Milo

There should be an image here!I hate having to track down a specific item that can be purchased in a store near me. This is usually a big challenge when something new is released. Back in the day, I remember calling a list of stores in my area day after day to see if what I wanted was in stock, and this gets old not only for the caller, but also for the person that has to keep fielding these calls. While these calls still have to be made to some extent today, more and more retailers enable you to see if they have a product in stock at a local store through their Web site. This is a lifesaver, but Milo takes the concept to the next level.

Instead of having to go to each individual retailer to check availability in your area, Milo does all of the work for you. You just search for what you’re looking for and specify the area to search in, and Milo will return results from a number of popular retailers. You’ll see where it’s in stock and be able to read reviews and product information while finding out what you can expect to pay. You can even set a price alert so that you’ll be contacted if the price falls to a more acceptable level. I’ll definitely be using Milo the next time that I have to track something down.

ShopSocially

There should be an image here!When you go shopping or make a buying decision, do you always handle it by yourself or do you sometimes involve your friends? In some situations it does make sense to be on your own when you’re buying something, but most of us probably go shopping with friends, at least occasionally. In fact, some of you may prefer it. This approach is simple in the physical world, but when you’re shopping online, the experience of involving your friends is quite different since they’re not with you in person. That doesn’t have to be a problem though because ShopSocially connects you with your friends.

The service isn’t complicated, but it doesn’t need to be. You’re able to do exactly what you would do if you were shopping in an actual retail store with your friends. First of all, you can ask a shopping question and see what your friends offer in the way of advice. Secondly, you can share your recent purchases with your friends to see what they have to say. After all, who doesn’t like to brag about their purchases from time to time?

Swipely

There should be an image here!Do you want people to know what you’ve been buying and where you’ve been buying stuff? That may not sound very appealing at first, but a lot of interesting possibilities open up when you share your purchasing habits in a social way. For example, you can discuss them with others, get related recommendations, and so on. Swipely makes sharing your purchases as easy as swiping your credit or debit card.

People can follow your account to stay updated about where you’re spending money, and when you make a purchase with one of your supported financial accounts, it will show up for them to see. Not only does this help everyone to discover new places and products, but the use of badges makes shopping more fun for the buyer because they can earn specific badges based on their activity. Truth be told, the idea of keeping track of where people spend money is inherently interesting, but you’ll just have to decide if sharing this info is right for you. Swipely provides more proof that personal boundaries are continuing to fall online. Isn’t it fantastic?

Rightcliq

There should be an image here!Online shopping is a way of life for many of us. Instead of driving to the store, plenty of consumers are totally fine to do at least a portion of their shopping from home using the Internet and then wait a couple days to receive their purchases. Online shopping isn’t broken, but there are definitely areas in which it can be done in a smarter way. For example, making the process a little more social is just one thing. A lot of startups have tried to improve online shopping, and now Visa has entered the fray with Rightcliq.

Yes, that Visa. Visa knows a thing or two about purchases and online shopping, and it’s that knowledge and experience that makes Rightcliq interesting. Using their browser tool, you can select items that you’re interested in and add them to your Wishspace. Your friends can give you their advice on what you’ve selected and help you make a smart decision. Rightcliq can also store your personal information to make purchasing quick and easy, and special deals and comprehensive tracking updates help round out the offering.

Blippy

As the Internet continues to become even more transparent, people are freely sharing information about themselves that they probably would have never shared even just a year or two ago. We’re used to sharing what we’re doing and where we’re going with our friends and even the public, but what about sharing what we’re buying? A service called Blippy is banking on the fact that people want to let the world know what they’re buying, and I have to say that I think this is going to be one of the next totally addictive services on the Internet.

The service works by enabling you to connect to your Visa, MasterCard, iTunes, Amazon, and other accounts so that whenever you make a purchase using one of the added accounts, it’ll automatically show up on your Blippy profile. Not only can people see what you bought, but they can also see how much it cost you. These purchases can be commented on and users can follow accounts. If you can get over the privacy issue, you’ll probably begin to realize just how important Blippy will most likely become.

SwoopUp

In this economy, saving money is never a bad idea. In the past, finding deals and coupons was a little more complicated than it is today because the Internet has connected us to every piece of deal information imaginable. With just a few minutes worth of research, you can find coupons for many of the stores and purchases that you’re interested in. If you’re not doing this quick research, then you’re literally wasting money. With that said, the thing about coupon and deal information online is that this content is usually scattered in a variety of places, but SwoopUp is trying to pull a bunch of great deals together in one place.

Apparently the site is updated every hour to include the current deals, and while I found SwoopUp to include a number of popular stores, it seems like there just aren’t as many savings listed as there should be. Either way, coupon codes are available, and some deal listings link you directly to the retailer’s Web site so that you can take advantage of what’s being offered. Deals can be easily shared with others, and you’re encouraged to comment on the deals that you find in order to tell others if they worked for you.

Are The Days Of Tax-Free Internet Shopping Coming To An End?

A bill is getting ready to be introduced into Congress next week, that could spell the end of tax-free shopping on the Internet. With declining sales tax revenues and states clamouring for increased revenues, this could be the time that a bill may just pass. For about a decade this issue has been addressed but each time it has failed to gain support. But with the current economic climate it could pass this time around.

According to a CNet article it states that:

“One of the big things the states have learned in the recession is they have declining revenues,” said Scott Peterson, executive director of the Streamlined Sales Tax Project, which counts state politicians and tax collectors on its governing board. “We’re very optimistic about Congress this year. We think we are within a day or two of finalizing the legislation.”

The final legislation is expected to be introduced by Sen. Mike Enzi, a Wyoming Republican, and Rep. Bill Delahunt, a Massachusetts Democrat, who have championed similar proposals in the past. Delahunt’s office on Wednesday confirmed he was interested; Enzi’s did not respond.

On the other side are the Direct Marketing Association, the Electronic Retailing Association, and companies including eBay, L.L. Bean, and Overstock.com. One of their biggest objections to the idea of collecting sales taxes on out-of-state shipments is the dizzying complexity of state laws.

That last statement is the reason passing a tax bill for Internet purchases has always been complex. Since every state and every county or Parrish has their own tax rate[s], this issue becomes more complicated.  But it gets better:

Under existing law, the caveat is that online purchases from sites like Amazon and eBay only seem to arrive tax-free. Legally, however, purchasers are required to pay their own state’s sales tax rate–the concept is called a “use tax”–and then voluntarily report the amount owed at tax time.

I am sure everyone one of us was aware of this and have reported the taxes we owned on our state returns. LOL

What do you think? Should purchases online be taxed?

Comments welcome.

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Symantec Clarifies PIFTS.EXE Fiasco

Symantec has released their interruption of what the PIFTS.exe file is and who may have suffered some unwanted activity while using Norton Internet Security and Norton Anti-Virus. First of all this only effects users of Norton Internet Security and Norton Anti-Virus 2006 and 2007. Symantec also states that the patch error was only for a period of about 3 hours. The company also defends itself about allegations that inquires about the error had been removed from their forums. But most import a patch is available to fix the problem.

On their site Symantec states the following information:

There has been activity in the Norton User Forum related to PIFTS.exe which has generated additional concern and media speculation.  At approximately 10:30pmET Monday March 9, Symantec detected that our User Forum boards were being abused by an individual or individuals. One individual created a new user account and posted about the name of the patch executable, PIFTS.exe. Within minutes, several dozen user accounts were created commenting on the initial thread, and/or creating new threads on the topic. Over the next few hours, over 200 user accounts were created. Within the first hour there were 600 new posts on this subject alone. While the intent of the spammer(s) remains unclear, there were no malicious links and it simply resulted in a widespread communications challenge for Symantec. Below are some examples of the forum spam we received from these new user accounts. These forum posts contained no text in the body of the message, simply a subject:

  • O LAWD IM CHOKIN ON PIFTS PLZ HALP
  • OH GOD YOU GOT CHOCOLATE IN MY PIFTS
  • If you wanna be my NORTON/ you gotta deal with my P ! F T S . E X E
  • IF PIFTS.EXE WAS HERE, THEN WHO WAS PHONE?
  • PIFTS.EXE PIFTS.EXE PIFTS.EXE PIFTS.EXE PIFTS.EXE PIFTS.EXE PIFTS.EXE
  • I LOVE MY PIFTS.EXE

But this entry is most important:

Finally, it has also been reported by the Washington Post that hackers are taking advantage of this situation. “Some of the top searches (currently the 3rd and 4th result in a Google search) are Web sites that try to install malicious software when you visit them.” When searching for information on “pifts.exe,” Symantec strongly advises all users to be wary of following links to unknown sites as malicious users are attempting to use this hot topic to distribute malware.

So if you are a user of the Norton products listed be aware that some sites may take advantage of this error and try to corrupt your system.

Comments welcome.

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FriendShopper

When you go shopping, do you like to go by yourself or with someone else? For many people, social shopping is the only way to go and the idea of doing it alone just doesn’t cut it. Whenever I go shopping, I have a predetermined plan in place so that I can get in and out of the store in the quickest time possible. People that enjoy shopping with their friends want to get their opinions on the potential purchases and discuss them at length. Depending on the circumstances, you may not always be able to physically go to a store with someone else, but you can still shop together online with FriendShopper.

A bookmarklet is used to open up your shopping to the FriendShopper experience. When you find something that you like, you can easily bookmark it to your My Items page through this tool and share it with anyone that you’d like to chitchat with. This enables you both to see the same thing at the same time and talk about it as if you were actually looking at the item together in a store.

Apple To Sell iPhones At Best Buy

I know that some of you have responded negatively when it comes to Best Buy and the products they service and how they handle customer support. But Best Buy must be doing something right. Dell the once only on line retailer has chosen Best Buy to sell their computer systems and now Apple is giving Best Buy the extremely popular iPhone to sell. Best Buy already sells the iPod, so for Apple to provide the iPhone for retail sale was a natural progression for the company.

But why Best Buy? I keep an eye on the Sunday ads, and Best Buy usually [not always] appears to have a pricing edge. Simply put they are cheap! :-) Last Sunday Best Buy was selling a Panasonic 42″ Plasma TV [720p model], Microsoft X-Box 360 with a 60g HD and delivery and setup all for $1099, which I thought was a good price.

Every facility now has a dedicated cellphone section with similarly committed staff who are trained 80 hours each to help customers buy mobile devices.  The focus and reach of the program may have swayed Apple, according to people with knowledge of the situation.  Before, at least some of these phone sales would have been handled by more superficially knowledgeable floor workers.

The program is already credited by Best Buy as having sparked interest in premium, media-savvy devices like the Samsung Instinct, which is one of iPhone 3G’s most direct rivals and is only available through Best Buy and Sprint.  Sales of this class of device have grown tenfold year over year at each store that has a Best Buy Mobile presence, according to the retailer.

So what do you think? Would you buy an Apple iPhone from Best Buy?

Comments welcome.

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