December 5, 2006
By David Sims
The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is the Christmas CD First Coffee burned. Ten tips for making your own Christmas CD:
1. It will include Bing Crosby's 1947 recording of "White Christmas." No other version is allowed, not even Bing's own later recordings. It must be this one, the largest-selling record ever, or you don't have yourself a real Christmas CD.
2. No artist does all styles of Christmas music well. You don't want Ye Olde English Choir doing "Jingle Bells" or Willie Nelson on "O Holy Night." Match artists with appropriate material -- The Three Tenors for what they do well, Patty Loveless for hers.
3. Mix hymns and carols with lighter fare. Some Celtic Christmas music is okay. Some. No "Frosty the Snowman" or "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." Go heavy on the deep, rich, hearty songs -- "The Wassail Song," "Il Est Ne, Le Divin Enfant," "The Boar's Head Carol," "Bring A Torch, Jeanette, Isabella," "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen," "The Holly and The Ivy," "The Coventry Carol," et al. Versions with the vocals are preferable to instrumentals while avoiding soupy chorale renditions.
4. Show Christmas spirit. You'd never buy a Mariah Carey or Whitney Houston pop schlock album, but when they sing Christmas hymns you realize (with chills) what great voices they have. For standards stay straightforward and artist-appropriate -- the von Trapp Children's surprisingly good "Angels We Have Heard On High," Mahalia Jackson's "Go Tell It On the Mountain," Iberis' "The Holly and the Ivy," et al.
5. Some felicitous recordings: Aimee Mann's "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen," Enya's "Oiche Chun," a Gaelic-language "Silent Night," the Barenaked Ladies' "Jingle Bells," where they sing the "Jingle bells/ Batman smells/ Robin laid an egg" verse. The Brian Setzer Orchestra gets "Jingle Bell Rock" exactly right and the Irish Rovers do rare justice -- respectful yet warm -- to "What Child Is This."
6. Don't forget Bruce Springsteen's "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town," the original TV recording of "You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch" sung by Thurl Ravenscroft or The Vince Guaraldi Trio's "Linus and Lucy," which you know as "the Charlie Brown song."
7. For something truly interesting, check out Sufjan Stevens' Songs For Christmas album, a great combination of the old and new, serious and funny -- "Away In A Manger" coexists nicely with "Did I Make You Cry On Christmas Day? (Well, You Deserved It)."
8. This season's hot Christmas song, The Trans-Siberian Orchestra's "Christmas Canon," is simply Pachelbel's Canon In D Major tarted up with some Christmas tinsel. Halfway through the piece one wishes the superfluous ornaments would just go away.
9. Novelty songs about front teeth, kissing Santa Claus or getting run over by a reindeer are funny once. Cheech and Chong's "Santa Claus and His Old Lady," Bob and Doug McKenzie's "Twelve Days Of Christmas" and that recording of dogs barking "Jingle Bells," well, your call. You know your relatives better than First Coffee does.
10. Three albums to check out: the Cambridge Singers' Christmas Star for choral pieces, Dr. Demento's Christmas CD for novelties and Aimee Mann's One More Drifter In the Snow. From the cover shot of her giving a Mona Lisa smile while sitting on a plastic reindeer you expect her trademark sarcasm, but she puts her heart in this one.
CRM vendor CDC Software, a wholly owned subsidiary of CDC Corporation, has announced the acquisition of Vis.align, Inc., a vendor of IT support and managed services. The move expands CDC Software's services portfolio, "generates cross-selling opportunities, and offers customers additional end-to-end enterprise products and services," according to company officials.
The acquisition will augment CDC's infrastructure and application optimization, application development and outsourced managed services.
Bill Geist, senior vice president, Technical Services, of CDC Software, said Vis.align has "impressive expertise in our target industries, their services complement our Ross Enterprise and Pivotal CRM product lines, and the depth and breadth of our global operations will significantly expand the footprint of Vis.align's managed services business worldwide."
Geist said managed services "now appeal to companies of all sizes," they expect to "expand sales opportunities and improve revenue visibility."
Vis.align "complements the strengths of CDC Software," said Jennifer Horrocks, CEO and founder of Vis.align. "This will enable our businesses to cross-sell products and services worldwide."
With over $20 million in sales during 2005, Vis.align is anticipated to be earnings accretive to CDC Corporation in 2007. The transaction was structured to include a two-year earn-out running through to December 31, 2008 based on Vis.align achieving certain revenue milestones. The earn-out, if achieved, is to be paid in a combination of cash and shares in CDC Corporation.
Kofax, an information capture vendor, has announced that it has become a certified AppExchange partner, making its Document Scan Server product available on-demand on salesforce.com's AppExchange.
Kofax Document Scan Server for AppExchange lets users capture paper-based information by scanning documents directly into salesforce. Applications available via the AppExchange directory are built using Apex.
The offering gives businesses the ability to digitally capture documents at the point of entry into their salesforce applications without the need to install scanner drivers or other third-party products to retrieve images from a scanner, Kofax officials say. Business cards, invoices, contracts, project plans, marketing material can be scanned.
It has been designed to directly integrate with salesforce. This means users do not have to learn a new interface and IT departments do not need to support a new desktop application. Settings for specific documents can be arranged as a profile to reduce complexity and provide error-free scans.
A Centralized Management Console allows IT administrators to discover, configure and manage scanners connected to the Document Scan Server device.
SalesGuru.com has announced the addition of one-click data import and export. This feature allows companies to upload and download their existing data into Accounts, Contacts, Sales Leads, Marketing Campaigns, and Users in a comma separated values format.
Companies that now use another product, such as salesforce.com, can easily switch to SalesGuru.com, company officials helpfully point out. "Considering that SalesGuru.com is 91 percent less expensive than salesforce.com," says SalesGuru.com Founder Derek Mailhiot, "we've already seen a number of companies abandon on-demand services like Salesforce.com in favor of SalesGuru.com."
"Now that companies can switch to SalesGuru.com without having to enter their data manually, it is only a matter of time before SalesGuru.com is as popular as salesforce.com," Mailhiot says somewhat wishfully, visions of sugar plums already dancing.
Next on the list of improvements for the upstart vendor is Microsoft Outlook synchronization. Early in 2007, SalesGuru.com plans to add Outlook synchronization, so users can easily import their Outlook contacts and e-mail messages into SalesGuru.com.
This will mean that salespeople no longer will need to toggle back and forth between SalesGuru.com and Outlook. Because hey, you know how much of your day that's been wasting.
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