Friday, September 30, 2005

John W. Scherer VIDEO PROFESSOR BLOG Sept 30 2005

Let’s talk tech and computing!

But first let’s talk about Danica Patrick!
Ok, I did indeed, feel the need for speed. VIDEO PROFESSOR is an associate-sponsor of IRL Rookie of the Year Danica Patrick, for the last two races of this season. You’ll see the Video Professor logo on top of Danica’s helmet from her in-car camera. Danica is also Indianapolis 500 2005 Rookie of the Year. She’s a star with a bright future and we’re proud to be associated with her. Legendary driver Bobby Rahall owns Danica’s car along with CBS star David Letterman.

(With Team Danica at Pikes Peak International Raceway-Danica was a bit busy to pose with us!)

I got to know Danica through some mutual friends, and before you know it, I was a racing fan! Here are a couple of links to learn more about Danica and the Indy Racing League.

Happy Birthday Google
Search engine and money making machine Google, turns seven this week. It’s a noun, verb and likely soon to be an adjective, soon as someone can figure out the proper use. Just your basic story of a couple of guys with an idea.
Read More >

The Skype’s the limit
Today’s tech buzzwords are a crazy mix of upper and lower case letters. eBay, VoIP and while we’re on the subject of weird words, have you ever been “skyped?”
Read More >

Betamax Wars Part Deux
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, there were two competing home videotape formats. VHS and Betamax. Beta was better, but VHS won the day. Today, videotape is passé, old-hat, so 20th century. DVDs are the new standard, but what about HD versions? There are (again) two competing formats. Here’s the latest on the battle for your HD viewing dollars and the heavyweights on each side. And once again, the rest of us are stuck in the middle again.
Read More >

Phonies find new ways to Phish
I’ve talked a lot in earlier blogs about “Phishers.” These are crooks that can easily fool you into answering their e-mails or routing you to what appear to be official sites. Their goal is purely to rip you off. While safeguards are getting better, these thieves are getting better too.

Both programs are outstanding learning tools, and one big reason is the level of work put into designing them.

Louisiana’s two Senators already have come up with the cost of rebuilding their state. 250 BILLION Dollars! Like all Americans, I’m glad to pitch in and help. But does EVERYTHING have to be gold plated?

As for where the money comes from, I think Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona has a very good idea. Take some of the pork from the recently signed highway bill and spend it instead on recovery efforts. But, that would make too much sense. Not a strong suit for the politicos from both parties in DC.

And politicos aren’t the only one’s pointing fingers at each other. The media is too. It seems there was some exaggerating going on.
Read More >

Finally a tip of the hat to authorities in the Lake Charles, LA area. Authorities there are holding 49 looters in a cold and wet concrete building. Each looter (ok, alleged looter) gets one MRE with water on the side each day. I’m sure once the ACLU gets wind of this there will be heck to pay, but for now, the looters (ok, alleged looters) are safely off the streets.

Speaking of baseball, a Denver sports writer wrote a few months ago about taking all the really bad teams each year, and putting them in their own division. It turns out we already have one. The NL-West. What we need is a rule banning any team with a record BELOW 500 from qualifying for any playoff. But, that would make too much sense. Not a strong suit for the folks who run Major League Baseball.

Quote o’ the week
“Don’t you get it?” Senator John McCain of Arizona to MLB Union Chief Donald Fehr during Senate hearings on the use of steroids in professional baseball. I guess the only thing we have to fear, is Fehr himself.
Read More >

Site o’ the week
Another variant of the sun clock we showed you a few months ago. I like this version better. As Chicago sings, “Does anybody know what time it is, does anybody really care?” But if you do, enjoy!

My cyber door is open. E-mail me at

John W. Scherer
CEO and Founder
Member: Denver/Boulder Better Business Bureau.
View our report at

Friday, September 23, 2005

John W. Scherer Blog Sept 23 2005

Let’s talk computing!

Actually, let’s talk infomercials!
We just shot a new infomercial this past weekend. What you’ll see at home is the final, polished thirty- minute version put together by Chip Hopkins and his talented production team. But I want to show you all the work that goes into the production of an infomercial.

By the way, Chip and his team have won the coveted Aurora Gold Award for Video Production for the second year in a row. More on that in future blogs.

Two teams here at VIDEO PROFESSOR worked very hard on the infomercial, our marketing team and our production team. Not only do we have to develop the key messages and themes of each infomercial, but also we have to produce something that’s exciting and informative.

Dozens of our employees spend weeks planning in advance. We have to choose a location, in this case, Park Meadows Mall here in Denver. A shopping mall is a great place to recruit folks like you to try the many titles from our library of VIDEO PROFESSOR computer lessons.

The night before was pretty much an all-nighter as all the cameras, lighting, computers and pieces of the set were all set into place. We had to be ready to go when the mall opened Saturday morning.

The mall location provided us lots of room to work with. We were able to design a set that gave us plenty of “people” room! In this newest version, I have my anchor position with my excellent co-host, Laurel. But we also added an area for a “focus group. We got together with these folks and talked with them about what they knew about computing and more importantly, what they still wanted to learn and how they wanted to learn.

We then turned them loose at several computer laptop stations we set up and got them learning. We even had some folks try and learn with those bulky and hard-to-read instruction manuals to compare how fast they could learn compared to the folks using our lessons.

The contest between bulky and technical manuals and our VIDEO PROFESSOR tutorial lessons was in fact, NO contest!

I also had the chance to stop by the various workstations and visit with our users. Just like you, they have different interests in what they wanted to learn. Some worked on the basics, others worked on advanced skills with programs like PowerPoint and Excel. I’ve been teaching people how to operate their computers for over 18 years and it’s still wonderful to hear people say how fast and easy it is to learn a new skill, or improve existing ones.

Of course, because this was an infomercial, the cameras and microphones were everywhere. But it was spontaneous and unrehearsed. What you’ll see actually happened. And when our new infomercial begins airing around the country, you’ll also see first hand how quickly folks learned, and how good they felt about it.

And this is what makes it so much fun to come to work each day.

One special moment came when Laurel and I were taping a segment, and one of our guests came up to excitedly show us a picture she’d been able to create after just spending a few minutes with our lesson!

We wrapped up shooting at about 6pm. Then the hard work began again, this time in reverse; tearing everything down, packing it up and loading it on the truck for the trip back to the office.

Now our production team is hard at work, beginning the process of screening then editing dozens of hours of tape from the many cameras.

An infomercial is just half an hour. But hundreds and hundreds of hours go into making it. And all these pictures give you a chance to see the many talented and hardworking people that make VIDEO PROFESSOR so successful.

Site o’ the week
Here’s a collection of just plain silly stuff. Just once I’d like to meet one of the people that sits down and creates this stuff!

My cyber door is open. E-mail me at

John W. Scherer
CEO and Founder
Member: Denver/Boulder Better Business Bureau. View our report at

Friday, September 16, 2005

John W. Scherer VIDEO PROFESSOR Blog for Sept 16, 2005

Let’s talk computing!

Katrina Scam Alert!
There are a lot of people looking to cash in on your generosity to help victims of Hurricane Katrina. I just did a Google search using “Katrina Aid Help” as search words and got 39,700,000 hits! Many obviously are for legitimate charities like the Red Cross and Salvation Army. Most are not. They’re scams.
Read more >

Others are already receiving scam e-mails, claiming to be legitimate charities but all they want is your money in their offshore bank accounts.

Legitimate charities like the Red Cross do not use these tactics; you go to their official websites and make your donations. They don’t solicit by e-mail.

America is digging deep to help. But be careful when and where you donate. Work with the established charities like the Red Cross and Salvation Army. If you have any doubts about a charity, check them out by visiting This non-profit organization monitors charities, and provides you with information you need to know before you give.

Another good way is to donate is through your local church or club and you can also visit the websites of your local newspapers and broadcast stations, as they list legitimate sites to donate to. Our employee group, Seasons Club, is actively working with several relief organizations to get the right help to the right people.

Americans are responding like never before, but like everything else, look before you leap, or in this case, give.

Infomercial Info
We’re shooting a new infomercial this weekend. They’re fun to do, but our team here at VIDEO PROFESSOR puts in some incredible work getting it all done. The VIDEO PROFESSOR infomercials you see on TV run 30 minutes, but days and days of work go into planning, we’ll shoot for approximately 8 hours on Saturday, then dozens more hours are spent editing it all together. I’ll have some pictures and “behind the scenes” views of it all in next week’s blog.

Bill Gates on the record
Microsoft Guru Bill Gates is pitching software developers to work together to support existing and planned software products from Microsoft. Gates is keeping his focus on the future, and is encouraging others to team with him to do the same thing.
Read more >

Can Google get any bigger or better? Like weather in Colorado, wait 15 minutes and you’ll find out! They have a new “Industrial Strength” blog search in Beta. Once again they surprised everyone, by not surprising everyone. Because at Google, the hits just keep coming.
Read more >

Mini, not Mega
Everyone, it seems, has a digital camera. And based on the popularity of our Photoshop tutorial, you’re doing all sorts of wonderful things with pictures and graphics (See site o’ the week below) But if you think digital imaging is something new, think again. The folks at Kodak were thinking digital 30 years ago!
Read more >

Friends, Romans and fellow iPod users, lend me your ears
I’ve joined the iPod generation. I too wear the white ear buds. You may have chosen a different brand of MP3 player, but we share the ability to work out, chill or whatever, listening to our favorite music. But what impact are those ear buds having on our ears, Bud?
Read more >

Spelling Checker?
Any of you who work with Word can appreciate how helpful the spelling and grammar functions are. If you don’t have a lot of experience with Word learn more about our Video Professor Word lesson.

That said, the English Language is an interesting one, and it pays not to totally depend on this neat little function. As a matter of fact, quite a few people personally “eyeball” the blog before I post it each week. But I did come across this article, which is great fun and shows the perils and pitfalls of depending entirely on technology! And a good reason to include English skills in your educational plans!
Learn more >

I’ve had a chance to watch part of the confirmation hearings for Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Nominee John Roberts. He’s a lock for the job, likely to win confirmation in the full Senate by 70 votes or more. The Senate Judiciary Committee has the role of conducting hearings to learn more about the nominee. Senators of both parties get to ask questions, but not necessarily get answers. But some Senators (and you know who you are) need to understand the question part. A couple of Senators have the term confused with speeches. One “question” lasted 8 minutes. Followed by silence. Because it wasn’t a question. A waste of time and bugle oil.

Site o’ the week
Photoshop is an absolutely wonderful picture-editing tool and our award-winning tutorial really shows you just how powerful an editing tool it is.
Check it out >

I found this site,, which shows you some of the neat work you can do with Photoshop and your computer, plus a lot of imagination!

My cyber door is open. Send me e-mail at

John W. Scherer
CEO and Founder
Member: Denver/Boulder Better Business Bureau. Check out our report at

Thursday, September 08, 2005

JWS Blog – Week of September 9th

What goes around comes around
I’m so accustomed to seeing the world rely on aid from the United States when natural disasters strike, that it comes as a welcome surprise to see that over 94 countries have offered disaster relief to the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Donors include long-time US allies such as Australia, Japan, Germany, Canada, France and Britain, and also from countries where our relations have been strained: Cuba, Venezuela and Iran. My hope is that by seeing Americans in need, some of the anti-American sentiment felt around the world will soften.
Read more >

When a picture is worth a thousand words
Victims of Hurricane Katrina who are worried about their property have turned to Google Earth to find out if their homes remain standing. Google was quickly able to add over 4,000 post hurricane images taken from a Cessna jet as overlays to its’ database of satellite images. Visit Google Earth >

Teaching and the Internet
There’s hardly a school left in America that isn’t connected with the Internet. A recent survey found that while most students felt that using the Internet helped them with their schoolwork, teachers weren’t as interested in including Internet based curriculum in their lesson plans. Read more >

Try my lesson: Learn the Internet.

“Web gangs” . . . 21st Century mobsters
Is your vision of a hacker a teenage boy, sitting in his bedroom trying to hack into his schools’ computer to change his grades? Think again. Gangs of high-tech criminals are hard at work searching for ways to steal your money. And I’ve just heard that Internet crime is up 20% from this same time last year.

I can’t stress how important it is for everyone to educate themselves about computer security. By ignoring Internet security you face rogue hackers taking control of your PC and using it for identity theft and the distribution of spam and pornography.

Learning how to guard your sensitive information is the key to preventing identity theft. No current or new technologies will be able to prevent the misuse of your personal information once it has been stolen.
Read more >

Learn how you can protect yourself and your PC with Video Professor’s Internet Security Lessons.

Site o' the week
I’ve always heard that slow and steady wins the race . . . after climbing for 14 months, NASA’s Spirit rover finally completed a 270 foot climb to the crest of Mars’ Husband Hill, named after Rick Husband, commander of the fallen shuttle Columbia crew. Spirit is rewarding researchers with spectacular panoramic views of the plains below.
View the photos >

My cyber-door is always open. Send me an e-mail at

John W. Scherer
CEO and Founder
Member: Denver/Boulder Better Business Bureau. Check out our report.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Let’s Talk Computing!

VIDEO PROFESSOR Computer Literacy Day in Modesto, CA.
Much of this week’s blog is about a very special day I got to spend in Modesto, CA. You may recall that earlier this summer we conducted our July 4th Sweepstakes. The Grand Prize was a 2006 Chrysler 300C, and yes, it has a HEMI!

The winner is Corlene Goff of Modesto. She visited our site to order our Excel tutorial lessons, noticed the sweepstakes and entered. It was my pleasure to present her with the keys to her new car on Monday, August 29th at Central Valley Chrysler. (If you live in the Modesto area, I really recommend owner John Gardener and his staff, an absolutely terrific automobile dealership)

John W. Scherer presents Corlene Goff the keys to her new Chrysler 300C!

John and Corlene check out her new ride!

Corlene is a wonderful person and I enjoyed visiting with her. Another company had bought her company, and as a result and through no fault of her own, she’s looking for a new job, and that’s why she was working to improve her computer skills. It felt great to see her drive that gleaming Chrysler 300C off the showroom floor! Corlene also told me the Excel lessons really helped her!

To view the list of major prizewinners click here.

After we gave Corlene her car, we then went over to Johansen High School in Modesto. Anytime we’re involved in an event in a community around the country, we always make a point of donating our lessons to various civic organizations, schools or other groups involved in computer literacy.

Prior to our trip, we spent quite a lot of time working with the Modesto School District’s computer folks, and the more we got to know about their efforts, the more we knew we had to do something truly special.

So we decided to make available free access to our VP Online tutorials to each of the 20,000 High School Students in the Modesto area! We made the official donation at Johansen High School in their state-of-the-art computer lab, but again, the offer is available to all the students in the district.

We were thrilled by all the students, teachers, school board and civic officials who turned out to greet us. Mayor Ridenour officially declared this special Monday as “Video Professor Computer Literacy Day." Congressman Cordoza’s office and the County Board of Supervisors also presented special proclamations.

Modesto Mayor Jim Ridenour officially proclaims August 29, 2005
“Video Professor Computer Literacy Day”

Most importantly, we showed the good that can come when businesses, schools and government work together. As a result, these high schools students now have an additional teaching resource to improve their computing skills and they’ll have the same access from home if they have high-speed Internet access.

I want to extend my most personal and deep felt gratitude to the entire Modesto Community for their warm hospitality!

Hurricane Survivors need all our help.
Like me, I’m sure you are absolutely stunned at the devastation left in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The clean up and recovery efforts will take years, and so many people have lost everything they have. The most basic needs of fresh water, food and shelter are challenging authorities throughout the regions hit hardest.

Right now, the American Red Cross is your best way to help out. What they need most is money. Visit their website at to learn how to donate. And you can give in confidence knowing that your money will be put to good use. Charity Navigator (a non-profit organization that rates the efficiency of charities) gives the American Red Cross four out of four stars.

Site o’ the week
I haven’t made it past 250 with this one; maybe you’ll have better luck! (Most folks usually do!) Click here.

My cyber door is open, e-mail with questions, comments and ideas at

John W. Scherer
CEO and Founder
Member: Denver/Boulder Better Business Bureau. Read our report at