I hate lacking information when I fly, especially about delays. Sometimes, I'll rush to get to the airport on time, only to have a flight delayed at that point. Who cares if you can look up a flight status before getting in a taxi, if the plane gets officially delayed afterwards? FlightCaster preempts this situation by predicting potential delays before the airline makes an announcement.
The free website lets you look up U.S. domestic flights from yesterday, today, or tomorrow. In addition to tracking official delay information for the airline--and basics including the gate number--the site factors in many conditions to estimate your schedule.
FlightCaster's prediction data-points seem as elegant as they could be effective. FlightCaster tracks your inbound aircraft; that arrival turns into your departure, so unless an airline scrambles an extra jet--which happens on occasion--you can't leave without that plane. FlightCaster considers current FAA alerts about weather and airport status in your departure and arrival cities. FlightCaster also weighs 10 years of flight data; delays are often predictable based on previous patterns.
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Small- and medium-sized businesses can feel the pocketbook pinch when hiring for specialty services: site design, illustration, development, and more. You probably don't have the resources—or justification—to take on these tasks in-house, but web marketplaces can help you connect to production experts. Or if your small business specializes in one of these areas, you could find new contract work by pitching yourself online.
One of these marketplace sites, Elance, connects online workers with companies in any of those creative areas and beyond. You could find copywriters or translators, administrative support, marketing experts, and even legal pros. There are so many specific areas of experience that Elance is especially suited to these often-temporary, specialized positions.
Companies with job needs post a description to Elance, stating their requirements and rough budget. A clock ticks down until their proposal deadline, similar to an eBay auction. But unlike a live-auction site, where people compete just on cost, bids can be sealed. In those cases, rates are shown only to they hiring company, keeping the site from diving towards cheap, low-quality labor. Businesses can also skip the bid process, searching for and hiring workers directly.
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When looking for ways to save in a medium-sized business--or larger--consider your phone infrastructure. Would a more-nimble SIP-based service trump your traditional setup with VoIP calls? SIP hardware and software companies are chomping to under-cut traditional office systems; you might be able to save by making the switch.
Your biggest savings could come from cutting your current ISDN PRI/BRI cord--the phone "trunk" into your business. Replace this with "SIP trunking" to connect through your ISP, sharing phone traffic with your Internet service. The switch can streamline your monthly fees. But you'll have to add hardware to make this transition.
Many SIP systems can work with your currently installed PBX hardware. You'll connect from the PBX phone system into border controller hardware, which in turn connects to your Internet Telephony Service Provider (ITSP). The ITSP finally taps into the public phone network, reaching anyone on any phone.
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Have tight travel budgets grounded your company? JetBlue has launched a $599 promotion to let you fly as much as you want between September 8 and October 8. If you live and work in any of the cities it services, you could save a lot after a couple flights.
The offer lets you book any available seat on a flight as long as you give three days notice ahead of departure. Domestic taxes and fees are included, but if you travel to Puerto Rico or the other smattering of Caribbean locations the company serves, you'll pay those extras for international flights. If you book a flight but don't show up, JetBlue will suspend your pass until you pay a $100 fee.
This sounds like an excellent deal on the surface, but compare your travel needs against the $599 fee. Are you going to jet-set to vendors, clients, and branches located in JetBlue cities? Or will you only take a couple trips before petering out? Be sure to check typical rates for the cities you'll visit to determine actual savings.
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Small retail- or service-based businesses often spend time--or money--fielding mundane phone calls. Where is the store? How do I get there? When does it close? Are there any current promotions? If this sounds familiar, you might already have callers reach an answering machine that rattles off these details. But customers might waste time waiting for the end of the message for the information they want.
FonGenie, a simple, automated phone answering service fixes these problems and even arms businesses with details about calls. Customers hear messages that you can easily change, quickly navigating menus to get information they need. Your phone will ring only if they want more assistance.
FonGenie is currently in a preview phase, and while I found a few rough edges when I poked around, small businesses could already find it worthwhile. You'll sign up for free, secure a new phone number for incoming calls, and enter the phone number for your store location.
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Physical stores only need to hand customers a product in one place, but online companies have to send goods to buyers, creating a new hassle. Shipwire slays this problem by managing your physical products and fulfilling orders.
Since the company runs warehouses in the U.S., Canada, and England, you'll save money and customers will get products faster; instead of having to ship everything from your location, Shipwire can send from the closest warehouse.
You'll also save time and labor, since Shipwire handles order fulfillment. Shipwire's tools integrate with many e-commerce setups, one of which you likely already use: Amazon, PayPal, Google Checkout, and dozens more. When customers place orders, Shipwire automatically gets the details and sends out the product.
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Social networks help to meet people and maintain relationships, and conferencing tools collaborate with those contacts. The recently launched 5050Biz takes those related islands and mashes them back into a Pangea of communication. By reducing the mental and monetary overhead of running multiple services, 5050Biz could save you money and improve your productivity.
I think that getting people involved in a new social network could be 5050Biz's biggest hurdle. I hate trying keep a profile current in unrelated networks. But the non-traditional features could displace--or supplement--your current social networks.
In addition to basic contact and profile management, 5050Biz uses its social network as a hub to find mentors, peers, and workers. You could browse for advice on your industry and connect with those experts. You can even post employment ads to try to find contract or full-time help.
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