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

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