How to Protect Curtain Walls From Damage During Construction and Shipping

Many new commercial construction projects are designed with large, glass curtain walls that are attached to the outside structure of buildings. These glass walls allow filtered natural light to enter the building interior as well as create a beautiful outside appearance. Another benefit of these wall systems is to increase fire spread between floors and to keep out air and water. Typically, a curtain wall spans more than one story and is composed of metal framing with infill units of glass. Unfortunately, these glass walls are often damaged during construction activity at considerable cost.

Curtain walls can be damaged during shipment to the job site, during installation and after installation while the remaining construction work takes place. There are several methods that manufacturers’ can use to protect the aluminum windows and mullions from damage for shipment. Protecta-foam strips can quickly be adhered to the metal surface and act as a protective barrier between stacked wall units. Reinforced cardboard edge protectors from 2.5 to 4.0 inches can be taped to all edges of the units for shipment. Lastly, rolled cardboard can be used in some cases if the weight of the units is not enough to crush the cardboard. Wall glass can be protected from scratches during shipment by using adhesive window film.

Once curtain walls have been delivered to the job site, unpacked and properly installed, they are at the highest risk of damage. Various construction trades will work both outside and inside the construction project for months or years. Not only can the aluminum be dented or scratched, the glass is at high risk for scratching and breakage as well. Some glass may be very expensive if it provides seismic- or hurricane-impact resistance or ballistic proof glass specified on courthouse projects. Protecting both the glass and metal once the curtain wall has been installed is a smart move by any contractor.

Most damage to curtain walls occurs at the lowest 5 feet of the walls on each floor of the building. This is where the workers and equipment will be in the closest contact to the walls. The best protection provides a “wall” in front of the glass wall itself. This protection wall can be constructed of wood or plastic. While wood is the strongest wall protection available, it is also expensive and time-consuming to erect. Corrugated plastic sheets in 4 ft by 8 ft sections can be taped together in front of the curtain wall providing a light weight and easily constructed wall. Unlike wood, plastic can be cleaned to remove dust and dirt as needed. Since there is no electricity for lights during early construction, protection walls constructed of white or clear plastic allow natural light to enter the building.

As the demand for curtain walls continues to increase, the need to protect these walls during construction will prove a challenge. Forward-thinking architects and building owners are taking the next step with wall systems by moving from energy conservation to energy generation. These newer walls with photovoltaic modules will be even more expensive and harder to repair or replace. With proper foresight and the use of temporary curtain wall protection, the smart contractor will not have to worry about damage to his or her curtain wall systems getting damaged.

Hispanics Become Second Largest USA Consumer Market

Hispanics now make up the second largest consumer group in the USA after non-Hispanic whites, who are the largest group with 200 million. One in every six U.S. residents is now Hispanic. The 2010 Census is expected to count 50 million Hispanics, whose population in America has increased 42% over the past 10 years, compared to 5% growth for the rest of the population.

Obviously this will have a major impact on many companies’ decisions involving Hispanic website localization and translation into Spanish for online marketing materials. But the issues are more complex, as U.S. Hispanics represent a swiftly changing demographic, where the English language is gaining strength, yet Latino branding and identity holds sway.

A return to a market with “traditional values?” A recent article in Advertising Age speculates that one of the most remarkable aspects of U.S. Hispanic consumers is how closely they resemble the idealized “nuclear family” image of the 1950s. Hispanics are young, with a median age equivalent to that of the general populace in the USA in the 1950s, and are more inclined than the rest of the population to live in large, traditional, married-with-children families with lots of participation from grandparents.

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Hispanics are more likely to eat family meals at home and spend less on alcohol. Like the nuclear families of the 1950s, Hispanics are moving to the suburbs, tend to be community-oriented and have high aspirations for their children. This presents potential for a growing and strong market for the same consumer goods and services that the nation consumed as a whole when baby boomers were young. Ironically the highly strategic Hispanic market is gaining significant strength just as baby boomers are moving into retirement.

Hispanics make up a changing, youthful market segment Hispanics will likely account for a boost in consumer spending as baby boomers begin moving into retirement in large numbers around 2015. Over one third of Hispanics are children under 18 years of age, and 91% of Hispanic children were born in the USA. In contrast, only 47% of Hispanic adults were born in the U.S., which has great implications on how Hispanics overall will acculturate. Youthful, U.S.-born Hispanics typically attend public schools, rapidly gaining English language skills and adapting to U.S. culture more quickly than their parents did.

Over the next 10 years, as millions of bilingual Hispanic teens come of age and enter the workforce as young adults, their consumer behavior is likely to move closer to that of other non-Hispanic young adults. The large size and heavy geographic concentration of this segment of the Hispanic population makes it likely that Hispanic culture will remain strong, even among U.S.-born children.

Language and cultural branding issues One of the biggest challenges for online marketing professionals is how to reach young, acculturated bilingual Hispanics, who choose products differently than their parents (who didn’t grow up in the USA) and don’t spend as much time with Spanish-language media.

Yet, young bilingual Hispanics still feel a deep sense of Latino identity. The message? Even English-only campaigns aimed at this group will need carefully selected Latino branding, icons and psychographics for years to come.

The English language is making gains as the language that U.S. Hispanics are most comfortable speaking. Recent research reveals that 27% of Hispanics are most comfortable speaking the English language with another 17% comfortable in both the English language and the Spanish language. This means that 44% of the demographic (nearly half) is currently at ease in English. As the large, youthful portion of this consumer segment, born in the USA, reaches maturity, preference for and comfort with English will only increase.

Who are Hispanics and what kind of Spanish language do they speak? GPI has previously written about this topic in our blog “Why You Need a Localized Website for the U.S. Hispanic Market.” Although the majority of U.S. Hispanics identify with Mexico for ethnic origin, a large portion identify with ten other countries that extend as far south as Colombia and Peru. Our previous blog covers specifics about primary cultural values and factors in consumer decision-making that are predominant in the U.S. Hispanic market. The same blog also covers how to translate to a “universal” form of Spanish that works for Hispanics from different countries.

Why will Hispanic identity and Latino values persist? Globalization has created a connection to countries of origin for immigrants in the USA that was impossible in any previous period of history. Immigrants from all parts of the world are now able to maintain unbroken communication with family and friends in their place of origin via Skype, inexpensive Internet connections, even affordable mobile phone calling plans. Thanks to recent economic downturns, international airfares have never been more affordable.

Satellite and cable TV frequently provide channels devoted to home-country languages and culture. These affordable means of communication and cultural contact are having a transformative impact on U.S. culture; note the global cues in fast-evolving domestic trends in fashion, food and music. For example, look at the impact India’s Bollywood-style musicals have had on mainstream music videos.

Hispanic demographic is geographically concentrated Latino values and Hispanic consumer preferences are also reinforced by the fact that this domestic consumer market is highly concentrated in a few regions of the country. Over 50% of U.S. Hispanics reside in California and Texas. In fact, state-level research in California indicated 3 years ago that Hispanics made up one third of that state’s population and are expected to become a majority in California by 2042. The other six states with more than one million Hispanics are Florida, New York, Illinois, Arizona, New Jersey and Colorado.

This is actually a benefit to those companies targeting the domestic Hispanic market with traditional media, as print advertising and broadcast time can be purchased on a selective, regional basis with maximum impact. Hispanics are a more lucrative target market than many other, more geographically scattered ethnic groups.

Youthful Hispanic population has large households On average, the Hispanic population is 10 years younger than the general population of non-Hispanics. The U.S. Hispanic median age is just under 28 years old; 75% of adult Hispanics are age 18-49 compared to 56% of non-Hispanics.

Hispanics boast the largest household size of any population segment in the USA. The average Hispanic family has 4.0 members compared with 2.9 members in the average white, non-Hispanic family. Only 4% of adult Hispanics live alone compared to 15% of white non-Hispanics.

Positive impact of Hispanic consumers on the U.S. economy As mentioned before, in the middle of this decade millions of baby boomers will begin moving into retirement. That means that this traditionally lucrative market segment will be substantially reducing its consumer spending. At the same time, a large portion of the youthful Hispanic population will be coming of age, entering the workforce and the marketplace. Hispanic consumers will play a key role in replacing retiring baby boomers in the consumer marketplace and will contribute to a potential upswing in retail spending and economic growth.

Take-away message Over the next 15 years, the importance of domestic websites in Spanish may decrease somewhat. However, globalization and the high concentration of Hispanics in certain regions of the country will reinforce Latino identity for generations to come, requiring skillful branding and Hispanic website imagery that appeals to these highly strategic consumers.

Asp Net Development: A Brief History and Advantages

Asp.net is one of the leading web application development framework allowing programmers to build dynamic web sites, web applications and web services. It was developed and launched by Microsoft. Currently there are millions of developers, and significant amount of software development companies opting for asp.net development for their development needs. It was released in January 2002 with version 1.0 with the current version 4.0. It is based on the.net framework and is the descendant to Microsoft’s Active Server Pages technology. Furthermore, it is built on the Common Language Runtime (CLR) giving freedom to programmers to write its code using any supported.net language.

Some of the major advantages of Asp.net development could be classified as under:

• As it is a part of Microsoft technologies, so a programmer could be rest assured with the quality of services. In addition, a programmer could also get support from Microsoft.

• Serves as one of the prominent solutions in designing robust and dynamic web sites, web applications and web services.

• Frequently updated by Microsoft to meet the cutting-edge technological requirements and a developer could download these updates as and when required.

• Can be cross-linked with various other technological frameworks such as C, C++, C#, JAVA/AJAX, Flash/Flex, and many others.

• Cross-browser compatibility as the solutions provided could work on multiple browsers such as Internet Explorer, Firefox, Opera, Google Chrome etc.

• Gives freedom to the programmers to write the asp.net code in any.net framework because of its Common Language Runtime advantage.

• SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) extension framework, which allows its components to process SOAP messages.

• It is used by millions of users around the globe, proving it as a prominent widget for the development process.

• Support of themes, templates, add-ons and plugins, along with several other advantages.

Apart from these, there are several other advantages, which can be availed by its programmers, in their development process.

Asp.net development could provide thriving solutions in the following categories:

-> Business and corporate website

-> Social/ business/ community networking website

-> Solutions for web-based application

-> Custom CMS (Content Management System)

-> Custom CRM (Customer Relationship Management)

-> And several other solutions, customized to meet individual/ business specific requirements.

The Golden Age For Software Testing In China

The China’s Computer Market 2008 Forecast Report has been released recently. It showed that in the first three quarters of 2007, the software industry in China has registered sales revenue of $50 billion, up 23.6% on pcp, accounting for 10.95% of the entire electronics and information industry’ sales revenue. As the software market matures, people have higher and higher expectations over software features, quality and reliability. In October 2005, Ministry of Labour and Social Security formally listed computer software product tester (software test engineer) as one of the new professions. In only two years’ time, software testing has become a powerful dark horse in the software industry.

Steadily rising status

“In the early 1990s, software industry was still at an infant stage in China. Most software projects were very simple, the whole code writing and development process could be handled by one person. As industry competition intensified, software companies were gradually evolving from one-man-band small shops to software engineering co-operations. Although division of labour could improve software development efficiency and functional varieties, it also lead to increasing number of bugs between modules and deteriorating qualities,” said Mr Wang Yazhi from CONCEPT Information Technology Ltd, a major software development company in Beijing. Quality impairment would not only damage a software firm’s competitiveness, it could also lead to massive economic loss for software users or even personal injuries, such as medical accidents.

As China’s software enterprises continue to prosper, the importance of software testing has also been increasingly appreciated by software companies. Many large and medium software companies have begun recruiting professional staff to take care of software testing. Ms Ran Chunjuan, a former testing manager in Wuhan Superidea Technology Ltd, said that “in Superidea, the ratio between software testers and developers is 1:4. Although this is still well behind the international best practice of 1:1, it is still a great improvement from 1:8 a few years ago.”

Industry experience appreciated

In addition to lifting the number of software testing staff, many companies are demanding higher staff quality as well, especially in areas of professional testing experience and thinking ability. “A tester without professional training can still work out 3-5 testing methods, but not necessarily detect bugs. Even if bugs are discovered, he might not be able to express the problems in proper languages, which could increase developers’ workload. Those well-trained testers can work out 10-20 testing methods, such as boundary value analysis, equivalence classes and cause-effect diagrams, to maximally discover any bugs. Professional testers can also articulate testing documents in standardised languages, thus improving the recovery rates of software problems,” said Mr Liu Fei, a former testing manager in Qualcomm. Many companies in China have now established independent testing departments, working along with R&D departments.

As companies’ software testing knowledge deepens, work scope for testing staff is expanding from system testing phase to unit testing and integration testing phases. “This requires software testers to have in-depth knowledge about the businesses a product is involved in,” said a testing manager from Founder Group, one of China’s largest software companies, “for example, when we test software for banking applications, we have to first understand the specific users in the bank. Some operators only use keyboards in the office, but if we don’t know about this and design it as a mouse-friendly control, banks will not buy, it no matter how well the software works.” Therefore it could be forecast that the status for software testers who possess technical experience and customer demand knowledge will further enhance.

A sellers’ market

“The software testing industry is at a growth stage,” said Prof Zheng Renjie, a software testing expert. The current hot market for software testers is mainly due to the rapid development in software industry itself, “companies are demanding better quality software, which has in turn stimulated demand for software testers. But talent supply and talent training are lagging behind the dramatic changes in market demand, hence a telent shortage.”

At present, software testing talent shortfall in China has exceeded 200,000, and it is rising to the 300,000 threshold. According to statistics, total software tester supply from nationwide IT training institutions is less than 10,000 per year, thus it can be foreseen that the testing talent shortage could last another 5-10 years. At the same time, talent shortage has given leverage to tester remunerations. According to a remuneration report from 51Job.com in China, starting salary for software testing engineers ranges from $400 – 650 per month, and it could increase to $1200 – 1650 for engineers with 2 to 3 years’ experience, higher than the remuneration for many developers with similar service years. As the talent supply shortage continues into 2008, software testers’ remuneration is looking for more gains.

Education and training

The shortage in software testers in China has not only lifted the remuneration levels, not also created a boom for educational and training institutions. Even two years ago, several prominent IT professional training institutions had realised the importance of software testing positions, and organized a few domestic and international software testing experts to co-develop training courses, which have successfully cultivated lots of software testing talents in the past two years. Currently in China, apart from overseas recruitment and company internal training, external professional training is also an important channel for producing software testers, amounted to 12% of total talent supply. As companies are paying more attention to labour costs control, more professional talents are expected to come from external training institutions.

While professional IT training is booming, tertiary education institutions also began to test the water. In August 2007, the first software testing education forum was held in Shanghai by various government bureaus and universities, explicitly marking “software testing” a core area in software engineering courses in China. But Dr Chen Honggang, who had been involved in development and testing of projects such as Windows95, Internet Explorer 4.0/5.0 and SQL Server 2000, commented that although universities can ease some pressures on software testing talent educations, based on overseas experience, professional training will still be the main channel for supplying software testing talents.

Pay-Per-Click and "Clicks" Versus "Clicks"

Low Quality High Volume Clicks

When I launched my first pay-per-click campaign I was seduced by the thought of getting as many clicks as possible. I figured that with a lot of clicks I would get more sales and sales would be a percentage of all the clicks I received. Unfortunately, the conversion, that is the ratio of sales to clicks, where consistently much lower than 1%.

Where I went wrong was that I estimated an advertising budget and divided it by the profit margin of the product. This gives the number of sales that I would need to make to cover the advertising budget. I estimated that my conversion rate would be around 1-4%.  The basic math is shown below:

  • Advertising budget := $240 per month
  • Estimated Product Profit Margin = $8.00
  • Sales to cover advertising budget = $240/$8 = 30 units per month
  • Estimated conversion rate: 1-4% — assume around 2.5% on average
  • Clicks needed to make 30 sales: 30/0.025 = 1200 clicks monthly
  • Maximum bid price per click $240/1200 = ~$0.20 maximum bid per click.

The problem with this model is that the lower your conversion rate the more clicks you need to make the required conversions. And the more clicks you need, the lower the maximum bid price.

Unfortunately, as in everything else, the quality of the click, in this case measure by how likely it is to be converted to a sale, is directly related to the the maximum price. And if you follow this model what happens that you get a lot of low quality clicks with very few sales. This causes your advertising costs to exceed sales revenue. At least, this is what I experienced. Therefore, I needed to modify my strategy.

Strategy 2.0 — Keyword Search

What I tried next was to very carefully select my targeted market. The pay-per-click service I am using has a tool that provides keyword suggestions and I used it to explore my options.

I found that some of the keywords had first page bid estimates that exceeded the estimated profit margin. I choose not to compete for those keywords and excluded them from my list.

On the bids that remained, the ones I could competitively afford, I initially bid at the estimated maximum. As a result the conversion rate significantly increased to well above 2% on the average. Furthermore, the costs per conversion decreased. This is the advertising costs for acquiring a sale.

 The PPC service I was using provided these numbers as part of the service. I had to set up the tracking which required that I load a custom script (provided by the PPC service) on the Web page where the customer confirmed a sale.

I would highly advise setting up the scripts and PPC service to monitor costs and performance. This information is required to effective manage the PPC campaign.

Strategy 3.0 — Content

At first, I had set bid for the content ads (image ads that are placed on affiliated network sites) at a relatively low amount. However, when the number of clicks I was receiving plummeted I panicked and I reset the PPC services to automatically manage the maximum bids costs. This had an immediate effect in that the number of clicks skyrocketed and so did the associated advertising costs. Unfortunately sales did not come even close to tracking the costs. So I reset the content bids amounts back to manual management and relatively modest bid amounts.

For content advertising,  carefully select the relevant placement networks. Also be aware that its is widely reported that content PPC is prone to click fraud. I have not experienced that myself but there are numerous mentions on the Web about this subject.

Another thing to be aware of is that content advertising is not as targeted as keyword search advertising. That is, in a keyword search your ad is placed in front of someone that has expressed an interest in the product — at least that should be case if the keywords have been selected properly. Whereas, in a content placement, the ad is placed in a broad category of similar products. As a result, the conversion rates will, in general, be significantly lower than keyword search placed ads.

Strategy 4.0 — Weed the Garden

Once a few weeks of performance data has been collected on the PPC campaign carefully analyze the costs and the associate revenue of keywords, content networks, text and image ads.  Remove those elements that costs more than they produce in revenue. Next examine those elements that remain and try to identify common traits. Use these common traits to add new elements with comparable traits.

Furthermore, use your intuition to select completely new untried elements. In short, experiment with something completely new and untried.

In addition to eliminating advertising elements that cost more than they produce, look at the days of the week that the ads run. If there are any days where the daily advertising budget exceeds the revenue consider not running the PPC campaign during those days.

A word on caution on this point, the decision to purchase may lag when the ad was seen  by some considerable time.  That is, the customer may see the ad on Friday and make the purchase on Monday. So if there is a sudden drop in sales when the PPC ad is shut off on select days then things need to be reconsidered.

Also, if the advertising costs exceeds revenue on most or all days the entire PPC campaign needs to be restructured.

Strategy 5.0 (Conclusion) — Need to Tend the Garden

Unfortunately you can just set the parameters and walk away from the PPC campaign. It requires constant attention. Things that work today may suddenly quit working tomorrow. Also there is always room for improvements no matter how well the campaign is performing.