young entrepreneur has to say when Kurt Zitzner speaks to eClips .

Monday, March 06, 2006

Truth About Honest Tea

"We will never claim to be a perfect company, but we will address difficult issues and strive to be honest about our ability or inability to resolve them. "

Not your average statement on a corporate website! But Honest Tea isn't exactly your average company.

Meet Seth Goldman - the CEO (or "TeaEO" as the case may be) of Honest Tea. This interview, conducted by Professor Sheila Danko, is part of eClips' collection on "Socially Responsible Entrepreneurship".

During the interview, Goldman discusses some of the challenges faced by entrepreneurs who seek to build socially responsible companies. Honest Tea's decision to strive for "authenticity, integrity and purity" in its products and in the way they do business has had associated costs - but much higher associated benefits. Goldman addresses these points when he discusses an early product recall and a decision to partner with American Indian organizations.

Listen to more about this fascinating company and entrepreneur when Seth Goldman speaks to eClips .