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Giving your time and spirit

Normally on this blog we tak about digital experience and the web site, but I thought I would change the pace a bit and tell you about a great team activity our web teams did recently.  Literally one of the best times I have had at a group event was recently when our Web team spent a few hours helping out at the Second Harvest Food Bank in San Jose, California.

Second Harvest is where local nonprofit agencies turn to get donated, surplus, and purchased food at no cost. Last year they distributed almost 40 million pounds of nutritious food to South Bay families. They’re very organized at Second Harvest and set us up assembly line style to load pasta, cereal, beans, and canned meals, veggies, and fruit into individual boxes which then can be distributed to local nonprofits and on to local families.

As you have probably read elsewhere, Cisco as a company is very supportive of employees giving our time back to the community, and many thousands of Cisco employees are involved in all varieties of volunteer acivities throughout the year. I think group activities like this are particularly rewarding since they get a whole team involved. Several teams from our web and marketing groups got involved at Second Harvest this year, and will continue to do so.

Of course, it feels good to help out an agency that provides the makings for so many nutritious meals. But it was also rewarding for the folks on our team to work together on something other than our day job of producing Web content for We’re definitely going to sign up for this again, and if your organization is looking for a rewarding “teambuilding” activity that can do some good I heartily recommend a group volunteer activity such as working at your local food bank, planting trees, cleaning up local parks, or myriad other activities.

Here are some photos from our experience. Happy Holidays from the web teams!

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Avatar Pushes Augmented Reality

The new James Cameron movie, Avatar, is a next generation film that truly blurs the line between animation and reality.   Add to that mix the elements of new 3D technology, and you see why Cameron waited for the technology to catch up to his vision of the planet world Pandora.   

The movie is not only pushing the boundaries of progressive movie making, but the marketing effort associated with the movie is tremendous.   The movie has a full array of cross brand promotions with major food outlets, as well as a line of augmented reality action figures.   

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Virtual Holiday Cheer

Going home for the holidays and celebrating during the holiday can be challenging for folks. The cost and time off for travel as well current living arrangements, such as soldiers overseas or expats working in other countries, can dramatically limit the sharing of ‘merry holiday’ times. Technology can help bridge these geographic and economic gaps to enable a ‘jolly good time’ for all. Virtual environments and technology enable us to connect with our loved ones, visit our home town for a nostalgic tour, go on a much needed vacation, engage in charitable activities, and celebrate the holidays.

I have some great examples as well as a personal story to share.

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New on Service Request history at your fingertips

Last week, we rolled out a new feature on that will be of particular interest if you enter or track service requests for support.

Now, if your online account is associated with service requests, you can log in and access these capabilities via a new module in My Cisco called Recent Service Requests.  The new feature provides quick access to the latest 50 open and closed service requests.

This new release also includes:

  • A “See All” page that allows you to view, hide and sort your service requests
  • Quick access to links to open/query service requests in TSRT
  • A Recent Service Request details page that provides additional information on each service request
  • A secure, flexible web service that allows other Cisco-hosted applications to query and render relevant information on service requests


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Wolly mammoths, Web sites and 7 +/- 2

Web design professionals often work to George A Miller’s credo that humans can best manipulate “seven (plus or minus two)” items in their working memory. This 7 +/- 2 guideline isn’t a bad model to follow for keeping things simple on Web sites, where we all know that spewing your visitors with too much information will overwhelm them and could cause them to run away to the next site.

But in his latest column, Web usability expert Jacob Nielsen posits that 7 +/- 2 only goes so far as a guideline. In addition to reducing noise, it’s important to focus on making abstract concepts more concrete and accessible.

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