Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Time Capsule: Headlines From 6 Months (Jan) Ago

  • Locally, Palo Alto (Palo Altans) don't want more housing in their neighborhoods. Meanwhile, the city still enforces resident-only rules in some of their parks. Go figure.
  • Tesla was going to move their HQ to San Jose, but the economy stopped them in their tracks. Oh... no pun intended there!
  • CA OK'd a mandatory 2 unpaid days off a month for CA state employees.
  • A low snowpack threatens to make 2009 the worst drought for CA. (That's what happens when you cultivate a desert folks!)
  • For some reason, identities of anti-Prop 8 donors were trying to be kept secret. A judge blocked that ruling, quoting the laws intent to protect the public. (Now why would someone dumped funds and still remain unknown? Guess they should have thought of that one before they did it!)
  • Ill governor Blagojevich was eviced from office... not a single lawmaker came to his defense. (Ya think!?)
  • Obama declared that it's shameful that Wallstreet paid their people $18 billion in bonuses, that's BILLION, while still asking for bailout money. Obama says they need to show restraint, discipline and repsonsibility.
  • Unemployment jumps to a 25 year high.
  • Royal Caribbean's 2008 fourth quarter earnings drop 98%.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Time Capsule: Headlines from 6 Months Ago, Dec 08

Here are some local (Nor Cal Headlines)

  • 7 arrested in L.A.-area protest of Propostion 8
  • Carlsbad man arrested in fight over Prop. 8 signs
  • Hundreds of Prop 8 protesters take to L.A. streets
  • Schwarzenegger proposes 1.5 cents sales tax increase to close budget gap
  • Craigslist to crack down on prostitution ads

And CNN Headlines from today, the 6th of November, 2008
  • Emanuel accepts chief of staff offer, aide says
  • CNNMoney: Dow falls in accelerated selloff
  • Democrat Merkley takes Oregon Senate seat
  • Rabid fox bites jogger, hangs onVideo
  • WCVB: Zoo gorilla gets colonoscopy
  • WNEM: Car slams into house, 2 dead
  • At 90, Billy Graham remains 'America's pastor'
  • Factors in the retail price of gas
  • Real 'man cave' priced at $900k
  • CNNMoney: Oil falls as demand woes resurface
  • CNNMoney: Gas prices down 2.6 more cents
  • CNNMoney: Gas falls to $2.45 a gallon
  • DOW Down 435.44 after Obama elected.
  • Dow tumbles below 9,000
  • Fidelity to cut nearly 1,300 jobs

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

It's Your Head: Wear A Helmet

by Bruce Simmons

First I have to say that I rant because I care. I want to see people getting the best opportunities afforded to them whether it be with consumer knowledge to save money, save time, save being ripped off. At other times, I just want to vent so I can get someone thinking and maybe, just maybe, I help one person with my work. My ranting, if you will.

See the entire post over on my new publication site, Bicycle Helmet Safety at Bruce's Place of Thoughts.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Is Piracy No Longer Piracy, Or Just An Excuse?

Articles around the web have been published talking about the X-Men Origins: Wolverine movie leak where an uncut rough draft of the movie made its way onto the internet.

The articles question the premise of piracy and that despite the social issues, the bottom line is that it is illegal to make available, download and view copyrighted content without paying for it.

Despite the letter of the law, there's an amazing perceived gray area to the issue.

For me, the bottom line is that if the system charges money for a consumer to own the product, then if you obtain it any other way, that, is stealing.


It doesn't matter if one thinks that Hollywood already makes too much money.  That's a bullshit excuse.  You might as well start blathering on about how the car industry, the milk industry and all other industries make too much money.

Thieves...  that's all it boils down to, and these thieves will screw up everyone else's access to the internet because of their knee-jerk behavior.



Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Time Capsule - Headlines from 6 Months Ago (Oct 08)

These are headlines from early October of 2008
  • Market Confidence Plunges
  • Bailout Package Sparks a Worldwide sell-off
  • Bank of America Reports 68% Profit Drop
  • EBay To Trim 1,600 Jobs
  • Dow Dips Below 10,000
  • Rescue Plan Woes Contribute to Sell-Off
  • European Governments Go Their Own Way on Crisis
  • Fed to Provide As Much As $900 Billion In Loans to Banks
  • Oil Prices Fall as Financial Turmoil Heats up Worldwide
  • Iceland Going Broke?
  • All 5 Stock Market Measures drop
A chilling Headline from that week:
  • N. Korea to Restart (Nuclear) Facility.
I have to wonder as I put this together in October, what things will be like when this post goes to print from it's timed posting.

The day before I wrote this, I was in the dentist office getting a tooth filling and I watched the DOW drop 200 points while I was in the Dentist chair. (He's got TV's hanging over the chairs.) My filling represents a 200 point drop in the stock market.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A New Term

I was chatting with someone today and called them "Snarky Dark"

They always have something pessimistic and sarcastic to say on their comments on blogs...

I like it.. Snarky Dark.  Dark Snark.


What's Comcast Up To?

So I got a notice in my mailbox that says I need to contact Comcast before April 6th and let them know how many TV's I have that are not on cable boxes.

They say that for me to continue to get a sub-range of channels, I need a box on these TV's.  No extra charge they say.  Once they found me in their database...  (for some reason my only phone # didn't come up with the 3rd party they've contracted with to carry out these communications) I've got my adaptors coming.

Now all I have to do is once I receive them, hook them up, have Comcast initialize them once connected, and away I go.

My normally suspicious nature makes me a basket case when things like this happen.  Why?  I remember some years ago when my "cable provider" distributed a "survey" asking what channels we, the subscribers like.

Afterward, it seemed that the channels that were upvoted by many people, were then put on their own additional entertainment tiers and we were then charged more for our "favored" channels.  That's why I'm nervous. 

I'm waiting for this extra information to bite us in the back side later on down the road.  Bookmark this post and wait.  I'm a gambling man.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Travel and Your Passwords

How often do you change passwords? Once in a while? Sometimes? Never?

In theory, one should change their passwords every 6 months to a year. In practice many never change their passwords because it's just too much trouble, but changing your passwords is one proactive method for protecting your online accounts, financial data and other personal information.


Concerns When You Travel
When you travel, public computers are a great sand trap for keylogger software and spyware. A multitude of users have access to the computer and you never know who's been on it last.

But you're probably thinking that these computers have password controlled access and you have to be a hotel guest to use it. Sure, but web bots can find these systems, or a disreputable user might have a network drive out on the internet that he can access his malware from and install it. For the general user, it seems insurmountable to break a login screen. To the professional, it can be a matter of minutes with the right software.


Travel Security Tips
When you know you're going to travel, change your passwords before hitting the road to online accounts you know you'll be accessing. Change them back when you get home.

If you end up using an account you weren't planning to while you're on the road, change them to something new when you get home.

When you're done using a public machine LOG OFF properly. Don't just close the window with the X in the upper right corner.


What Kind of Passwords to create / use?
When creating passwords, try using a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and or symbols with a minimum of 6 characters.

You want to make it as complicated as possible to break while still being able to remember it.

One common piece of advice is don't use things that are related to you: Birthdays, anniversaries, initials, etc..

I create sentences to make my passwords. Today is Monday the 31st or TiMt31st. Ok, that's too many t's, but you get the idea.

It's up to you to create some simple first defense to your sensitive information because if you don't, you only have yourself to blame if someone happens across your unprotected account, and I don't want you regretting any lack of action on your part and saying, I should have listened to Bruce.

It's your financial information online or on your computer. Protect it accordingly.

image: freedigitalphotos.net

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Comcast And The Most Inopportune Advertising

So I am trying to contact COMCAST because my cable reception was pretty iffy.  So I am already somewhat miffed.

While I am on hold, it probably isn't the best time to try and advertise to me an additional service to tack onto the system that's presently ticking me off.

Do ya think?


Saturday, March 14, 2009

Word Of Warning To New New Real Estate Agents

It's been a few years since I got out of the real estate business and canceled my real estate license. You'd think that once you got out, you're out.

Nope.

To this day I still get loads of junk email from all these prospective business partners who have all kinds of good information to share with me.

First off, if you're going to be spamming people as a real estate professional, you should try your own domain you lazy twits. Hotmail and gmail business offers just look terrible and don't inspire anyone. - Well, at least not me.

Secondly, once you scrape the real estate association list of realtors, or buy them from the associations, you ought to do it more than once every few years. For example, Jerry AT The TallGroup seems to think that despite my using their opt-out links in their emails for the last few months consistently, that I still want their emails. Boy, do they have a surprise coming. That's because violating the spam email laws can land you a fine of up to $10k. Hope it was worth it.

IF YOU ARE THINKING OF GOING INTO REAL ESTATE:

First, you're nuts. But if you have an in, more power to you. But what ever you do, set up your email or new domain account before you jump in.

Brand yourself by using your name as your brand, but whatever you do, go make an email account that you want to give to the different associations you are forced to sign up with and pay dues to. (You see, even in an iffy economy, all the associations with their required annual education restrictions guarantees that the backing associations will still do well, regardless of the individual state of business. Nice, huh?)

I recommend Yahoo or Gmail for signing up with the associations. I leave out AOL because they filter some mail before it even gets to you and you may never see it.

If you don't plan ahead, you'll be getting 10 to 20 wonderful business offers every day AT EACH email you've used, for quit a few years to come. Yea... you see, my problem was that I used one email, then thinking I'm being smart, changed it to another. Now both are getting spammed regularly, years after the fact.

Maybe I should make a list of the spammers and publicize it... let you know who the unprofessional, desperate entities are... hmm. I like that.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Why I Like Photobucket Over Flickr

I just tried uploading a bunch of pics to Flickr. I've liked the service, but found out their free service limits you to 200 viewable images. Meanwhile, Photobucket doesn't.

Flickr won't let you put video out there, Photobucket does.

I didn't look to see if there is a bandwidth limit on Flickr. Photobucket has a 25Gb monthly limit, so for most, that should be fine.

Of course, regardless of the service, you can always get around the limitations by upgrading to their pro services!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

ACDSEE, You Suck My Back Side

ACDSee, your accounting department / ordering process stinks.

In January, you sent me an email offer you can't seem to fulfill. 3x on the phone you said you'd contact me to take care of the problem. Helloooooo!?

Your online ordering system is asinine with no clear cut instructions until you screw up and then you get the red print or error. Only by making errors do you get the full gist of what is required.

I've tried ordering things 4 frakking times now, and your effing accounting department has put a kabosh on my name because they don't like my mailing address that I use with all my credit / cash accounts. Their online purchasing system continues to fuck it up. And calling you 4x doesn't seem to help either.

On top of this, they've blocked my name so the system won't even accept my certified paypal account that has cash in that account.

In the end, the online supervisor says they can't process my order due to complications with the address I use for running my business... They wanted me to change the business address I associate with my company for "24 hours" so they can process my order. You're kidding me right? Change my entire business infrastructure for one company... yea, right. Bullshit to you ACDSee.

I get it. You're so effing big, with 25 million customers that I don't count. No problem... Open Source GIMP it is.

Thanks for shedding light on this issue.







Sincerely, an ex 10 year standing customer.
--
Bruce

PS: Despite this going on to 3 months of banter and no one calling me back, the folks on the phone were very civil and tried their best to work with me, but they were stumped by their dumbass purchasing department.

Bah Bye Acdsee... bah bye.

Monday, March 9, 2009

When I Say "Understood" - It Really Is


It's rarely a good thing when I reply with a single word, basically, "Understood." It's not bad either, but usually, it means I see the brick wall and I stop here.

I picked up this phrase after watching a show called DUE SOUTH starring Paul Gross who played Constable Benton Fraser.

Fraser was a wood-lore savy Canadian Mounted Police officer, attached to a Chigaco police precinct, for reasons that we don't need to explore at this juncture! (LOL). But the character infected me. I've most notably picked up two terms from the show that seemed to not only stick with me, but I tend to use.

One is "Thank you kindly." I use that all the time these days. It's a nice way to say thanks and it stands out.

The other phrase, I rarely use, is "Understood." Fraser used this catch phrase to reply to people who made no sense, was in the wrong or was just damn moot to the point of the situation. When there was really no point in arguing with someone, or he was on to something beyond what was being said, he tended to reply with this infamous, short, one word reply, "Understood."

Here's an example I can come up with: Fraser might be talking to a bad guy with a gun. He's asked him to put the gun down. The bad guy might say something to the affect that no, he's here to rob the store. Fraser would then say, "Understood", but with the intent that it's moot to try and talk him out of it, but that he (Fraser) will be disarming him in some form in the immediate future, but there's no reason to go into that now.

It's classic, it's meaningful and says that there is so much more going on in my head, but what is the point of me even going there? Whether it 'is understood', or 'what is understood' or 'understood by whom', it just says - "fine."

I've learned a long time ago that sometimes, trying to make your point with some folk is meaningless and a waste of everyone's time. When they're set in their ways to the point of using stubborn emotional blinders to any other process, I just don't see the point. It's better to just have an understanding and move on. Trying to get someone else to see your point when they are NEVER going to change is more frustrating than anything else.

And that, is why you sometimes see or hear my one word response, "Understood", in our conversation. For those who know me, if they care, they inquire. For others, it's a sufficient end to the conversation. "Nuff said, as it's been put.

Thank you kindly for hearing my rant.

Palo Alto Strikes Again - Thank You Daily Post

I seem to like picking on Palo Alto, CA.  Previously I've mentioned how they have this wonderful park up in the mountains - it's big, it's scenic, it's connected to the wildlife in the region... but oh, you can't go in unless you are a resident of Palo Alto.

That's because back when other cities had a chance to pitch in and provide funds for the land, they didn't.  So the Palo Alto infrastructure struck back at everyone by saying since we paid for it, no one else can use it.

Palo Alto also started looking at some plan to charge non-residents fees to park in their city.  That would also include the non-residents who own businesses in Palo Alto, but don't live there.

Now the latest fun I'm having with Palo Alto...  which some around here use the term affectionately, Shallow Alto, is that over the last few months they were looking to build a new police station for their cops.  It was projected to cost $80 million.  Fine, I get that.  But wait!  After all this time, something was being overlooked.

My new favorite newspaper, called the Daily Post ran an article last week titled "Mystery Floor May Help Cops" points out that there's been this 3rd floor of the present police headquarters that is empty...  and has been empty since the building was built back in 1968...  crickets...  10,000 square feet of empty space, just waiting to be occupied.

Palo Alto doesn't seem to want people to come to their little neck of the woods and doesn't seem to think there's a limit on their spending.  Or their vision of advancement is obscured.  How do you miss an entire floor of a building?  Eh, I'm not involved in the process.  I'm sure there's a reasonable explanation.

For now, the Daily Post is my fav paper.  They're been calling out local municipalities on various issues.  Red Light Traffic Cams that cost the city $6k a month for each intersection to run.  Or that the Yellow Light time frames at these interesections seemed shorter than the national recomendation.  Or how they've been outing the income of city officials in different locations.  I liked the list from Palo Alto.  Street Sweepers making $72k...  librarians - $100k...  the paper is a fun read.

I hope more people pick it up and read it.  The only short coming is that the paper doesn't think it needs a website... so we can't visit it vicariously through the web... sorry.  I'd like to see them be able to monetize an online existence.  I'd be there everyday.




Thursday, March 5, 2009

Making AOL Uncluttered

Pondering Dropping AOL E-mail?
If you've ever pondered the idea of dropping your AOL email because you're sick of the junk in the box, but not sure if you want to try another provider, there is a way to control the influx of crap to your in-box and suddenly make your AOL email semi-useful once again!

What I've Done:
I have a particular email address I've set up that is specifically designed for interaction with 5 email addresses only and it's wonderful. No junk, no spam, (Ain't that the same?) no unsolicited offers to enhance my male talents or my wallet or my career.

Just plain old fashion communication with the persons and entities I choose. Ahh. It's good, and it does have it's drawbacks, but the empty in-box sure is nice to see.

How'd I Do That?
This method is direct from the E-mail interface, but I'm sure you can find this same option under the AOL application. That's how I initially set this up, via that 'application'.

Once you're signed in on the Email Web Interface,

Near the Upper Right corner,

  • Click on Settings
  • Find Spam Controls on the left side,
  • There's an option called Spam Filters by Address.
  • I've chosen the Custom option.
    • In Custom, I've added specific email addresses to only receive email from.
    • Type in an address and click on the '+'.
Walla!

This function does work. I've had it set up under one particular address for the last year and only received 1 email all year long. The email I want. With this setting, nothing gets put in your spam folder either. All but your permissioned email addresses get bounced.

Is There A Downside?
Hell yea! It's AOL. Everything has a downside these days doesn't it? More to the point, you need to know the email addresses of people or entities that will be sending you email and you'll have to interact with your email settings folder every time. If you don't have many of either, it's a low maintenance way of controlling the noise in your in-box. I love it.

Is This A Reason To Stay With AOL?
Hell no! I've converted to Gmail's unique system of E-mail organization and I love it. Everyone that's taken a gander at it that I've sent there has also touted it as a godsend. If you have a lot of email from various sources, GMAIL is the best way to tackle and track it all.

At first, I didn't like it because it was "different" and people in general don't like different. But in this case, different is not only good, it's dang efficient in how it handles email strings, sorting, labeling (As opposed to folders) and retention methods. Not to mention Google's Gmail gives you a ridiculous amount of disk space to use for your email.

Right now I've used 103 Mb of my 7,047 available MB's. You do the math.
http://mail.google.com

Remember, I've set up several AOL accounts for my junk or specific purposes. And maybe they haven't noticed, but anything of any importance gets forwarded to my Gmail account. Ha!

Not to mention right now, I get error messages EVERY TIME I log into AOL. Sigh. It's almost like they want us to go away.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Bowflex Recall

Wow, haven't seen a recall on such a widely advertised item before, but for you Bowflex fans, here it is:

The
Bowflex® Ultimate 2 Home Gyms are being recalled because the horizontal seat rail is designed to be latched in a vertical position for storage. If the seat rail is not manually latched, it can fall unexpectedly on the user or a bystander, posing a risk of serious injury.  18 injuries have been reported so far.

This affects ~ 78,000 units... a few more than their 68,000 home gym recall that took place in December of 2007!

The injuries are not minor, as some have required stitches or staples.  Ouch.

What's the saying?  If it doesn't kill you, it will make you stronger. 

For additional info, you can contact Nautilus at (800) 259-9019 or visit www.bowflex.com

Source:  U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission


Thursday, February 26, 2009

ACDSee Doesn't Want My Business

When you're really big, you don't need to pay attention to the individual.

Some time ago I got an email advertisement from ACDSee that sported a package sale.  Yet I couldn't order it online.  And when I called to order it interactively the sales reps didn't know what the offer was either.  They've sent my forwarded email to the sales coordination department (Or some such named dept) to look it over and in both cases, I was told they would get back to me.

Despite reminder emails from me as to what's up, no one replies.  I've already spoken with 2 reps.  Both said the same thing.  I wouldn't even mind it if they came back with the excuse that it was a mistake.  But instead, I get the silent blow-off treatment.  Nice.

Well, there's always Picasa 3 or the much vaunted GIMP 2 or even InfanView.  All free, all just as powerful. 

Picasa takes some getting used to.  It constantly wants to index your hard drive, no matter how many times you tell it not to.  It also has a different way of showing the images.  If you have privacy issues with images, I don't think this is for you.

InfanView is just that, a viewer.  Works fine for me.

GIMP is complicated, but I believe to be the most effective piece of software there is out there and at least being open-source, you can get the service you expect from open-source.  Unlike the service I've received after being a 10-year running loyal customer to ACDSee.

They're getting too big.  I'm too small.

Locking In That Foil Roll

So how often have you had the roll of saran wrap or tin foil come flying out of it's container so that you end up covering half the kitchen in either? And how many times have you wanted to take that roll box out and run it over with your car?

Now, just how long have you been using tin foil or saran wrap? Have you ever really looked at the end of your Reynolds Aluminum Foil box? No. Maybe you should. I never did until recently.

At the end of these boxes is a small printed statement that says:

"Press here to lock end"

What? Is this for real? Are you kidding me? Am I that much of a blind moron? (Don't answer that one.)

There's a perforated tab section at the end of each box that you can press in to lock that dang roll of foil or wrap inside the box so you will never have to deal with flying roll tubes again!

I just found this out and I'm amazed at how simple of an item that's there that I have never seen.

It's not on all containers, but it's on almost all of them. ... You're running off to the kitchen right now, aren't you?

Thanks to Karen, via Amy for sharing this with me.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Shoelaces Coming Untied? Sanity Threatened?

Of late, my shoelaces have been threatening my levels of sanity.

I remember the days when I used to tie my shoes and forget them until I got home at the end of the day.  Ah, the good 'ol days.  But recent times have shown me that most brand new shoes these days come with shoelaces that seem to undo themselves within the hour after tying them.

I tried double knots, triple knots and even four knots but my latest brand of shoe has an aggressive shoelace that seems to want to desperately escape the region of my feet.

I finally took a few minutes to visit my local shoe guy... not store, a cobbler, shoe repair kind of guy and he dispensed the following wisdom upon me:

"New shoes come with Nylon laces and they don't stay.  Buy the cotton laces."

What?  Cotton?  You kid me, right?  No, he was not kidding me.  I bought cotton laces, strapped them up and then discovered I now have a completely new problem.  After a few years of cranking down on my nylon shoelaces in frustrated anger, it seems I tie my shoes too tight now!!!  And yes... they now stay tied.

The packages don't always say what they're made of.  I am lucky.  My local shoe repair store stocks lots of shoelaces.  He knew which ones were cotton and guided me upon my way to safer and sane bi-pedal powering!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Can Cell Phone Usage Be A Right?

There's this fellow that took out a $10k bulletin board in the Bay Area venting about how the new Cell Phone law in CA is stupid and it is his right to talk on the phone whenever he wants.  The impetus of the billboard is to get people to start a petition to revoke the law.   ...  crickets...

First off, the law isn't working here.  Everyone around here has not let up one bit in regards to driving around incoherently while craning their necks to talk on their phone.  No one seems to understand that a tiny little $10 ear piece would not only simplify their lives, but keep me safe.

Yea, keep me safe.

Twice I've almost been plowed under my some moron who for whatever reason has to beat that gap in traffic that is thinner than his car whilecraning their neck to talk on their fracking phone. I've seen proof that most people can barely do two things at the same time, never mind three.  That is if you count balancing that gelatinous mass of what some would call a brain over the precious cell phone, while dodging oncoming traffic and gunning it to make their aggressive left turn cutting the traffic pattern and almost clipping me.  Oh, wait.  That's four things if you count trying to run me down.

So to the fella that thinks it's his right to talk on the phone while driving, I guess he feels it's his right to make it an even set of odds of running me down in the process too!

This feels like a similar scenario where people are saying that flashlight the registers alcohol on their breath is a vioation of their civil rights.  Frack you!  If you're driving toasted, you give up your rights.  Do you really think it's your right to plunder about and put people at risk from your intoxicated effort at manuevering your  multi-ton vehicle with your crossed up eyes and buzzed brain in the dark of night while little lights from cars and intersections blink away annoyingly?  - Give me a break.

Some folk need to take inventory.  That's all I'm saying.

ACDSee: Where Art Though

ACDSee


A few weeks back I received a promotional Valentine's Day e-mail. It was set to expire by the end of February so I sat on it for a week. Last week, I decided to partake in their newest deal that ACDSee sent me.

Disclaimer: I've been a very happy customer of ACDSee software since it's inception MANY years ago when it was free-ware.

So last week (Thursday) I logged onto the website, went through their enitre process and at the end of the process, I get the message that transaction can't be processed. Hmm? I tried 3 different times, different browsers, etc. Same results. WTH?

Last Friday I spoke with a sales rep of ACDSee who said he will put the order in and get it going and I will be notified when I can get my product. THAT WAS A WEEK AGO! Oh, and I had to send him my email because he couln't find the special offer I was looking at.

So here's my observations on the issue so far:

Digital River handles their product ordering. Digital River needs to update their error messages. If you don't format the Cr Cd number properly, it doesn't tell you that, it just says there's an error in my order.

When it tells me it can't complete the transaction, it gives no explanation. I've seen better sites give much better feedback in terms of my order windows. I am leery of DR.

I'm also miffed that though it's been a week, no one has contacted me. I called last night to find out that the order was ix-nayed and the sales person can't tell why. Their own sales person! So they tried putting the order in again, and even the sales person got an error message.

So here I wait, day 7, for trying to purchase a download from ACDSee. Are they getting too big for their britches. I can say they sure don't seem to know what the L and R hands are doing. Not if they're sending me special offers they don't even know about.

Despite all that, I still am fizzled about the fact that no one called or emailed me to say there's an issue. They just left me hanging. We'll see how it goes after yesterdays call.

More to follow.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

PETA Defends Nudity

This is just an opinion from the hip, but I passed by a TV where PETA was trying to defend itself in a FOX News interview on it's approach to its campaign where they pitch nude stars to promote not wearing real fur or to become a vegetarian.

So basically, reverting to the "sex sells" theme, to me starts to cheapen them. They no longer stand above the rest. Now they are swimming with the rest.

I have nothing against PETA. To each their own, but I don't think people draped in skimpy rags or angled in such a way to see most of their body and calling them naked are going to persuade people one way or the other. If someone already is leaning towards the idea of not wearing fur, well, they probably already are. If not, this won't do it. And if it does, are they a keeper of a client, or just someone outside the 1% retention sales effort that will flit in and flit out when they find they don't have the focus to be a friend of PETA.

I mean come on now if I came across this,

Annalise Braakensiek posing "nude" for PETA
Annalise Braakensiek posing "nude" for PETA

I'd um... ah, be willing to have a conversation on the virtues of not being cruel to animals... yea. Cute lamb, huh?

But they do have some incredibly awesome causes under their PETA umbrella. They just seem to have an overtly aggressive way of approaching some of them...

The present video on PETA TV at their website, PETA, shows one of their programs where they build dog houses for families who can't afford them. It's a sad vid. Of course, now that they're into staging things, can you believe them? This is where their credibility comes into play now.

I WAS going to host a few YouTube vids here, but they're too graphic for my taste and you need to be warned if you go to these links, they HAVE GRAPHIC KILL AND TORTURE SCENES.

YouTube Vid 1: Official PETA video, Vid 2: Exotic Animal Cruelty.

After seeing these, maybe the nude angle ain't so bad. At least I can stomach that!

Menlo Park (And Surrounding Areas) Raising Their Trash Rates

The City of Menlo Park, CA obviously has some issues, just like the rest of us do. Why?

We just got a notice that the City of Menlo Park is raising its solid waste trash rates by 24%. Oh, and though you just got the letter, it's retroactive to January 1st. It must be nice to do what you wish with your business practices, unlike the businesses they govern.

They're raising the rates to give the contractor a rate of return based on approved costs.

And even though renters are the ones that are paying the bill, the notice is written to such that only the home owner can write a petition letter.

Ouch and thank you MP. Will you at least provide the lubricant?

Fine... I thought I'd look into what I can do to reduce my costs. The reason I thought I could was that I have this giant blue thing (96 gallon wheeled beast) and most of my neighbors have smaller, store bought cans.

Turns out the service I was given was the most expensive service they have. They base their service costs on the size of the can!

So if a 96 gallon trash can costs $185 for 3 months, a 45 gallon can costs around $80 for 3 months. Zoinks! Here's one time where downgrading is a good thing.

The moral of the story is when you sign up for services, ASK about your options. ASK if there are options! ASK ASK and ask some more.

Silent Hunter III, A Moment In The Storm


The storm was horrendous. More so than I thought. All I wanted to do was get to my patrol zone and settle in for 24 hours. Despite having set my engines to flank speed, we were only doing 14-15 knots. I didn't realize how bad it really was as the bow dipped down deep into the water then lifting completely out of the water.

Suddenly through the sleet I saw what I thought was a cloud of lighter grey mist but as we charged in closer, I realized we were headed straight for a C2 Tanker. It was less then 400 meters away!

I bellow hard to port, all emergency back! The horrid part was waiting for the crew to respond to the orders. It felt like forever but finally the rudder was slammed left, the engines strained against the storm.

Our boat was turning and slowing. We were still headed towards the tanker but despite being tossed in and out of the ocean, it looked like we were going to be ok. We could reach out and touch the tanker from the conning tower bridge.

I was just about to start pondering how I'm going to take this tanker down. The weather is so bad my sonar and radio guys never detected it. No one spotted it from the deck. We started to back off to trail it.

As we dropped back from the tanker, I thought they were shining a spot light on us because the ship lit up. Suddenly I turned around and there the source of the light was. A patrol boat was rushing down on us no more than 200 meters out.

Bullets ripped across the water toward the boat, ripping into the forward deck, taking out the deck gun. Crap! We had no options, I had to get away from that beast and put the tanker between us.

I order a crash dive, rudder hard to starboard. Yes, into the tanker. My hope was to get under it and put it between us and that pesky patrol boat who let rip with another salvo of bullets and a cannon shell taking out a part of our batteries. Watching the bullets striking the water, the bullet splishes coming straight at us was not a good site. Down went the flak gun... oh well, it's fairly useless anyway. I've hit quite a few planes with that thing, but never brought anything down.

Waiting... that's all it is now. 50 hours of boredom, 50 seconds of trauma, followed by the waiting. Ug, the waiting. The depth meter is semi-useless, but as we pass the 15 ft depth mark we've hit nothing, so I order a hard to port manuever all the while at flank speed.

All I want to do is get lost in the noise of the tanker. After I hit my desired direction, I order all slow while the damage repair crew works on the batteries. Gulp!

All in all, we silently dropped to a 70 meter depth and just putted away from the danger zone. Now the sonar man is reporting in. Apparently I was in the middle of a convoy and we never saw them. Thanks bud.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Lowering Your Property Taxes Is Free

I just received an email from my county Assessors Office reminding me that a "A "Decline in Value" request is FREE to any homeowner".

a property owner requests a Decline in Value review by filling out a simple form and sending to the Assessor's office (online, by fax, mail or in person). It only takes a couple of minutes to complete.

They are warning me of this because apparently many tax payers are getting "offers' by private corporations to lower their tax rates for a fee.  (That's pretty efffed up!)

I've previously written about how your taxes took off with the property boom, and now in this recession, your taxes should be going down with your house values.

So folks - Keep your eye out, don't pay someone to do something for you that's free, and be aware.  This isn't specifically a scam perse, but it still sort of reeks!

--
Bruce

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Rodale News Is Aggressive Spam Source

Apparently I signed up for something. What I didn't know was that what I singed up for has an s**t load of sources to send me "email" from.

The website that I'm getting pummeled from is *@rodalenews.com. This is my own fault, but still, I am getting besieged with spam from them.

I've received PVNews, bikenews, enews & MHNews@Rodalenews.com. Those are the ones I've tracked. I couldn't tell you what others I've received.

Each email address has an "opt out" option that I use, but because they are from different sources under RodaleNews, they legitimately can keep spamming me.

So word of caution: If you hate signing up for spam from a company that uses technicalities to continue spamming you, beware of whatever@rodalenews.com!

Monday, February 16, 2009

2008 Internet Usage Stats

Here's some interesting statistics for ya:

The 10 more popular purchases that were made online were
  • books,
  • clothes,
  • travel arrangements,
  • gifts,
  • CDs,
  • videos,
  • electronic goods,
  • software/games,
  • products for hobbies, and
  • computers/peripherals.

Hmm, I tapped 4 of those myself last year!
  • 16% of internet users checked for facts on a daily basis,
  • 7% went online to look up definitions. (That's a good sign!)

On a weekly basis, internet users were involved in the following:
  • E-mail (96% )
  • Internet surfing without a specific destination (71%)
  • Looking for news online (60%)
  • Finding product information (43%)
  • Conducting online banking or other financial services (38%)
  • Instant messaging (37%)
  • Playing online games (35%)
  • Searching for humorous content (25%)
source: Center for Media Research

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Sap-Spammy Comments Do Not Help Your Site

An Observation by Bruce E. Simmons

As I traverse the web-o-sphere I can't help but notice how folk leave comments on the more popular sites.

I get it.

Leave a comment on a site that gets 25k visitors a day, and you are bound to snag ONE visitor to your site because in some magical way, they actually ended up clicking on your website link that you embedded with your name on your incredibly insightful comment. I get it and more than likely the commentator is a new blogger who doesn't get how to properly grow their blog traffic and might be taking the easy way out.

Something to Know
First off, be aware that the comment section in Wordpress based blogs don't contribute to your own SEO.

Second off, comments like

"This is some really good info."

just doesn't inspire anyone to take notice of you. In fact more than likely, this kind of comment annoys people, if they even pay attention to it. Why? because it's a reactionary, self centered type comment. It's not impressive and appears to be a blatant effort to get attention.

If you want to impress people, leave comments that extend the subject matter or add depth to it.

More importantly, leave your comments where people actually do interact with each other.

Find Sites Where Comments Are A Community
Watch the comment patterns. Over on ProBlogger, it seems to me that people are leaving comments in the hopes of generating their own traffic. Why do I think that? Because it's rare to see the comment authors interact with each other to further the conversation.

I've popped in on several posts and leave comments that are responses to previous comments and no one responds back. You can dang near insult someone but they don't take note because they've come, they've spammed, they left. It's rather disappointing and I've given up trying to ignite conversation.

There are sites where the comment section is an active participation of a subject. Those are refreshing and it helps weed out the "brighter" folk. And when I mean active participation, I don't mean Digg or Topix style commentary where within half a page people are calling each other colorful names. That's not the constructive participation I'm thinking about.

It's hard to find a blog where comments extend the subject with constructive conversation. ScreenRant.com is one such site. They've got tremendous depth of knowledge and the readers that visit the site often further the conversation in the comments section. Sites like that are a goldmine... if you don't spam it.

Spamming is obvious. It's rude. It's the odd man out kind of feel and if it's a blatant spam, you'll find your comment left out in the dark when one of the admins catches it.

In Closing
Do yourself a favor. If you don't have something to add, resist. In the long run, it will help you. You'll learn to read into the conversation more critically and you will find in time that this talent will help you leave constructive comments. The kind that do catch readers attentions and will help you generate traffic.

Monday, February 9, 2009

SpyWare Detectors: A Reader Asks A Question

The question posed to me was:

Some “experts” have say you should employ at least two spy ware detection programs since this stuff comes in so many forms. But I've However, I have also heard that running more than one of these programs at a time can cause problems if you are not careful about their compatibility. What's your take on this?
~~~

Bobby: I haven’t come across any blaring outcry of conflict issues BUT with that being said, you probably don’t want to run any of these programs simultaneously, but there are good resolutions within reach of any user. If you don’t already have spyware detection embedded in your AntiVirus software, there are apps you can purchase or processes (Like Yahoo’s or Google’s Toolbars) that you can get for free.

Different applications come with different sets of rules, so multiple platforms are good ideas. But if you are running an app fulltime in the background, you probably want to play it safe and only have one running. This can eliminate that potential system conflict you're worried about, and possibly prevent resource usage bottlenecks and what not. You can always check with your software provider for potential conflicts.

Additionally, there are some good free utilities out on the web to scan your system with. The most heavily used and relied up free spyware removal programs for automated spyware detection and removal are
Ad-Aware, Spybot S&D and the recently introduced Microsoft Anti-Spyware.

I use Ad-Aware and Spybot. When I run scane, I run Ad-Aware first, then follow up with Spybot. They compliment each other very well

Check out these links below for good reading in regards to your question:
PcWorld

Geeks.com

Cnet.com

Techrepublic.com

Cnet.com

I’m including the below link for the frightening statistics on the right side of their web page: http://security.utm.edu/spyware.php

Thanks for the question.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Human Nature Looking For New, Wanting Things and Twitter

I found an interesting aspect on the attitude of new and existing social media websites:

Social networks (SN) flourish with early adopters, who are by nature fickle when it comes to technology and any bright shiny object, but social networks have difficultly embedding themselves in the mainstream.

They are referencing the ability of a SN to not only last, but flourish.  The writer said that when his wife is familiar with a technology, it has crossed over into the keeper side of passing websites!

Which is interesting.  Obviously a site like Twitter had something everyone liked because it flourished despite itself.  IE:  In the early days, it was always down due to heavy traffic demands.  Yet people come back.  Some folks have their website go down once, and that's it... off to another provider.  I don't blame that attitude.  When you run a website you don't want interruptions.  Yet I don't think I've ever encountered any website, anywhere, that hasn't been down at least once.  My rule of thumb:  Give anything and anyone at least 2 chances.  After that, it's hatchet time!

Back on track:
This is a fantastic example of human nature in and of itself with regards to the "bright shiny object" catch.  People don't always think ahead.  They sometimes don't even think.  They see, they want, they do.  Something new, leave the old behind.  See the green light turning yellow, go go go.  Don't bother looking for anyone else running their light.

As it was put once, people only seem to be able to see what they can hold in their hand, now.

Fascinating: A Bit About Digg Financials

Here's some fascinating info on Digg from an article, Digging For Digg's Revenue Model
by Catharine P. Taylor; MediaPost Publications :

(n 2007 Digg made $4.8 million and a posted a loss of $2.8 million.

Through 2008's first three quarters, it had $6.4 million in revenue (good news!), but lost $4 million (bad).

In other words, it's not even close to being profitable. (I can report the numbers because
BusinessWeek had the good fortune, or the reportorial chutzpah, to secure a copy of privately held Digg's most recent financial statement. )
I'm dazzled by the numbers, but not surprised. Digg is a pretty central focus point of social networking on the web, which in turn draws others along the way. It's a hard beast to ignore, especially for the serious blogger.

Here's the BusinessWeek article, if interested.
Thought you'd be interested!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Generating Commentary on a Post

Over on ProBlogger, they offer suggestions on how to generate comments, and thus some form of traffic on a post.

Their suggestions are:

    * Start a Debate
    * Ask for Advice
    * Ask for Tips
    * Ask for Examples
    * Ask for Experiences
    * Give Opportunity for Self Promotion **
    * Run a Poll

And thus, making the post about the comments.

All great and dandy, if you have traffic already.  The problem I see though is that it is embarrassing to ask a question where the post is dependent upon already having traffic that hits up the website!  I hate asking what I think is a real good question, only to have the post sit empty and unresponded (Is that actually a word??) to!

This does not generate comments unless you already have traffic.  Plain and simple.

**Giving the opportunity for self promotion is a nice idea, but in most cases, it truly is self promoting. 

Promoting to yourself. 

A lot of blogs that generate tons of comments are blogs that already have traffic.  And the other item I've noticed is that commentating participants skip right to the comment section and don't even see the other comments, so the conversation is minimal.  And sometimes I've seen folks that hit the headline, skip the article and leave comments that do not even contribute to the subject.

On the bright side, if you survive Google's reworking of the web and you start getting traffic, then these are all great ideas.

See, for me, my big question in life, if I were to ask the blog reading community right now, is:  Where the H*** does one find shoe laces that don't untie themselves in less than an hour?

Yea, it's a life bender indeed!  Every pair of shoes I buy, they have cheap ass shoelaces that tend to not hold the knot you make, and you find yourself within the hour retying your shoes.  That makes for several back stretching sessions a day!  Unless you triple or quadruple knot them.  Then they look stupid!

But since my blog sits in a quiet corner of the internet, I'll probably come back to this in a few months (or years) and answer my own question.  Oh my, so now I'm talking to myself.  Great!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Is Jack In The Box Killing Jack - Again?

I have a quick write up on the Jack ad at Cinema Static.

Computer: Some Internet Myths and Premises

I came across an article that touches on some popular perspectives that they either diss or support. Here are a few items of interest:


If you type a URL into your browser, you're safe from phishing attacks.

There's still the possibilities of "pharming" or "domain name poisoning" attacks. These two processes intercept legitimate URLs and redirect the web requests to bogus sites.

~~~

Google finds everything on the Web, and once it has your information, it can't be removed.

Google will only find things on the web, if other sources link to it. This is a form of validation in their search engine code.

Ya know what I say? If you don't want information found, then don't put it on the Web. Or password protect the web page the information is on!
~~~

You're fully protected when you buy something on eBay.

There are some protective measures when you use PayPal that soothe myself, but nothing is fool proof in the long run, depending on your spending practices.

If you pay via some other means, like personal checks, money orders or wire transfers, the ball is entirely in your court of daring trust. Especially with nonphysical items like software or electronic documents.

~~~

Rechargeable batteries are more cost effective than disposable ones.

The most cost effective use of rechargeable batteries depends upon the type of battery you choose and how often you use your gadgets.

For instance, daily bicycle riders who end up using their headlights every day, rechargeable batteries are the way to go. Rechargeable batteries for a flashlight you use once in a blue moon is a different story.

~~~

'Unlimited' 3G broadband access really is unlimited.

When service providers tout unlimited high-speed data plans, you rarely have free rein over what you can do with that bandwidth and the words used could sometimes be considered a liberal use of terms or a product available that maybe you can't afford.

In some cases, some carriers have skeletons in their unlimited closets.

One carrier advertised"unlimited" broadband that really wasn't. Although EVDO subscribers could surf the Web and send and receive e-mail, the terms of service forbade them from uploading or downloading files, viewing Webcams, or using Voice over IP services. The company also placed an undisclosed 5GB cap on each account.
~~~

Airport X-ray machines can damage or erase your digital camera's memory card.

The Transportation Security Administration puts it succinctly: "Our screening equipment will not affect digital cameras and electronic image storage cards." As some independent testing may also support.
~~~

Here's my favorite that disses those stupid Mac ads that seem to push the idea that macs are above all the issues that windows pc's have:

Macs are safe from malware attacks

Mac users had their misguide perceptions tested when a security researcher took home a $10,000 prize for remotely hijacking a MacBook Pro running Mac OS 10.4. It took him less than 10 hours to uncover a vulnerability and set up a Web page to exploit it.

In a later interview, Dai Zovi declared the Mac OS to be less secure than Vista. Duh.

~~~

Color inkjets that use combination ink cartridges cost more to run than those that use separate cartridges

That could be true because when you use multiple color cartridges, you only have to replace one of them and not the whole kit and kaboodle.
~~~

If someone has hacked your PC or turned it into a zombie, you'd know about it.

Nope. Most people don't catch when their systems slow down a tad or have heavier than usual disk activity.

Additionally, if you're unlucky enough to get snagged by one of the top tier hackers, Malware can often shut down your antivirus software, firewall, or Windows Update service software and then it can operate freely and you may never know it.

~~~

source: PCWORLD.
Image source: Wikipedia Commons

-----

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Obama Snaps At Wall Street

Filed Under Common Sense?

President Obama declared it shameful that while Wall Street cried for federal aid, they were paying out $18 BILLION in bonuses.

Obama called for some future restraint, discipline and repsonsibility from the greedy Wall Street types.

Change is definitely coming!

If You Believe In Something

Here's an interesting bit: Cash donors who were in support of opposing CA's Prop-8 want to remain anonymous for some reason.

A group tried to make it happen, but a judge squashed the idea and said the law is there to protect the public.

My take? They should have thought of this one before they stuck their foot in our business! I have to wonder what they're worried about? Losing 1/2 their business once their beliefs are found out?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Satellite Radio Doomed To Fade?

Satellite Radio Tidbits
According to Business Week, Sirius XM will end 2008 with 19.1 million subscribers and a mere 7.9% growth anticipated for 2009.

MP3
Did you know that the enemy of Satellite radio is the MP3 format? It was first developed in 1987 and became a viable market in 1999 through an entity called SubPop.

iPod Time
In 2001 Steve Jobs introduced the iPod. Then iTunes followed to sell licensed music to the consumer.

Apple has sold 174 million iPods. iPods and other MP3 players are the device of choice today for music listening.

The expansion of the iPod/MP3 player market into phones, plug in systems to play at home, cars with jacks built in, etc. means that iPods and generic MP3 players will be the hardware format for sound in the future. Music, news, features, etc. RIP, Sirius XM. It's only a matter of time.

Source: Podcasting Killed the Satellite Star, by David L. Smith. Media Post Publications


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Welcome to CA, Now Gimme Your Money

It was announced tonight on the news that CA will not be giving back tax refunds.  This was bound to happen sooner or later the way the state has been going over the last few years, and this economic ping was the straw that broke the camels back.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Bowling: How To Improve Your Game - Pt 1: Your Target

by Bruce Simmons
PBA member since 1995


This short informational tutorial is directed at mid to entry level bowlers who average up to around 150 or 160.

So you hit an all time high in your average but you feel stuck.  You just can't get past that damn average mark you seem to be stuck with?  What's up?  Well, let's break it down to a few components on what it takes to knock some pins down.

Bowling Ball
That's a given.  Right?  Do you have the bowling ball (gear) best suited for you?  Is it the latest and greatest on the market?  Don't you dare tell me it's a house ball!  Having the newest ball is not critical.  I've seen someone with tons of talent use 10 year old gear to dust the league in average.

Shoes
A decent pair of bowling shoes will last forever and really make a difference in the long run.  Good shoes are, well, good to have and last so much longer than the "affordable" ones.

Approach
Do you have a consistent approach?  Does it incorporate balance in the equation?  I've seen all kinds of different approaches in the PBA.  As long as it's consistent, you're fine.

Power
Are you generating sufficient power?  Power can help at the pocket, but usually when people try to generate power they think it means throwing the ball harder.  Nope.  Throwing harder pulls your shot off and makes for an inconsistent shot.  Power comes from a combination of factors.

Release
Does everything come out at the time it is supposed to come out?  A consistent release helps predictability, and can actually help in generating power, but not in the way you think it does.

Follow Through
Is your follow through consistent?  Yes, what you do after you let go of the ball can be beneficial to your game.

Reading The Lane Oil:
Are you playing the correct part of the lane?  Most days, proprietors want you to come back, so they set up pretty easy lane conditions.  Still, if you're playing the wrong area, that won't matter.

Hitting The Pocket:
Did your ball hit the pocket decently enough?  Getting to the pocket is important, but can you get there every time?

Spares:
Can you pick up those spares?  Spares are pretty important in this game.  Getting all spare games can get you in the 190 average range.  An occasional strike in those all spare games can push you over a 200 average, easy.

Hitting Your Target:  <-
Despite everything else, can you hit your target?  Do you approach it consistently?  Roll over it consistently?

If you can't hit your target every time, or most every time, then all of the other things above are completely moot.
That is the principal we need to think about today.  How do we hit the target consistently.  Once you master hitting your target, everything else can be developed off of that. 

Hitting your target comes from a decent approach, smooth release, decent follow through and believe it or not, some grace and balance on your part!

That's what I have for you today.  A principal.  Everything noted above comes together over the target.  If you can't hit your target, you won't be consistent in your spare game.  You won't have a shot at the intermittent of semi-common strike we all covet.

There is also luck in the game.  Of all my 300's, I can't say I've hit the target every time in each game, but being there on the target area definitely helps.  Being consistent helps, big time.

Next time around, I'll touch on just how to get to your target in a consistent fashion.

Thanks for coming by.  Feel free to leave questions or comments.

Monday, January 26, 2009

GM Full of Nasty Liars?

The auto makers went to the feds begging for money so they would not fail. 

Now GM is letting 2,000 people go?  1,200 in Lansing MI.  Feds, take back your money. 

yahoo news,

Computer: Internet Censorship and Whole Governments

It seems some governments wish to control certain aspects of online exposure these days.

According to a report I've come across, 26 of 40 countries that were surveyed utilize some degree of software filtering.

China, Iran, Syria, Tunisia, Vietnam, Uzbekistan, Oman, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Morocco, and Singapore were mentioned as countries actively filtering its citizens.

The study found that many of the Middle Eastern countries mainly filtered international news while Saudi Arabia censored political sites, pornography and gambling. Tunisia censors pornography, human rights and political opposition to the government. South Korea enabled filters to eliminate North Korean web sites.

I personally know someone who had a dickens of a time accessing sites because they were blocked while he was in China, covering the Olympics.

For more details, see the
dailytech.com article.
-----

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Blog Social Traffic Spikes And The Fun Of It

Darren Rowse wrote about how one of his blogs had a 250k spike in traffic from some decent StumbleUpon and Digg awareness for a DPS post on Long Exposure Photography.

He wrote about the traffic zoom on ProBlogger and just dissected the day and how it developed to the point of tapering off.

There were a few things he touched on, and a few things the visitors commented touched on and what I had to say!  The post had the usual number of shameless or spammy comments and a few good comments.  See!  I do read the comments because if you have a good following, the comments help extend or add to the subject at hand.  I added my 1.5 cents to the fray also!

I've had good Digg and StumbleUpon traffic on occasion and it's kind of fun to follow and then the let down comes as the excitement dwindles, but you're left with the appreciation of how someone saw fit to submit your post, and then further appreciation as others followed suit for whatever reason.

Darren touched on the spike in Ad Revenue and the potential 1-2% conversion to permanent readers.  The ad revenue will go back to normal but he did hit on a solid, static number of converted permanent readers with that 1-2% conversion estimation.

I can attest to that percentage number.  I spent some years in sales and this will support how cold calling and email spamming works.  In the day, about every 100 contacts, whether it be via phone or email converted usually into at least 1 interested buyer.  Usually, after about 50 interested buyers chatted me up, 1 to 2 of them converted into a transaction.

On the almost down side of getting a spike in traffic, you best have a good hosting plan with your provider!  I suspect Darren purchased sufficient services to hold up, but a lot of folk can only afford what sustains them and this kind of traffic spurt tends to hurt their bandwidth and they go dark until they have at least a one time resolution with their provider.  Unless you have money to spare and already have a decent traffic rate for your services.

Any day of the week, a blogger would love to see spikes in traffic.  Sometimes it confounds me, but I am still, always appreciative, and hopeful!  Me?  I gave up on "building" my blog and now, I just speak my mind and let the cards fall where they may.  I also us my blog as a kind of bookmark service for myself.  LOL.  That makes me more picky what I bookmark, and keeps the important stuff right where I know it is, no matter what computer I am on, but internet bookmarks?  That's a topic for another day.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Wanna Be A Nemesis?

A buddy of mine pointed me to an interesting CraigsList post from Toronto, Canada from a man who's looking for a "nemesis" who will "keep him on his toes".

Someone who on occasion spill his coffee, trip him, etc..  He says complacency will be the death of him.  Too bad I don't live up near him.  This sounds right up my alley.

Check out his request at Craigslist.  Anyone in Canada can make themselves a quick $700.

AOL Announces New Web Email Interface - Oh Goody

I've done nothing but complain about AOL email.  With my issues, I come from a few perspectives:  I want email I can trust & not be inundated with ads.  Yet I can't say that about AOL email.  First, let me present to you the press release from Time Warner, the parent company of AOL:

AOL's Products and Technologies Group today announced the launch of an enhanced version of AOL Web Mail that offers users one-click access to Gmail, Yahoo! Mail and a variety of third-party sites and destinations directly from the AOL Web Mail page, http://mail.aol.com. Over the past year, AOL has added more than 30 new features and a variety of new functionality to Web Mail in an effort to make it more open to third-party content and to offer more monetization opportunities to advertisers. The new version is being released globally, making it available in more than 38 countries and locales around the world.

Back to my rant:

I've experienced email that's been actively blocked, even from my spam folders.  That's happened numerous times in the last few months.  They're usually confirmation emails, that both Yahoo and Gmail receive within seconds of signing up.  Hmm.

I also don't want to be bothered with AIM or dragging my personal information into AOL itself.  Yet it keeps taking up 1/3 of my email screen everytime I login. 

There's a reason I have different providers and a reason I use and maintain a password schedule.  Having AOL be my central point for "all things email" just sounds like an interesting way to consolidate your competition into one spot and try to slide customers your way.  It reminds me of bloggers who quote content from other popular blogs to try and generate their own traffic based ad revenue off the same subject matter.  They are called scrappers.  AOL a scrapper?

I like my security, I like my privacy.  That's why I don't share my info, why I don't let online services "remember" my passwords and what not.  Yet my woes and my own personal concerns may be just that, something only I have an issue with.

Time Warner further reported that with 48 million users, their email service was the 2nd most popular free e-mail service.  They clumped that statistic from all of AOL proprietary email, AOL.COM Mail and AIM Mail users.  Interesting padding.  Don't you love how you tweak numbers to make you look good.  I can say I'm the No. 2 ranked Alexa site!  Or more accurately, Google is ranked No. 2, and the services I use, and hence provide to you, of theirs are an extension of them. 

So maybe my web woes are just my own.  Maybe you aren't so critical of missing email.  Or why I prefer Gmail now a days. And maybe I'm too hyper-sensitive about paying for AOL e-mail services and still suffer the advertising footers.  Am I too picky about my daily error message from AOL? (web woes).  Or that I didn't like how it SEEMED I had no options when it came to upgrading AOLVR.  (See my prefer Gmail link above.)  Actually that post is from October.  That's how long I've seen these error message.

Well, maybe this is my last AOL rant.  (I've said that before, haven't I?)  But then again, I keep getting errors.  Maybe they've seen my rants and that's why I get error messages.  Who knows.  If you've happened upon this article and say, I know what he's talking about, well then, you're not alone.


source: time warner press release

Thursday, January 22, 2009

PetSmart Dog Snack Recall

Excerpts from PetSmart Website:

With the recent FDA announcement of a salmonella investigation involving peanut butter products distributed through the Peanut Corporation of America (PCA), ......  we are conducting a voluntary recall as a precautionary measure and have removed these products from our shelves and website.

Effective January 20, 2009, PetSmart® is conducting a voluntary recall of seven of our Grreat Choice dog biscuits (peanut butter and assorted flavors). The recall affects U.S. stores only. We initiated the recall after determining these products sold between August 21, 2008 and January 19, 2009 contain peanut butter product linked to the salmonella recall announced by the FDA.

See the details on PetSmarts recall webpage.  (It loads slow because we dog owners are ALL looking at it!)


AOL Web Email Woes - Error Code: C0FE1700


You would think that after several months, AOL would actually try and fix their internet E-Mail interface. But that's just me.

Maybe they are quietly trying to coerce you to install their software? I don't know, but that's something I will never ever do again. It has behavior that I don't like, so I play it safe a keep their hands out of my stuff.

Every single day I see this the first time I log into AOL. Subsequent logins are fine. I suspect it's because I minimize the AOL services running in the background.

If you look at their suggestions, they want you to clear your cookies, clear your cache, clear your head... whatever. I've been encountering this on 4 different computers, and on FireFox and Internet Explorer both for months now, but they don't seem to motivated to make this issue go away.

I'm also tired of the new side panes where they're trying to shove AIM down my throat or try to get me to add all my different email login accounts to their service. Are you NUTS! The last time I played with AOL software, (AOLVR) when I got done installing it, it had, without asking, snatched all my email contacts and what not from my address books on my computer. No-No! My computer is my personal zone. Keep out AOL.

Sigh... it's not even good for junk mail anymore since they block emails at THEIR source now instead of send 100% of your email to your inbox. Sigh. That's OK... it's like fire. As long as you know it will burn you, knowing how to handle it still makes it a useful tool!

I've got on email address that's perfect for me. I've restricted it to only receiving email from 5 different email accounts and that's it. Flawless, in a restrictive sense.

Thank you for letting me vent!


Related Links

AOL is Blocking Email For You And Why I Like Gmail or Yahoo

Reduction of Services From AOL - The Beginning of the End?

AOL is Blocking Email for You...

AOL Email Footers - Paid or Not

Red Light Cams Are Money Makers

In the Dec 22nd edition of the Daily Post (Nor Cal, Bay Area, Peninsula based paper) they put out some numbers that seemed pretty interesting about those traffic light cameras that are popping up all over the place here.

In San Mateo County, they're raking in $50k a month from those things. That's from only 3 of them.

The camera are managed by an Australian company called Redflex and each intersection with cameras cost $6k per month to maintain. In other intersections, these cams are taking just under 500 pics a month. At just under $400 a ticket, that's a nice profit if you twiddle with the math.

Menlo Park slapped 3 cameras in and received over $35k in fines in 5 1/2 months since their installations.

There's a quirky catch though.

Some say the cameras aren't fair. I don't know how that is. If you run the light, you get an Effing ticket. Seems fair to me. In fact, to help make it fair, quit gunning it from 1/4 block back when the light turns yellow. Oh! There's a thought. But I guess you're in too much of a rush, for some unnamed reason that even you can't come up with, huh driver?

In Menlo Park I watched when they installed these intersection cameras. There was definitely a ramp up time. At first they would go off when no one was in the intersection. Then I'd noticed that they were going off even when people are not breaking the law. (It's easy to figure it out when you're sitting on your bicycle at 6:00 AM in the morning and there's only 2 cars at the intersection.) Heck it went off once when I was alone on my bicycle!

I myself got my picture taken in my vehicle and I wasn't doing anything wrong. I got my left turn arrow, heading S on El Camino Real, turning left onto Ravenswood. Light (arrow) turned green and as I started to go, I got the camera flash. Hmm.

A few days later I called the Menlo Park PD to inquire about the accuracy of the things. It seems they're taking so many pictures that they hired an extra staff member to review the associated video tape what is taken with the picture snapping to make sure they're good pics.

The reason I called was there was an article in the paper on how one man had spent over 15 hours fighting a red light cam that was wrong. The system itself seems stacked in making it a challenge to fight the electronic photographers.

In Ca, if you fight a traffic ticket, you forfeit your right to attend traffic school. Basically, CA will get money from you one way or the other. Either in the ticket, or in the traffic school. If not, you spend near equivalent in your time. But that is still better than paying for it in your auto insurance.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A thought on ProBlogger Comments

I love Darren's ProBlogger site.  It's got tons of great insight.  What I can't stand is how disjointed the comment section is.

I've been to sites where the commentators actually communicate with each other and it's a great community effort...  I'm not talking bulletin boards, I'm talking comments section.

But wow, from what I've seen, and tried, no one reads the comments.  They hit the post and then head straight to leaving a comment, with of course, their website as their signature, or linked to their sig.

I've tested the comments section and left some fascinating remarks that should have pissed someone off, but nah.  You're safe to leave whatever you want.  No one cares about what is said.  They just think they're getting themselves traffic by spamming the posts.  Come on people, "Another good post" is such a useless statement and it is obvious what you are doing.

They don't realize that they aren't being seen and that unless specifically set, WordPress doesn't add to your SEO.  In fact it blocks it actively as a default.  I like leaving comments and signing up for the comments that come later, but I stopped subscribing to the comments on ProBlogger.  The visitors are useless there.  Heck, why do I even try leaving something worthwhile for anyone to read.  Hmm.  Good point.

Me done.  But it is a great site with great intuitive articles.  Or as some say, "Great insightful post that i will apply to my very own blog".

Chasing A Live Obama Feed, The Inaugauration


This was fun.

8:50 AM: I got online around 8:50 am... thought I'd prepare ahead of time. I went to ABC news at first. It's where I usually go.

ABC kept giving me an Audi Ad... and the spinning arrow saying the live feed was loading... after 15 minutes I moved on to CNN since I'm missing the beginning.

9:05 AM: At CNN, I had a "Place in line". Because the Leader of the Band, ABC stalled me, I'm now on the outside looking in at video queues... thanks to ABC and their sponsor, Audi for that.

9:12 AM: Now I'm checking out C-Span. Hot dog... I hear cheering! It's intermittent but it's closer than I've gotten to so far. I feel hope, yet all I have is sound.

9:15 AM: Let's check MSNBC... see if that's any better. Another Audi ad. I have to wait for an ad to see a live stream. Nice. And now my IE explorer croaked. Nice. Now I have nothing!

9:18 AM: I went back to CNN and now I have to upgrade something... Flash. But now my Flash needs a plugin... Octoshape... LOL... I'm coming!!!

9:22 AM: And now... now it's frozen. Once I got CNN up, I now had to endure another ad. This one from NEXTEL Direct. I would think that you do not want your ad stalling internet travellers from seeing what they want to see live, but that's just me.

9:24 AM. I AM IN and watching. Woo hoo. I get to see Obama talk. Finally! Sigh.. 9:26, he's done.

9:40 AM: National Anthem, and the parties leave the stage. GOOD BYE bush.

9:43 AM: The live feed has an ad or two before they return.



Wow, Barack Obama has his hands full, that's for sure. How'd you like to start a job where almost everything about it is upside down and effed.

With that, all parties concerned leave for their day jobs

The old and the new watches.


After watching history, the crowd disbands.

The Bush's leave.

Well, I had a blast chasing my own tail at least. This is what is called Bruce's World! Big time!

Onward. I'll have to go find one of the many millions of videos out there. Sigh.