Train Station Closes Public Restrooms – Passengers Pissed Off

At the New Rochelle, New York train station, passengers are having to hold it because the public restrooms have been closed. It seems that the city fathers and daughters have decided that keeping the pee holes open is way to expensive, so that have closed them for public use. This means that passengers, taxi drivers, the homeless and anyone with a full bladder will have to seek relief elsewhere. Needless to say that this has not been a huge hit with the public, some of whom complain that people do have emergencies and now have no place to relieve themselves.

According to one recent report it also stated that:

New Rochelle’s City Manager Charles Strome said vandalism has become a problem and the city simply can’t afford to monitor the bathrooms on a regular basis.

“Our police department has ceded a 10-percent reduction in staff so we don’t have regular patrols there like we used to. So all in all it was costing us a significant amount of money to keep the bathrooms open at the train station,” Strome said.

I like this one the best:

City Manager Strome’s suggestion: skip the station, and use the bathrooms on the train.

Wonder if you are not taking the train? I guess you will have to go elsewhere.

But I recall a day in which public restrooms were pay only. You would deposit a coin to unlock the door, which helped to defray the cost of keeping the restroom clean and tidy. No money in your pocket? You always had the option to slither under the door.

What suggestions do you have to solve this problem?

Comments welcome.

Source – CBS New York

Most People Do Not Want To Pay For Online News – They Want It Free

I just read an article in which 2,000 average citizens like you and me who surf the web were asked the following question.

“How much, if anything, would you be willing to pay per month in order to read a daily newspaper’s content online?”

Surprise! The vast majority do not want to pay anything. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Here are the survey results:

Click On The Graph To Enlarge It

In addition there is also this:

Will it convince the old guard that paywalls are a dumb idea? Almost certainly not, of course. Those in charge of newsprint’s oldest purse strings will argue that their position on paywalls is the right one, and that the public just needs to like it or lump it. They’ll probably even throw in the tired old line that this is the only route to go if the tradition of the free (how ironic) press is to be continued into the future. But it seems those advocating this tactic will have a lot of work to do: Convincing nearly 80% of its audience that they’re wrong won’t be easy.

I wasn’t one of the survey participants, but I must say that I agree with the results. I personally believe that most newspapers are going to be hard pressed to setup a pay wall and charge for their news.

Comments welcome.

Source

Is The End Of Free Broadcast TV Fast Approaching?

First it was the newspaper that started to fail across the country; now it seems that free broadcast of TV may soon end as well. It seems that the old business model for ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox of paying for their programing via commercials may not be enough to keep these stations alive much longer. Now these stations are asking that cable TV start to pay to view their content. Some are even saying that TV stations could stop broadcasting their signals for free and instead become paid content for cable and satellite subscribers.

A recent article states:

“Good programing is expensive,” Rupert Murdoch, whose News Corp. owns Fox, told a shareholder meeting this fall. “It can no longer be supported solely by advertising revenues.”

Fox is pursuing its strategy in public, warning that its broadcasts — including college football bowl games — could go dark Friday for subscribers of Time Warner Cable, unless the pay-TV operator gives Fox higher fees. For its part, Time Warner Cable is asking customers whether it should “roll over” or “get tough” in negotiations.

The future of free TV also could be altered as the biggest pay-TV provider, Comcast Corp., prepares to take control of NBC. Comcast has not signaled plans to end NBC’s free broadcasts. But Jeff Zucker, who runs NBC and its sister cable channels such as CNBC and Bravo, told investors this month that “the cable model is just superior to the broadcast model.”

The traditional broadcast model works like this: CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox distribute shows through a network of local stations. The networks own a few stations in big markets, but most are “affiliates,” owned by separate companies.

And there is this:

A small chunk of the ad revenue is being recouped online, where the networks sell episodes for a few dollars each or run ads alongside shows on sites such as Hulu. Media economist Jack Myers projects online video advertising will grow into a $2 billion business by 2012, from just $350 million to $400 million in 2009.

But that is not significant enough to make up for the lost ad revenue on the airwaves. Advertisers spent $34 billion on broadcast commercials in 2008, down by $2.4 billion from two years earlier, according to the Television Bureau of Advertising.

There he is once again. Old Rupert rears his ugly head once again crying he isn’t making enough money on his investment. I hope that the cable companies hold their ground. Let the TV stations go belly up. There are pay channels that would be happy to pick up the programming that free TV leaves behind.

What do you think? Is it time for broadcast TV to go the way of the dodo?  Or is it time for Rupert Murdoch to go the way of the dodo?

Comments welcome.

Source

Google Tries To Compromise With Newspapers With First Click Free Program

Google and the newspapers seem to be at odds recently as the FTC holds hearings over the dilemma. The main thrust of the newspaper argument is that they are not making a profit in this digital age and they are accusing Google of stealing their news. In response Google has stated that any newspaper on the Internet can opt out of being indexed by the mega search company.

So over at the Google news blog they have posted what could be seen as a compromise solution called First Click Free.The article states:

As newspapers consider charging for access to their online content, some publishers have asked: Should we put up pay walls or keep our articles in Google News and Google Search? In fact, they can do both – the two aren’t mutually exclusive. There are a few ways we work with publishers to make their subscription content discoverable. Today we’re updating one of them, so we thought it would be a good time to remind publishers about some of their options.

One way we overcome this is through a program called First Click Free. Participating publishers allow the crawler to index their subscription content, then allow users who find one of those articles through Google News or Google Search to see the full page without requiring them to register or subscribe. The user’s first click to the content is free, but when a user clicks on additional links on the site, the publisher can show a payment or registration request. First Click Free is a great way for publishers to promote their content and for users to check out a news source before deciding whether to pay. Previously, each click from a user would be treated as free. Now, we’ve updated the program so that publishers can limit users to no more than five pages per day without registering or subscribing. If you’re a Google user, this means that you may start to see a registration page after you’ve clicked through to more than five articles on the website of a publisher using First Click Free in a day. We think this approach still protects the typical user from cloaking, while allowing publishers to focus on potential subscribers who are accessing a lot of their content on a regular basis.

In addition to First Click Free, we offer another solution: We will crawl, index and treat as “free” any preview pages – generally the headline and first few paragraphs of a story – that they make available to us. This means that our crawlers see the exact same content that will be shown for free to a user. Because the preview page is identical for both users and the crawlers, it’s not cloaking. We will then label such stories as “subscription” in Google News. The ranking of these articles will be subject to the same criteria as all sites in Google, whether paid or free. Paid content may not do as well as free options, but that is not a decision we make based on whether or not it’s free. It’s simply based on the popularity of the content with users and other sites that link to it.

These are two of the ways we allow publishers to make their subscription content discoverable, and we’re going to keep talking with publishers to refine these methods. After all, whether you’re offering your content for free or selling it, it’s crucial that people find it. Google can help with that.

It does appear that Google is making an effort to keep publishers happy and at the same time have them setup a pay wall to increase their revenues. This is a stark contrast from having Murdock using terms like ‘thieves’ and ‘digital parasites’ for others who use the Internet.

Google is at least addressing the problem in a civil manner.

Comments welcome.

Google blog article is here.

48% Would Pay For Online News While 80% Would Not – Say What?

First there was this article from the New York Times which stated:

Americans, it turns out, are less willing than people in many other Western countries to pay for their online news, according to a new study by the Boston Consulting Group.

Among regular Internet users in the United States, 48 percent said in the survey, conducted in October, that they would pay to read news online, including on mobile devices. That result tied with Britain for the lowest figure among nine countries where Boston Consulting commissioned surveys. In several Western European countries, more than 60 percent said they would pay.

Sounds good. Especially if you are the N.Y. Times which advocates paid subscriptions as being their savior.

So when I read this article it was even more confusing:

While publishers continue to weigh their premium digital content prospects, a new Forrester Research reports indicates that 80 percent of U.S. consumers maintain they will no longer access newspapers and magazines online if the content is not free. Among the 20 percent of consumers who would agree to premium access, 8 percent favor a subscription model to access all online content, another 8 percent prefer a subscription approach that combines web, print and mobile device access, and just 3 percent desire a micropayments-based model charging for each article read.

So with 128% of people being surveyed, it seems that there are quite a few opinions about paid subscriptions.  LOL

I do know one thing for sure. I won’t be one who will pay for news content. I can almost guarantee you that the news will remain free for the access on the Internet provided by someone. Who that someone might be is anyone’s guess.

What do you think? Will you pay for news?

Comments welcome.

N.Y. Times source

Fierce Mobile Content source.

Would You Pay For Every Internet Site You Visited?

According to some people like Barry Diller, who operates some 30 Internet sites which make $1.5 billion, he thinks we will all be paying to view sites in 5 years. According to this man, the Internet is just “an accident of historical moment that will be corrected”. An accident? Historical moment? Corrected? By who?

According to one news article it states Barry Diller as saying:

“I absolutely believe the Internet is passing from its free days into a paid system. Inevitably, I promise you, it will be paid,” Diller said in a keynote discussion opening up the Advertising 2.0 conference held at his company’s futuristic glass building alongside the Hudson River in Manhattan. “Not every single thing, but anything of value. “

What was he going to say to a group of advertisers? The Internet will be a flop and advertising will fail?

What do you think? Will you pay for content on the Internet to make more money for some corporation  that says that is the way it is going to be?

Comments welcome.

Source.

Is Belkin Cheating On Reviews?

Am I not sure how truthful these reports are, but there are allegations being made that Belkin is paying for favorable reviews on Amazon and Newegg sites. What is strange is that the reviewers are being paid .65 cents for a kind review. Over at CrunchGEAR they stated that:

I just contacted Belkin to confirm but this doesn’t look good. A site called The Daily Background found evidence that Belkin Bizdev guy, Michael Bayard, is paying folks 65 cents to write good things about Belkin routers. Why? I’m not sure. I sure didn’t mind Belkin routers in the first place and 65 cents isn’t a lot of money for a paragraph. Maybe a flat buck or a USB hub instead? Is false praise really that cheap?

Here is one of the requests on the Mechanical Turk:

Positive review writing.

* Use your best possible grammar and write in US English only
* Always give a 100% rating (as high as possible)
* Keep your entry between 25 and 50 words
* Write as if you own the product and are using it
* Tell a story of why you bought it and how you are using it
* Thank the website for making you such a great deal
* Mark any other negative reviews as “not helpful” once you post yours

Instructions:

The link below leads to a product on a website. Read-through the product’s features and write a positive review for it using the guidelines above to the best of your ability. I have also provided the part number for this product and you can click on the links below to see it on several alternative websites. In order to post some reviews you will need to create an account on the site. You can use your own email address or open a new free webmail account (gmail, yahoo…) and use it to post with.

This is interesting since it means that Belkin may be trying to cover up the fact that their routers leave much to be desired. I recently wrote here about the problems I had with a new Belkin wireless router and how it screwed up my Internet and Vonage connection.

So I have a question. Is there anyone else who had problems with Belkin routers? Let us know.

Comments welcome.

Source

Microsoft Paying For Search… Again

Microsoft is still struggling trying to beat Google at their search game, so if you can’t beat them, pay them. That seems to be the tactic that Microsoft is clinging onto. The mega giant software company is still in a drawn out battle, trying to gain market search in the Google dominated field. They have once again started to offer what they call ‘Search Perks’, in which points can be collected and later used to collect on prizes.

But will this work?  On their Live Search Perks site Microsoft describes the perks as:

To earn value for your searches and join the SearchPerks! promotion you must have Internet Explorer 6.0 or higher to participate. Copy this URL and paste it into Internet Explorer:

http://www.getsearchperks.com

Sign up for SearchPerks! and start earning tickets towards exciting prizes whenever you search the Web – up to 25 tickets per day. It’s free, easy to use, and your tickets accumulate as fast as you can search.

And because SearchPerks! is brought to you by Microsoft Live Search, you can count on rich, comprehensive search results.

Be sure to sign up before the registration deadline on December 31, 2008—the sooner you sign up, the more opportunity you have to earn tickets!

In addition, Microsoft admits that previous pay for search gimmicks, has not resulted in additional market share. They state that:

On the broader goal of boosting Microsoft’s share of the commercial search business, Savoye said, Cashback has yet to make a meaningful shift in share. “We haven’t seen it move significantly yet,” Savoye said.

PR Director Whitney Burk said that programs such as SearchPerks are still needed to introduce people to Microsoft’s search product.

“We know we have some challenges with the brand and perception,” Burk said. “Simple awareness is still a challenge for us.”

One would think that Microsoft could take to the TV airwaves to increase awareness. I seriously doubt that the average Internet user is even aware that Microsoft has a search comparible to Google, nor do they realize that they can get paid for doing searches.

Do you use Microsoft search? If so, do you do it for the prize money?

Comments welcome.

Search Perks site

Source

Cover The News – Get Paid $

Usually on Sunday I roam several web sites around the Silicon Valley area, to see what is new in the area. In my travels I happened to stumble upon a company called Allvoices.com, a startup that is offering cash for your news stories. The offer starts now and goes until February 19, 2009. The site caters to what are called citizen journalists and the pay isn’t to shabby. In an article from SF Gate it states:

Citizen journalists whose work gets at least 100,000 page views in six months will earn $1,000. If they achieve 1,000,000 page views, they will earn $10,000. If you have a blog and install Allvoices’ blogging widget, whatever you write on your blog will be posted directly on Allvoices’ site.

The offer expires next February 19.

Right now all content that’s submitted to Allvoices is automatically posted after it’s combined with other relevant content that Allvoices finds on the Web. In the future, however, Tareen expects to hire human editors. She’d also like to build a community of good contributors and has pitched Allvoices to journalism schools because she figures their graduates will have a hard time finding jobs.

Allvoices expects to make money through advertising and will share a percentage of that revenue with contributors, Tareen said.

After viewing the website it is very professional looking and carries news items separated by categories. To post a news article only requires a simple registration process.  But is a 100,000 views or 1,000,000 views possible for a single story? That all depends how many folks are chasing the same news.

One of the problems that some bloggers are starting to notice, is that it now seems everyone is chasing the same story. This has been reported on more than one occasion by who other than bloggers themselves.  Linking back to various stories from web based companies who make money from the track backs is now the norm on the Internet. So in order for any blogger or journalist to get 1,000,000 views in six months may be a challenge.

Is it impossible? Not at all. Six months is a long time. :-)

Comments welcome.

Source.

California State Computers Are Junk

It is hard to believe in a state that houses Silicon Valley, and some of the most advanced technology in the world, that the State of California is using computers from the dark ages. It is even more absurd that the state controller had to admit that the system is so old, that it is based on Vietnam area code, that is not even taught any longer. So when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger wanted to cut pay to 200,000 state workers in less than a month, he was told no-no Arnie. It will take at least 6 months to implement.

The Republican governor signed an executive order last week recommending the cut to minimum wage for most permanent state workers and terminating 10,133 temporary and part-time employees. He believes the state must take drastic steps to preserve cash over the next two months as the state continues to operate without a budget 36 days into the new fiscal year.

Chiang reiterated Monday that he will ignore the order and issue full paychecks to state workers. He disputes Schwarzenegger’s legal interpretation of a 2003 California Supreme Court decision, which the governor said mandates that the state pay only minimum wage to employees until a budget is passed.

But even if the governor’s legal reasoning proves to be sound, Chiang said, the state cannot logistically retool its payroll system in a matter of weeks as the governor has asked. And if the change eventually were made, Chiang said it would take an additional nine to 10 months to issue back pay to employees when the budget is approved.

The state legislature has refused to invest the $177 million it would take to update the state computer system. Oh well. There is always the option to go back to paper and pencil. :-)

Comments welcome.

Source.

If You Have A Credit Card Read This

It seems that Trans Union, which is one of the folks who monitor our credit, may have been selling our information to outside agencies. So if you fall into one of these categories, and most of us do, you may entitled to compensation:

The Court decided that the Class includes all consumers who had an open credit account or an open line of credit from a credit grantor (including, for instance automobile loans, bank credit cards, department store credit cards, other retail store credit cards, finance company loans,
mortgage loans, and student loans) located in the United States anytime from January 1, 1987 to May 28, 2008.

You may entitled to receive one of the following:

The settlement will: (1) establish a $75 million Settlement Fund; (2) give Class members the option of selecting six or nine months of credit monitoring services; (3) donate $150,000 to non-profit organizations; (4) pay for settlements or judgments for damage claims related to
lawsuits brought individually by Class members against the Defendants; (5) pay class counsels’ attorneys’ fees and their expenses; (6) pay the costs of notice and administering the settlement; and (7) distribute any money remaining (after deducting the costs for everything listed
above) in the Settlement Fund to Class members who register for a payment or to non-profit organizations.

The six months of credit monitoring services (which retails for $59.75) include: (1) the ability to lock your credit report so third parties, such as lenders or other companies, will not be able to access your credit report without your consent (unless allowed by law); (2)
unlimited daily access to your Trans Union credit report and credit score; and (3) credit monitoring with a 24-hour email credit notificationservice. The nine months of enhanced credit monitoring services (which retails for $115.50) includes all the services listed above, plus
a suite of insurance scores and a mortgage simulator service. If you get the enhanced credit monitoring you will not be able to get a payment from the settlement or start an individual lawsuit.

Other options are also available. Take a look at the web site which has all of the options as well as a form you must complete.

Source.

Is A Program Really Free If It Doesn't Fix The Problem?

I say this posted over in the PC World forum and I believe it brings up an interesting point. Is a program labeled as free, really free, if it doesn’t fix a computer problem? If the program indicates for the fix to be made you have to pay for it?

Here is a question posted by Nikkidog:

I have been taking PC World magazine for years now and I love reading it. I have received many good solutions for fixing problems or eliminating them before they become a problem.. My question: Why does PC Magazine post some programs to fix PCs as free and when you down load them they only fix a couple of items and then you must purchase the product to finishing cleaning up the rest of the items found. That is a little ambiguous to me. Thanks for listening.

We have all fallen for these gimmicks. We are told the program will do a free scan and also indicates that a fix or repair will be made, only to find that the programs finds multiple problems, and will only repair a limited number. If you want the items fix you need to pay for the full version.

So the question is are these programs really free? Or is this just another scam?

Source.

AP Now Wants To Charge Us For Quoting Them

Today we enter into a new type of business model in which us bloggers are now going to be held for ransom if we dare utter any words from the Associated Press. It appears that in their wisdom AP has chosen a policy in which we will be charged, as one source put it, ‘$12.50 to quote 5 words from them.’

Which now poses another dilemma.

Let us say I write a story, such as I did yesterday, about Britannica allowing the public to write articles on their site. Let us say I write 5 words that just happen to match 5 words that AP may have written about the same thing. i.e., I say something like:

Britannica To Allow Public Access

If these 5 words just happen to match what AP says, do I owe them money?

Am I going to have to check on every AP article in advance to make sure I am not using any of their words in advance to posting anything here?

This reminds me of the music industry who sue kids for downloading stuff, in which their parents had to pay. I recall one case in which a kid had downloaded 800 songs valued at $3,000+ a song. Mom was in shock when hit with a $240,000+ judgment. Though the kid and Mom did receive their 15 seconds of fame on CNN, I personally would rather not be on CNN or any other news agency.

What do you think?

Comments welcome.

Source.

Britannica Invites Public To Contribute

Once upon a time, Britannica employed a sales force of people who went door to door selling their leather bound encyclopedia’s. As the Internet took over as the resource most people used for information, Britannica tried to adjust by offering a subscription service. But with the likes of Wikipedia the company has struggled. So they are now inviting the public to post information on their site. According to this news source it states:

Britannica is opening its online pages to the masses, inviting public postings.

Save any trivia about SpongeBob SquarePants for Wikipedia. But if you want to contribute, by name, to the history of Queen Elizabeth I, Britannica is interested.

“By inviting a larger range of people to contribute and collaborate, we can produce more coverage,” said Britannica spokesman Tom Panelas. “People in the community can contribute to the improvement of Encyclopedia Britannica.”

Its adoption of an “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” philosophy, quietly unveiled this month, is seen as heresy by some. Britannica is considered a staid but reliable source of scholarship compared to the wild, woolly – and sometimes inaccurate – world of Internet publishing.

The new site will not be a free-for-all. The core encyclopedia will continue to be edited and will bear the imprimatur “Britannica Checked.” But Britannica will now let outsiders create articles, essays and multi-media presentations.

It should be interesting to see if Britannica can maintain itself as a information source.  Accepting the public to contribute information could be a step in the right direction.

Comments welcome.

Source.

Did Local Government Demands Kill Free Muni Wi-Fi?

Several years ago the promise of free wi-fi in some of our countries major cities looked extremely promising.  I personally was keeping an eye on the progress of the wi-fi experiment that was taking place in San Francisco which was being sponsored by the likes of Google and others. The hope was that a free wi-fi service would be in place and that the service would be ad supported.

But than something happened.  Some where between the free ad supported service a paid for service cropped up. The feeling was that paid services, which would be faster and contain no ads, would discriminate against the poor who would be stuck with slower speeds. Another issue was how much a city would be paid to allow a company to install the free service?

We are all famaliar with the grocery store gimmick in which you buy one dozen eggs and get the second dozen for free. But tell the store you’ll take the free dozen if they kick in $5 bucks along with the freebie. This seems to be what happened with free muni wi-fi. People wanted it for free but also wanted to be paid for the free service.

But what do you think? Is this the reason why free muni wi-fi has failed? Or was there more to this?

Comments welcome.