Monday, December 22, 2008

Big 3 Tax Credits

As a veteran business leader I am fully aware that changing economic conditions will have an impact on business operations, some good and some bad. In bad times you won’t see me in front of Congress asking for a bailout; like the majority of American business we here at Video Professor are on our own.

As a businessman, a taxpayer, and especially as a consumer I find myself thinking about what government might do to ensure the future of the American automobile industry. Since Henry Ford’s first Model “T” rolled off the revolutionary assembly line, the auto industry has been the cornerstone of our manufacturing sector and the foundation of our economy.

Americans make things. We’re good at it and the world knows this.

GM, Ford, and Chrysler are in a huge financial hole. They helped dig that hole but the major impact is the result of the housing crash. The Big 3 went from having some chance of success to having no chance at all. Of course, assistance from the government must be packaged with fundamental change in all areas of operation. And in the US auto industry there is plenty that needs fixing, in both areas of management and labor.

OK, let’s talk solutions. Now that the band-aid has been put on the big 3 here’s an idea. Why not offer a $10,000 tax credit to any US taxpayer who buys a GM, Ford, or Chrysler by April 15th, 2009? Also offer a zero interest loan and just watch the cars sell.

Right now, generating cash and reducing inventory are most critical to the success of the Big 3. But this can’t happen until the American people start buying cars again, now!

When the leaders of the Big 3 appeared before Congress, not one of them was asked, “How can we help you sell more cars?” It was a missed opportunity.

This bailout, loan, or whatever our government wants to call it, should include some taxpayer benefit. Simply put, the government offers a tax credit to American taxpayers who buy American made automobiles. Without stimulating the market, government is dreaming while asleep at the switch.

A tax credit ensures that all benefit – manufacturers and their employees, suppliers, dealers and their employees, and oh yes, the American taxpayers too. This will get the economic blood flowing again. The increase in sales will create a renewed revenue stream for the automakers, which in turn will reduce the amount of taxpayer money needed from the government. Taxpayers who buy cars benefit when they file their returns April 15th.

This is not rocket science. It’s common sense.

“Simply the best computer learning available – guaranteed.”

But you have to have an incentive for customers to visit showrooms. What’s wrong with a tax break for the folks who drive cars along Main Street, USA? So far, the only people not getting a break are the people paying for everyone else to get a break. That will break us all!

People aren’t buying Big 3 brands due to lack of quality. They make great cars and they can produce even better ones. One of my own cars is a Chevy Tahoe. It is a GREAT vehicle. The housing mess (don’t get me started on that) is the root cause of this particular “evil”. But when the warehouse is stuffed, there is no point in producing more inventories.

A tax credit to reduce inventory and generate cash flow is as good an idea as any I have heard. It’s a start. Why not try it?

The idea of government now getting involved in free enterprise is the last thing any of us should want. But the current situation is what it is. Tax credit for the folks, who one way or the other will pay for it all anyway, seems only fair.

The government keeps saying they want to help the taxpayers but they still haven’t done that as of yet. Wake up and step up Federal Government! Get the cars moving and get taxpayers the break you keep promising!


John W. Scherer
CEO & Founder
Video Professor, Inc.
12055 W. 2nd Place
Lakewood CO 80228
303-232-1244 Ext 386

Friday, December 12, 2008

Communication can’t be a generational thing.

  • the act or process of communicating; fact of being communicated
  • the imparting or interchange of thoughts, opinions, or information by speech, writing, or signs
  • something imparted, interchanged, or transmitted
    (Thanks to

How do you communicate? How much time do you spend on the phone vs. using e-mail? When was the last time you actually wrote a note by hand or actually met with someone in person? Does generation factor into how you communicate?

According to a report this year by Forrester®, “Generation Y sets the pace for technology adoption and digital, far exceeding any platform of traditional media consumed spending. In a survey of 45,315 North American online adults, people 21–-25 spend an average of 17.6 hours online per week, with 65% of that time for leisure purposes.”

Theirs is a life lived online. It’s all they’ve known. It’s a world not only of e-mails, instant messaging and texting, but posting on social web sites like Facebook® or using Twitter.

By contrast, Boomers learned how to read and write both by hand and on something called a typewriter. We also used something called “conversation.” Most, but not all of us, later evolved to electronic communication. Research shows a significant number of Boomers are well versed in computing. Those who aren’t are generally held back by economic or educational circumstances, or plain stubbornness.

So how does Generation Y communicate with the Boomer Generation and vice-versa? Communication between generations has always been a challenge. The divide is prevalent both inside and outside the work place. Sometimes it’s like we exist in parallel universes.

Being in the business of teaching people how to use computers for over 21 years there certainly is anecdotal evidence showing that both generations have room to improve, better yet, to compromise. The good news is today’s computer technology offers the best opportunity to bridge generational divides.

What good is it for someone from Gen Y to be a Twitter whiz, if they can’t work with a simple Excel® spreadsheet? Your Facebook page may rock, but what about your presentation to senior management on a project involving the merge of numerous documents, graphics and images, where you actually have to speak, live, in front of real people?

It goes both ways of course. Boomers belong on Facebook. There’s no reason that senior management can’t use Twitter to communicate short, concise thoughts and opinions.
Perhaps we can teach each other. These are uncertain times at best. We can all do better.
It all starts with communication. We’re happy to help.


John W. SchererJ

ohn is CEO and founder of Video Professor, Inc.

You can reach him at

Monday, December 08, 2008

Chatting it up in Hong Kong

I had the opportunity recently to e-mail back and forth with a graduate student in Hong Kong. She’s doing research for a paper on blogging, how it is a part of corporate communications, etc.

My blog is a weekly exercise on my part. It’s quite separate from our regular marketing here at Video Professor. It is an opportunity to share thoughts and ideas, often times dealing with technology, sports and politics as well.

Simply put, it’s a great way to express myself and I enjoy it.

Ever since we produced our first Video Professor Lesson on MS-DOS, I’ve tried never to take for granted the huge advances in computer technology since we opened our doors in 1987.

One advantage is how computers allow us to communicate, literally with the world, to share thoughts and opinions and even help a grad student in Hong Kong with an academic paper.

It’s one of the reasons we donate our lessons to non-profit groups who include computer literacy as part of their programs here at home and around the world. We recently donated lessons to a group for a school in Tanzania.

Those kids will not only be able to learn about the world around them, but share their world with us as well.

Communication is a good thing.


John W. Scherer

John is CEO and founder of Video Professor, Inc.

You can e-mail him at

Monday, December 01, 2008

USA CTO: It’s about time

America is going to have a Chief Technology Officer. It’s all part of the soon to be Obama Administration.

Will it be a cabinet level position? Hard to say, but it deserves to be. It could also be an executive level appointee, akin to being the National Security Advisor.

A lot of names have been speculated for the job, I won’t do that here. There are plenty of good choices and it’s my hope whoever gets the job has real world technology and entrepreneurial experience.

This will be the first Presidential administration that truly acknowledges technology. It’s not surprising as the Obama campaign harnessed it very effectively, while Senator McCain admitted to being decidedly non-tech. It cost him dearly among a generation of voters who grew up with technology being part of their lives.

I’ve posted here before that the progress in computing technology the 21 years Video Professor has been in business never ceases to amaze me. We have computers on our desks, on our belts, in our pockets and purses and certainly at home. We shop, we bank, we invest, we do business, and we research and just have plain fun with computers.

We’ve taught over 10 million people to do all of the above.

The creation of a Chief Technology Officer is good news for consumers. It means Washington finally gets it. We hope this means that innovation and entrepreneurship will be encouraged, that regulatory roadblocks will be at least reduced, and that the way we use technology will empower us more than ever before.

Whatever comes along, we’ll do our best to help you master it.


John W. Scherer

John is CEO and founder of Video Professor, Inc.

You can reach him at

Friday, November 21, 2008

BCS: Success or Mess?

Just about everyone has weighed in this season on the Bowl Championship Series or BCS for short. Most notable is our next President who wants an 8 game playoff system.

The Chairman of the BCS committee respectfully disagrees. Guess who wins that one? The BCS Committee says a play-off wouldn’t be in the best interests of the “student-athletes.” Heck, it might be the best chance their professors actually get to see them.

Here at Video Professor we run the gamut of school favorites. Big 12, SEC, Big 10, PAC 10, ACC, the MAC and the WAC and the list goes on. We have a lot of proud alumni of some great schools working here.

The BCS is a strange brew of polls, both human and computer that no one seems to quite understand, although everybody has an opinion. The best win-loss record doesn’t necessarily mean a trip to the NCAA National Championship. Other factors include some conferences like the Big 12 and SEC have conference championship games while others like the Big 10 and Pac 10 do not, plus strength of schedule, blah blah blah.

But the powers that be refuse to consider (at least publicly) a play-off, even though there is one in college basketball which is a 65 team tourney. Guess what? When you add up all the bowl games played this year and early next year, 64 Division 1 football teams will play.

So we end up with 4 BCS games, and one National Championship Game. In most cases, someone is unhappy.

Ultimately this won’t come down to what’s right, but what makes the most money. ESPN just closed a deal to carry BCS games starting in 2010. While they plan to carry the Rose Bowl on ABC, you’ll have to have cable or satellite to watch the others. Another option is the games will be available on your computer or mobile device.

In the meantime, it’s great fodder for sports talk shows and interviews with the likes of Pete Carroll. He suggests removing the “C.”

I won’t have to wait to hear who makes what BCS games. I’ll just check the vacation request forms and do the math myself.

John W. Scherer
John is CEO and founder of Video Professor, Inc.
Reach him at

Monday, November 17, 2008

Vision depends upon your point of view

Folks sure like to predict things. Sometimes the predictions come true, often times they don’t. Predicting can be very un-predictable.

I came across these quotes about computing and technology from years past.
“No one will need more than 637KB of memory for a personal computer” by Bill Gates (Currently new PCs use around 524288KB+).

“There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home.” by Ken Olson of Digital Equipment Corporation in 1977.

“Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons.” by Popular Mechanics, 1949.

“I think there is a world market for maybe five computers. ” by Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943.

“But what ... is it good for?” (referring to microchip) by an Engineer at IBM, 1968.

“ [By 1985], machines will be capable of doing any work Man can do. ” by Nobel Laureate, Herbert A. Simon.

“Everything that can be invented has been invented.” by Charles H. Duell commissioner of the US Patent Office in 1899.

We seem to have a fascination with trying to predict things. Football pregame shows always include predictions. ESPN’s Bowl predictions change every week.

Las Vegas makes a lot of money off people who make predictions.

It’s all so very predictable.

John W. Scherer
John is CEO and founder of Video Professor, Inc.
You can reach him at

Friday, November 07, 2008

The transition from traditional media to Web 2.0

How did you watch the election returns Tuesday night? Did you watch on TV, your computer or both? The networks provided a dizzying array of graphics. CNN even used holographic images of reporters and analysts that looked like something out of Star Wars. All produced with computers of course.

But the razzle-dazzle often times got in the way of what most people want on election night, what candidate or issue was winning or losing.

I heard one report that stated as many as 28% of you monitored election results on your computers. Most networks, newspapers and radio stations provided election night web sites that let you be the producer for election coverage.

Web 2.0 played an important part in Campaign ’08. The same held true when the vote was being counted.

While the networks may have been focused on one state, if you were interested in a different race in a different state, there were online options for you. It’s yet another example of how computers and Web 2.0 empowers you and puts you in control of the information flow.

Most election night web sites offered a full map of the United States. You simply clicked on the state you were interested in, and could drill down for more detailed information from there. Another plus was the ability for you to interact with these sites, post comments and blogs.

I try and never take any of these advances in computers for granted, thinking back to the days when we introduced our first lesson on MS-DOS. There have been huge technical advances in computing during the 21 years we’ve been in business at Video Professor, and there was no better proof than what we all experienced on election night.

More changes are coming as “traditional” media makes the full switch to the Web. The Christian Science Monitor will no longer publish a print edition. Everything will be online. Print circulations for newspapers continue to decline, while viewers shift their attention to the online editions.

Radio station web sites now offer multiple video clips. When radio uses video, you know the times are indeed changing.

I’ll make a guess that many of the 10 million people we’ve taught over the years, were watching election results online this year. Good for you. We’re happy to have helped you do so.

John W. Scherer
John is CEO and founder of Video Professor, Inc.
You can reach him at

Friday, October 31, 2008

Does our digital age debunk UFO’s?

A generation ago, it seems there was a picture of a UFO coming out every day. Some looked pretty real. Mostly, they were often dark, fuzzy and hard to make out. Some even made the cover of Life Magazine.

Today just about everyone has a camera with them all the time, usually on their cell phone. So, where are all the UFO pictures? Those we do see, remain grainy and fuzzy, even though today’s digital cameras make that almost impossible.

Maybe something did crash back in 1947 near Roswell, NM. I know someone who went to the 50th anniversary of “The Event” back in 1997; he said it was just one big tourist promotion. There were lots of souvenir t-shirts but no proof.

Maybe there are some aliens and a flying saucer being stored at Area 51 outside of Las Vegas. It’s made great fodder for countless science fiction stories and movies, but no proof.

Does anyone truly believe the government could keep any of this a secret if it was true? Our government has more leaks than a sieve.

So I end as I begin, with all the surveillance cameras around, the cameras built into our cell phones, where did the UFO’s go? Or did they ever visit us at all?

Speaking of which, don’t forget to vote this Tuesday. Unless you’re an alien.

John W. Scherer
John is CEO and founder of Video Professor, Inc.
You can reach him at

Friday, October 24, 2008

2008 Election: Where are the computers?

In just a few days Americans will elect a new President and vote on a myriad of other offices, ballot initiatives and amendments. Here in Colorado the ballot looks more like the phone book than an actual ballot.

Since it’s 2008, we have an entire generation of voters who have never lived without computers. In so many states, those voters will have to vote using paper ballots because their officials cannot figure out how to use computers to count votes.

We use computers to communicate with people halfway around the world, to design the most sophisticated machinery in the world, to buy and sell and to send pictures of the grandkids. We have computers on our desk at work, in the den at home and on our laps in between. We have PDA’s on our belts or in our purses. We can use those PDA’s to access all the information we need about voting, but just not to actually vote.

The reason is simple. The same government running our economy, and both Republicans and Democrats can share in that debacle, can’t seem to find an efficient way to use computers to vote. Systems crash, or go so far over budget that the orders are cancelled. Billions of taxpayer dollars have been spent on systems that just gather dust because they don’t work.

I guarantee that if they gave Bill Gates or Steve Jobs a call; they’d have something up and working in less than a week.

But that would make too much sense, something our government ran out of years ago.

John W. Scherer
John W. Scherer is CEO and founder of Video Professor, Inc.
You can reach him at

Monday, October 20, 2008

Watch out for crooks taking advantage of the economic upheaval.

The news continues to be dominated by the economy; efforts from the Congress trying to fix the mess, and banks failing or being taken over.

You can't miss the headlines about it all, and neither do crooks and scammers. They love to take advantage of a crisis by taking advantage of you.

Don't be surprised if you get an official looking e-mail claiming to be from your bank or stockbroker. It will have all the appropriate logos and official language and ask for personal information to "confirm" your account status.

Delete it immediately!

Your banker or broker will never, ever, ask for such information from you in this way.

The whole economic situation is very confusing, and crooks and scammers know that.

It's one reason our "Protect Yourself Online" tutorial is so popular. It teaches you how to keep you and your family safe from crooks and scammers, especially in these very uncertain times.

If you have questions about the status of your bank or brokerage accounts, 401k's etc, contact them by phone, or stop by the local offices or branches.

It's your money, and the crooks always want it.

John W. Scherer
John is CEO & founder of Video Professor, Inc.
You can reach him at

Friday, October 10, 2008

Is your BlackBerry more like a Crackberry?

Do you have a BlackBerry® or similar PDA? They've been around for a few years and the Pew Internet and American Life Project set out to not only find out how our productivity has been affected, but also the impact on our personal lives.

They came up with some interesting findings. But first, think back to what life was like before we had this kind of technology. A great example is to watch the terrific and award winning series “Madmen” on AMC.

Set in the 1960's, there are no computers on the desks, just typewriters. As for making a phone call away from the office, you found yourself a pay phone. Examples of both are on display at the Smithsonian!

Pew Research showed that of those surveyed, 96 percent used e-mail, the Internet or cell phones, and 80 percent said that it made them more productive.

Devices like the BlackBerry allow you to perform all these functions just about anywhere. It also makes it difficult to leave the office for the weekend when your office is attached to your hip.

Of those surveyed by Pew, 22 percent said they checked e-mails "often" during weekends or holidays, and 49 percent said it made it harder for them to disconnect from the office.

I tend to be in that group. Being a CEO is a 24/7 job anyways, but I always check my inbox, if for no other reason than to keep the pile manageable for when I arrive to the office Monday. And I must admit it sure is handy to check everything from flight schedules to sports scores on the Internet from my very own phone.

However, there are also times where I simply turn it off or leave it at home when I'm out with friends etc.

Technology is a tool, but should never be a master.

John W. Scherer
John is CEO & founder of Video Professor, Inc.
You can reach him at

Friday, October 03, 2008

Does the POTUS need a PC?

Before you read further, this is not meant to be partisan in anyway. That said, here goes.

The subject of computer literacy has come up in the Presidential Campaign, specifically the perceived lack of computer skills by Senator John McCain.

Senator McCain admits that he’s not the most computer-savvy person in the world, and the opposition has been quick to pounce on it. So have late night comedians.

I have mixed thoughts on this. I’m in the computer-literacy business. It’s why you see me on TV asking you to “Try my product®.” The Boomer generation, according to statistics by the Pew Internet and American Life Project shows that just 35 percent of people over 65 use a computer on a regular basis. You’d also be surprised at the lack of computer skills for those under 65.

It’s been our goal for 21 years that everyone has access to a computer and knows how to use it.
So what about the President of the United States? I went to Google®, and under images did a search for “Oval Office.” I got lots of great pictures, including some of the current occupant’s desk.

There’s no computer on it.

The job description for President of the United States is Commander in Chief, the leader of the free world. Who-ever sits in the Oval Office isn’t likely to instant message Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. My guess is the POTUS doesn’t need to prepare a PowerPoint® presentation either, or work up an Excel® spreadsheet for the national budget.

He has other people who do that for him. The President’s job is to make decisions, some of which are pretty serious. The nature of the job is direct, spoken communication. The next President, just like the current one, will listen then decide. The President doesn’t have to be the smartest person in the room; the President simply needs to hire the smartest people in the room. They are the ones with the computers.

The only real piece of technology the President needs is a cell phone. We supply him one as part of the job. Air Force One isn’t a bad perk either.

I really could care less if the next President has a computer on the desk or a laptop in the briefcase. What I care about is their ability to lead, to make decisions under incredible pressure based upon what’s best for you and me.

It’s the toughest job in the world. In this case, computer skills are not necessary. Leadership and decision-making are.

For everyone else, try my product!

John W. Scherer
John is CEO & founder of Video Professor, Inc.
You can reach him at

Friday, September 26, 2008

Tracking Hurricanes Live Online

This has been quite a season for hurricanes. I’m not going to get into the whole global warming debate here, but talk about how technology is literally saving lives when these storms happen.

Galveston appears to have been the hardest hit by Hurricane Ike. In 1900, Galveston had a devastating hurricane that claimed at least 8,000 lives. Back then there weren’t weather satellites, the Internet, computers or PDA’s. By the time people realized what was about to happen, it was too late.

Flash forward a century and it’s a completely different world. Not only were scientists able to track Ike for weeks, but we were too.

I found myself going to a variety of web sites to watch the hurricane develop, and track its projected path. I could access fresh images moment by moment.

I am sure that this proved to be a wonderful tool for the people in the path of Hurricane Ike. Those with computers or PDA’s had plenty of warning time, and plenty of time to evacuate to safety. Imagine how helpful it was for people with PDAs traveling in their cars to get the latest information on evacuation routes and other necessary things.

Yes, there was loss of life, and the damage is simply horrendous. But thousands were saved because they had direct access to warnings, evacuation information and where to go when it came time to try and return home.

Another example of what computer technology is designed to do. Empower, and in this case, save lives.

John W. Scherer
John is CEO and founder of Video Professor, Inc.
Contact him at

Friday, September 19, 2008

eBay has been in the news lately. JetBlue® used the popular buying and selling site to auction off hundreds of airline tickets with bids starting as low as 10 cents.

Republican candidate for Vice President, Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska brought the house down at the GOP convention when she talked about auctioning off a state-owned jet on eBay.

In both cases, the goal was more about PR than sales, and that mission was accomplished.

I have to admit that when our team talked to me about producing a tutorial about buying and selling on eBay, I was skeptical. I’m not anymore. It’s Video Professor’s No. 1 seller.

It’s a sophisticated buying and selling tool, the keyword being sophisticated. Think about having a sales tool that allows you to market to the world from your own home.

The best part about eBay is that it’s open to everyone. Not just commercial airlines or state governors.

This is yet another example of how technology and the Internet are opening a world of opportunities to anyone with a computer who has willingness to truly understand and use the power it holds.

John W. Scherer
John is CEO and founder of Video Professor, Inc.
You can reach him at

Friday, September 12, 2008

CDC reports alarming rise in cyber bullying

The Centers for Disease Control is reporting that cyber bullying against children from the ages of 10-17 has risen 50 percent from 2000-2005, from 6 percent to 9 percent.

I encourage you to read the full report.

This sort of “Electronic Aggression” comes in many forms from nasty instant messages, malicious and often fake posts on popular social network sites to text messages on the child’s cell phones.

The CDC makes the point that it’s not only adults on the cyber prowl, but other kids as well. Bullying is bullying, and technology just provides new ways for kids to pick on others.

It’s critical for parents to be involved in where and how their kids communicate on the Web and with whom. We developed a very useful tutorial, “Protect Yourself Online” to help you do just that. We worked with Cyber Crime Expert and Author Jayne Hitchcock on the project. Jayne was also a victim of cyber bullying.

This tutorial is a great tool to help protect your kids. And you too.

Please read the CDC report, and check with your State Attorney General for further information and tips.

Cyber bullying is a growing problem. While sometimes difficult, it’s important to sit down with your kids and be involved with them in person and online. Children are often hesitant to admit to being bullied, so work as hard as you can to get them to open up to you about any possible threats.

John W. Scherer
John is CEO and founder of Video Professor, Inc.
You can reach him at

Friday, September 05, 2008

It’s September and it’s about time!

A lot of folks head back to work after the Labor Day Weekend a bit depressed. It means that summer is over, and the next holiday isn’t until Thanksgiving. So there is a little blah in the air.

Except, of course, for those of us who love football, both NFL and college. We have picked our fantasy teams, spent extra money for all the game day television packages, we’ve found an even bigger flat screen than we had last season and generally, we’re a very happy bunch.

Our PDA’s have been programmed for scoring alerts, as have our laptops and desktops. Our Favorites list tends to be dominated by web sites of our favorite teams, both real and fantasy.

We’re not hard to miss. We have sort of a glazed over look in our eyes and a big smile on our faces. The best place to find us Mondays is by the water cooler or in the break room. If you can’t see us, you’ll hear us talking rather animatedly about plays both big and blown, along with no small amount of trash talking.

It’s a new season. Anything is possible. At least in your heart and mind, if not backed up by the roster.

Here at Video Professor, Friday is casual day and when Fall arrives, just about everyone here is wearing the jersey of their favorite NFL or college team. From the Broncos to the Bills, Texas to Kansas, our team is ready to root for their team.

The long summer is over. Football is here and life is as it should be.

John W. Scherer
John is CEO & founder of Video Professor, Inc.
You can reach him at

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Google: 800 pounds and counting.

I wonder how Olympic swimmers who had to compete against Michael Phelps felt? Years of training and preparation just to watch the ’08 Games Golden Boy feat.

It must be the same feeling for search engine newcomers like Cuil or Wikia.

Cuil launched over a month ago to much hype, and less than positive reviews. So how’s it going today? Writer Dan Nystedt of IDG News Service says Cuil has .0070 percent market share in the Internet search business. By contrast, Google® has over 70 percent.

However, Sam Diaz writing in ZDNet says that “nibbling” might be a better approach compared to a full frontal attack on Google. Death by a thousand digital cuts.

Ultimately consumers always need a compelling reason to switch away from something they’re familiar with.

Just a few years ago people asked, “Do you Yahoo?” Since then Google has become both a noun and a verb, and the first choice in search engines for most people.

As social networking grows in popularity around the world, some search engines might think less about market share, and more about niche opportunities. Less indeed, could really be more.

It’s all about choice, and there is plenty of it out there on Web 2.0.

That’s good news for all of us.

John W. Scherer
John is CEO & Founder of Video Professor, Inc.
You can reach him at

Friday, August 22, 2008

I thought 60 was the new 40?

Ok, whoever came up with that expression had to be at least 60. But it does emphasize the point that the baby boom generation is healthier, and living and working longer than the generation before them. They’re also pretty affluent.

So it came as a bit of a surprise to me that according to both Focalyst and Dynamic Logic; and the Pew Internet & American Life Project, just 37.6 percent of Americans 62 and older are going online. That’s about 17 million boomers. So what about the other 62.4 percent or over 30 million?

According to the research, online boomers use the Internet for searching, keeping up with family and friends through blogging and e-mails etc, checking out news, making travel plans, paying bills and even learning online.

Two key factors keeping some boomers offline seem to be education and income. Neither should be an issue. Computing has never been easier to learn, we know that at Video Professor. Prices for computers make them affordable for just about everyone, and libraries fill the gap for those who can’t afford one.

I’ve blogged before about some of the jokes being made about the nation’s most famous baby boomer, Senator John McCain and his perceived lack of computer skills.

Computer literacy is crucial to our nation’s continued growth and success regardless of age or situation. I hope he embraces that, and leads millions of other baby boomers by example. Let’s not let the computer literacy gap become a chasm.

John W. Scherer
John is CEO & Founder of Video Professor, Inc.
You can reach him at

Friday, August 08, 2008

What’s your lifestyle choice? Real, virtual or both?

The folks at Google™ have joined the virtual life competition with something called Lively. In contrast to the spartan design of its regular pages, Lively is very lively! You can choose from avatars and have rooms to congregate in as you gather, giggle and google.

Sound familiar? Second Life® is another virtual world and remains the gold standard, or perhaps I should say the gold avatar of living an online life in case your real one is boring or mundane.

And these web sites are becoming hot stuff. Last season, an episode of CSI New York centered on Second Life characters. People operate businesses and other enterprises, all in a virtual world that exists only in their computer. And if what I saw on CSI was any indication, people via their avatars can take part in no small amount of mischief.

Participating in these virtual worlds is a full-time life for a lot of folks. I wonder why? Is our current real world that bad? When you read the headlines about the economy, gas prices and yet another political campaign season headed to Mudville, can you really blame someone for wanting to escape?

As for me, I like the real world with its challenges. Its ups and downs. For me, real life is a full-time occupation.

John W. Scherer
John is CEO & Founder of Video Professor, Inc.
Reach him at

Friday, August 01, 2008

It’s just business, not politics.

I get more than a few e-mails (which I always appreciate getting, by the way) about what networks we advertise on. One recent e-mailer was upset because we advertise on The O’Reilly Factor on FOX News.

Another person wrote that they were upset because we advertised on a competing network that they didn’t like.

Where and when we advertise Video Professor Lessons is a decision based on audience and the cost for us to reach that audience.

Bill O’Reilly for instance, is controversial. Not everyone likes him. But millions of others do and we want to sell them our lessons! Advertising Video Professor on his show produces results, just as it does on other programs like FOX & Friends or news and entertainment programming on other networks.

While I do admit to having a soft spot in my heart for the folks on FOX & Friends since I have appeared on the show three different times, ultimately we advertise with them because they have such a great audience. And many of the viewers buy our lessons.

We have a talented team of media buyers who make decisions on audience, cost and which networks and programs produce the best results.

Politics and business are a bad mix. That’s why in our ads I ask you to "Try my product®." You’ll never see me telling you how to vote. If one of our commercials appears just before or after a story on any candidate, it doesn’t mean we endorse that candidate.

Ultimately it’s you, the consumer, who is in charge. I hate to admit it, but sometimes when people see my smiling face on a commercial, they switch the channel! Others, however, pick up the phone and order a lesson.

Most folks have hundreds of channels to choose from, plus the Internet, and we just try to reach as many of you as possible. If you don’t like what you see, the problem is solved with just a click of your remote. I know, I do that a lot during election time!

Please keep on writing and sharing your thoughts with me.

John W. Scherer
John is CEO & Founder of Video Professor, Inc.
You can reach him at

Monday, July 28, 2008

Are seniors really unplugged?

Bloggers, pundits, political cartoonists, late-night comedians and yes, me, continue to have fun with Senator John McCain's perceived lack of computer skills.

When asked about using a computer McCain said, "I'm an illiterate who has to rely on his wife for any assistance he can get." All this, and the real state of computer literacy among seniors is the subject of an article I just read online.

Associated Press Reporter Jocelyn Noveck has some interesting anecdotal and research data on seniors and computing. She writes about 106-year-old Kathryn Robinson who has been online since she was 98!

Overall however, according to the Pew Internet Project at the Pew Research Center, only 35 percent of people over the age of 65 are online.

When you factor in that the start of the baby boomers are among the fastest growing segment of our population, that's millions and millions of Americans.

A closer look at the Pew research shows that race, wealth and education play a very important factor. "About three-quarters of white, college-educated men over the age of 65 use the Internet," says Susannah Fox, director of the project.

In her article, Noveck also quotes Tobey Dichter, CEO of Generations on Line, a group that helps bring seniors, including the 106-year-old Robinson, into the digital age as saying McCain may be in “digital denial.”

McCain campaign spokesperson Brooke Buchanan has been quick to respond that the Senator does indeed know how to browse the Internet and check web sites. Wife Cindy McCain is often seen with a BlackBerry® in her hand, and one of the McCain daughters actively blogs about the campaign.

Barack Obama, in contrast, is seen punching away on his BlackBerry all the time.

For the 106-year-old Robinson, being computer savvy means being able to overcome the impact of a stroke. In many ways, it's her lifeline to the outside world, from shopping to communicating.

According to Noveck, the computer has been a lifesaver to her.

When you're a Senator or President, you have a huge staff to do all sorts of things for you, including respond to e-mails; research on the Internet and all matters of online activities.

But at the ripe old age of 106, Kathryn Robinson is on her own. Just like the rest of us, regardless of age. Robinson, however, proves that age is not a barrier.

Senator McCain could make this a terrific campaign issue by showing that age or circumstance is not a barrier to computer literacy. He needs to lead by example.

Computer literacy is the great equalizer. Just ask Kathryn Robinson. Or better yet, send her an e-mail.

John W. Scherer
John is CEO & Founder of Video Professor, Inc.
You can reach him at

Friday, July 18, 2008

John W. Scherer meets John McCain. Sort of.

This has been a fun week for all of us at Video Professor. The last thing I expected to be involved with was the Presidential Campaign of John McCain.

It all started with this video on YouTube that has had tens of thousands of hits. We don’t know who created the video, but they have a great sense of humor!

Apparently someone from the Jimmy Kimmel Live! Staff was watching and this ended up on YouTube, see Senator McCain morph into the Video Professor.

Senator McCain has been candid about his lack of knowledge with computers. It’s been the fodder for lots of great political satire. Frankly, I’m honored that people made the connection about his need for computer skills and Video Professor.

Just in case Senator McCain sees any of these YouTube videos, I invite him to try any of our Video Professor lessons as I do to all of you.

Computer literacy and laugher are great things, and we could most definitely use a lot more of both.

Like I said, it’s been a fun week!

John W. Scherer
John is CEO & Founder of Video Professor, Inc.
You can contact him at That includes Senator McCain.You too, Senator Obama.

Friday, July 11, 2008

More dots to connect (to)

Have you ever heard of ICANN? It's not a political campaign phrase, nor some motivational word.

It stands for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. So what the heck is it? It's the organization that regulates the Internet. I know; sometimes when you're on the Web it's hard to believe that anyone actually regulates it. But ICANN does. Or at least tries to.

And they're about to enact the biggest changes to the way the net has been used in 40 years. (Has it really been that long?)

You're familiar with ".org," ".com," ".edu" and ".gov." These are called TLD's or top-level domain names.

Reuters reports that ICANN has agreed to greatly expand the number of TLD's available. New ones, according to the article will be the Internet equivalent of personalized license plates, except they'll cost more. If you have an extra $100,000 you could have a custom domain name pertaining to just about anything.

Let's say you're General Motors. Think in terms of ".gm." could become Disneyland.mickey, the endings are limitless.

But just in case you'd try to honor the memory of George Carlin with one of those seven words, they're ahead of you (not quite sure what this means). Like the personalized license plates, I think more than a few folks will find a way to push the limit a tad.

These changes, which still need final approval from ICANN's board or directors, would also reflect languages other than English. The Internet is certainly global, so you could expect ".francais" or ".albergo."

This could create a gold rush of entrepreneurs with tons of cash, to make even more tons of cash beating you to the TLD punch. ICANN says trademarks won't be automatically protected. Which begs the question, what's the point of trademarks? ICANN does say, however, the trademark holders will be given first priority. Good luck with that.

If finally approved, this could all start in 2009. So put on your thinking caps, grab your checkbook and start getting creative.

Let me see, videoprofessor.freecomputerlearning or johnwscherer.trymyproduct.

I like the possibilities!

John W. Scherer
John is CEO & Founder of Video Professor, Inc.
You can reach him at

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Sweet Land of Liberty!

Sweet Land of Liberty!

In 1776, 232 years ago, an incredibly brave group of men risked their fortunes and their lives to shed the yoke of British tyranny. They did so with one of the more remarkable documents written in the history of mankind: The Declaration of Independence.

Please take a couple of minutes to read it, appreciate it and remember these men and all the men and women who fight today to preserve our freedom.
In Congress, July 4, 1776.
A Declaration
When, in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. -- That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. -- That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. -- Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the meantime exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavored to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by mock Trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offenses
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule in these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burned our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
New Hampshire: Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton
Massachusetts: John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry
Rhode Island: Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery
Connecticut: Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott
New York: William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris
New Jersey: Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark
Pennsylvania: Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross
Delaware: Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean
Maryland: Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton
Virginia: George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton
North Carolina: William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn
South Carolina: Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton
Georgia: Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton
Have a happy and safe July 4th weekend everyone.
John W. Scherer
John is CEO & Founder of Video Professor, Inc.
Reach him at

Friday, June 27, 2008

Well done and oh yes, thanks Bill!

Any cliché phrases you may read about Microsoft® Founder Bill Gates riding off into the sunset or cleaning out his desk are highly inappropriate. He's riding towards the sunrise and just getting a new desk.

Gates is one guy who is going to work full time and then some to make this world a better place to live. And he's backing it all up with billions of dollars of his own money.

Gates has really led an amazing life and company. Without him and Microsoft, I'm not sure if there ever would have been a Video Professor.

Bill Gates is one of those guys we all knew in college, but never saw out of class. While a lot of his classmates might have been enjoying life off-campus, Gates could be found in his dorm, writing line after line of computer code.

Ultimately what made Bill Gates an incredible success is that he was both an engineer and a marketer, a rare combination.

However, I'm getting ahead of myself.

Bill Gates enrolled at Harvard in 1973 and he only lasted about a year there. While many of his classmates were reading Playboy® magazine, he was reading Popular Science®. Gates was more of an entrepreneur than a student.

His first deal came with IBM. Then, he and fellow Harvard drop-out and business partner Paul Allen founded Microsoft in 1976 in Albuquerque N.M. The rest, as the saying goes, is history.

Gates, like any successful person in any field has both supporters and detractors. He made mistakes. WebTV was certainly one of them, but simply because it was ahead of its time.

He was also the target of no-small number of anti-trust suits filed by federal and state authorities. Microsoft remains a target of similar suits filed by foreign countries as well. Governments sometimes get cranky when you're too successful.

Gates expected the best from his employees. Any good CEO does. But the list of Microsoft Millionaires and Billionaires is staggering. In the early days, there was more stock handed out than cash. Those who stayed, believed and worked incredible hours were handsomely rewarded.

Wouldn't it be cool if we could go back in time 20 years and buy the stock?

Ultimately look at the programs you use every day on your computer. Word, Outlook®, PowerPoint® and Windows®, to name just a few. Video Professor has been selling millions of lessons on how to use those programs for the past 21 years.

History will judge the true impact of Bill Gates and Microsoft. Yes, the world of computing would have continued on without him, but I doubt it would have progressed as quickly as it did. I think the progress is measured in decades. Bill Gates is one of those rare people that come along every generation or so. He's right up there with Henry Ford, someone else who had the vision no one else did, plus the business-savvy and marketing expertise to take ideas and make them a reality.

Both were doing something others were doing too. They were just better at it.

Vision. It seems to be in short supply these days.

Now Bill Gates' vision is about using his fortune to make the world a better place. He'll make even more mistakes along the way, but successes will far outweigh his failures. Bill and his wife Melinda, through their foundation, are helping to fight AIDS, provide real education to children around the world, and educate people about better ways to farm for the global community.

Gates will be visiting Microsoft's headquarters on a regular basis. I don't blame him. I am curious about how itchy his fingers will be during each visit!


John W. Scherer
John is CEO & founder of Video Professor, Inc.
Reach him at

Friday, June 20, 2008

Social Networking Update: Show me the money

I hope you had a chance to read the article in the June 2 edition of BusinessWeek. The headline, Beyond Blogs, really caught my attention.

Back in 2005, an article about blogs was written calling them a "phenomenon" and the next big thing for businesses to communicate. I started this blog in February of 2005 and I remember thinking that it was really quite an amazing feeling, especially for someone who built a business on traditional communication like TV commercials and infomercials.

It took about 10 minutes to set up an account and suddenly the world was mine. I became a global publisher.
Flash forward to 2008 and blogs almost seem quaint in this day of YouTube, Facebook®, MySpace®, Twitter, Linkedin® and Flickr.

BusinessWeek reports that a check on shows there are about 74 million blogs out there, which sounds like a huge universe. The magazine also reports that only a fraction of all bloggers have posted within the last couple of months. According to Technorati™, the real blogging universe is just over five million regular bloggers.

Some blogs have an audience of just a few people, while others have a few hundred; very few blogs have audiences in the hundreds of thousands. The latter are digital movers and shakers, influencing public opinion from arts to politics.

Enter the social networking sites. BusinessWeek is quick to admit it's something they didn't see coming. As fast as our digital world is evolving, I don't blame them.

Along with this blog, I have my Linkedin and Flickr sites. And with a business to run, it's a challenge to find time to post a blog every week and keep my other sites current. So for me, it's enough. Many Video Professor® employees blog, maintain their social networking sites and various departments post their own news and information online.

It's becoming a big business. Newscorp paid $588 million for MySpace. Google® spent $1.65 billion for YouTube. Even in this uncertain economy, venture capitalists are pouring in money and buying stakes in hopes that it's the next big thing.

This is eerily reminiscent of the tech bubble of the late 90's. Gobs of cash were being poured into online ventures that didn't produce anything, or earn anything. Talk about crash and burn.

BusinessWeek warns that the business plans for many of these sites remain blurry. Wall Street likes to get answers to pesky things like expenses and revenue, and not projected numbers, but the real deal.

These sites are so popular with the masses because they're free. If you go to many of the sites you won't see a lot of ads, or even links to ads. So much for the revenue part. BusinessWeek predicts this bubble will also burst. Ultimately it's all about revenue.

I predict social media 2.0 will find a way to live and prosper. Now that so many millions of us have been empowered to communicate from our desktop to the world, there's no stopping us.

John W. Scherer
John is CEO & founder of Video Professor, Inc.
You can reach him at

Friday, June 13, 2008

And the survey says: There are no surveys!

As you surf the Internet, it's likely you've come across sites that offer you cash to take a survey, or put money into your PayPal® account for ordering a product from a national brand like Video Professor® or dozens of other nationally known companies.

It sounds like a terrific deal. There's just one problem. It's a potential scam.

Some of these sites are disguised as chat rooms where someone is passing on a "good deal" to you. Other sites disguise themselves as research companies or focus groups.

It's really just a new version of the old "make thousands of dollars stuffing envelopes at home" scam.

I'm using this week's blog to alert you that Video Professor does not authorize in any way, any offer that pays you to take a survey, or pays you to order our product. Anyone who claims otherwise is flat out lying to you.

And we're doing something about it. The following letter is going out to any and all sites that make these fraudulent claims. We're doing this to protect you and us.

Warning Letter
This letter is to notify you that Video Professor will not tolerate being associated in any way with survey or cash-incentive offers being made to consumers through your web site(s). We believe the promotional methods used in making these offers are deceptive and fraudulent. They result in harm to consumers as well as to businesses such as Video Professor.

Offers of this kind typically fail to disclaim that the company whose products are being offered has not sanctioned the survey being presented. Video Professor refuses to have its name or products used in this manner.

To our knowledge you are not currently offering Video Professor products on your web site(s). If however, that is not the case and you indeed are offering our products, we strongly request that you remove all Video Professor product offers from your web site(s) immediately and ensure that your affiliates, sub-affiliates, or others down the line from you do the same. Should we learn subsequent to this letter that you or your affiliates are offering Video Professor products, we will refer this matter to our outside counsel, who have been instructed to initiate appropriate legal action immediately. To the extent you wish to clarify for Video Professor how the business model you employ is not a means of deceiving and defrauding consumers and businesses such as Video Professor, you may contact our outside legal counsel.

Please note that we do not intend to send any further communications regarding this matter. Should you fail to remove our offer as requested, we will take appropriate legal action without delay.

Video Professor makes this communication under reservation of all rights. Nothing contained in or omitted from this letter shall be deemed an admission or omission by Video Professor of any facts or a waiver of any rights or remedies, legal or equitable, which Video Professor may have in connection with this matter.

Simply put, it means STOP WHAT YOU'RE DOING!

Video Professor is in the business of teaching people how to operate and get the most out of their computer and we've been doing so for 21 years. It's easy to order, just call or visit our web site and we'll take care of you. It's what we do.

We don't conduct surveys or make you jump through any other hoops to try the Video Professor products. That's not us.

Should you come across any site or chat room making these claims, please let me know about it because they're not sanctioned or approved by us
If you're ordering only because of a cash incentive, please don't. If you're ordering because you want to learn, please do. Plus it's FREE*

John W. Scherer
CEO & Founder of Video Professor, Inc.

*Visit our web site and see How It Works.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Twilight Zone to Lost. From water cooler to the Web.

The other day I noticed that you can view original episodes of "The Twilight Zone" at They have seasons one through three. Just pick your favorite episode, sit back and enjoy as host and creator Rod Serling tells you that "there is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man."

It got me thinking how almost 50 years after these original episodes aired, the Internet has impacted the way we watch television shows, plus interact with them and even have input into storylines.

Take the hit series Lost on ABC. Sure, it has a huge viewing audience. But it also has numerous web sites, blogs and podcasts dedicated to it. You can watch it, then chat online with fellow fans, listen to some great podcasts produced not only by ABC®, but also by Lost fans on their computers. The best of them is The Lost Podcast with Jay and Jack. You don't even have to watch the show on your TV. You can watch it online or on your iPod®.

Borrowing a page from Lost, let's flashback to the 60's and The Twilight Zone. During this time, it was an absolute classic show, and similar in many ways to Lost; always eerie and unpredictable. However, talking about it was limited to the water cooler or writing a letter to the network and that was it.

Today's producers of hit shows pay close attention to what fans are or aren't saying on the ‘Net. They read posts and blogs, listen to podcasts and interact directly with you. Many times you can chat online with the show's stars and producers.

Imagine being able to go online and chat with Rod Serling. Or discuss a show or ideas for a show online with fellow fans. Well, it's heading that way. Google The Twilight Zone and you'll get a lot of hits, but no chats with Serling.

I wonder if Rod Serling's fertile imagination ever thought this could happen? It wouldn't surprise me one bit if he did. It might have made for a fun episode of The Twilight Zone.
He'd have to re-write the intro a bit to something along the lines of "you're traveling through another dimension -- a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind; a journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That's a signpost up-ahead: your next stop: the Internet."

John W. Scherer
John W. Scherer, CEO & founder, Video Professor, Inc.
Contact me at

PS. I post this on June 6th, 2008. It was 64 years ago that Allied Forces stormed the beaches of Normandy leading to the end of World War II. Let's not ever forget that day.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Having a bad day? Check this out.

Two stories this week caught my eye. The first offers a dramatic picture of a United States Marine ducking for cover as an enemy bullet misses him by maybe an inch. I don’t have rights to the picture so here’s a link to the article on,2933,356574,00.html

The picture was taken in Afghanistan. It will be one of those pictures that will live on for awhile. It’s definitely a picture worth a million words.

The other story was on the front page of the Denver Post. Huge crowds lined up along the streets of Loveland, Colo to say goodbye to a local soldier killed in Afghanistan. All were waving flags, saluting or both. Again, I don’t have rights to the pictures but here’s the link to that story. Bravo to the people of Loveland.

I hope you get the chance to read both stories, see the pictures and feel the emotions that both generate.

Since Memorial Day was earlier this week, let’s remember this week to never forget the sacrifices others are making for our freedom. Regardless of your opinions of the war, hundreds of thousand of brave men and women volunteered for this job. They’re fighting to protect us all.

So, if the workload at the office seems a bit heavy, maybe traffic was bad on the way to work and you’re feeling a bit put out by it all, check out the picture of the Marine in Afghanistan or the folks lined up in Loveland to salute a fallen hero and hopefully it will put things in perspective for you. It sure did for me.

Our staff supports a young soldier stationed in southern Baghdad. We got him a laptop with a webcam so he can keep in touch with his family and our employees send out regular packages of goodies ranging from sweets to wet wipes.

His response is generally simple: thanks for remembering, thanks for caring. His messages are usually short; he has to get back to the job of defending our freedom often while he mourns the loss of fallen comrades.

But here’s a direct quote from a recent e-mail that caught all of our attention, and brought a tear to our eyes:

“Things are starting to get worse around here and a lot more attacks on coalition forces so kind of scary but we should be okay as long as I make it till August so I can see my baby boy born.”

Let’s honor and remember them each and every day.

John W. Scherer
John W. Scherer, CEO & founder, Video Professor, Inc.
Contact me at

Friday, May 23, 2008

Web 3.0 base here. The blog has landed.

Just when we were getting used to the idea of Web 2.0, along comes Web 3.0. I just read a piece about it by Joe Marchese in his Online Spin column titled “MySpace, Facebook and Google: Racing For Web 3.0.”

Wikipedia describes Web 3.0 as “the future of the World Wide Web,” noting that many “technologists, journalists, and industry leaders have used the term … to hypothesize about a future wave of Internet innovation.

Think of all this in terms of Captain Kirk and his crew going boldly out into space, searching for what is yet undiscovered. In this case, however, if nothing can be found, it will simply be invented.

Marchese reports that everyone from Google® to Facebook® to MySpace® is launching new technology to make social networking more social than ever. What you choose to share will simply follow you around on Web 3.0.

I agree with him that most of us living on Main Street, USA on Web 2.0 are hard pressed to keep up. The question now, I guess, is just how social do we have to be?

I blogged about this a couple of weeks ago, the U.S. remains more a nation of voyeurs than the creators on Web 2.0. Other nations have a much higher percentage of folks creating actual content on the Internet than we do. But it is indeed a World Wide Web. Soon, Web 3.0 will be the new jargon du jour. Sacre Blue!

During the Cold War we worried about the missile gap. Now we might have to start worrying about the social gap.

I’m not the only person here at Video Professor experimenting with various social media. Personally, I’m really getting into and®. There are other new social sites, the hottest and latest, is I’m not a fan of that one, but that’s me. You barely register and within seconds people are following you in cyber land. How do I know? I receive e-mails telling me this. Some of it feels a tad creepy. However, to’s credit, they have very good privacy settings.

Ultimately all of us will have an ever-increasing multitude of ways to express ourselves on the Web. A few are always way ahead of the power curve when it comes to the proverbial cutting edge. Then there’s the big chunk of us in the middle who are still dipping our toes in the water. O.K., our whole foot. And so far, the water’s fine. However, 20 percent of Americans still don’t even have access to a computer, that’s 60 million people!

Is a new class structure evolving in the world? Not based on socio-economic background, but computer savvy? It seems to look that way.

This is all something we pay very close attention to here at Video Professor, and if it’s hot, our production team is likely working on a way for you to learn more about it.

To paraphrase an old saying, the more things change, the more things change!


John W. Scherer

John W. Scherer, CEO & founder, Video Professor, Inc.

Share your thoughts with me at

Friday, May 16, 2008

Video Professor and Nine Inch Nails. It’s all about FREE.

I must admit, I never thought I’d see Video Professor and Nine Inch Nails in the same sentence. But, this is a band that knows how to market itself and honestly, I like the way they’re doing it.

Several news outlets including the New York Times report that the band’s new album, “The Slip” is available online. O,K., that’s not news. What is news is how they’re offering the album. FREE!

Sound familiar? It did to me!

When we began offering FREE CD lessons to introduce you to the quality and ease of learning with Video Professor, sales rocketed. From that day on, we never looked back.

The music business is currently in a bit of a slump. People aren’t buying complete albums anymore and CD sales just aren’t what they used to be. Using services like iTunes®, music lovers can buy individual songs rather than purchase an entire album. The way people listen to music has changed, and so is the way bands should market it.

So, why is Nine Inch Nails trying the free-marketing approach? Well, for one thing, they have a tour coming up shortly. People will still pay to see hot bands and what better way to get fans to see you live than by giving them a taste of what they’ll see in concert?

According to the article I read in the New York Times, titled “Nine Inch Nails Album Is Free Online” not everyone thinks this will work. But I agree with the band’s manager Jim Guerinot who said “I think free has been very important for a long time.” He said this free offer by the band makes a point to people; “Acknowledge what the marketplace is already showing us: free exists whether you want to acknowledge it or not. Let’s acknowledge that, use it and do something with it.”

I couldn’t agree more.


John W. Scherer

CEO & founder, Video Professor, Inc.

You can reach me at

Friday, May 09, 2008

Are you all a twitter about Twitter®?

I continue to be absolutely fascinated by what is often called, social media. It truly is one of the great things about Web 2.0.

The latest, at least for me, is something called, a combination of blogs, instant messenger and e-mail delivered at warp speed. But this site is all about brevity, you only get 140 characters per message.

If you want to check on who is twittering about what, go register at

My other favorite is the® business networking site, considered a MySpace® for adults and business professionals. One of my staff told me that he recently linked up with a friend from his college days, which was over 35 years ago. As a result of this, he linked up with several mutual friends. is similar to a pyramid scheme, but in a good way. You link to people and then you can link to the people they’re linked to. You can link to companies you work for or have worked for, and even to the college you attended. We have a member of staff here that is linked to over a million people through her direct links. That’s what we call networking!

You can e-mail, exchange information and gossip in an organized and easy-to-use fashion.

Another site you might want to check out is, an online bar and happy hour. I haven’t signed up yet, but it’s one of the fastest growing social media sites today.

I mentioned last week that even though many of us blog, we’re still trailing behind a great deal of countries. We are a country of voyeurs instead of creators. I maintain a schedule myself, promising to put out a blog every Friday.

If you want to really dive into the blogosphere and see what people are talking about, visit

Have a web site? See how it ranks across the World Wide Web using

Where is it all headed? I have no idea, but it sure is fun to join in!


John W. Scherer

CEO & founder, Video Professor, Inc.

Contact me at

Friday, May 02, 2008

Web 2.0 status report. We’ve got some catching up to do.

First there was the Internet; then something called Web 2.0 came along. The Internet was basically a collection of web sites. You clicked, you went and you viewed. Web 2.0 is the next generation and provides a full-fledged computing platform that includes blogs, wiki’s, online video, widgets and any number of ways to express yourself.

Some of the newer tutorials we offer are reflective of this new format. Lessons like Learn Online Investing, Learn Online Travel and Learn How to Buy and Sell on eBay® are very popular with our customers.

Web 2.0 is also proving to be an extremely effective political-campaign tool. Campaigns can generate huge amounts of cash through the Internet, political blogs are everywhere and anyone with a computer can sound off for or against the candidates. Bloggers have joined traditional campaigns as pundits where their opinions are valued.

That said, I was a bit surprised to read an article titled "U.S. Lags in Social Media Creation, per Survey" in Adweek® magazine that says we are lagging behind computer users in Asia and South America. While Americans tend to share videos and read blogs, people in these countries tend to be far more active in creating content.

This quote from that article really sums it all up:

"By and large, in the U.S. we're a country of voyeurs", said David Cohen, U.S. director of digital communications at Interpublic Group's Universal McCann, which conducted the study. "We love to watch and consume content created by others, but there's a fairly small group that are doing that creation -- unlike China, which is a country of creators."

According to Adweek, 26 percent of Americans have their own blogs, compared to 70 percent of people in South Korea and China.

Interpublic Group's Universal McCann® advertising agency conducted the survey of 17,000 Internet users over 18 months. Europeans join us as laggards.

In a way, I’m not surprised. Japan has had HDTV for decades, while here in the U.S. it’s only just beginning to come into its own.

Are we simply cautious or are we technophobes? Personally, I think it’s a bit of both. While we launch more and more tutorials that help you maximize the benefits of Web 2.0, so many customers still come to us for the basics.

I encourage you to get out there and create. Picture sharing sites like, video sites like and even new sites like allow you the chance to express yourself or connect to the world like never before. Join a site called and you’ll be hearing from old friends you haven’t seen in years.

Such expression used to be limited solely to broadcasters and publishers. The great thing about Web 2.0 is it empowers all of us to express our thoughts and opinions, share pictures of the grandkids or catch up with long-lost friends.

So use it, enjoy it and let’s catch up with the rest of the world by creating.

John W. Scherer, CEO & founder, Video Professor, Inc.
You can reach me at

Friday, April 25, 2008

In a complicated world, simple still works

I just completed a series of interviews with Bob Regular, the editor and publisher of, which is a terrific web publication with a core audience of movers and shakers in the e-commerce industry. These are the folks who have set up shop on Web 2.0

The interview reminded me of how much our society has evolved in the way we communicate because the interviews will be in both text and video format on the Adotas web site. Just a couple of weeks ago I was a guest on “FOX & Friends®” and also on the “FOX Business Channel.” These were both traditional media interviews. However, a few minutes later these same interviews were available on the “FOX News®” web site. This time around was again a video interview with Adotas, but streamed directly to you via the Internet accompanied with a text version.

Bob Regular (left) of interviews John W. Scherer

During the one-hour interview, we focused on just how Video Professor has grown and succeeded for 21 years by keeping our communications processes simple.

Video Professor is a vertically integrated company. Our creative services, web design, SEO, public affairs, legal and marketing are all under one roof. We even have our own television studio and our creative teams, who work in both video and the Internet, have all the bells and whistles to produce spectacular material.

What we’ve learned thus far is that you can’t let these bells, whistles and other toys distract from the message.

Outside vendors, contractors, web design companies etc, come to us every day with all sorts of ideas. They tell us to fancy this up, or add elements to this and that. The few times we actually listened, it didn’t work.

I think this is especially the case with social media. What is often lost in the conversation is the importance of clarity of message. Does it pass the “so what” test?

Our commercials and infomercials focus more on our product than the pizzazz, the value and benefit instead of the gaudy flash. The same goes for our web site. It’s basic, easy-to-navigate and gets you where you want to go with minimum fuss and maximum efficiency.

This makes selling easy and service after the sale even easier. It’s worked for 21 years and we plan on being around for much longer! This isn’t about resisting change, but actually embracing change without losing focus on the simplicity of the message. There are multiple pipelines to consumers these days and we use them all. Customers are busy, they want to find out what we have to offer, and then order what they want. If they need help after the sale, getting service should be just as quick and easy. As I told Regular during our interview, everyone in this building is focused on the customer. It’s simple, but it works.

During my interview, I was asked more than once to give advice to the young entrepreneurs just starting out.

First and foremost you have to get your brand out there. When we were starting out at Video Professor, we quickly found out that television was a good way to do this. However, it was, and still is expensive. But, you have to have your name and product or service available to as many eyeballs as possible. For us, the investment paid off.

The visibility through our commercials and infomercials has made transitioning our brand to the Web much easier than if we were starting from scratch. The Web, web sites and social networks can be much cheaper and just as efficient for new businesses today.

Your web site design must be clean, uncluttered and easy to navigate. Your customer comes to your site to either learn more about your product or to buy it. Make it simple.

You should maintain a relentless focus on customer service throughout the process. You will get complaints. They are part of business. But, how you field these issues could be the difference between success and failure.

Don’t let a very few negatives slow you down, keep your focus on that 99 percent of successful sales.

Looking back at the last 21 years and looking forward to the next 21 years, I remain so very excited about what we’ve accomplished the millions we’ve taught and the terrific new products and services we have planned for the future.

We plan to always keep it simple and direct. You can count on everyone at Video Professor to provide you with the tools that make learning easy and if you ever have a question or concern, we’re just a phone call or e-mail away.


John W. Scherer, CEO & founder, Video Professor, Inc.

You can contact me at

Thursday, April 17, 2008

If we all give a little, together we can make a big difference.

All of us here at Video Professor have “adopted” a young soldier from Ft. Hood, Texas who is currently deployed in southern Iraq. He contacted us last fall to help him out getting a laptop computer with a webcam. As a PFC, his salary doesn’t allow for such things. His wife and young daughter will not see him again for about 15 months. With the laptop and webcam he’ll be able to send video messages back home so when he returns safely, his daughter will still know her daddy.

Here’s an excerpt from a recent e-mail he sent us.

“Yeah so I am in-country Im staying at FOP Falcon in southern Baghdad its not a great area at all and the cease fire between sunis and shiites was just thrown out the window and the one who stopped it called on "a million men to rise up and kill americans" so this deployment might be interusting LOL we have been taking mortar and RPG attacks on the FOP just about everyday and when we flew in on the choppers they tried shooting mine down but since they just spray and pray they are not really accurate at all.”


Imagine having all this as part of your typical work day. He volunteered for this mission. But this young trooper, along with tens of thousands of others is taking the fight to the enemy so we can work, play and enjoy life safely here at home.

I am so very, very proud of him and all those who service. We have an employee club here at Video Professor called Seasons. We’ll be collecting items he’s requested for him and his unit. It’s simply the stuff we all take for granted. Razors, wet wipes and of course, cookies!

Our team is already at work gathering boxes and boxes of goodies and we’ll be shipping them off to his unit shortly.

I know this war has both its supporters and detractors. But we can all agree that the incredible sacrifices made by these men and women who wear the uniform are again done so voluntarily. Regardless of your support of the war, I encourage you not to forget them one single day.

There are numerous ways to support these troops including the USO, the Fisher House and many others. But be careful when supporting any charity. There are some out there who claim to help out and simply spend the money on salaries and fancy offices. A good way to check is to go to to find out which are the most efficient in making sure what you donate, goes to where it is supposed to.

Also on the subject of giving, we got a wonderful thank you note from Mag Strittmatter who is the Executive Director of the Jefferson County Action Center. She thanked Video Professor’s employee club, Seasons, for donating Easter Baskets and also personal items for the growing number of people the Center serves.

We also got a kind note from Jean Owens of the Five Acres project in Altadena, CA. They work with abused kids through treatment and education including computer literacy. Five Acres is one of several non-profits that include computer literacy in their programs that we provide lessons to each year.

These thank you notes are always appreciated, but I often feel it’s we who should be saying thanks. Thanks for the opportunity to give and make a difference, but especially thanks for the good feeling one has when doing so.


John W. Scherer

CEO and Founder, Video Professor, Inc.

Contact me at

Monday, April 14, 2008

Is all the talk about green really about the green?

Two stories caught my attention this past week. The first was a cover story by TIME® Magazine about ethanol, which describes this alternative fuel as a scam. A great deal of money is being spent to promote ethanol, which is made from corn and sugarcane. It is supposed to make the U.S. less reliant on foreign oil. At least one domestic automobile company makes a majority of its cars and trucks to run on both conventional and ethanol fuels.

The other story involves former Vice President Al Gore’s $300 million campaign to mobilize the nation for a huge reduction in greenhouse emissions. An article in the Washington Post® newspaper called “Gore Launches Ambitious Advocacy Campaign on Climate” says that Gore’s campaign is, “One of the most ambitious and costly public advocacy campaigns in U.S. history.” I’ve seen the spots; they’re very well done.

I’m all for anything to make our planet cleaner, we waste too much, pollute too much and I know that we can do better. Our own efforts in providing Video Professor® tutorials online, uploaded directly to your computer instead of using CD-ROM’s with all the packaging, could certainly be characterized as a green initiative. Truth be known, it’s simply a quicker and more efficient way for you to learn from our ever-growing list of computer tutorial lessons. Streaming directly to your computer does save a lot of trees. But, we think it’s both fair and honest to simply promote ease of use to you as a customer.

Another point about ethanol; producing it from corn actually takes more energy than it generates. It’s also impacting the price you pay for corn-based products at the grocery store. TIME claims that one person could be fed for 365 days on the amount of corn needed to fill up one SUV with ethanol, check out what passes for corn at some supermarkets. The puny little ears of corn are given to us, while the good stuff goes to ethanol plants.

TIME reports sugarcane-based ethanol does actually deliver as far as energy efficiency, but at the expense of potentially wiping out jungle areas like the Amazon rain forest. There’s a remarkable picture in the article to back it up, showing areas of the Amazon looking more like the plains of Nebraska.

Some supporters of Gore’s campaign are among those who rail against nuclear power and oil. Yet France, for example, produces 80 percent of its power with nuclear plants. Norway allows oil drilling along 80 percent of its coastline, which is as an example of all that is good about government and society.

In contrast, here in the U.S., regulatory rules make it all but impossible to build new refineries, or tap into the proven and immense oil reserves off the coast of California and Alaska. As for nuclear power, forget about it.

It seems, at least to me, that the biggest obstacles towards a genuine and productive debate about keeping this planet pristine are politics and the almighty dollar. You know, the greenback. Pun intended.

However, we cannot forget that not only are China and India emerging industrial powers, they are polluting far more than the U.S. More than one Olympic athlete is concerned about competing this summer in Beijing because of the incredibly polluted air. Bicycles are being replaced by extremely inefficient cars that cause pollution in both nations, as workers can now afford to buy them. These countries have far less stringent emissions policies than we do. One of the reasons gasoline is becoming so expensive is the demand from China and India.

To their credit, American consumers are turning more and more to hybrid cars. Ironically it was General Motors that had the technology decades ago, but they weren’t prepared to take the initial loss of actually producing a hybrid electric car. Gas was cheap and plentiful, and oh how we loved those big Buicks and Caddies. However, the situation has changed and this time it is Toyota who is ready to play the hybrid game. Game, set, match.

If we’re going to talk the talk, we have to walk the walk. An hour on the evening of Saturday, March 29 was reserved for a so-called Earth Hour; a time to turn off the lights and everything electric. “NBC® News” promoted it heavily. “NBC” regularly reports on global warming, unless there’s a snowstorm. “NBC” is owned by GE and guess what? The lights on the GE building were ablaze against the New York City skyline during the whole hour, just like the hour before and the hour after.

I have nothing against people making a profit on green technology. Wind and solar power are two examples that come to mind. Two companies that produce wind-generated power are located here in Colorado. We welcome them. I hope they make a dandy profit for their efforts. My problem is with people who try and make a buck by marketing something as green when really it isn’t. Like ethanol.

So when the next big green thing comes along, read between the lines. I fear that the heavy marketing of going green may actually dilute the importance of the bigger message. Green could end up like the Atkins® diet. Hot for a while, then it simply disappears. Planet Earth and the maintenance thereof shouldn’t be a fad.

In the meantime, recycle. It’s a start and you know for sure you’re making a difference.

John W. Scherer, CEO & founder, Video Professor, Inc.
You can reach me at