I must admit I really enjoy the television commercials from Geico, which provide very entertaining skits that are actually humorous. Progressive has the girl who helps people find the right policy at a rate they state is the lowest of any other insurance company. Allstate still wants us to believe that, using it, we are in ‘good hands.’ But are these the best companies to meet your auto or home insurance needs?
According to the Web site Find The Best, it has a different idea on how to find information that is sometimes biased by affiliates trying to create advertisements, rather than useful, unbiased information. The thinking is that consumers need a Web site that is unbiased and that uses reliable databases of information to form their opinions. These sources of information can include information from businesses, corporations, governmental agencies, researchers, and other trusted sources. By doing this the folks at Find The Best believe that consumers will be able to make a more informed decision when buying a product or service.
One of the first things you will notice on the Find The Best Web site is that there are no advertisements, ads by Google, or other advertising banners. Towards the top of the home page are an assortment of recommendations for you to choose from as well as a listing of popular searches that have been made on the Web site itself.
As a test to try the Web site, I asked which the best anti-virus product is. I have my own personal opinions and wanted to see what the unbiased results would be. The results were as follows:
- Vipre Antivirus Premium
- Norton Internet Security 2010
- Norton AntiVirus 2010
- McAfee Total Protection
- Avast! Free Antivirus
- Norton Antivirus 2010
- Norton Internet Security 2011
- Norton Antivirus 2011
- Panda Internet Antivirus Pro
- Webroot AntiVirus with Spy Sweeper 2011
You may notice that both the #3 and the #6 software products are the same. I double checked the results page and both list the same methodology of testing and the same companies whom rated the software. I don’t understand why the same product shows up twice with two different ratings.
Putting this aside, I think that Find The Best Web site may just be an added search engine which we can use when we are looking for specific information. I also hope that the Web site owners will keep the Web site advertisement free. Placing advertisements on the Web site will dilute the credibility factor.
Digg founder Kevin Rose is resigning from his startup company that he founded back in December 2004. Many sources confirm that Kevin Rose is in the process of resigning from the company while closing a more than $1 million financing round for the startup.
The just under seven-year-old company had an amazing streak of being the most popular content sharing device across the Web. But, on came Facebook and Twitter and we slowly saw the popularity of Digg drop. Things were never better for Digg in mid-2008 when Google almost bought Digg for $200 million before backing out at the last second. This, as some may say, was the start of the down hill for this startup. Morale was low and employees didn’t know what to think after losing such a huge deal.
Since those days Digg has slowly faded away, being pushed out of the way by Twitter and Facebook. This sent the company into to a deep depression; Kevin Rose was so fed up that he didn’t come into the office for many months at a time. Both founder Kevin Rose and then CEO Jay Adelson had a falling out and one had to go.
After weeks of discussion Kevin Rose assumed the CEO position and had to let Jay Adelson go. Kevin Rose assumed his top position till he found Matt Williams last Fall to take his place.
Kevin Rose isn’t as active on Digg as he once was. He has had multiple things on his mind and has kept himself busy with Revision3 and his show Diggnation, among other projects. Digg is all too distant in his memory now, a long forgotten hope that was once great.
In recent tweets he’s mentioned a new project that he is working on but is being secretive about it and won’t reveal much. We can only guess what is going on in that man’s head.
Free HD. Free for 5 months. Free DVR. Free this and free that. Between DirecTV and Dish, these two companies blatantly shade the truth in their advertising. But the people from Miami-Dade are taking on DirecTV and claim the advertisements are false and mislead consumers. So what else is new? Does anyone really believe that they are going to get satellite service for $34.95 a month?
According to one article this is what Miami-Dade said about DirecTV:
A review of the complaints showed that DIRECTV ads didn’t state the complete price of products and led customers to believe they would pay as little as $34.99 for different packages of services, but were billed as much as $65.99, the agency says.
The agency says DIRECTV buried additional fees in small print in service agreements with customers. For example, it cited a $5 charge for a second receiver; a $19.95 fee for complex installation, handling and delivery; $6 per month for DVR service; and $10 a month for HD access. But the company’s offers of free installation in up to four rooms and free HD DVR receiver upgrades didn’t include information about these fees.
In addition, the suit says customers who thought they were signing a one-year contract based on ads that offered to lock in a price for a full year were actually signing two-year contracts.
And, the suit says, ads that claimed the service offers more than 130 HD channels, including local channels and exclusive sports packages, added in fine print “eligibility for local channels based on service address. Programs not delivered in HD in all markets,” and “Blackout restrictions and other conditions apply.”
When one looks at the ads from Dish, it is the same with them as well. The fine print is full of additional fees. I would also venture a guess that cable has their own ‘shell game’ of ‘bait and switch’. The most disturbing issue I had with Dish was when they wanted to charge me $100 to install a second HD-DVR. No thanks. Paying the extra $5 a month was irritating enough.
It is buyer beware.
Source – Miami Herald
The arrogance of it all. When Apple was a small company catering to their fanboy base, they could get away with their bad boy attitude. The Apple zealots tolerated this behavior because they were infatuated with Apple products and considered themselves renegades in the world of computers. But as Apple has expanded their product line to draw in people outside of their inner circle, Apple has a new game to play, a game in which people expect more. Especially when people are plucking down hundreds of dollars for an Apple product such as the iPhone, the expectations are higher and the secret society attitude no longer applies.
Today the world is watching for how Apple responds to the iPhone reception problem. Does the company know how to say it is sorry? Or is it going to stumble and continue on their attitude that users are holding the phone incorrectly? I believe that the company will respond in a positive manner and will provide a free fix that will satisfy all users.
If the company fails to do this, they could end up like Oprah. The once darling of the airwaves has lost market share and now Judge Judy is watched by more people than Oprah is.
Source – New York Post
Facebook wanted to know just how secure its site was, so it had its employees try to break into some of its own accounts. Facebook took notice of the slap that the FCC gave to Twitter when that company had its administration accounts compromised. But in what is being described as a semi-break in, the folks at Facebook are stating that all is well with their security system.
Facebook engineer Pedram Keyani, who was behind the challenge, stated this:
I’m the engineer who made the challenge and I want to clear up some misunderstandings. First, we perform tests on the integrity and security of our site all the time. Second, in this particular case, the challenge demonstrated the effectiveness of Facebook’s security systems, not the opposite, Despite months of work and hundreds of hours of effort by a teamof specialized security engineers, the team was NOT able to access Facebook’s administrative or corporate systems. While they were able to
access my personal Facebook account, they were not able to use this information to access any other account on Facebook. Finally, challenges like this are a great way for us to apply our best thinking and skills to identify risks to our systems. We think our efforts should give users greater confidence in Facebook and its administrative systems, not less.
From what Pedram Keyani states, the Facebook system would in fact be secure. But what do you think?
Do you feel safe using Facbook?
Source – TechCrunch
In what I found to be an interesting read, Dell has responded on their blog, to the capacitor problem they had experienced in their OptiPlex computers. The company stated that this was an industry wide problem involving capacitors from one the leading suppliers for all computer companies. The faulty capacitors were made by Nichicon between 2003 to 2005, and not all computers that had the capacitors failed. It seems that according to Dell, it was an issue of how many of the faulty capacitors were used on a particular motherboard that determined how soon the board would fail;
Dell states these points:
- This is an issue we addressed with customers some years ago. The Advanced Internet Technologies lawsuit is three years old and does not involve any current Dell products.
- Dell did not knowingly ship faulty motherboards, and we worked directly with customers in situations where the issue occurred.
- This was not a Dell-specific issue, but an industry-wide problem.
- Dell extended the warranty for up to five years for customers who had affected machines.
- This is not a safety issue.
The blog post goes on to state further evidence from Dell that they took the proper actions and repaired the faulty computers in a timely manner. But not everyone who read the blog post agreed:
The quote “Emphasize uncertainty” is the most troubling. Dell knew there was a problem and rather than be open and forthcoming about potential issues, they chose to leave their customers in the dark. It’s not like the failure rate was 5 or 10%, we’re talking about problems occurring in 97% of the Optiplex machines containing the effected capacitors over a 3 year time span. This number comes straight from a Dell study.
Another reader posted this comment:
Dell “addressed with customers” the problem?
It did not. I am sure there are many, many customers who had no idea there were any such problems until reading this article, or probably still do not know there were any problems. I had a desktop in the time period completely melt down due to overheating, never happened before on over a dozen Dell machines.
Never heard once about a recall, any faulty parts, or any steps I should have taken to fix it.
You can check out what Dell also had to say in their defense. I have no opinion whether good or bad about the situation since I personally had no issues with Dell systems failing. These machines were usually used by government and businesses.
Source – Dell Blog
This should come as no surprise, but it does appear that Blockbuster is on its way to bankruptcy. With over $900 million in debt, the once rental giant is now trying to secure a life line of some $150 million to stay afloat. But the company has already put 400 of its Canadian stores in hock already, so the end may be near.
The company tried securing a deal in which it would release movies from Sony and Fox 28 days before other companies such as Netflix and Redbox. But it appears that strategy has not worked as well as the company expected.
Analysts are expecting that Blockbuster will file for bankruptcy sometime around its next stockholders’ meeting on June 24, 2010.
I certainly hope that the government does not bail out this company. We have spent enough trying to keep too many companies afloat.
Source – Consumerist
Craigslist is one of the most successful companies on the Internet, but the way it makes some of its money is coming under scrutiny. It is estimated that almost a third of the income that the company takes in is coming from sex ads, and that this type of advertising is increasing. You may recall that Craigslist came under criticism for violence associated with some of the ads that were posted, and it appeared that the company had changed. But it appears that ads for prostitution are still appearing.
A recent news article also states:
The ads, many of which blatantly advertise prostitution, are expected to bring $36 million this year, according to a new projection of Craigslist’s income. That is three times the revenue in last year’s projection.
Law-enforcement officials have been fighting a mostly losing battle to get Craigslist to rein in the sex ads. At the same time, officials of organizations that oppose human trafficking say the site remains the biggest online hub for selling women against their will.
Last week, in the latest example, the Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested 14 members of the Gambino crime family on charges of, among other things, selling the sexual services of girls ages 15 to 19 on Craigslist.
I don’t think any of us would support the exploitation of young girls publicly being advertised by any method. Hopefully the people at Craigslist will once again be asked nicely to monitor the ads placed on the site. If Craigslist chooses to not play well with others, it may be time for legal action to be taken the company.
What do you think?
Source – NY Times
Source – Business Insider
We have all wished for a better way to make contact with a real human being when we call a corporation or company. But most of us know that sometimes this is harder than it should be. Once we do find that secret number we than have to go through the phone maze of saying this or that, pressing a number here and there, only to find we are not where we should be. Over at human.com they have a list of help features that may just get you to a human.
But this is not a 100% perfect magic bullet. The site is maned by volunteers who maintain the list but depend on other users to provide much of the information. I checked several phone numbers I was personally interested in and found some of the information interesting. Sometimes in order to get a real human being it may be best not to say anything nor push any buttons. This may help you get to a real person.
I had to laugh when I read about the phone number for Google. Google doesn’t seem to take very kindly to phone calls about anything. LOL
Check out the gethuman web site here.
Over in Cologne, Germany there is a company called ‘Smartbook AG’ that provides computers to businesses and ‘lifestyle’ markets. It seems that the company claims to have a trademark on the word ‘Smartbook’ and claims that some companies are using this term in violation of their trademark. Some companies use the term ‘Smartbook’ in describing a device which is basically a netbook of sorts.
In a recent article it also states that:
Let me kick off by saying that Smartbook AG does indeed own a trademark on the word smartbook in most of Western Europe, Australia, Singapore, South Korea and a couple of other countries. The company sells laptops that are named Smartbook, so I guess the company is well within its rights to try and protect their trademark in any way it deems appropriate.
To me this seems like kind of straight forward. If one does choose to use the term ‘Smartbook’ to describe a device, the trademark company should receive credit.
Smartbook AG web site
In what could be a financial crisis for Microsoft, a Texas U.S. District Court judge has ordered that Microsoft cease distribution of MS Word in The U.S. A juror has also found Microsoft guilty of willful infringement of a patent held by a Toronto, Canada company known as i4i Inc. In addition Microsoft was fined $200 million dollars and with interest the award was grown to $290 million dollars.
According the the PR Newswire For Journalists it also states the following information:
The Order and Permanent Injunction were signed today by Judge Leonard Davis of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Tyler Division. Today’s ruling follows a May 20, 2009, verdict of $200 million after jurors found that Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft willfully infringed an i4i patent covering a document system that relies on the XML custom formatting function.
During the trial, attorneys from McKool Smith and Tyler, Texas-based Parker, Bunt & Ainsworth successfully argued that Microsoft infringed the i4i patent issued in 1998, U.S. Patent No. 5,787,499, which covers software designed to manipulate “document architecture and content.” The software covered by the patent removed the need for individual, manually embedded command codes to control text formatting in electronic documents.
The McKool Smith team representing i4i includes firm principals Douglas Cawley, Gordon White, Jeff Carter, Kevin Burgess, Rosemary Snider, Jill Lynch, and Randy Carter, senior counsel Tom Fasone, of counsel, Alfredo Silva, and associates Sarah Anderson, John Campbell, Austin Curry, Gretchen Harting, Jennifer Henry, Craig Donahue, Martin Robson, and Jonathan Yim. Robert M. Parker from Parker, Bunt & Ainsworth also represented i4i as co-counsel.
In today’s order, Judge Davis ruled that Microsoft should pay i4i an additional $40 million for its willful infringement of the i4i patent. Microsoft also was ordered to pay slightly more than $37 million in prejudgment interest, including an additional $21,102 per day until a final judgment is reached in the case. The court also ordered Microsoft to pay $144,060 per day until the date of final judgment for post-verdict damages. Today’s permanent injunction prohibits Microsoft from selling or importing to the United States any Microsoft Word products that have the capability of opening .XML, .DOCX or DOCM files (XML files) containing custom XML. The court is requiring Microsoft to comply with the injunction within 60 days.
I am sure Microsoft will appeal this decision and that the company will eventually be able to distribute MS Word once again. But in the mean time this will put a dent in the sales of MS Word and MS Office which includes the Word product.
Source – registration required
Tweeting could get you a cheap seat on one of JetBlue or United flights and may fill up those seats that otherwise would go empty. Both airlines are trying what they call ‘cheeps’ to fill those empty seats at bargain pricing. The first ‘cheep’ seat was advertised by JetBlue on July 6th when they offered a flight from JFK to Nantucket for a only $9 one way.
According to an article over at USA Today it also states that:
In addition to filling empty seats, the sales can introduce new customers to the airline, he says. “Those first-time customers trying Cheeps … we know they’re going to come back.”
United’s Twitter-only fares, also known as “twares,” started in May. The airline’s sales tweets can come at any time for a flight leaving on any day, and fliers have had to pounce quickly because the offers are usually available for only one to two hours.
“Twares are all about surprising our customers with low fares for a very, very limited time,” says Robin Urbanski, a United spokeswoman. And, she says, they “sell extremely fast because the prices are unbeatable.”
Many airlines continue to offer e-fares, notifying fliers about last-minute sales via e-mail. But travelers usually have a few days rather than a few hours to book their tickets.
With Twitter fares, Johnston says, “You really have to act fast. Because people watch Twitter in a real-time manner, the ability for someone to … come in and immediately act on it is a unique phenomenon to the culture of Twitter.”
Twitter is new enough that businesses likely are still trying to grasp who uses it and how that audience can benefit their enterprise, says George Hobica, founder of Airfarewatchdog.com.
“They’re experimenting with it to see what the value is,” he says. “Is it better to send an e-mail with a $9 fare or better to Twitter it?” Still, he says, “I think absolutely airlines and all travel companies need to get in the game and see how it plays out.”
This could turn out to be a win-win situation for both the airlines and consumers. What do you think? Would you be willing to grab a flight on Twitter?
Collaboration and communication are an important part of any project or business, and that’s why it’s essential for team members to be able to communicate in whatever way works for them. Tools like Twitter have revolutionized the way people communicate, but these tools aren’t always a natural fit for the needs of a business. Because of this, other services have been built to take these concepts to a professional level. I’ve been using a service called Present.ly with one of my clients, and I thought I’d highlight it here because I’ve found it to be pretty useful.
If you’ve ever used Twitter, then you’re going to feel right at home with Present.ly. A company’s presence can be customized and groups may be created to segment the communication. The messages are only seen by fellow team members, so your company’s presence on Present.ly is a safe place to discuss what’s going on. I like how easy it is to share content / attachments, and in addition to using the Web version of the interface, I’ve also found the iPhone application to be a great tool to use.
Tesla made headline news when the company first introduced their roadster model which was battery powered and ran off electricity. Now the company is planning on introducing a 4 door sedan which they call the S model in March of this year. The company is also hoping to get funding from the stimulus package so that they can open a production facility in California.
According to a Silicon Valley article from the SJ Mercury news it also states that:
Tesla Motors said its long-awaited $450 million loan from the federal government could come as soon as this summer, a crucial factor in its plans to build an electric-car factory in California.
“I am excited to report that the Department of Energy informed Tesla last week that they expect to disburse funds … within four or five months,” Elon Musk, Tesla’s chief executive and chairman, wrote in a newsletter distributed to customers Wednesday.
Tesla, based in San Carlos, stopped short of saying its loan application had been approved. Indeed, an Energy Department spokeswoman said Wednesday that her agency “has made no final decisions for specific applications for the auto-loan program.”
Still, Tesla is optimistic the department will approve its request for money from the $25 billion loan program to retool U.S. factories to make more fuel-efficient cars and trucks, said Diarmuid O’Connell, the company’s director of corporate development. Tesla has asked for $350 million to retrofit a factory to assemble its Model S electric sedan and $100 million for its battery-supply business.
In view of the economic down turn that has hit GM hard, one would think that Detroit would want to open their doors to this private venture. These people appear to know what they are doing.
What is being described as one the biggest spam operations was taken offline today and security firms are saying there has been a drastic drop in spam. The hosting outfit was located in San Jose, CA in a downtown office building. Cyber crooks offered spam hosting around the world. According to a Washington Post article it states that:
Officials from McColo did not respond to multiple e-mails, phone calls and instant messages left at the contact points listed on the company’s Web site. It’s not clear what, if anything, U.S. law enforcement is doing about McColo’s alleged involvement in the delivery of spam. An FBI spokesman declined to offer a comment for this story. The U.S. Secret Service could not be immediately reached for comment.
Also unclear is the extent to which McColo could be held legally responsible for the activities of the clients for whom it provides hosting services. There is no evidence that McColo has been charged with any crime, and these activities may not violate the law.
Mark Rasch, a former cyber crime prosecutor for the Justice Department and managing director of FTI Consulting in Washington, D.C. said Web hosting providers are generally not liable for illegal activity carried out on their networks, except in cases involving copyright violations and child pornography.
In the case of child pornography, providers may be held criminally liable if they know about but do nothing to eliminate such content from their servers. For example, in 2001, BuffNET, a large regional service provider in Buffalo, N .Y., pleaded guilty to knowingly providing access to child pornography because the company failed to remove offending Web pages after being alerted to the material.
Rasch said liability in such cases generally hinges on whether the hosting provider is aware of or reasonably should have been aware of the infringing content.
“It’s a little bit like a landlord who owns a building and sees people coming in and out of the apartment complex constantly at all hours and not suspecting their may be drug activity going on , “Rasch said.” There are certain things that raise red flags, such as the nature, volume, source and destination of the Internet traffic, that can and should raise red flags. And to have so many third parties looking at the volume and content from this Internet provider saying ‘This is outrageous,’ clearly the people doing the hosting should know that as well.”
This is good news for all of us who hate getting spam and fight it daily in our in box. It is also good news that law enforcement was able to track down the source of the illegal activity and were able to close down the operation. Hopefully they will be able to prosecute the hosting company as well.