Friday, December 28, 2012

Close Friends in Facebook, Another Marketing Angle?

Are you sure you know how Facebook is handling your profile information, if you've given that much info up?

Facebook is all about "breaking down the barriers" on the web and making much about your marketable information public.  This is how they key in on advertisers and tease them to play along.  When you admit a FB app into your profile, it can then start looking at profiles of that person's friends.  Of course, as time goes on, this can get more controlled by the users if they pay attention to how they have their privacy settings established.

Then there's this thing where they ask you to submit your email address to see if any of your friends are out there on Facebook.  Which is curious, considering that all this is doing is having you willingly give up your address to this search function.  I'm not paranoid, just not fond of flinging my personal information out into the digital darkness of the web.

But now Facebook started asking me to add select folks to my "Close Friends" category.

Really?  Why add to or have another category?  What are they up to now?  Is this some new marketing angle to determine who you think are close friends, then come flying in with some new marketing aimed at these relationship?

Probably.  But we won't find out about it unless some watchdog group digs and finds out what's up.

Until then, meh!  I'm not voluntarily offering up information.  And though I'm not advocating anything against Facebook, I do strongly suggest that if it interests you, you should look into your privacy settings to make sure they concur with what you think your settings are.  And if you get them the way you like them, to check them after each change or update that FB makes to their system, because they seem to change with the changes.


Monday, December 10, 2012

Reviewers Get Sued? Figure Out How To Dodge That One!

Hey, I was putting together a piece on an article that inspired me to write up a sort of how-to not get in trouble writing reviews.  There are right ways and there are wrong ways.  In my past, I've done a few reviews that had me stammering when I was called on the carpet about.  To be honest, you have to create a good, well written experience to get anyone's attention.  If you're upset and write upset, it don't look no good to no one.  It becomes gibberish with missing and misspelled words.

And Gibberish is the best way to have folks stop reading your tirade.

But the trick to getting tirades read, are to write them from a logical corner of your mind.  One where you've calmed down a bit and you are able to express in detailed, fact-backed words, what your experience was.

Below, is the starter of an article addressing this, and continue it over on my primary website, where I've put it.  I had a bit of a moment trying to figure out where to put it, so I split it up this way. 

So... Let me get this beast rolling along and the link only takes you to my other site... it looks a wee bit different, but that's all.

- - -

The other day I came across an interesting article on the Business Insider that talked about how businesses are suing customers that are putting up bad reviews on Yelp, one of a few review websites.

I shook my head at first since that seems almost counter-productive than the negative reviews they're trying to squash.  Two examples of lawsuits were focused on negative descriptors that seemed to come from an emotionally based spot in the mind/heart, or how a contractor stole jewelry from a customer.

I personally knew of a business that was looking to smite a review because of how a review was worded inaccurately.

There's a growing concern that lawsuits like these could create a trend and start a wave of worries, one being the right to free speech.  But on the other side of the coin, if reviewers win the lawsuits, this could be bad for businesses, if they can't defend against false accusations.

And therein lies the issue, as far as I can see it... false accusations and poor, fact-less based statements.

-

Suggestions For Writing Reviews...

(If something like this worries you.)

Many moons ago I was called "on the carpet" by an organization when, in one of my very early reviews, I used what I deem to be emotionally based wording in my caustic tirade of the organization.  In fact I got carried away a bit and did veer from the truth by adding emotionally-based suppositions.  And that's not cool.  (As I have learned.)

Sure, in one place I lived at at the intersection of the 101 and Lawrence (in Sunnyvale), the place had vehicles broken into every single week.  Sure, one eatery establishment in Menlo Park has staff that screws up most custom menu orders.  Sure, one MP mechanic suggested a $2500 job when I got the problem fixed for $90. And sure, that free car wash cost my $4.  And of late, yes, that $50 cell phone, with the accompanying free cell phone, ended up costing me $300.

But you have to be careful how or what you write and reflect the facts only, as you have encountered them.

If you're going to write a review, well, here's how I suggest doing it, or, as I proceed.

First, always report the absolute truth of the event. 

In the scenario of the apartment building I had lived in, I saw the aftermath of broken into cars.  Each week I saw a new car just in my section of the parking structure end up with shattered windows and contents removed.

Emotionally, I wanted to convey what other people told me. Things like the cars being stolen or units being broken into.  And this seemed reasonable, since the complex has a local PD rep show up to talk to us about such things.

[click to continue reading at Brusimm.com…]



Friday, December 7, 2012

Product Recalls on Generators, Fuel Filters, Cordless Drills, Bath Seats and more warnings

It's been a while, but here's a collective of recalls I feel strongly enough to pass on to everyone...

Product recalls include gasoline generators, fuel filters, lawn mowers, cordless drills, bath seats and so much more.  OK, maybe not much more, but more.

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Powermate Generators Recall to Repair by Pramac America Due to Fire Hazard and were sold exclusively at Home Depot

The problem  with the generator is that the fuel filter allows gasoline to leak, posing a fire hazard.  There have been 51 reports of leaks but no fires or injuries have been reported.

The generators being recalled have "Powermate 5500" printed on the side of the black generator with wheels.  Printed on a plate on the rear of the generators are serial numbers of the recalled units ranging from K003xxxxxQ through K090xxxxxQ.

They were sold at Home Depot stores in northeast, mid-west and southeast U.S. between February 2012 and August 2012.

Contact Pramac America to receive a free repair kit including a replacement filter, hose and hose clamps for fuel line.

Pramac America LLC (800) 445-1805 from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. CT Monday through Friday or www.powermate.com and click on the Generator tab and then the Expert Advice followed by the Service Notification link for more information.

************************************************************

Kawasaki Motors Recalls Lawn Mower Engines Due to Fire Hazard due to a potential leaking fuel filter, posing a fire hazard.  Kawasaki has received 110 reports of fuel leaks but no injuries reported.

The models involved include Kawasaki FH, FR, FS and FX series engines used in riding and wide area, walk-behind lawnmowers made and sold under the following brand names: Ariens, Bad Boy Mowers, Big Dog, Bob-Cat, Bush Hog, Country Clipper, Cub Cadet, Dixie Chopper, Dixon, DR Power Equipment, Encore, Exmark, Ferris, Gravely, Hustler, Husqvarna, Land Pride, SCAG, Simplicity, Snapper Pro, Tiger Corp, Toro, Worldlawn and Woods. Engines may have also have been bought separately and used in other lawn mowers.

Recalled engines are 13 to 36 horsepower, air-cooled, v-twin engines. "Kawasaki" and the model number are printed on the top of all of the engines. In addition, the spec and serial numbers are printed on a label on one side of the engine.

The model, spec and serial numbers can be found in a table on CPSC's web site at  http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml13/13040.html

Recalled items were sold between October 2011 and August 2012 for between $2000 and $10,000.

Contact Kawasaki or a Kawasaki dealer for a free repair.

Kawasaki Motors; toll-free (866) 836-446, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday, or online at www.kawpower.com or e-mail the firm at ffrecall@kmc-usa.com for more information.

************************************************************

Kawasaki Motors Recalls more Fuel Filters for Lawn Mower and Utility Vehicle Engines Due to Fire Hazard

This recall is for Fuel Filters and Tune-Up Kits with Fuel Filters

The recalled fuel filters are white translucent plastic and attach to the fuel tubes on Kawasaki lawn mower and utility vehicle engines. The filters were sold separately and as part of engine tune-up kits. "VISU Filter" and a manufacturing date code number are on the top of the filter. The following date codes are included in this recall: 136/11 through 365/11 and 001/12 through 216/12. The tune-up kits say "Kawasaki Engine Tune-Up Kit" on the box. A part number is located on the top of the box. Recalled tune-up kits include one of the following part numbers: 99969-6189, 99969-6190, 99969-6191, 99969-6196 and 99969-6220.

Sold at Kawasaki dealers between August 2011 and August 2012.

Stop using products with the recalled fuel filters and contact Kawasaki or a Kawasaki dealer for a free repair.  Toll-free at (866) 836-4463, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m .ET Monday through Friday, www.kawpower.com or e-mail ffrecall@kmc-usa.com

************************************************************

Harbor Freight Tools Recalls Cordless Drill Due to Fire and Burn Hazard because the black trigger switch on the 19.2v cordless drill can overheat, posing a fire and burn hazard to consumers.

The recall involves model number 96526. The drills are blue and black and have a black trigger switch. They have a 19.2v rechargeable battery pack. The drill's model number is located on a yellow label on the left side of the drill.

Stop using the drill, remove the rechargeable battery and contact Harbor Freight Tools to receive a free replacement drill at toll-free at (800) 444-3353, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. PT Monday through Friday, or www.harborfreight.com and click on Recall Safety Information under Customer Service for more information. Consumers can also email the firm at recalls@harborfreight.com

********************************************************

Children's Riding Toy Recalled by Step2 Due to Fall Hazard because children who lean too far forward on the seat can go over the handle bar and hit the ground. This, they call a fall hazard.

There have been a few incidents with one incident resulting in head bumps and one resulting in a minor concussion and cuts to the gum and lip from the child's front teeth.

It's called an X-Rider Car, is a red, plastic toy scooter with a yellow handlebar and seat, and two blue stickers that simulate headlights. It is 14 inches high, 14 inches wide and 19 inches long. The middle of the handle bar contains the Step2 logo. Step2's contact information is located on the rider's left side of the car. Children use their feet to propel the toy.

It as sold at Target and other retailers between January 2012 and August 2012 for around $25.

Contact Step2 to receive a free replacement toy, toll-free at (866) 860-1887, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, or online at www.step2.com, and click on the "View Details" link under Recall Information for more information.

********************************************************

Trampolines Recalled by Sportspower Due to Injury Hazard; Sold Exclusively at Sports Authority.  The problem is that the legs can move out of position and puncture the jumping area, posing a risk of injury, including deep, penetrating puncture wounds, cuts and bruises to users of the trampoline.

It's the Sportspower Parkside model TR-14FT-COM trampolines. The model number is marked on the packaging and instruction manual. "Parkside" is printed on the enclosure net.

They were sold at Sports Authority stores between April 2007 through May 2012

Consumers should contact Sportspower to receive a free repair kit, toll-free at (888) 965-0565, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, online at www.sportspowerltd.net or email customerservice@sportspowerltd.net for more information.

****************************************************************

Dream On Me Recalls Bath Seats Due to Drowning Hazard because the bath seats fail to meet federal safety standards, including the requirements for stability. Specifically, the bath seats can tip over, posing a risk of drowning to babies.

There have been a few incidents and some of the seats have a Dream On Me label under or on the rear of the bath seats. Model numbers are also printed underneath the bath seats and on the product packaging and include the following product models and colors:

Model Name | Model Number | Color
Baby Bath Seat | 251B, 251O, 251P, 251Y | Green with orange tray, orange with beige tray or yellow with green tray Ultra 2 in 1 Infant Bath Tub and Toddler Bath Seat | 252B, 252P | Solid pink, blue or white body and a blue or pink bottom Niagra Baby Bath Seat | 253B, 253G, 253P, 253Y | White or blue body with a green, pink or orange insert

They were sold through various venues between July 2012 and September 2012.

You should stop using the recalled bath seats and contact Dream On Me to receive a free replacement bath tub, toll-free at (877) 201-4317 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday or online at www.dreamonme.com and click on Recalls for more information.

********************************************************

If the information above isn't enough, you can always hit up http://www.cpsc.gov/ and look up the official recall for more details. -Bruce

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

One of THE Best Plugins For WordPress Based Blogs for SPAM

Two words:  Conditional CAPTCHA

First, I want to point out that I did not say THE BEST, just one of the best plugins for WordPress based blogs.

If you're a blogger who uses the WordPress application on a hosted domain, you, like any other blogger know how much work goes into keeping an eye on things in the background.  And there are days that the computer demons have other ideas on what you're going to do with your blogs.

One of the primary plugins most may use is called Akismet.  Akismet protects your website from slimy spam comments day and night with a pretty decent track record.

Once you've installed Akismet, every time you come back to your blog and log in, the plugin will tell you that you have 'X' number of comments that it has sloughed off into the spam queue for you to review.  HA!  I don't have the time to go through all the spam every time I log in.  On good days, I seem to get a few hundred spam.  On bad days, it's pretty annoying.

But each time I'd log in, I'd clear my filter of collected bul... I mean spam.  That is until recently when I stumbled upon (No, not via that site), Conditional CAPTCHA.  Oh what a god-send!  And in god, I must trust when using it.

First, CC needs Akismet already installed.  Then when something is treated as if it's spam, CC steps in and presents a screen of text asking the "contributor" to answer a simple question.  If they can't, CC handles the spam as I've instructed it to.  In case of my websites, if it fails their test, it deletes it.  I never see it.  Ever.  If someone passes the test, it stashes it for me to approve.  (Remember, Akismet first marked it as spam).

And I've never had to look at any of that crap spam again.  And in god I trust because I hope no one is getting accidentally marked and trashed as spam.  (I presume if someone is willing, they could always look at my contact page to let me know they're having troubles.

If you run a WordPress.org based blog, you might want to a peak at the plugin and see what you think.  I've been using it for a few weeks and it's already tagged 10,000 spam comments.  Hoo ya!

-

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Product Recalls for Electric Ranges, Glider Rockers, & Office Chairs

Here are a few product recalls you might want to be aware of or share with folks you think might have bought these items...

- - -

LG Electronics Recalls Electric Ranges Due to Burn and Fire Hazards.  Involved recalled ranges involve models LRE30451, LRE30453, LRE30755, LRE30757, and LRE30955ST.

- = = = = =

LaJobi Recalls Glider Rockers Due to Fall Hazard because the the base of the glider rocker can crack or break, posing a fall hazard.

Glider | Model # | Wood Finish
Avalon | 1062335-065 | Espresso
Avalon | 1062335-071 | Espresso
Avalon | 1062381-065 | Classic White
Avalon | 1062381-071 | Classic White
Avalon | 1062384-065 | Classic Cherry
Avalon | 1062384-071 | Classic Cherry
Avalon | 5827914 | Classic Cherry
Avalon | 8529752 | Classic White
Avalon | 9382976 | Espresso
CNS/Katelyn | 7822758 | Classic Cherry
CNS/Katelyn | 6858104 | Classic White
CNS/Katelyn | 8971382 | Espresso

- = = = = =

Sauder Woodworking Company Recalls Gruga Office Chairs Due to Fall Hazard (The seat plate can break, posing a fall hazard to consumers.)

Description | Model | UPC
Black Fabric Butterfly Chair | 403612 | 042666601627
Executive Chair Leather Brown | 404237 | 042666604659
Executive Chair Leather Black | 404238 | 042666604666
Executive Chair Fabric Black | 404240 | 042666604680
Executive Chair Leather Black | 404241 | 042666604697
Manager's Chair Fabric Black | 404242 | 042666604703
Manager's Chair Leather Black | 404243 | 042666604710
Task Chair Fabric Black | 404244 | 042666604727
Task Chair Fabric Black | 404245 | 042666604734
Task Chair Fabric Black | 404246 | 042666604741
Exec Chair Leather Black | 404260 | 042666604888
Manager's Chair Fabric Black | 404261 | 042666604895
Executive Chair Fabric Silver/Brown | 404279 | 042666605335
Executive Chair Leather Burnt Brown | 404281 | 042666605359
Air Seat Managers Chair | 404370 | 042666605373
Black Micro Fabric Executive | 404398 | 042666607742
Premium Executive Leather | 405147 | 042666609678
Premium Executive Fabric | 407688 | 042666609685
Fabric Manager's Chairs | 407702 | 042666609708
Leather Manager's Chair | 407894 | 042666609722
Deluxe Fabric Task Chair | 407895 | 042666609739
Executive Fabric Mesh Chair | 407896 | 042666609746
Executive Mesh Back Chair | 407897 | 042666609920
Task Chair | 408989 | 042666104920
Vinyl Manager's Chair | 408993 | 042666101561
Deluxe Leather Executive Chair | 409977 | 042666101578
X-Vibe Entertainment Chair | 410409 | 042666105187
X-Vibe Entertainment Chair | 410573 | 042666105170
Duraplush Mid Manager's Chair | 410593 | 042666104883
Duraplush Manager's Chair | 410879 | 042666104890

For photos of all 31 chairs, go to www.Sauder.com and click on Safety Notices, then click on the link for model numbers, descriptions and UPCs.

--  --  --  --  --

If you think you might be impacted by these recalls, check out http://www.cpsc.gov/ and look up the official recall for more details like how to get in touch with the recalling party, etc., etc..  -Bruce

Hire The Professionals, But Still Cover Your Back Side



When you deal with the professionals of your life, many folk feel that once hired, you can trust them to have your best interest at heart.  And I'm sure they all mean to.  So at times you think you can sit back, relax and trust in processes like your medical system infrastructure.  I mean face it, they're supposedly on top of the game and know what's up.  Right?

Maybe not.  Or at least you can make sure what they say or tell you are correct.  Let me explain the impetus of this piece with a few examples from my own day.

-

A few months ago a buddy of mine was looking for allergic reactions between medications, so she called her Walgreen's pharmacy.  She gave her list of her 2 medications to the pharmacist on call and they said there are no interaction issues with the two medications.

About a week later she wasn't feeling too good and decided to do her own homework and look things up and sure enough, after typing in her two medication names, the first Google results were warnings about mixing the two ingredients.

Note to self:  Ask, but confirm.  Get a second opinion.  It's your neck on the line so it behooves you.

-

Next example is a medication I've been taking for eleven years.

When my medication first hit the market, it was my own research that led me to ask my doctor about it.  He looked into it and later prescribed me my new med.  It was a lucky stroke that I came across this med because at the time we were running out of things to help me since I had issues with other meds for my situation.

By looking after myself, I took care of things.

-

At the start of this month, I went to pick up my meds but I was told I would have to pay full price ($170) because my insurance company didn't cover it. !  Eh?

OK, no problem.  It's only my breathing.  No worries here.  Right?

I chatted with my present doctor's staff and then my insurance company.  The insurance rep came back with some wonderful (sort of) news, that my medication needed preapproval.  Eh??

They gave me information necessary to give to my doctor, who in turn would call the insurance back at a special number, who in turn, after hearing from them, would contact my doctor who would then contact my pharmacist.

I'll pause and wait for you to reread and digest that mess.

-

But regardless, my doctor's staff was on the job.

I waited about a week, and I just happened to be in the pharmacy for something else and thought I'd ask about my own other meds.  Sure enough, there was a prescription order for the generic version of my drug, waiting for me to come to the pharmacist and ask for it.

-

Staff from my doctor's office left me a message about how I'm having issues because I only insist on the name brand of the medication.

This is what Diana, from my doctor's office said in a message she left on my phone.   But when I called back, no one at my doctor's office knew a Diana.  (Head smack!!!)

FYI:  Mind you, my own research discovered that up until a few months ago, no generic version of my drug existed so I had no choice in the matter.  And as soon as the FDA approved the making of generics, AETNA upped and pulled my medication from their approved covered meds list.

-

Despite the bungles, bumps and misdirects, I want you to keep in mind that this is not about my insurance company.  This isn't about my doctor's office.  Sure, it's an eye-opener to see these events unfold.  But for the most part, say 99% of the time, I'm pretty damn happy with how I've been taken care of.  Though that 1% can make one panic.

No, this is my tale of warning... saying that, despite the fact that you hire experts in whatever field, it can't hurt to do your own double checking.  In fact, I say it behooves you to make sure they're on track for you.  Because in the end, they don't know your own special circumstances.  I don't think it's possible they know all of the nuances of all their patients.  It's up to you to make sure this consumer (you) gets what they need when all is said and done.

SO take care of yourself and do your own detective work to back up the experts... regardless of what field of expertise you're dealing with.

-Bruce


Monday, November 12, 2012

Heads Up Google Custom Home Users, Changes for That and Other Services Coming

If you were one of the users that had created a Custom Google home page, prepare yourself!  Google stopped allowing uploads of new background images back on October 18th.  And that was just the precursor as they plan on turning off Classic Plus sometime this November.

Many users are pretty grumpy about this development and maybe if enough grumble about it... Google might change their plans.  Might, I say.

This change is being added to the overall number of changes taking place within some of their free services.

Adsense for Feeds started to be retired early October.

Picasa and Drive will be having their storage spaces consolidated into one segment of five GB, not two.

Spreadsheet Gadgets is going away next year.

The app, Places Directory is going away.

-

I know that many have become pretty acclimated to these services that Google has offered, but keep in mind, when it's free, there's no guarantee.

How Does ShowMyStreet Work?

Well that's a great question because it's astounding how fast the website of images really is.  But for one thing, Showmystreet Is Not A Database of Addresses... It's a website that acts as a front end for Google Maps and one of its many features.  (From what I can tell)

-

Over on the site, if you crank it up, it comes up as a blank page with a window to start typing yours (or any) address you can think up.  As you type, it amazingly starts parsing what it thinks you're going to ask and starts showing locations.  And it's lightning fast, compared to other ways of getting to this imagery via Google Maps.

Once you get done typing the address you should be looking at what the website brings up.

Before you freak out...
This is not a database of everyone's addresses kept somewhere secret.  This is not anyone tracking you, specifically.  ShowMyStreet is a front end that, if I had to guess, is heavily cached output from Google's Street View mode.

It doesn't have all of the overhead of the Google Maps function and only accesses the images associated with addresses.

What Is Street View Mode?
Street View mode is when you are looking on Google maps, and you take that little green man and drag him to a location on the map and the map suddenly shows you images of buildings at that address.


This data has been collected by Google via an army of cars and other platforms that drive around with odd looking cameras mounted on their roofs and they snap imagery of everywhere they drive.  And it seems they do drive everywhere! (image via wikipedia)

-

The data seems heavily cached via a cloud service because as you type, other places come up first.  You can almost do a virtual random tour of various locations as you type.  Instantly.

The domain has been around for 1 year and 11 months from today (11/12/12) and is an interesting online web "tool."

There seems to be very little official information about the site but several references on the web declare it's a Google tool for their Street View mode of their maps.  Plus what I find interesting is that even though the page is blank except for the address input window, there's a bunch of Google Ad API's running in the background.  That and Google, I don't think, would allow anyone else to use all their imagery so freely.  (But that's just a guess)

-

As far as privacy goes, though many may feel like this is a "big brother" syndrome, all that Google (showmystreet) does is show what anyone driving by your place might see.  (At least it's not up-to-date, last minute imagery.  That might border on something wrong!)

If you're paranoid (And I don't mean that in a bad way), don't go there.  But if you're curious or looking to have fun, go on by, thump in some numbers or addresses and see it in action.

http://showmystreet.com/

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Elections Are Over - WHAT A waste! And Did You Really Think...

Well, that's it.  $6B was spent to keep things as they were in the federal government.  $6B.  And how many unemployed teachers might be reading this right now?  But as I watched the elections go on and the money dropped at all levels of government to get reelected seemed crazy.  Not only crazy, but wasteful.

And my peers were pretty revved up about this election.  A few so much, that I quietly unfriended them on Facebook.  I mean seriously, a bit over the top to such a point that I didn't realize how disrespectful they really were of the instilled processes.  This is why you never broach religion and politics amongst friends!  (Unless you are of like minds on the issues.)

But back on track to the issue of waste...

I had just happened to stay away from my mailing address box for two weeks and yesterday I went by.  I like having a mailing address.  It keeps the junk mail away from home and can throw it all away right there.  Yes, direct marketers, you are wasting your time, money and resources on this consumer.   That and I never have to worry about packages sitting outside my front door at home.

But as I went through two weeks of mail, I found myself throwing out about 50 marketing flyers for my local elections.  It was a mess!

And then I started to wonder if last-minute ad flyers to voters actually work?  There must be some premise behind why they pummel the voters with last-minute flyers.  And if this practice works, that's a pretty sad statement about the state of our voting environment, if flyers can convince or sway votes, well...  dang.  That would imply that voters don't always know what's up.  Or all these flyers sent out were a complete and total waste of time/money.

That, and WTH is up with Florida, yet again, in an election?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

I'm Starting To Think Old Folks Should Get Off The Road (A Vent)

When I am a pedestrian (or bicycle rider) I expect minimal adherence to the laws of the road designed to protect the pedestrian.  And in most circumstances, the laws seem to be common sense and extremely hard to not understand.  Yet so many people get so damn close to this pedestrian that I'm starting to get to a point that I'm going to carry a paddle or bat or something when I head out.

Every day I walk to and from work and I get my share of close calls.  And only one of those walks is during real traffic times.  And then there's my running.

As you may or may not know, I was "hit" by a car driven by a very old woman driving her cherry 4-door Gold Ford Taurus.  She forced me into the curb while on my bike, via a maneuver where she drove past me and hooked a right turn.  I had to avoid her, still received a tire skid mark on my left shoe, and after all was said and done, she drove on and I ended up with a torn rotator cuff.  Now, with my insurance done with this injury, I'm at about 80% use of the arm and I do daily routines on my own to keep trying to get it back online (So to speak).

So I'm a bit sensitive to drivers these days.  Since that time, I've had close calls on several different occasions... not all old folk mind you.  On two occasions, I was cut off by someone in a hurry to get past this pedestrian.  The first one gunned it and apparently didn't see that the car in front of him that was stopped.  He was pretty focused on me and getting past me before I passed through the halfway point of my crosswalk.

In this case, karma had its say.  He destroyed his own truck, did some serious damage to the truck in front of him, and damaged a 2nd car that his 1st victim slammed into.  (I chose to not say anything out-loud, but my inner voice was asking, "So... how did that work out for you?")  Yes, everyone got out and was OK.  I don't get sarcastic until I check everyone's health status.

There have been a few other cars that either outright don't see me or, at the same cross walk in downtown Menlo Park, someone else who needed to gun it to get past me.  This time, the driver slammed on his brakes.  Being evil, I then dropped what I was carrying and had to stop to pick it up.  No, it looked like I was surprised and it seemed to be a genuine drop.  (But I'm always looking for drivers like this.)  He he.

But today, I almost lost it.  Another old woman driving a cherry Oldsmobile 4-door silver death hammer pretty much made her right turn as I was stepping off the curb and missed my about maybe 6 inches.  I screamed out to "BE CAREFUL," avoiding the expletives that wanted out.  Just in case.  I can't have witnesses making note how unstable I appeared if I'm spewing profanities describing her mental facilities and driving skills, or lack thereof both.

And these entitled or frightened folks just take off and pretend not to see or look at you.  (But I am far-sighted people.  I see you "not turn your head," but I see your eyes peering at your mirror at me.)

And I'm starting to get tired of these old folks cutting me off like this.  It's nuts.  A few weeks back was able to "high-five" a fender that got within arm's reach of me as they "needed" to get wherever they were going 5 seconds sooner than if they had stopped for me to cross.  AND I'M NOT a rude pedestrian!  I pick up my pace and get out of people's ways because I know how it feels to be in the car, waiting for the pedestrian.

My recommendation to all:  If someone surprises you, cuts you off, etc., get their license plate numbers.  Report them to the police.  (OK, I was so upset I did not get today's plate number.)  But as someone put it...  if you report them and then they get into a serious accident somewhere down the road in time, that might be their fault, then there's a record of their driving habits.

Aside from not dying under their bumpers, that's the best I can come up with.  That and don't trust people to do the right thing.  Here in California, folks think that as pedestrians, they have the-right-of-way and they charge right out into the road.  Sometimes, not even looking.  But if you read the CA handbook of rules of the road, pedestrians have the right of way, "when it is safe to do so."  So be careful.  You aren't as protected as you think you are in this gladiatorial challenge of survival.

--
-
Bruce E. Simmons,
Owner/Editor/Writer:
Brusimm.com (Twitter & Facebook)
-

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Recalls to take note of... Doors, Eddie Bauer, Stools, Generators

When I slap my product recall pieces together, I try to get pretty fancy... but today, I'm just going to get to the point.  If you are impacted, or think you are... there are links to check out.

Today's concerns include some bifold doors, rocking wood bassinets, step stools, portable generators, gas grills, and some toddler chairs.

So here goes:

JELD-WEN and Reliabilt Interior Bifold Doors: "The lower pivot pin can break causing the door to disengage from the overhead track, posing an impact hazard."

Eddie Bauer Rocking Wood Bassinets: "The bottom locking mechanism can fail to lock properly allowing the bassinet to tip to one side and cause infants to roll to the side of the bassinet. This poses a suffocation hazard to infants."

Easy Reach Step Stools Due to Fall Hazard; Sold exclusively at The Home Depot:  "The top step/standing platform can break, posing a fall hazard to consumers."

Portable Generators Recalled by Champion Power Equipment:  "Fuel can leak from the generator's carburetor, posing a fire hazard."

Master Forge Gas Grills Sold at Lowe's Stores:   "If improperly installed, the hose connecting the gas tank and regulator to the burner control can touch the burner box and cause the hose to melt and rupture when the grill is lit. This poses a fire and burn hazard."

Children's Upholstered Toddler chairs from Trend Lab:  "staples in the binding on the back of the chair may come loose, posing a laceration or choking hazard if swallowed."  They will have date codes TL1007C through TL0812C.

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If you think you might be impacted by these recalls, check out http://www.cpsc.gov/ and look up the official recall for more details like how to get in touch with the recalling party, etc., etc..  -Bruce


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Blocking Games In Facebook



Are you sick of all the game notifications you've been getting from some of your friends on Facebook?  They can be stopped or blocked!

Yea...  these game notifications can be distracting, to say the least.  A few years ago it was easy to block out game updates.  That's because with every update, there was an icon in the upper right of the notification window that allowed you the option to block messages from that game.  That came with every update.  I used my generously, because frankly, I could give a crap about Mob Wars or Farmville.

It was actually quite shocking to discover just how much some of my "friends" played those games.  But frankly, I don't care if Craig just bought the farm full of golden pumpkins with a witch option in October.  Nah.

But as Facebook updated and upgraded (Though I really wish they'd pay more attention to that heinous phone app of theirs), they moved things around and in some ways, made it more difficult to stop these space wasting updates.  Maybe difficult isn't the correct word because as you all know, Facebook is about transparency.  No, they've only moved the options around a bit under a layer or two more than where it used to be.

To some FB detractors, where the option was moved to would be called buried and harder to get to.

Let's fix that.

To block game notifications or game updates on Facebook

1) CLICK ON YOUR ACCOUNT MENU ARROW (Located at the top right corner of page)

2) CHOOSE PRIVACY SETTINGS

3) SCROLL DOWN TO: BLOCKED PEOPLE AND APPS (Hey!  Man I forgot I blocked those losers!  No wonder I don't see them on FB)

4) CHOSE WHAT YOU WANT TO BLOCK.  (In most cases, you need to start typing.  There are a lot of options.  I've been actively selective! Eh?  Meaning I wait to see the updates to specifically add them.  Otherwise, you might be in this window all day long.)

--

At least for now, that's where it sits.  Who knows where it will go next time they update things around that place.

(Pssst:  FYI:  It seems the less you interact with a site's page on FB, the less it shows up in your time stream.  Just sayin'.  Something you should know if you had found yourself wondering what was up with a page you had not seen in a while!)

The Fake Twitter Follower Syndrome - Don't Fall For It



There seems to be an interesting trend on Twitter... Well, OK, there are a lot of trends going on in the small world of "the Twitter."  But one of note is where many Twitter users are banking on automatic follow-backs to get your statistic under their belt.  But don't fall for it.  Over half your followers may be nothing but ruses.

What I mean by ruses is that, the premise of following seems to be embedded with users automatically following their new follower back.  It seems to be the polite thing to do.  But if you're careful, you might notice your new follower is not as polite as you.

Way back in the beginning, I had started to auto-follow my new followers too.  But two things started happening that I took notice of.

One was that my feed was so full of *&! that I it was really hard to keep track of the important Twitter feeds.

The other thing I noticed was that despite all these new follower emails I'm getting from Twitter, my stats didn't show a huge or any increase in my follower numbers.  It was confounding, because, well, I don't think like a-holes and the premise never came to me.  That premise is to follow then unfollow a Twitter user immediately.  If many folk follow the "polite feeling" mode, they follow back. 

But here's what I've taken to doing... not only because I'm polite.  Not only because I appreciate it, but now, it's a quality check.

When I see a new follower email, the next day I'll direct message them to thank them for their follow.  And as you might suspect, 99% of my new followers can't be direct messaged because they need to be following me for me to be able to D @them.

So the question remains...  do I just move on or do I do start a small campaign to highlight these "people."  These used-car salesmen.  Part of me would like to point the finger, but then part of me worries it will bring them more attention.  Sigh.

Monday, November 5, 2012

My Best Friend: Her Slow Demise And The Message In A Dream


In the early years, man's best friend is your buddy who stands by your side, no matter what.  Great walks, fun games of catch or chase, swims through rivers all become memories.  Fond and wonderful memories.

But as the years wear on, things start to change.  No longer can she jump into the truck.  You have to lift her in and out.  No longer do her back legs work.  You need to be careful where you walk.

You both survive issues and at some point she becomes a cancer survivor as you sit with her every few weeks getting chemo injections. 

Then suddenly, more issues arise.

Your best friend can't tell you what's wrong, but you find yourself watching her and wondering why she stopped eating.  Or why she's stopped drinking water.  And other issues that start to plague your buddy.

Your vet tries their best with each new development, but with each new symptom the old symptoms are left behind while the new ones get treated.

It's hard to know when you're saving her or when you're just drawing out her misery.  And through it all, she still wags her tail when she see's you.  So you think things might be better than they seem.

Or are they?

And then I had a dream.  It's like a message or a warning.  I'll never know for sure. 

In that dream, I watch my dog with new nylon braces on her back legs and she's trotting away from me. She looks back over her shoulder every few feet, but she keeps walking.  It's like she's saying goodbye.

I have those damn quicksand legs that keep me from going after my best friend while she keeps getting farther away.  She won't stop walking but keeps looking back.

In this dream, I finally break out and start running after my best friend, but then she turns a corner and is out of sight.  No matter how hard I run, no matter how many corners I look around, she's gone.

And when I wake, I have no clue if I've been given a chance to prepare, seen my own fears, or a message on what I need to do. It's like my own personal hell as if old Jacob Marley from A Christmas Carol just visited to warn me.  A warning to stop stepping over her but instead to stop and give her a loving nudge each time.  Because I'll never know when she'll turn that corner.

All I know is that when your best friend walks away in your dream, it destroys you.  It becomes a memory I can't shake.  It will haunt me until... 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Recall for Upholstered Toddler Chairs

Today's product recall involves Children's Upholstered Toddler chairs from Trend Lab have an issue where the

"staples in the binding on the back of the chair may come loose, posing a laceration or choking hazard if swallowed."

The toddler chairs are in Club style and Mod style and are 24" wide by 18" tall by 17" deep.  They were sold through a few very popular outlets.

The Trend Lab name is on a label attached at the bottom of the chairs.  They will have date codes TL1007C through TL0812C.  These codes indicate the month & date of production, and include models that were put together between October 2007 (1007C) thru August 2012 (0812C) production.

Consumers... stop using the product and here's some contact info:

Trend Lab toll-free: (866) 814-7978.  You can call between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. CT Monday through Friday.

You can also email them at Recall@trend-lab.com, or hit up the website at www.trend-lab.com and check out the link to Recall Information.

-

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Product Recalls: Front Loading Washers, Wooden High Chairs, USB Wall Chargers

Today there are three product recalls I'm passing on.  The GE Profile™ frontload washing machines, Graco Classic Wood Highchairs & Atomi USB Wall Chargers.

-

Here's a recall that you might not have seen yet:

GE put out a recall for their Front Load Washers due to an injury hazard that can come from the washer's basket.  It can separate during use, posing a hazard for injury.

No injuries have been reported yet, but GE is recalling their GE Profile™ frontload washing machines with model numbers beginning with WPDH8800, WPDH8900 and WPDH8910.

The suggestion is that consumers stop using the washer and contact GE for a free repair.

GE Appliances: (888) 641-9739 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday or visit the firm's website at www.geappliances.com/products/recall

-

Graco is recalling their Classic Wood Highchairs because the seat can come loose and the occupant can fall.  They've had 58 reports of the situation with a few injuries.

Graco brand Classic Wood Highchair involved have the model numbers 3C00BPN, 3C00BPN TC, 3C00CHY, 3C00CHY TC, 3C00CPO or 3C00CPO TC.

There's a free repair kit you can get.  Contact Graco at (800) 345-4109 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday and, or visit the firm's website at www.gracobaby.com

-

If you bought a USB wall charger at Burlington Coat Factory, Tuesday Morning or TJ MAxx, you might want to know about an overheating and smoking issue with some of them.

The recall is for the "Sharper Image USB wall chargers" that were made by Atomi.  They're apparently overheating and could burn a consumer.

No injuries but a few reports have been made about the overheating.

Consumers are being instructed to stop using the chargers.  The recall involves Sharper Image USB wall charger model numbers "TSI202" and "TSI260."

You can get a refund after returning the items.  Contact Atomi; Phone (800) 790-1440, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, email info@atominy.com.

=

That's all of the major recalls I have for you right now.   Thanks for coming by!

(We're also on Twitter and Facebook. (Though I'm not sure why the page keeps unpublishing itself.  Grr.))

Do You Really Need Good SEO? Maybe

There's an article over on jamesnorquay where they got to interview an ex-Googler and there were some great tidbits to be had from that piece!

Let's get right into what he had to say about website SEO...

On "links from a High PR" page: he said that doesn't have as much umph as many thought.  It's now a combination of PR and relevance.  Meaning if a high PR page on basket weaving links to your acid rock webpage, that won't give you as much search credit as it used to.

Beware of deploying spammy practices.  This means try not to weight your pieces with keyword storms.  Also make sure your content isn't scraped, synonymised or poorly written.  Apparently that will be black flagged by Google.

On good practices...

A good domain name, good page elements, good titles with no more than 2 commercial keywords & work on your site as if SEO was not a concern you might have.

In other words, write it like you mean it, then go back and fix it up for your SEO concerns.  AKA, add your relevant links, etc..

Don't buy links.  If you do, it's a matter of time when the Google Bot finds it and if Google blackmarks your site, you're doomed.  It takes forever to get out from under the discerning eye of Google.  I had experimented with a practice that would keep my competitors from seeing something I was doing.  (Competitors will steal from you without a moment's thought. Trust me on that one.)

Unfortunately, Google wants transparency in the world.  For me, after my experiment kicked in, my traffic dropped by about 50% and I was doomed.  I went back, removed my tricks and then, ever so slowly, in fact, way too slowly, I started to gain Google's trust back.  But it was a painful experiment, that's for sure.

I saw this article via  searchengineland

Source article:  jamesnorquay.com

If you can't open the source article, this cached version was available:  webcache.googleusercontent

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Kellogg's Mini-Wheats Recall

Kellogg is releasing a product recall of their Mini-Wheats products due to a potential of some metal mesh flakes that could have found its way into the cereal.  The metal flakes would have come from a faulty manufacturing part.

They've had no reports of any injuries or issues, but they're playing it safe.

The recall is for specific Mini-Wheats Bite Size cereal products.

"The recall covers roughly  282,000 cases of Frosted Mini-Wheats Bite Size Original and Mini-Wheats Unfrosted Bite Size cereal with the letters KB, AP or FK before or after the best-before date. Most of the recalled products are cereal boxes, but some are single-serving bowls."

Kellogg's Frosted Mini-Wheats Bite Size Original cereal

    UPC 3800031829 - 18-ounce carton with Better if Used Before Dates between APR 01 2013 KB - SEP 21 2013 KB
    UPC 3800073444 - 18-ounce carton with Better if Used Before Dates between APR 01 2013 KB - SEP 21 2013 KB
    UPC 3800031834 - 24-ounce carton with Better if Used Before Dates between APR 01 2013 KB - SEP 21 2013 KB
    UPC 3800046954 - 30-ounce carton with Better if Used Before Dates between APR 01 2013 KB - SEP 21 2013 KB
    UPC 3800031921 - 70-ounce club store carton with Better if Used Before Dates APR 01 2013 KB - JUL 29 2013 KB
    UPC 3800004961 - single-serve bowl with Better if Used Before Dates between 04013 KB - 09213 KB
    UPC 3800021993 - single-serve carton with Better if Used Before Dates between AP 04013 - AP 09213 or FK 04013 - FK 09213

Kellogg's Mini-Wheats Unfrosted Bite Size cereal

    UPC 3800021983 - single serve carton with Better if Used Before Dates between FK 04013 - FK 09213
    UPC 3800035982 -18-ounce carton with Better if Used Before Dates between APR 01 2013 KB - SEP 21 2013 KB

Consumers with affected product or who have questions should contact us using the Contact Us feature on Kelloggs.com or call 800-962-1413 from 8 am to 6 pm Eastern Time, Monday - Friday.

[ABC News]

A Look At the SiriusXM Streaming App, Is It Worth It?

It took me a long time to break down and subscribe to the online content feed for SiriusXM.  I was adverse to it because I felt like this was something that should be included in our services that we already pay for.  But I was curious enough.

I finally broke down and forked over the extra monthly cash to receive the SiriusXM streaming package.  This allows one to get most but not all content over the web, via a web browser on your PC or a streaming app on your smarthphone.

And it's definitely "most" of, but not all content.

I love the new freedom of access this new package has.  I truly do.  I love being able to walk to work and listen to The Morning Drive.  I love sitting in my office at work and listen to the rest of the day's NASCAR content on Channel 90 of SiriusXM.

I Love it.  But...
There are a few issues that have been irking the living ...  "irk" out of me.

The app updates itself, and unlike every other app on my phone, you don't seem to have an option of when it will update.  It just does it.  When I'm pulling up my app, I hate the time it takes to download updates and other such things.  I want control over when an app updates itself so when I turn it on, it comes on.

I was once in a huge hurry and brought up Google Maps... and sure enough, while I'm in this huge rush, I was out of my maps app for about 10 minutes.  Grr.  Bad day, that's for sure because most of the time updates only take a few at best.

I have also noticed that after it updates itself, I find myself needing to "tune" into the one channel I always listen to.  At least the early updates were like that.  Not fond of that function.

-

Up Time?

On a few occassions, I've found the app down and it impacted everyone who has the app.  After only a few months and two outages, that seems excessive.  (I'm still waiting for my partial rebate/refund for the time I could not access the product I pay for.)

-

Channel Numbers are not in our grasp
If you know the channel number you want to go to, good luck!  The app does not have channel numbers.  If you need to go find your NASCAR SiriusXM channel, you have to look up sports (category), then scroll until you find what you're looking for.  That seems to be a short coming. (At least at the time of this article publication date of 10/10/12)

I did spend an afternoon cruising the menus and I've set some favorite channels so that I don't need to do the scrolling dance.  That's helped there.  But if you like many channels, well, I'm not sure what to say.

-

Exit Time Is a Challenge

As far as exiting the app, again, it's a bit cumbersome.

Most apps are quick to close/exit but the SiriusXM app requires you to muck with the control bar at the bottom of the screen, slide over to settings, then choose exit from the settings screen.

Exit should not be a settig and exiting an app should not be a multi-step process.

-

Idle Time

I can't decide if this is a good or bad feature, but after 90 minutes or 2 hours (I haven't timed it yet), the app shuts down, with a pop-up, stating something about inactivity and requesting you to acknowledge additional streaming or not.

This seems annoying... I like settling in and listening.  But I can see where if someone forgot to disengage the app, where this could be useful.

-

Limited Content

Almost all the content is on the streaming app.  But I've found a few times where the content is not available.  For NASCAR, they have "driver2crew" channels each weekend.  THOSE ARE NOT available on the app.

And I presume that there's other content not available.

But on the other hand, you can get online on the website and find the replays of shows you like and stream them later.  Or when listening to content live, you can actually back up the reception and listen to delayed content.

It's OK in these and a few other regards.

-

Online Support?  Sure!

If you do run into an issue, there's a Twitter account manned by some eager folks who hover over the timeline of the account.  It is SXM_Help on Twitter and they are pretty responsive.  At least every time I've mentioned something to them, they've engaged me within a few hours of my posting.

They've even seen one of my random lobs out into Twitter-space that was directed at no one about the app and they've come calling, asking me what's up.

-

In Closing

I hate to say it, but even though I'm opposed to this extra fee, it's a pretty neat package when you have access to a smartphone or a computer.  I don't recommend listening at work.  Bandwidth gets noticed by bosses and that could get you in trouble, depending on your company.  A friend of mine once worked at a place that blocked each site she visited, once she visited it more than once.  It was weird and very ...  (I don't have a good word for it.).

So if you have the bucks, go for it.  I think you'll enjoy tooling down the street  listening to your SiriusXM Satellite content.  You won't need to be in plain view of any satellite and coverage is as good as your cell's network coverage is.
-

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Suspension Trainer Product Recall

There's a product recall out on Early Model Suspension Trainer Devices Due to a Fall Hazard.  The recall is by Fitness Anywhere on their Suspension Trainer Devices from Fitness Anywhere LLC, of San Francisco, Calif.

The recall is based on the discovery that the strap length-adjustment buckles can break, posing a fall hazard.  There have been 570 reports of the strap length-adjustment buckles breaking.  A few head, face, shoulder and hip injuries have been reported in relation to the strap breaking.

"This recall involves older model "Professional" (P1) and "Tactical" (T1) TRX Suspension Trainer devices manufactured between January 2006 and July 2007. The recalled products' anchor straps are yellow or khaki nylon with a carabiner at the top end and a black nylon loop on the bottom end. A black and yellow or black and khaki nylon strap is threaded through the black nylon loop on the anchor strap to form a "Y." On each side of the "Y," the strap has a cam buckle, which is used to adjust the length of the straps. Each end of the "Y" strap has a foam-covered hand grip and a foot cradle. The recalled devices have hand grips with no end bumpers, which are black plastic caps covering the ends and preventing the plastic under the foam from being exposed. They do not have an extra nylon loop, called a locking loop, attached at the point where the anchor strap and the "Y" straps are joined and designed to limit the slippage of the straps. The recalled products also have badges on the straps with the TRX logo and the word "Professional" (for P1 devices) or "Tactical" (for T1 devices) on them. The words and logo are surrounded by raised dots or have double lines through them."

Stop using it if you have one and contact Fitness Anywhere to arrange to return the recalled product for a replacement TRX Suspension Trainer device. Return authorization is required prior to returning the units.

You can contact Fitness Anywhere toll-free at (888)-221-7417 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. PT or CustomerCare@trxtraining.com, or visit the company's website at www.trxtraining.com

To see this recall on CPSC's web site, including pictures of the recalled products, please go to: http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml13/13001.html

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Recall of Garden Swings from Big Lots

If you purchased a Big Lots garden swing between March 2012 through June 2012 that cost around $130, you might want to do a double take.

The Big Lots Garden Swings (Wilson & Fisher Garden Swings) are associated with a concerned Fall Hazard because it's been noted that the wooden seat can possibly break while "in use."  Meaning while you're in swing mode/motion!

There have been a few reports of breaks and some with scrapes and scratches.

additional details via press release

Description: This recall involves Wilson & Fisher log-style swing sets sold in a natural wood finish. The swing's two-person bench seat is suspended between two wooden A-frame supports. Assembly instructions sold with the swings have item number JY1107 and SKU number 210020400 printed on the sheet.

Remedy: Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled swing sets, detach the bench seat and return it to any Big Lots store for a full refund. Consumers should destroy the remaining components.

Consumer Contact: For additional information, contact the firm toll-free at (866) 244-5687 between 9 a.m. through 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, or visit the firm's website at www.biglots.com and click on recalls.

To see this recall on CPSC's web site, including a picture of the recalled product, please go to:
http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml12/12282.html


Product Recall for Prestigio Office Chairs from Office Depot

True Innovations has recalled Prestigio Office Chairs do to the possibility of a Fall Hazard.  These chairs were sold exclusively at Office Depot.

The chairs are called the Realspace Soho Prestigio High-Back Leather Chair and they were manufactured by True Innovations LLC, of Hong Kong, China

The issue discovered is that the seat plate can break, posing a fall and/or injury hazard to consumers.

There have been 78 reported of incidents involving seat plates.

The seats have a leather h-back leather, came in black and had a five-leg metallic finish base with casters.  IF you're wondering if you might be impacted, the SKU number 181-265 and the words "Realspace Soho" and "Prestigio High-Back Chair Black Leather" are printed on a label that's on the underside of the seat.

Remedy: Consumers should immediately stop using the chairs and contact True Innovations for a free seat repair kit including a replacement seat plate and an installation tool.

Consumer Contact: For additional information, contact True Innovations at (800) 379-9773 between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, or visit the firm's website at www.trueinnovations.com

To see this recall on CPSC's web site, including a picture of the recalled product, please go to: http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml12/12276.html
-

Friday, September 28, 2012

Don't Fall For the New Twitter Follower Scam!

I don't know about you, but a lot of people I've heard of tend to follow back fellow Twitter users who "follow" them.  But I have news for you folks.  Not everyone cares about following you and are pretty much lying through their digital teeth to you.

I have a Twitter account that seems to get a few new followers an hour or on slow days, I'd say 3 or 4 a day.  And yet, oddly enough, my follower numbers barely inch up.

That's because these folks are what I call spam followers.  All they want is for you to feel compelled to follow them back and then they get the numbers.  Accounts with a high number of followers get more umph in the social stratosphere.

I don't follow people back immediately.  I wait.

On another account, I tend to direct message my new followers with a thanks.  I've noticed that some of the accounts I direct message, despite being just a few minutes old, have already unfollowed me.

That's when I first started noticing this effect.

But then I have this other Twitter account, whose email I check about once a week.  And I usually have around 25 to 40 new followers.  Or at least that's what I've been seeing in my inbox for new followers.  But today I checked my numbers and my followers on this particular account was 2.  This, after deleting about 27 emails informing me of my new fan base of adoring followers.

-

The internet can be an opportunistic place to hang out.  I for one don't like supporting the shallow character people or organizations like DISH TV, so I have a few practices I try to adhere to.

One of those practices is to sit back and wait before following someone back.  That way I'm not giving them more internet power juice than they deserve.  Most people don't care, so this is moot, but I think it's at least an interesting internet tidbit!

-b

Consumer Product Recall for Divers and Some Wrist Computers

The voluntary product recall involves the Atomic Aquatics Cobalt Dive Computer Due to Impact and Drowning Hazard

It's being recalled with the warning of an Impact and Drowning Hazard

via press release:

The issue is that the unit can leak and cause the lens of the computer to blow off suddenly, which could result in impact injuries, and can cause a gas leak, posing a drowning hazard.

There have been 23 reports of leaks caused by the lens being forcefully expelled from the computer due to excess air pressure inside the computer, but no injuries have been reported.

Description: This recall involves Atomic Aquatics brand Cobalt dive computers. These handheld, console-style dive computers have LCD screens and four magnetic control buttons located below the screen. A fitting at the bottom of the computer connects to the high pressure hose of a scuba diving regulator. The name Atomic Aquatics logo is imprinted on the front of the console, below the screen. The recalled products can be identified by the manufacture dates, which are determined by the first four numbers of the serial number with the first 2 digits signifying the week of manufacture (01 through 52) and the second 2 digits signifying the year of manufacture (10, 11 or 12). The dates of manufacture are between May 31, 2010 and April 16, 2012. Serial numbers, 2210-XXXX through 1612-XXXX, can be found by scrolling to the "System Info" screen on the computer.

The recall affects all Cobalt computers with serial numbers that start with any of the following numbers:

10 Series:   2210, 2910, 4010, 4710, 5010

11 Series:   1111, 1711, 2611, 2811, 3211, 3311, 3411, 3511, 3611, 3711, 3811, 3911, 4011, 4111, 4211, 4511, 4611, 5211

12 Series:   0812, 1112, 1212, 1312, 1412, 1612

Sold at: Authorized Atomic Aquatics dealers sold Cobalt dive computers from November 2010 through July 2012 for about $1200.

Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled dive computers and return the unit to either an authorized Atomic Aquatics dealer or the Atomic Aquatics factory for inspection and repair.

For additional information, contact Atomic Aquatics toll-free at (888) 270-8595 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. PT Monday through Friday or on firm's website at www.atomicaquatics.com. Consumers can also email the firm at sales@atomicaquatics.com

To see this recall on CPSC's web site, including a picture of the recalled product, please go to: http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml12/12286.html


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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

GoDaddy Says Sorry For The DownTime

I don't know if you've noticed, but on September 10th, if you have a website hosted or served through a DNS scenario from GoDaddy, your site was down.  I myself had a few issues too. 

(So I was glad to have reflected back to when I switched my primary website to HostGator!)

And on this day, you could see what major websites also used GoDaddy... I encountered it on an NBC based press site and others.

But if you do use GoDaddy, you might want to check your email's inbox.  They've issued a public statement/apology, AND have done something I've always wanted to see Cable providers do, and that's offer a credit for the down time experienced.

So check your email and look for your "gift" of apology.  They only  give you seven days to redeem it.

(I've always wished when I've experienced service outages from various companies, like cable providers, that they would step up and offer customers a rebate on the lost time.

Think about it, if you pay for 24/7 uptime, you should get it.  When you don't, you should be owed money back for that time you were supposed to have service!  I've had to call my providers every time I've lost service to get this out of their hide!

Food for thought)

Below, GoDaddy's statement:

We owe you a big apology for the intermittent service outages we experienced on September 10 that may have impacted your website, your email and other Go Daddy services.

We let you down and we know it. We take our responsibilities — and the trust you place in us — very seriously. I cannot express how sorry I am to those of you who were inconvenienced.

The service outage was due to a series of internal network events that corrupted router data tables. Once the issues were identified, we took corrective actions to restore services for our customers and GoDaddy.com. We have implemented a series of immediate measures to fix the problem.

At no time was any sensitive customer information, including credit card data, passwords or names and addresses, compromised.

Throughout our history, we have provided 99.999% uptime in our DNS infrastructure. This is the level of performance we expect from ourselves. Monday, we fell short of these expectations. We have learned from this event and will use it to drive improvement in our services.

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Thursday, September 6, 2012

Death Prompts Window Blinds Recall

In a sad state of affairs, Blind Xpress recalled over 450 thousand units due to the strangulation death of a two-year old child.

If you have a young one at home and have these blinds, or know someone who does, you might want to check this information out:

via press release:

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), in cooperation with Blind Xpress of Livonia, Mich. is announcing the recall of about 139,000 custom-made vertical and 315,000 horizontal blinds. In 2009, a 2-year-old girl from Commerce Township, Mich. reportedly strangled in the loop of a vertical blind cord that was not attached to the wall or floor.

Blind Xpress custom vertical blinds have an adjustment cord that forms a loop that is not attached to the wall or floor. In some instances, this loop has a weighted device at the bottom. The custom horizontal blinds do not have inner cord stop devices to prevent the accessible inner cords from being pulled out. A child can become entangled in a cord loop and strangle.

This recall involves all Blind Xpress custom-made vertical blinds that do not have a cord-tensioning device that attaches to the wall or floor, as well as all horizontal blinds that do not have inner cord stop devices.

The blinds were sold at various blind specialty stores in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana from January 1995 through December 2011 for between $16 and $380. These blinds were manufactured in the United States.

CPSC urges consumers to immediately stop using the window coverings and contact the Window Covering Safety Council (WCSC) to receive a free repair kit. For more information, contact the WCSC toll-free at (800) 506-4636 anytime or visit www.windowcoverings.org

To see this recall on CPSC's web site, including pictures of the recalled products, please go to:
http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml12/12273.html

For The New Blogger: Suggestions For A Successful Blog, And Prepping Your Thick Skin

Ways To Run A Successful Blog, Including Collaboration?

Over on ProBlogger (A great site for new and experienced bloggers), they put out a great piece on tips for having a successful Blog.  It's a positive-minded piece showing some basic premises to running a blog.  It's not a comprehensive list, but a list of decent points to keep in mind.  The one set of tips they don't have are some of the precautionary practices or mindsets you should be ready for.

The tips they do include, in a nutshell, are

-Having a system in place as far as how often you want to write, then tweet, then FB then whatever other social time sinks you want to employ to help your blog grow.  (For either to work, it sometimes feels like you need to spend more time tweeting and FB'ing than writing for your blog.  But that's a beginner's take on the issue.)

-Reviewing older posts to see if they can use some sprucing up and what not.  (It's been my experience/observation that rather than sprucing up old posts, some blogs just cover the same subject over and over, usually on an annual basis.)

-Experiment with different strategies to attract traffic.

-Try selling your own product, if you have one.  That makes sense... or "advertise" your other blogs on your primary blog.  This idea has many different aspects that can be explored.

-It's suggested to monetize your blog.  They talk about advertisers looking to sell.  Beware the offers out of thin air that land in your inbox, and don't hold your breath for the advertiser of choice.  Google Adsense is a great start, as is the Amazon Affiliate program.  But be prepared.  Some advertisers out there require a specific amount of sales/traffic or they close your account and don't let you know about it.  Unless you log in to the site constantly)  All the while the ads you've put in place for them continue to generate income or traffic for them.  (That reminds me, I should go check my Commission Junction account.)

-The point that got my attention and sparked my "fingers of opinion," was the point about "Blogger collaboration."  This particular aspect is a tricky one, depending on the subject or niche you're in.

The primary point that Mei of CCFoodTravel makes in her guest post on ProBlogger is trying to guest post on other sites. (Hmm...) And that's cool, but there's something you need to be careful of.  I've made huge mistakes sacrificing opportunities out of loyalty to others and other oops on my part.  Stay true to your own personal goals.  That's the big one.  (I totally support the guest blogger premise though as I reflect on one of my bigger flubs.)

If you want to make friends or peers, one suggestion is if you see a typo or word-o in someone's post, don't leave a comment.  But rather, find their contact info and send an email.  Comments are like public flogging.  It sucks to have your screw ups pointed out for all to see.  But there are those out there that will appreciate the quiet nudge.  (Well, a few.)

As far as networking, well, that's an interesting aspect of the blogging community.  Some blogs turn their nose up at ya, saying they won't have anything to do with websites whose traffic doesn't meet certain criteria.  There are others that look like they took a can of paint and threw it on a wall to see what sticks.  You need to be picky about this aspect.  And yet, willing to be ready to cross-pollinate with similar ranked sites like your own.

There are millions of blogs out there with just as many niches.  With my consumer related blog, I've met some great and willing peers.  My NASCAR/sports blog is surrounded by a tight knit world of peers and fans and are some of the best. 

The entertainment niche is another beast altogether.  There you'll encounter frustrated niche chasers, devious editors, lazy site owners, sites that bash on each other or writers that take pot-shots at each other.  Every now and then, you'll even get a Twitter skirmish going.  And then there's the surprise when you find yourself ignored/dissed when you do need help and reach out to folks you thought you established a connection with.

If you're looking to just make money, there are some blogs out there that seem to break all the SEO rules and do just that, from sourcing themselves or running short articles while 70% of the page is stuffed with ads.  And of those, there are some that could give a crap if their info is right or wrong with what they've reported.  All they're looking for is traffic to come by and click on ads.  I found one site that posted foreign based artwork, suggesting a movie was coming out abut the subject.  I translated the words (meaning I did their homework) and saw it was only fan art.  I let them know.  They didn't change a thing.  'Nuff said there.

My point is if you're a small fry blog, you're going to be at a huge disadvantage you need to be ready for. 

My biggest nit or I should say observation, is that if you come up with a good idea or subject while covering your niche you WILL see it pop up on other sites that "quietly" follow your blog.  And there's nothing you can really do about it.  You could point your finger... but it's hard to prove.  You can quietly point it out to your circle of peers you've developed, just so they know or see the patterns.  Or you can just think that it's just plumb "luck" that they consistently come up with the same ideas or cover some of the sub-niche pieces you do. (And that is possible too) 

But in the long run, it's somewhat moot.  I like just "mentioning" it to a circle of folk, and that can act as your list.  If you ever have to do this.

I have a few "fans" of my feed that do generate articles and ideas off me consistently.  And there's nothing you can do about it.  If you make noise, some site owners wash their hands of it and tell you it's between you and their staff.  Others won't even address or answer your emails.

But more than likely, a site that scrapes your ideas or articles will be a known site that does this to everyone.  Those too, are the cheap, annoying sites.

But what you can do if/when someone credits you, and it's not a scrapper site, is to try and return the favor as best you can.

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But these situations are just the small part or ugly side of the blogging world.

If you're just starting out, and you've got some patience under your belt or a thick skin, you should be fine!  This is a slow, grinding crawl of a hobby.  It can be fun and infectious, and there will be days where readers or the competition can create upsetting situations.  You have to take the gruff and roll with it. 

The big rule of thumb that I think is pretty critical is don't let some of your commenters rub you the wrong way and get the best of you. There are some real winners out there that speak their mind due to the anonymity of the keyboard.  Over on another website, I had written about the 80k head injuries bicycle riders receive each year because they weren't wearing helmets.  I suggested precautions about riding a bike and one reader piped in with threats at me and anguish about how his life is his to choose what to do and he doesn't want anyone controlling him.  Hey, like I said, it takes all kinds.

So keep your head down and do your best to have fun.  And in the end, you'll find yourself with a core of readers and when some of your stuff is shared at just the right time, by just the right people, every now and then, you'll get a huge amount of attention.  That, you need to be ready for.  And also know that if something goes viral, you can probably expect to retain maybe 1/2 of one percent of everyone who goes bonkers about your viral piece.  Most web surfers are in a huge hurry and don't stick around and have no need for loyally returning to your site unless you've touched a chord with them.

And if by some fluke, you find yourself on the receiving end of being interviewed, be ready!  Do your homework on the subject.  Read up on your old posts on whatever the subject is and do some quick research to make sure there haven't been any updates on the matter.  Then you might just sound pretty smart.

Anyway, that's a piece of what I've experienced over the years.  It's not applicable to everyone, but heck, I thought it would be something to toss out there for the new blogger to see, just in case.



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Friday, August 31, 2012

Mr. Coffee Single Cup Brewers Recalled by JCS

This product recall hits close to home and my addictive love for coffee...

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via press release

Mr. Coffee Single Cup Brewers Recalled by JCS Due to Burn Hazard

There are about 600,000 Mr. Coffee(r) Single Cup Brewing Systems being recalled by Sunbeam Products Inc. d/b/a Jarden Consumer Solutions ("JCS"), of Boca Raton, Fla. because of a potential burn hazard associated with the product.

The issue is that a build-up of steam in the water reservoir can force the brewing chamber open and expel hot coffee grounds and water.  This is the burn hazard potential.

There have been 164 reports of the chamber popping open, and of those, there were 59 reported burn injuries, mostly to consumers' face, upper torso and hands.

Description:

The recalled coffeemaker comes in black with silver, red or white trim. It stands about 11 inches tall and has a Brew Now /Off button and a removable drip tray. The water tank is located on top of the unit towards the back. The model number is printed on the bottom of the brewer. Recalled model numbers are:

BVMC-KG1, BVMC-KG1A-001, BVMC-KG1-WM-001, BVMC-KG1-001, BVMC-KG1-BEA, BVMC-KG1R-001, BVMC-KG1-044 BVMC-KG1BP-PAL BVMC-KG1R-006, BVMC-KG1A, BVMC-KG1-WM, BVMC-KG1W-001

The product was sold by places like Bed Bath & Beyond, Brandsmart, JC Penney, Kmart, Lowe's, Target and Walmart, and online at www.mrcoffee.com from September 2010 through August 2012 for between $60 and $80.

It's recommend that you should immediately stop using the recalled coffee brewer and contact JCS to receive instructions on how to obtain a free replacement unit.

Consumer Contact: For additional information, contact JCS at (800) 993-8609 anytime, or visit the firm's website at www.mrcoffeerecall.com

Note: Health Canada's press release is available at http://cpsr-rspc.hc-sc.gc.ca/PR-RP/recall-retrait-eng.jsp?re_id=1674

To see this recall on CPSC's web site, including pictures of the recalled products, please go to: http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml12/12263.html

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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Baby Bather Recall Due to Head Injury Hazard Potential

Today, I'm seeing that

via press release

Summer Infant Recalls to Repair Baby Bathers Due to Fall and Head Injury Hazard & The remedy for the issue is to order the free repair kit.

The product specifically being recalled is Mother's Touch/Deluxe Baby Bathers, and a lot of units were sold... approximately  2 million in the United States and an additional 65,000 in Canada.

The Issue is that when the bather is lifted and/or carried with an infant in it, its folding wire frame can suddenly disengage from the side hinge, dropping the baby out of the bather, posing a fall hazard and a risk of serious head injury to infants.

There have been seven reports of incidents in the U.S., including five head injuries from falls from the bathers. Four children between two weeks and two months old received skull fractures, including one that required intensive care for bleeding on the brain. The fifth child received a bump to the head requiring emergency room treatment.

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This recall involves Summer Infant baby bathers with a small, nearly square blue or pink plastic base measuring about 13 ½ inches long by 12 ½ inches wide and with the following model numbers listed below. Model numbers are located either on the side of the baby bather near the warning label or on the front near the wash instructions. Some units have multiple model numbers. Model numbers with an additional letter at the end of the model number are also included in this recall.

Recalled Summer Infant Baby Bathers Model Numbers:
08020, 08050, 08054, 08070, 08401, 08409, 08404, 08405, 08650, 08655, 08659, 08754, 08940, 08944
18004, 18040, 18049, 18050, 18120, 18125, 18129, 18254, 18360, 18375, 18379, 18390, 18394, 18440, 18445, 18449, 18470, 18475, 18479
38510, 38515, 38750, 38755

The bathers have adjustable side hinges with five rivets each and a white wire frame with a mesh fabric sling seat and two or three positions for the seats. Some also have a head support cushion. The fabric seat comes in various colors including white, blue, green, yellow and orange with fish, turtles, butterflies, frogs, flowers and duck patterns. Bathers manufactured since July 2007 include the warning "Never lift or carry the bather with infant in it."

These units were sold nationwide from September 2004 through November 2011 for between $15 and $30.

Consumers should immediately stop using the bathers and contact Summer Infant for a free repair kit that includes a locking strap and instructions.

Note: Even with the new locking strap installed, the baby bather product should never be used to lift and carry an infant.

You can contact Summer Infant at (800) 426-8627 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday or visit the firm's website at www.summerinfant.com/batherrepairkit. Do not return to stores as the retailers will not have the repair kit

To see this recall on CPSC's web site, including pictures of the recalled product, please go to:
http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml12/12262.html


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Monday, August 27, 2012

CareBears & Bistro Set Product Recalls

Today we have a CareBears product and a Bistro set that was sold through Big Lots Stores that have voluntary recalls for issues that need correcting.  Check out the details below:

via press release

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CareBears Pacifier Recalled by IDM Group Due to Choking Hazard

Over 100,000 sold CareBears(tm) Pacifiers are being recalled due to the pacifiers failing to meet federal safety standards. The nipples can separate from the base, posing a choking hazard to young children.

The pacifiers and the clip attachment have CareBear figures and a "TCFC" copyright mark on them. The nipple is made of silicone.

They were sold at various discount and dollar stores, Walmart Puerto Rico, children's apparel stores and Consolidated Stores nationwide from October 2009 through June 2012 for about $1.

Remedy: Consumers should immediately take the recalled pacifiers away from infants and contact IDM Group LLC for instructions on returning the product for a full refund.  For additional information, contact IDM collect at (212) 686-5221 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, or visit the company's recall web site at www.pacifierrecall.net

To see this recall on CPSC's web site, including pictures of the recalled products, please go to:
http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml12/12254.html


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Zest Garden Recalls Wilson & Fisher Bistro Sets Due to Fall Hazard; Sold Exclusively at Big Lots Stores

The products being recalled here are the Wilson & Fisher White Cast Bistro Table and Chairs Set, sold via Big Lots, of Columbus, Ohio.

The issue is that the chairs can break during normal use, posing a fall hazard to consumers.  So far, there have been five reports of chairs breaking, including three reports of injuries.

This recall involves three-piece patio sets sold in a white, cut-out rose pattern. The set consists of a table and two chairs made of cast iron and aluminum. The table is about 26 inches high and measures about 24 inches in diameter. Each chair is about 33 inches high with an oval-shaped seat that measures about 19 inches long and about 16 inches wide. The item number is XG-1015-23. The product measurements, the item number and "Wilson & Fisher White Cast Bistro Set" and "Made in China" are printed on labels located on the product's packaging.

Sold exclusively at: Big Lots stores nationwide from November 2011 to May 2012 for about $100.

Consumers should immediately stop using the set and return it to any Big Lots store for a full refund.  You can contact Zest Garden at (800) 893-3006 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. PT, Monday through Friday, or send an e-mail to info@zestgarden.com, or visit the firm's website at www.biglots.com

To see this recall on CPSC's web site, including pictures of the recalled product, please go to:
http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml12/12255.html


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