Monday, 17 October 2011

Mashable: Latest 12 News Updates - including “Mashable Weekend Recap: 24 Stories You May Have Missed”

Mashable: Latest 12 News Updates - including “Mashable Weekend Recap: 24 Stories You May Have Missed”

Mashable Weekend Recap: 24 Stories You May Have Missed

Posted: 17 Oct 2011 04:41 AM PDT

Just as it did all week, the iPhone 4S dominated the news this weekend. We dove into Siri, the iPhone’s baked-in intelligent agent, and took it for a ride with sometimes-hilarious results.

Meanwhile, we looked all over the world for stories, finding unrest in the streets with thousands of tweets to tell the story, plenty of tips and tricks of all sorts, and the top tech of the week as icing on the cake.

You missed it, dear reader, but not to worry — we’ve wrapped it all up for you in one tidy package right here. So have at it, and make it a good week!

News & Opinion Essentials

OCCUPY WALL STREET: 6,000 Protest in Times Square [PHOTOS]

What Social Media Users Think of the Hottest Tech Stories [INFOGRAPHIC]

Steve Jobs Day: This Video Will Make You Cry

Top 10 Tech This Week [PICS]

Facebook FAIL: Missteps and Shortcomings Revealed [INFOGRAPHIC]

4 Ways to Protect the Reputation of Your Small Business Online

California Declares Oct. 16 Steve Jobs Day

Fashion RSS Reader Bloglovin' Signs Up 1 Millionth Member

AT&T and Sprint Say iPhone 4S Launch Ignites Record Demand

Apple vs. Microsoft: Two Opposite Approaches to Building an OS

iPhone 4S: Confessions of an Upgrader [REVIEW]

Helpful Resources

iPhone 4S: How to Teach Siri to Tweet

Typography Inspiration: 10 Terrific Tumblr Blogs

5 Ways to Connect to the Local Food Movement Online

How To Set Performance Standards for Your Startup's New Hires

4 Simple Tools for Creating an Infographic Resume

3 Fresh iPhone Apps for Your Mobile Convenience

61 New Digital Media Resources You May Have Missed

How to Launch a Promotion on a Daily Deal Site

Weekend Leisure

Robots Play Ping-Pong: The End is Near [VIDEO]

iPhone 4S: Siri Politely Answers 10 Absurd Questions [PICS]

YouTube Cover Song Face-Off: Nicki Minaj's "Super Bass"

The Rapture is Coming: Here's What It'll Look Like [PHOTOS]

Nicki Minaj Surprises 8-Year-Old YouTube Star on "Ellen"

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RIM Offers Users Free Apps After BlackBerry Service Outage

Posted: 17 Oct 2011 02:12 AM PDT

BlackBerry Outages

After a BlackBerry service outage that lasted more than three days, RIM is trying to make amends with users by offering them a selection of premium apps for free, as well as one month of free technical support.

There are currently 12 apps on offer, including SIMS 3, Bejeweled, Texas Hold’em Poker 2, Bubble Bash and Shazam Encore, and RIM claims more will be added at a later date. The value of all the 12 apps put together is approximately $100.

Enterprise customers will be offered one month of free technical support; current customers will get a one month extension on their existing contract, while customers who currently don’t have a technical support contract will get a one month trial of the service.

The BlackBerry service outage, which lasted for the better part of last week, was one of the worst such outages in the history of the company, leaving millions of customers worldwide without access to various apps and services such as email.

RIM CEO Mike Lazaridis publicly apologized after the outage, and now RIM is trying to make the entire experience less painful with some apps and free support. It’s a nice gesture, but we’re not entirely sure that users who were unable to access their email for several days will be satisfied with a bunch of free apps, half of which are games.

What do you think? Has RIM done enough to make amends with its users? Please, share your opinions in the comments.

More About: apps, BlackBerrry outage, blackberry, free apps, Mobile, RIM, smartphone, trending

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Add Some Color to Your iPhone 4S With ColorWare

Posted: 17 Oct 2011 01:14 AM PDT

We’re guessing that by now the harsh reality has sunk in: The iPhone 4S is physically more or less identical to its predecessor. If you want to be special, however, there is a way to make your new toy stand out from the rest and shine in many magnificent colors.

ColorWare, the company known for its custom-colored Apple products, has added the iPhone 4S to its roster.

ColorWare‘s interactive website lets you choose a number of solid, glossy or metallic colors for your iPhone’s frame, back, button, SIM card tray — even the earbuds.

It comes with a steep price: $1,500 for a 16 GB model, $1,700 for a 64 GB one, or $250 if you opt to send your iPhone 4S to ColorWare and let them work their magic with it.

[via Engadget]

More About: apple, colorware, iphone, iPhone 4S

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iPhone 4S: Siri is Impressive, But Still a Work in Progress [REVIEW]

Posted: 16 Oct 2011 04:00 PM PDT

Apple is bringing speech recognition to the masses with its new iPhone 4S, equipped with an intelligent assistant named Siri. It’s a major differentiator for the new iPhone, setting it apart from its predecessors. I’ve been using speech recognition software for the past 8 years, so I was eager to take this enhanced version of Siri for a spin. Here’s my review.

Siri is not new. It started its life as an experiment funded by DARPA, said to be the largest artificial intelligence project to date. Next, Siri, with the same Nuance speech recognition tech built in that also powers the application I’ve been using for years, Dragon NaturallySpeaking, was first available as a free app on the iPhone in February, 2010. Then Apple bought Siri in April of 2010 and decided to incorporate it into its new iPhone 4S, breaking the old Siri app on other iPhones (unless you want to perform a crude hack).

So now Siri is baked into every iPhone 4S, and not available elsewhere. Siri has come a long way since it was first introduced as a less-accurate and somewhat incomplete iPhone app. Now it’s better integrated into iOS 5, and my immediate impression is that it’s more accurate than it’s ever been. Even in a noisy environment inside a car going 60 miles an hour, it can still understand most of what you’re saying if you hold the iPhone up to your ear. Its speech recognition isn’t perfect, and some of its errors are laughable, but in a quiet environment its accuracy is nearly equal to that of the desktop version of NaturallySpeaking running on extremely powerful processors.

Its integration into the iPhone 4S’s iOS 5 software makes it convenient to use. You press and hold the iPhone 4S’s Home button, and it springs to life, sounding a short beep to signal for you to begin speaking. You can use it in this speakerphone mode, or if the iPhone 4S is turned on, you can simply raise the handset to your ear (a necessity when riding in a noisy vehicle) and the phone’s proximity sensor activates Siri, usually prompting you to begin speaking (inexplicably, sometimes it doesn’t respond).

"Only a company with the chutzpah of Apple would have the courage to try something like this. But Siri works just barely well enough for Apple to pull it off, bolstered by the iPhone 4S’s faster processor and better camera.”

That odd non-working tendency must be why Apple is still calling Siri “beta.” The company reassures users that Siri will be continuously improved, adding that the software learns how you speak as you go and will perform more accurate recognition as it learns your way of speaking. Still, loading beta software into a new piece of iPhone hardware is a thin thread on which to differentiate this new product. Only a company with the chutzpah of Apple would have the courage to try something like this. But Siri works just barely well enough for Apple to pull it off, bolstered by the iPhone 4S’s faster processor and better camera (among what Apple boasts as 197 other incremental improvements), all doing their part to strengthen the lure of this updated iPhone.

Over the 48 hours I’ve been using Siri, it’s hard to tell if it’s actually improving its speech recognition, but as it stands, it’s just good enough to be fun to use. I especially like the way you can almost carry on a conversation with it. For example, you can ask it, “How’s the weather in New York today?” It will answer by showing you the iPhone’s weather app with New York’s data displayed. Then, if you ask it, “Where are the good Italian restaurants there?,” Siri responds by finding 24 Italian restaurants in New York, sorted by rating. It knows you’re still talking about New York. Clever.

As you can read in our posts about Siri, it does bring a slight attitude along with it, which I find refreshing. Other times, it has hilarious misunderstandings, such as when I asked it yesterday to “Call me an ambulance,” and it responded, “From now on, I’ll call you ‘an ambulance’. Okay?” I was disappointed to hear Siri’s voice, which still sounds way too robotic for my taste. I was thinking that somehow, now that Apple owns the app, it would gussy it up to sound more like GPS units do, or like the mellifluous yet mutinous HAL 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey. But I suspect that’s still way off in the future. Instead, there are some oddities in its stilted pronunciation, such as the way Siri says the word “restaurant,” speaking with a drawl that sounds like it’s straight out of my native Southern U.S.: “Resta-runt.” Grandma, is that you?

Among its myriad capabilities, of course Siri can help you place phone calls with aplomb, where all you have to do is speak the name of anyone in your Contacts app, and it quickly connects you (something that’s been possible for years with much lesser cellphones). Beyond that, it can also help you speak an email and turn it into text, where it walks you through by asking who you’re sending it to, the subject line and so forth. However, it’s not too adept at breaking out separate paragraphs of text, even if I spoke to it the way I do with NaturallySpeaking, specifying things such as “new paragraph.” Although the email function could be useful for creating short emails while driving (not recommended), it still has some polishing to do before it’s truly useful for sending emails solely by speech.

Some of its capabilities go deeply into science fiction territory, such as pushing and holding the Home button, and then telling it to set a timer for 15 minutes. I especially like telling it to set an alarm, asking it directions, or asking it to launch a playlist in iTunes. I was disappointed to see that it wasn’t able to interact with Twitter, but I found a workaround for that, so that problem is solved already. Still, Apple should have made that capability available from the beginning, and if the company follows through on its promise, we will soon see a lot more interaction with various iOS apps.

Siri on the iPhone 4S still feels like a work in progress. I think it could have used another few months of development before it was released to push it well beyond gimmick territory. But Apple was already later than usual in its product cycle with this iPhone 4S, so might have been compelled to release it early. Even so, Siri as it stands now gives us a hint at what’s to come, and the future looks bright.

More About: iPhone 4S, review, siri

YouTube Cover Song Face-Off: Nicki Minaj’s “Super Bass”

Posted: 16 Oct 2011 02:30 PM PDT

Each week, Mashable picks a popular song, finds 10 covers of it and asks you to vote for your favorite.

Nicki Minaj’s “Super Bass” — which remains on Billboard‘s Hot 100 charts in its 24th week — has made several headlines in recent days after an 8-year-old girl’s YouTube cover of the song went viral.

But the child’s cute rendition (see videos 11, 12 and 13 below) isn’t the only cover that is racking up millions of pageviews. Here, we've chosen 10 eclectic covers that are attracting lots of eyeballs, including guitar, piano and punk versions. Vote for your favorite in the poll.

And if you know any YouTube cover artists who should be on our radar, please let us know in the comments.

Jake CoCo

Click here to view this gallery.

To listen to more covers used in past YouTube Cover Song Face-Offs, click here.

**The winner of this poll will be selected Oct. 21 at 9 a.m. ET.

Last Week’s Face-Off Winner

The powerful cover of Adele’s "Someone Like You" from Jenny Lane and Corey Gray snagged more than 1,100 votes (25%) in last week's face-off to beat out stiff competition.

“I hear the song as a duet — two people singing to each other about moving on from a relationship and being OK with it,” Lane told Mashable. “It’s obviously a tough song to sing, so I enlisted one of the most talented male singers I know to step up and Corey nailed it. I can’t even begin to describe what the song means to me. I had someone in mind while singing it and our relationship was definitely parallel to that song.”

Here’s a collection of covers from last week’s winners.

"Someone Like You" Cover by Jenny Lane and Corey Gray

Click here to view this gallery.

For future collaborations, Lane would like to duet with Eppic, Connor Maynard, Hobbie Stuart and Nick Gardner. Gray would like to work with Alex Goot for the first time and Jake Coco, Caitlin Hart and Lane on more songs. Both also would like to duet with John Mayer.

“Right now, I’m so excited to be building my YouTube channel and introducing myself to the world,” Lane said. “I can’t wait to release original songs in a few months and then really, the sky’s the limit.”

Gray, on the other hand, says he’ll be touring soon.

“I really want to be able to take people to these rich and deep places that fuel my song writing,” Gray said. “I want to help them through hard times and make the good times even better. I want to be an example that your dreams can become reality if you believe in yourself and let go of the fear that runs so many of us.”

What popular song should we pick next week for the YouTube Cover Song Face-Off?

More About: Entertainment, Music, music videos, viral videos, YouTube, YouTube Cover Song Face-Off

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iPhone 4S: How to Teach Siri to Tweet

Posted: 16 Oct 2011 01:24 PM PDT

One of the limitations of the iPhone 4S’s intelligent assistant Siri is its inability to speak your tweets into the iPhone‘s Twitter app. Here’s a quick workaround for that:

1. In your Mac or PC browser version of Twitter, you must first enable Twitter text messaging (if you've already done this, you can skip to step 5). Do this by clicking on the drop-down list on the top right (next to your twitter handle) and selecting Settings. Keep in mind that if you don't have unlimited texting, this could get expensive.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: How-To, iPhone 4S, siri, Twitter

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Robots Play Ping-Pong: The End is Near [VIDEO]

Posted: 16 Oct 2011 12:31 PM PDT

Forget Apple's Siri voice recognition technology taking over the world. I have seen two robots playing ping-pong and now I am truly scared for humanity.

Named "Wu" and "Kong", these two human-sized robots are the products of China's Zhenjiang University. They play ping-pong not only against each other, but will take on humans as well. In the video, it's clear they're as adept at forehand shots as they are at the backhand.

Named for a character in the classical Chinese Epic novel ("Monkey King" or "Sun Wukong"), the robots are part of a long-term project at the university to build a "high-performance humanoid robot unit and system." The university website also oddly calls the bots "Big Size Humanoid Robots." This may be reference to the multitude of tiny robots produced in and around Japan. A tiny robot, for instance, recently took on an Ironman Triathlon challenge.

The two table-tennis-playing robots do not appear particularly mobile. Neither moves its feet during the match, yet they never seem to miss. This is likely due to the 30 motors — all of which can work independently — and the seven separate actions each arm can perform. The robots do maintain their own balance and can detect the movement of the ball — even so far as to predict the path of an incoming shot. And, yes, they also serve on their own — a feat many humans I know cannot effectively accomplish. Scientists are in the background analyzing and tracking the robots’ movements, and it’s unclear how much, if at all, they’re controlling Wu’s and Kong’s responses.

No word on when, or if, the robots will travel the world to take on international challengers. However, if they can play ping-pong this well, who knows what Zhenjiang's scientists will have Wu and Kong do next. Wonder if they've thought about licensing Apple' Siri technology.

Tell us what you think of these robot athletes in the comments and if you fear an uprising of our robot overlords.

More About: ping pong, robots, siri, sports

Typography Inspiration: 10 Terrific Tumblr Blogs

Posted: 16 Oct 2011 11:32 AM PDT

1. Beautiful Type

Curated by two web designers with a passion for the topic, as well as examples of great type, this blog offers some really interesting typography-themed videos.

Click here to view this gallery.

Tumblr is a great source of inspiration, as well as a destination for expression and entertainment. We have found 10 Tumblr blogs that showcase terrific typography which we think are are well worth font-fanciers following.

SEE ALSO: 10 Entertaining Tumblr Blogs About Your Parents | 10 Delicious Tumblr Blogs Serving Up Food Fun [PICS]

Take a look through the gallery for a sample image from each blog. Let us know in the comments which Tumblrs you follow for design inspiration.

More About: features, gallery, tumblr, typography

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The Rapture is Coming: Here’s What It’ll Look Like [PHOTOS]

Posted: 16 Oct 2011 10:51 AM PDT

In May 2011, Harold Camping became world famous (not to mention Internet famous) for predicting that the world would end on May 21.

The notion became an ironic web meme, topping the charts that week as the most discussed topic on Twitter, with hashtags like #iftheworldendsonsaturday showing up on Twitter’s trending topics.

When the saved did not rise up to heaven on that date, Camping updated his prediction, stating on his website: “Thus we can be sure that the whole world, with the exception of those who are presently saved (the elect), are under the judgment of God, and will be annihilated together with the whole physical world on October 21, 2011″.

October 21 is this Friday.

What might we see if Camping is right this time? Thanks to May’s #rapturebomb trend (below), we can take a guess — and yet the more likely outcome seems to be another round of Twitter jokes.

Bad Timing

Photo courtesy TwitPic/@tlinder84

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: end of the world, Harold Camping, Rapture

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What Social Media Users Think of the Hottest Tech Stories [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 16 Oct 2011 10:24 AM PDT

Get your fingers on the pulse of the social media community with this survey conducted by Lab42. It’ll get you caught up on the hot tech issues of the past couple of weeks.

For the data embedded in this infographic, market research firm Lab42 conducted a study online via social networks between Sept. 30 and Oct. 23, 2011 among 500 social media users, asking them questions about the iPhone 4S, Kindle Fire, Netflix, the radical changes in Facebook and more.

It’s a tight wrapup of the issues we care about. One ominous takeaway we noticed: Look out, Netflix — a surprisingly large proportion of your social-media-using customers are just about to jump ship:

Infographic courtesy Lab42

More About: infographics, iPhone 4S, Kindle, Lab42, netflix

5 Ways to Connect to the Local Food Movement Online

Posted: 16 Oct 2011 09:34 AM PDT

The local food movement is taking the world by storm, as more people learn about the numerous benefits of eating locally.

What exactly is local food? Is it hype? In a word, no. It’s grown nearby, and supports your local economy. It tastes better because your food is often harvested on the day of purchase. It’s healthier, as local crops are designed to taste good rather than spend weeks in transit and on store shelves. Plus, eliminating that long trip fights climate change.

If you’re interested in learning more about sustainable farming practices, there are plenty of online resources — and even mobile apps — that can make eating environmentally sustainable food easy. If you’re already connected with the local food movement, you can share your expertise with online communities hoping to create extensive databases of farms, shops, butchers, bakers and restaurants.

In honor of World Food Day (Oct. 16), Mashable is participating in Blog Action Day, which is seeking to create an online global conversation about food issues. We’ve chosen to contribute by sparking a discussion of local farming. We hope this post opens your eyes to ways you can connect with the local food movement, by making your daily food consumption more environmentally and economically sustainable.

Are you a subscriber to the local food movement? Please let us know in the comments if you know of other ways to connect online.

1. Wholeshare

Wholeshare makes purchasing locally grown food up to 20% more affordable through the power of group buying. Groups of shoppers are automatically joined together by the site and treated like a wholesale client. The site, functioning as the middleman, coordinates delivery directly to your door.

Click here to view this gallery.

Image courtesy of flickr user wasd38

More About: blog action day, blogging, Local Food, Social Good

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Steve Jobs Day: This Video Will Make You Cry

Posted: 16 Oct 2011 08:20 AM PDT

California Gov. Jerry Brown officially declared Sunday (10/16/2011) Steve Jobs Day in California, and Apple is holding an invitation-only memorial event for Steve Jobs at Stanford University. To commemorate Steve Jobs Day, I found a video I think he would have liked.

Of the dozens of memorial videos that honor Jobs, I thought this one was the most appropriate for the occasion, created by a musician who calls himself AzR. Here’s how he describes the production of this profoundly moving work of art:

“I made this song using only sounds from Apple products and Steve’s 2005 Stanford commencement speech. Every instrument, including drums, has been sampled from a Mac product, tuned by ear, and replayed in the context of the song.”

If you take away nothing else from this day, just remember what I think is the most important quote ever said by Steve Jobs: “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”

Here’s Steve Jobs delivering his memorable Stanford Commencement Speech in 2005:

Steve Jobs demos Apple Macintosh, 1984

Steve Jobs introduces the Macintosh to the world. Computing would never be the same.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: apple, Steve Jobs Day, Video

How To Set Performance Standards for Your Startup’s New Hires

Posted: 16 Oct 2011 07:02 AM PDT

This post originally appeared on the American Express OPEN Forum, where Mashable regularly contributes articles about leveraging social media and technology in small business.

New hires learn the ropes of a new company in a variety of different ways. Some methods are formal, others are informal, but either way, the new employees are provided the important and essential information they need in order to be a productive member of the team.

It's extremely important to understand exactly what employees need to know in order for them to become valuable team members. But companies also must learn when an employee needs to know the information and what is the best method to convey that knowledge to a new hire.

One crucial aspect of the “knowledge and information” we're referring to is company performance standards, the things a CEO comes to expect from everyone working at the company. And the best way to evaluate the performance of your employees is based upon established company standards. It's only logical to evaluate new hire performance based upon what has been communicated to them during the interview, orientation and onboarding process.

Here are some best practices and stories from companies that evaluate performance based upon the expectations that are communicated early on.

Conduct On-The-Job Training

Sometimes we have a tendency to forget how valuable on-the-job training can be. Just because it doesn't take place is a classroom doesn't mean it's not good training. Linda Varrell, president of Broadreach Public Relations, uses this approach to guide an employee's first day. "We have an initial meeting with the new hire to go over their job description, introduce them to the entire team, go through office procedures and processes and take care of any logistical set up needed."

It takes two to three months for a new hire to become fully productive at Broadreach. Varrell says that since Broadreach is a small firm, supervisors have their own clients to focus on, so employees must anticipate problems and be prepared to work on their own. "Our new hires need to be able to figure things out with a certain degree of independence and anticipate any questions or issues that may arise. Although our new hires are in close contact with their supervisor on any task or project, we want them to go through a process of understanding any task/issue at hand, trying to solve it through their own means, and then asking their supervisor for help. This helps them become stronger critical thinkers and allows supervisors more time for their own work."

That's why having an in-the-trenches process works for Broadreach. Varrell explains,

"We have a 'dive right in' mentality with new hires, giving them client-related assignments right at the start. The supervisor is responsible for making sure the new hire has all the information or tools to complete the task, explains the end result goals and then basically lets them go for it. The new hire works on it and then presents the completed task to their supervisor. At that point, the supervisor asks questions to encourage more creative thinking, corrects any technical or procedural errors, has the new hire explain their thought process and then sends them back for round two if necessary. Although longer and more involved at the start, this training process helps a new hire become more effective and efficient faster because they have to be responsible for their work and they have to learn how to figure things out. This also helps the company quickly see if a new hire isn't going to fit because not everyone can successfully work with that level of independence and responsibility."

Create Formal Training Programs

After just explaining that good training doesn't exist only in classrooms, it's important to note that there's plenty of great formal training programs being used. Erika Walker, human resources manager at BestEssayHelp, a professional writing and research company, explains the training program she has created for new team members. "A training process for new hires usually lasts around a week and is a copy of the regular support-team member shift featuring useful tips on handling communication with the customers and writers. It also involves the discussion of the commonly occurring crisis situations and possible problems when the new hires are presented with several ways of solving each possible problem."

Once a new hire completes training, Walker says it takes about a month for new hires to work on their own. "It usually depends on the personality of the new support team member as well as the amount of orders coming in. I would say that in about a month's time new hires are able to work on their own almost without any tips or suggestions from the rest of the team. But they are always more than welcome to ask questions or seek help, as other team members will always be there to help them."

Walker added that after new hire training, BestEssayHelp uses customer conversion rate indicators to measure how the employee is performing. "Basically, customer conversion rate is the number of customers who place the order, out of all those who registered on the website. Every customer is assigned to a specific support team member, which helps to evaluate the performance of every supporter. Being a customer support team member is a very challenging job, as the supporters represent the company and make the first impression. That is why we have to ensure that they work efficiently and make a long-lasting, positive impression on each and every customer."

Samantha Lambert, director of human resources at Blue Fountain Media, a website design, development and marketing agency, shared the details of their orientation/onboarding process. "We use new hire beads. Think Mardi Gras in our bright company colors, orange and blue. On the first day of employment, HR greets new hires in reception and places the beads around their neck (Hawaii style). We ask that all new employees wear their ‘new hire beads’ until they have passed the evaluation with an 85% (not your average passing score). Wearing the shiny beads not only shows/tells our seasoned employees who the newbies are and initiates frequent introductions, but it gives them an immediate goal to study Blue Fountain Media’s intranet and internal processes so that they may graduate from new hire status and focus on client projects."

Lambert says the amount of time it takes to onboard a new hire varies but a good average is three months. During that time, employees attend orientation, complete a new hire evaluation, attend biweekly meetings with their supervisor and learn the processes/guidelines/general info about how the company operates.

Assign Tasks and Look for Proven Results

Ian Aronovich, CEO of, a company that compiles and provides information about government auctions of seized and surplus merchandise, says the best way to evaluate new workers is by giving them large responsibilities. "You need to see how much of an independent workload your incoming workers can handle. The first couple of weeks that a worker is at our office is going to be their biggest test. Once they have proven themselves to be a person who can multi-task and manage everything that is thrown at them, we give them an incentive plan."

On the surface, this might sound like sink-or-swim, but Aronovich explains what they look for. "At our company, we need people to be responsible for all aspects of their position. He or she must be on time, get work done in a timely fashion, help others when needed, stay late or come in early if there is extra work to be done and be willing to go the extra mile for every task that is put in front of them."

The method has worked well for, says Aronovich. "We hired a person for general office work about two years ago. This person soon became adept at business development and we decided to make her the company’s affiliate manager. Over time, she garnered a whole new crop of members for our website, and the affiliate program is thriving under her diligent work ethic. Our method molds people into the position that they are most comfortable filling. For her, she was a business-savvy individual who helped us grow by adding a new aspect to the company."

Offer Coaching to Enhance Performance

While every company will have a different approach to setting expectations, training for knowledge and evaluating performance, all organizations need to recognize the importance of ongoing communication. Varrell shared that, at Broadreach, weekly meetings take place to see how new employees are doing. "After 90 days, we work out a Personal Development Plan, identifying areas of development and ways to achieve success. It is different from an evaluation in that the employee tells us what they need to work on and what tools, training and resources they need. We really focus on having our employees (and interns) take full responsibility for their careers and success."

It's very easy to forget what it's like to be a new hire, but putting a solid information sharing process in place will set your new hires up for success. And that's what evaluating performance is all about — creating a mechanism for employees to get the information they need, when they need it, in the most effective means possible.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, mableen

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