Friday, 26 November 2010

Fantastically Poorly-Written Sentence

Found this sentence in the resume of a guy who works for a company who thinks they compete against As Was. I think this sentence is fantastic in how bizarre it is. It's almost like someone challenged him to pack the most buzzwords into one sentence.

We lead our market share by offering business consulting and proven recommendations to new & existing business owners looking to address the eBay / eCommerce opportunity effectively.

I can only compare this to a Dilbert cartoon where one of the characters says something like, "Let's qualitize our paradigm so we don't overinundate with datums."

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Thursday, 18 November 2010

I Don't Jump For Money

Earlier this year, I went to an AT&T Store to learn about the iPad, when it was first coming out. I didn't really want one, but I was curious. I'm on Sprint, and very happy with them. The AT&T people tried very aggressively to get me to switch to them. At one point, very confidently, they told me they would give me $75 RIGHT NOW if I switched. The drool told me that this must work all the time.

I looked at them, and told them I don't jump for $75. If you want me to be disloyal to a service I'm happy with, you'd better offer a lot more. Or there may not be any price on my disloyalty.

This week, someone emailed me wanting me to try his alternative to Terapeak. I asked him what it did that was better. He told me it was just like Terapeak, except it had fewer features. I asked him who would want that. He wrote back, "You?" asking if I would want that. Nope, go fish.

I asked him who would want a version of Terapeak that did less. I'd also think that if there were a huge market for that, Terapeak would come out with a lower-feature option. His reply was that he will put my name on it, I can sell it as my research tool, and make money off it.

Nope, I'm not going to jump for that. I've been recommending Terapeak since I first checked them out many years ago. They've been my pretty consistent recommendation. I think they do a great job with eBay-related research. I see no reason to fake-compete against them just to put a few dollars in my pocket. I think relationships are worth more than that.

When I told him that, he complained that I was supporting a monopoly. Well hey, goofball. If I use Terapeak, they make money from that. If I use your competing product, Terapeak's parent company makes money from that. It's a monopoly either way, though I'm not complaining about that, and would never have thought of that!

So use Terapeak! All the time! For everything! :)

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Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Spying On Employees' Emails

Yesterday, I emailed a guy for whom we're doing some eBay work. I got an autoresponder from his BOSS saying the boss was on vacation. I hadn't written to the boss.

CLEARLY, this company has things set up so that every email coming in is also going to the boss. I know a lot of companies do not treat email as private, and people may read emails of workers who report to them.

But this was so blatant and poorly-done since it was obvious to ME, the outside person! Everybody who emails this guy will now get an autoresponder from the boss. Everybody will figure out that the boss is reading all these emails. Eeek.

If someone else at your company can read your emails, they probably are. Be careful of what you say, or of what people send to you (if you can foresee any issues there!).

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Thursday, 23 September 2010

Facebook Wants You To Enjoy Memories of Things People Did Without You

Somewhere in the bowels of Facebook, there is a place where you can say you'd like to hide certain people from your news feed, and see MORE from certain people. Go to the bottom of your news feed, and look for "Edit Options." Well, months ago, I picked two people to see MORE from, not knowing what that might really mean around Facebook. I picked my friend Bryan (Mr Bigfoot) and my boyfriend.

That seemed to mean nothing until now. Facebook is dropping random pictures of these two people in the right sidebar. Facebook labels them as Photo Memories, as if I should remember these things. However, Facebook isn't picking pictures where I'm tagged. I'm getting pics of Bryan at events I didn't attend. Or events I did attend. No pics of me and him together, even though they're on Facebook and tagged. It shows me pics of vacations my boyfriend took years before he met me. Huh? Photo Memories for me?

Hint to Facebook: if I'm not tagged in the pic, I may not have been there. That may not be my memory! That is someone else's memory of something they did without me.

This is especially weird since my boyfriend does have pictures up of him with a woman who's not me. I've got pictures up of me with men who aren't him. And Facebook shows me pics of the two of them as a great memory I should behold and treasure. Boo. And it makes me wonder if he's being shown photo memories of me with other people I've dated!

So Facebook. If you want to show me a photo memory, show me my own photo, or show me a photo in which I'm tagged. Otherwise, this may not be my memory, and it may not a GOOD memory for anybody!

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Friday, 17 September 2010

"National Association of Professional Women" Is a Scam

I got a letter today telling me I was approved to join (for free) some group called the National Association of Professional Women. The letter was incredibly bland and meaningless, and it just smelled like a scam... even if they wanted no money from me now.

I Googled them, and among other things, found this: http://www.insiderpages.com/b/15246772989/executive-women-s-association-new-york

So if you get a letter or call from them, whether or not they want money, I would stay away.This doesn't feel right to me, and Googling made this look really not good.

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Thursday, 22 July 2010

I'm Suspicious About Local Mail

Tucson mail is weird. It just is. My local post office is closed on the weekends, but you can knock on a Wizard of Oz door from 10am - 2pm on Saturday ONLY if you need to pick up something they're holding.

We barely get weekend mail. I had a client Postal Express me something recently on a Friday for Saturday delivery. The tracking said that at 11am on Saturday, they left me a notice. I was home all day waiting for the package. No notice on my door. No notice in my apartment mailbox. And the leasing office was closed, so they couldn't have signed for it. The next business day, they shoved the Express envelope in my apartment mailbox. Didn't knock on my door.

Not very express. So what's going on?

I heard a rumour years ago that Tucson officially has ONE post office, and everything else are satellites or mini post offices or I don't know what. Fake, imaginary post offices. And that every piece of mail has to go through this ONE post office in town, and then get sorted out to the other post offices. I was being told that this is why mail takes DAYS extra (in both directions). Chances are, my Express Package his this mystery post office on Saturday, and wasn't sorted and ready to come to me until the next business day's postal delivery. But they're comfy promising overnight service, and putting in fake info in the tracking that they left me a notice.

I was even told that if I mail something from my 85737 post office, the stamp won't be cancelled there. It goes down to this central post office, this ONE place in the whole city, to be cancelled.

So, for example, if something you mail me hits town on a Friday, it's going to this wacky post office. Because of weekend hours at varying post offices, I'll get that mail Monday. I get Saturday mail Tuesday. I typically don't bother checking my box on Monday, and wait for Tuesday to get ALL that weekend mail.

Well, that seems weird. I would think that if they are trying to send to 85737, and we have an 85737 post office, some postal system would KNOW to send the mail straight to me. And this one post office has the unforgettable address of being located on South Cherrybell Stravenue. Yes, Stravenue.

Yesterday, I was tracking a package I ordered from ThinkGeek.com. They sent it Priority Mail with some sort of tracking. This is what I saw: Processed through Sort Facility, July 20, 2010, 11:59 pm, TUCSON, AZ 85726

I dropped 85726 into Google Maps, and it's the post office on Cherrybell Stravenue. So when this came from the east coast, nobody was able to route it straight to 

Does anybody know if this is a common practice in the postal system? That my mail takes days extra because everything has to go through this one post office?

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Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Remove People You Don't Know From Your Facebook Friends

A bizarre experience this past weekend has really put a spotlight on this whole Facebook friends thing.

Long story short, I was briefly cyberstalked by a Facebook friend of a Facebook friend. The guy sent me a bunch of pretty psycho Facebook messages, first congratulating me on dating that friend in common (I'm not dating that guy), and then asking me to date him. Yes, he was asking a total stranger about whom he knew nothing to date him. His reasoning? I was cute and why not.

I was on a phone call and didn't reply right away. By the time I responded 40 minutes later, I couldn't. He had posted a bunch more inbox messages saying "I guess not" and blocking me on Facebook. I thought it was over, but it wasn't. 3 hours later, he unblocked me to see if I were interested in dating him, then minutes later saying never mind because I'm ugly, and random abusive crap.

I blocked him, reported him, and screen shot everything to email to my friend. I wanted him to know what his friend was doing, and I suggested that he not set this guy up on any dates since this guy is sick! I do NOT hold my friend responsible at all. He is not responsible for what someone else chooses to do. My friend is probably completely uninvolved in this, and this is not his fault in any way! He's just the weird connection here.

My friend emailed me back that he has NO idea who this guy is. Well, he seems to be your Facebook friend. And then it hit me.

Your Facebook friends have some access to ME. When you comment on my stuff, they can follow a link to see what you commented on, even if I have it set to "friends only." Even if your friend is not my friend, they can read all the stuff you comment on... and see those pictures.

I have probably 250 Facebook friends I don't know. Most eBay sellers interested in what I have to say about things... no realising that most of what I say in Facebook is about pets and dating... not eBay or my work. For that, you should hang out at the As Was Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/AsWasInc

So I'm doing it too. I think it's time to prune Facebook friends. You don't win anything by having 300 friends rather than 200 friends. There is no prize. The only thing you win is less privacy, and you expose ME to people I didn't want to be exposed to. And by the way, when your account is compromised and you send me messages that lead me to a virus or to try to disclose personal info, that wasn't cool either!

Facebook is getting too much like MySpace, and Facebook themselves is making it that way. When it tells me I should be friends with my college friend's Dad, something's not right. When Facebook tells me to be friends with people I don't know because they're friends with my friends, something isn't right. Facebook was SUPPOSED to be about connecting with people you REALLY knew... not being MySpace and just piling up anybody who has or hasn't met you.

So I am asking you to be brave! Be less fake popular. :) Go into your Facebook friends, and remove people you don't actually know. You are trusting them with a LOT of personal information about you. My policy was to only add people I knew, and to tell people I didn't to join my fan pages. I think I have to go back to that. It's not fair to YOU, my Facebook friend, for your private postings and info to be exposed to people neither of us know!

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Monday, 19 July 2010

New Blackberry Commercials Are Embarrassing

I saw an article recently that said in the war of Apple vs Android, the loser is Blackberry. Well said. I'm thinking that my 2004 Palm Treo is not that far from a 2010 Blackberry. I was thinking about this more as I noticed each company's latest advertising campaigns.

The iPhone 4 ads show various scenarios in which people are having video calls. A dad sees his daughter's new braces, and tells her she's beautiful. A husband finds out his wife is pregnant (and they're happy about it). Obviously, it's about connecting to people, face to face, even when you can't be there. I love Skype for this, but OK, the ads make you want to video chat from your phone.

Android phones are running great commercials. Droid and Evo commercials make you feel like you can do anything with these phones, and now that I have one, let me say you freaking can. Between "Droid Does" and Evo's "First" ads about how it's the first phone with a number of exciting features, these are just kick ass devices and campaigns.

Blackberry has new commercials out. One shows a barber taking pictures of intricate razor styling he's done on a customer's head. He's saying he can email this pictures to people and show off his work. The other Blackberry commercial features an interior designer talking about how he can sell pieces pretty much before he buys them because his Blackberry is taking pictures of them as he goes around stores. When they show the picture he takes on that microscopic Blackberry screen, I'm cringing. 

The Blackberry commercials also push Blackberry Messenger because you can message people (!) and you know when they got it (so when they ignore you, you KNOW you are being ignored!). OK, but my phone doesn't have BBM. I'm not part of the club. You can't reach me. You will have to reach me on AIM, Yahoo IM, MSN Messenger, Gtalk, Facebook chat, or Skype. Pick one!

Blackberry, you lose. You're not cool. You will NOT be able to make having a camera phone cool. I had my first camera phone in like 2004, so you're a little late. And what else will you say about what a Blackberry can do?

The people I know who have Blackberries use zero or nearly zero apps. They don't really understand them or see why they need them. They wanted a way to really stay on top of email and text messaging, and Blackberry, with its tactile keyboard, was that perfect device. Always on email! Here's another email coming in now! This is great.

It's like the opposite people from iPad users, who live in touch-screen application worlds. :)

Mobile devices are going in the direction of touch screens and applications. My 2004 phone did that. It was a Palm Treo. Touch screen, colour, always on email, and I think it took pictures. According to Wikipedia, it had a 0.3 megapixel camera. Woo hoo!

But in a sense, my 2004 Treo is nearly a 2010 Blackberry. Both can run apps, but most of the target user doesn't really get the app thing. Both colour touch screens... oh wait, sorry Blackberry... most of your phones are still controlled by a rolling nipple thing. Both handle email really well and reliably. Well, at this point, so does everything else. The K9 email app on my Android phone is one of the best apps I've ever had on any phone.

So I went to the Blackberry site to see what their main marketing messages are. Evidently, their main marketing messages are that on a Blackberry, you can use Blackberry Messenger with a group of friends, and you can use Twitter too! You can get the weather with pictures!

I think Blackberry is going to go where Windows Mobile is going. They're just not keeping it up or keeping it fresh. It's no longer that amazing or unique. While the iPhone has no tactile keyboard, many Android phones still do, for people who want to press buttons to type. However, as someone who thought she couldn't live without the tactile keyboard, let me tell you I'm typing faster without it.

Using ShapeWriter for Android (similar to Swype), I'm typing words at a time rather than letters at a time. I can type with one finger. Faster and easier. I'm definitely typing much faster without the tactile keyboard. I don't miss it at all.

Blackberry people, look at Android phones like the HTC Incredible and HTC Evo. There's just kinda to reason to have Blackberry anymore. Even all the eBay staff I knew who were glued to Blackberries now have iPhones. :)

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Thursday, 17 June 2010

Don't Call It Free If It's Not Free

A company in my industry has some messaging around their website saying their service is now free. But is it?

In the tiniest font you can imagine, it says that's just for very limited usage. If you are going to use it more than the limited usage, well their price is $X per month... which is 50% more than it's been for years. I'm hoping that they at least are grandfathering in the people at the old price considering they announced those people could have that price for 3 years.

But no matter how you slice it, that's not free. It's not really accurate to say this service is now FREE. It would be more accurate to say that there is a free level or tier of service.

I don't believe that we have to reel people in with false promises or half truths. I think the straight truth is something people will appreciate more, especially in the long run.

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Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Cell Phone Companies Hate Their Customers

That's the only conclusion I can draw. Cell phone companies hate existing customers. It's all about new customers. But once you're a customer, you can get f***ed. And I'm so tired of the game.

Sprint, my carrier, who I'm happy with, is coming out with a new phone. It comes out on 4 June. I want it. I have been a Sprint customer for over 6 years (without leaving). If I want to buy this phone, it'll cost me $450.

If I am new to Sprint, say I'm one of the iPhone people who will dump AT&T to get the HTC Evo 4G phone, well Sprint wants to welcome me right in by offering me the phone for $199 if I sign a two-year contract. I'll extend my contract two years. Nope, I can pay $450.

Here's where it becomes the stupidest math problem on the planet.

The early termination fee is $200. If I didn't care about losing my phone number (and so few people have it that that's not so scary), I could cancel my phone for $200. I could then say HEY, I'm new! I'd get the phone for $199. I would come out $50 ahead in the deal... but have lost my old phone number. Which will mean less and less as I give out my Google Voice number more and more.

I have another option. Chew on the wacky stupidity of this one. I have a 2nd phone on my line. It's a phone I had gotten for a previous boyfriend, and hey, the contract lasted longer than the relationship. Shame! That phone is due for an "upgrade" special according to Sprint. On 1 July, I can get the HTC Evo 4G for $199 by using my "upgrade."

I can then cancel that other line, and pay the $200 early termination fee, but finally shut that line off, saving me around $40 per month (over the remaining 13 months of the contract). Another win for me. So this is what I'll do. I'll get the new phone on 1 July, and then cancel that line (paying the fee) because the fee is less than the difference between a $450 phone and a $199 phone!

But look at how many hoops I'd have to jump through to do either of these things. Sprint and other cell phone companies should make this easy. You want me to use my phone. You want me to like my phone. You want me to need my phone. As a long term customer, I am worth way more to you than the $250 extra you are trying to get out of me. When I tell people how happy I am, I am bringing you business. I am worth more than $250.

It's like that bank commercial where the bank gives newer people better things, and they tell you that businesses should know to not do that. Same for cell phone companies. If you cared more about keeping your customers, it wouldn't be so easy to lose them to a hot deal from someone else.

I was recently in the AT&T store, just to see what they had. I don't like their products or services, but I was curious. They tried to make it sound AMAZING that if I signed up with them, I would get a $75 discount. A whole $75!!! I told them I don't give it up for that little money. They were surprised that in this economy, I didn't want to completely change cell phone companies to have $75 that day. I guess people are that fickle or desperate or excited about $75.

Cell phone companies should reward me for sticking around. I don't want anything special. Just the same price on the phone that other people are getting. If I agree to a 2-yr contract extension, what's the difference between me and the guy who is new and gets a 2-yr contract? We are worth the same... except I'm worth more because I've proven that I'll stay. The guy who jumps for your deal will jump the next time he gets another offer.

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Friday, 14 May 2010

5 Things That Reveal Your Hotel As Not As Classy As You Thought

Having stayed in some weird places, I thought I'd write a list of the top things that make your hotel room seem way less classy... once you get there. Disregard pictures on the internet.

Counting them down...

Number 5! Outside doors. That means the hotel was built WAY long ago as some sort of bungalow colony or motel. That's usually not as safe. A lot of those places don't have elevators either. You have to carry everything up and down steps.

Number 4! The restaurant staff are chain smoking while cooking and serving you. I think I had that in rural Virginia on one of my road trips.

Number 3! There is a sign in your room about how much you will be charged if you steal any towels or pillows.

Number 2! The mini bar has condoms for sale (at bizarrely high prices). I'm in town on business. But according to my hotel, I am going to have sex with someone I wasn't planning to have sex with (or didn't know). Because if I had PLANNED to have sex, I would have brought my own condoms. According to my hotel, that's who's staying in their rooms. The sexually voracious with no foresight.

Number 1! The number one spot can ONLY be taken by the Radisson in Branson, Missouri. I stopped there on a cross-country road trip, just to see what Branson looked like. Heard the commercials. Had to see it. It was basically on the way. And figured the Radisson would be a step or two up from my usual Hampton Inns, which are nice and consistent.

The room had bugs. The bathroom light didn't go on (but we still saw the bugs). The made bed had hairs all over the sheets, and some blood stains. The room smelled like pee in a garbage can. Checked out 20min after checking in, and refused to pay. Manager asked what was wrong. I said that this was a room only a crime scene investigator could love. She looked completely not surprised. Went to the Hampton Inn, where I should have gone in the first place.

That's our winner! :)

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Thursday, 13 May 2010

I Hate El Charro Cafe

El Charro Cafe isn't just a handful of restaurants around Tucson. Having started in the 1920's, it's an institution. Hating it makes people look at me funny. Like growing up on Long Island and not being a Billy Joel fan. I'm just an outsider.

But hear me out. Why I hate them goes beyond opinion. I have some interesting facts people should know.

My first trip to legendary El Charro was in 2005 with a then-boyfriend. We sat down, looked at the extensive menu, and ordered an appetizer. The teen waiter apologised that they were out of that. Normally, that's all the waiter says, but there is something bizarrely honest about where I live. He continued, "The factory didn't send us enough of those today."

The factory? We asked him to tell us more. And he did.

He explained that most of the food on the menu is made off-site, somewhere, I guess in some big thing this kid wanted to call a factory (whether it is or isn't, I don't know). It's then delivered to each restaurant, and the food is mostly warmed up and presented.

We were not happy. We ate there anyway. We found it mediocre. We swore to never go back. I'm a great cook, and for what restaurants charge, if I want something defrosted or rewarmed, I can stay home and power up the microwave for a lot less money. For a lot less money, I could cook something really fresh and organic.

I have been back to El Charro twice since, both because friends of mine love it, and like to do special nights for groups of friends there. I love those friends, and hope they're reading this. Love you guys! But in that couple, the husband's parents won't eat at El Charro (the Mom is of Mexican descent).

The first time this couple invited me there, I took a menu over to the manager. I opened it up. I asked him to show me what on the menu will be made fresh for me right there. Hmmmm, he had to think. Salads. The salads are put together fresh. And I think he said some of their dishes with chicken. I guess chicken doesn't freeze and unfreeze well or something. I had a mediocre dinner, and wondered why I go there.

I was there last night. I'm paying for it today, but that's another story. Same fantastic friends, husband's grad school graduation. Super proud of him!! I didn't ask a manager for help. I tried to think of how I could have something made fresh for me, right there. El Charro is famous for their carne seca, so I figured I'd try that. But my plan was to CUSTOMISE my order so they'd have to make it fresh.

I ordered a carne seca quesadilla. For those not in the know, a quesadilla is a Mexican equivalent of a grilled cheese. So you get tortillas with melted cheese, and often some sort of other filling. I asked him to add onions. He told me it already has some onions in it. OK, I asked him to ADD pico de gallo to it. Sure, he said.

When dinner came, I knew I was in trouble. The pico de gallo was on TOP. It was not added and melted in with that cheese. The cheese looked melted. The food was colder than room temperature. The middle was refrigerator cold. Imagine serving someone a refrigerator cold grilled cheese. 

It didn't even taste good. It was incredibly bland. Flavourless tortilla, flavourless cheese, flavourless meat, and this really lame pico on top. I ate it anyway. What else should I do, and I didn't want to draw attention to myself for taking one bite of something and totally freaking hating it. My graduate friend sitting next to me asked me how my dinner was. I told him I refused to answer that question. I didn't want to lie, but I didn't want to start yapping about how bad the food is there... or how his chile relleno was probably made yesterday 100 miles away.

So that's it, I'm done with these people (El Charro, not my awesome friends!). I paid a lot of money to eat something crappy that is making me sick today. I'm sorry to people who think their food is amazing, but I will not eat there ever again. If that is where you are holding your party for something, I will have some chips and guacamole, and I won't order anything else. It's just not worth it.

If you are in Tucson and love Mexican food, head over to newly-renamed La Botana at First and Fort Lowell. It's a bit of a hole in the wall, but the food is so incredibly fresh that you will fall in love. The service is friendly and helpful. They're a really sweet family. They hand-make everything including the chips. Their pico is bursting with flavours, their bean dip is spicy. Their shrimp are so plump and fresh-tasting. Everything there is amazing. That's Mexican food to me. Fave combination over there... get something with their shrimp and poblano peppers.

PS: I now have a habit of going to chain restaurants, and asking them what on the menu is made fresh. I did that at NASCAR Cafe in the Sahara on the Vegas strip. The waiter could only find ONE thing on the menu they would make fresh, and I ordered that. Honestly, it seems awkward, but it's a good question to ask.

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Monday, 10 May 2010

Pop Tart Ice Cream Sandwich?

A new TV commercial shows happy, healthily-sized children playing safely. One guy is setting up a lemonade stand type of thing with Pop Tarts.

A cartoon girl asks for a Pop Tart ice cream sandwich. The cartoon showed 2 Pop Tarts with a scoop of ice cream between them, then flattened to make a sandwich. I decided to calculate the calories.

A Pop Tart typically has around 200 calories. A sccop of ice cream typically has around 250 calories. That means your Pop Tart ice cream sandwich, as shown in the commercial, would be 600 calories.

I then wanted to look up how to burn calories. To burn 600 calories, a 70-pound kid would have to...

  • Ride her bike as a casual speed but non-stop for 3 hours.
  • Do light cleaning around the house for 7 hours.
  • Sit and watch TV for 19 hours. That might be the same for playing video games.
  • Swim around a lake for 3 hours.

Seems like a lot of empty calories to me. Why not make an ice cream sandwich by cutting one Pop Tart in half and putting in half a scoop off ice cream? That would be 325 calories. That's a great snack size. And it's important to be thinking about this if you have one of the millions of kids who are overweight, gaining weight quickly, or mostly sedentary.

I'd probably suggest something better than a Pop Tart anyway. Why eat something terribly overprocessed and full of chemicals. Maybe a graham cracker would be better? Just wondering.

Disclaimer: I don't eat Pop Tarts.

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Friday, 07 May 2010

I'm Special, But Not Special Enough For A Personal Email

Another in my series of "please don't do this on online dating sites." A guy I was not interested in sent me an email. Sure, he could have said, "Hi. You look interesting. Please check out my profile." That could have been it.

But no. He sent me this long email... that was clearly not for me... that he probably sends to everybody. I am not going to even BOTHER pointing out everything that is wrong here. From the fact that I don't start wars to the idea that this guy wants to kiss all his female cousins... well, I'll let you enjoy.

I emailed him back with, "Boo to copy and paste," and set the online dating system to block him.

The email was entitled, "Greetings." But really, it's like a bad forward we would all delete.

    You are a very pretty woman. I prefer brunettes. You have a face that could launch a 1,000 ships. Do you know what that saying is from? And not a song by Bread.

    You have an interesting profile.

    Auction Humor

    The bidding was proceeding furiously and strong when the Chief Auctioneer suddenly announced, "a gentleman in this room has lost a wallet containing ten thousand dollars. If returned, he will pay a reward of two thousand dollars". There was a moment's silence in the auction house and from the back of the room came a cry: "Two thousand five hundred".

    I enjoy traveling. That is why I am in Tucson. I am from Chicago. In 2005, the Chicago White Sox won the World Series. In 2006 and 2007 I came here for spring training and decided to move here. I have traveled throughout the USA and Canada. New York City, Boston, New Orleans, LA, Phoenix, Toronto, SF, Mrytle Beach VA., skiing in VT, MI, OH, KS, IA, MO, AR (been to the Hot Springs), LA, MS, AL, GA, Atlanta, Disneyworld, TN, Nashville, KY, IN, WI, MN, ND, SD, IA, Nebraska, Montana, Wyoming, Glacier Park, Yellowstone Park, and a helicoptor ride over the Grand Canyon. Overseas:Paris, Fance; Rome, Italy; Ireland and Australia.

    Family is important. I have 2 brothers and 2 sisters. One of my sisters is 2 years older than me. When we were young, she thought it was her personal responsibility to teach me how to treat a girl. I open all doors. Women ask me why I do that. Well, it is because of my sister. My mother's twin sister had 9 kids. Boy, girl, boy, girl, boy, girl, boy, girl, boy. The 3rd oldest boy was a year younger than me. In grammar school, I lived every summer with them. I am from a big clan. I always thought my uncles and aunts were the best in the world. Being a Catholic clan. Everybody was baptized, first communion, confirmation, graduations. The clan got together for all of them. I was close to all my cousins. It was mandatory that all clan gatherings to shake all uncles hands and kiss all aunts. Of course, I kissed all my female cousins.

    Communication, honesty, integrity loyalty and respect are important to me.

    Please, tell me more about yourself.

    Johnny

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Wednesday, 05 May 2010

Another Online Dating Profile Tip

I'm giving online dating another shot. Partially, I hope to make good friends. Partially, it seemed to be an endless source of blog, Facebook, and Twitter content... so much so that when I left online dating sites, there was a mini rebellion. People told me they loved those posts, so I guess they're back!

I read a dating profile yesterday that made a good point. He said he's not interested if most or all of your profile is about who your perfect match is. He's right. The profile is YOUR chance to get me interested in you. It's your commercial! It's your, "This is who I am... want to know more?"

First, I thought he was being a bit jerky with his list of things that if you're doing, he doesn't want to hear from you. But he's right. I got a profile this morning where the WHOLE thing was what the right woman will be... an do... and understand... and be into. Someone has been watching too much Weird Science.

And to make it worse, his profile says he doesn't have kids, probably doesn't want kids, I don't have or want kids, and his ONLY profile picture was him holding a baby. That's a turn ON for women who want kids. That's a turn OFF for women who don't want kids. :) This guy claims to not want kids. Wrong picture!

So men and ladies, use your online dating profiles to show me who you are. What are you into. What are you passionate about. Hobbies, favourite bands, fave comedians. Recent live shows you saw. Your fave vacation. Get me interested by telling me actual things about who you actually are!

Aaaaaaaa!

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Tuesday, 04 May 2010

Take Pics of eBay Items Before You Return Them

I bought a spare battery on eBay. Based on the mAh, it should have lasted twice as long as my standard battery. I got the battery. I tried it out. I was lasting about the same as my standard battery. It was some off-brand, so maybe that explains it not really living up to the claimed time.

I contacted the seller. He was willing to take it back and give me a refund. OK that sounds great. He sent a UPS return label. Also very nice! Didn't have to. He sent me an email asking me to please give him very high ratings because he is trying so hard to make me happy. I thought it was a shame that he felt he had to say that. I said of course I'd give you good ratings... you are helping me out.

I returned the battery. A week later, I get a phone call from the seller, and then an email. They tell me they got the battery back, they gave me a full refund (which was in my PayPal account, so it was true), but I sent back a badly damaged battery that they cannot resell. The email said that they knew I resell to my customers, and they thought I would want to know.

I was surprised. I don't resell. I used that battery. I told him that in my email when I wanted to return it. And I didn't think I had damaged the battery! The battery went from my desk to the couch... that's about it around here! I emailed telling him that I do not resell, and I would like pictures of this badly damaged battery.

He emailed back with two pictures. The battery looks scuffed and badly used. I didn't think it looked that way, but can't prove it. Note to self, take a zillion pictures of things before you send them back. The email with the pictures came with an email asking me how I could do this to him.

Excuse me? How could I do this to him? Like I planned to get a crappy battery, send it back scuffed up, and be a jerk?

He thinks that I purposefully sent him back a damaged battery? And what do I gain from that?! You couldn't ask me if I saw that the battery looked badly used? And if this is so damaged you can't sell it, why did you refund me in full? Why not refund me like $20 or nothing? If my return doesn't fit into your return policy, you don't have to refund me!!!

I sent a pretty angry email. I thought it was pretty jerky of him to accuse me of that. Why not ASK me? Why not show the pictures and tell me they can't refund any or all of it? I really don't like being accused of things I didn't do. Don't treat me like a jerk until I act like a jerk. If he had emailed me and said it was too damaged to give me the return, and I saw the pictures, I would have had to go with what he's saying and not have gotten a refund.

I won't say how this ended, but I sure wish I had taken a video of the item in great detail, and then me sealing it up in the box. I even had all of his original packaging.

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Monday, 03 May 2010

How To Get Me To Hang Up On You

Guys calls my music business phone line. Tells me he's a drummer, and he would like to get a list of everybody who works at my company. He wants that so that he can try to get my staff to find him drumming work.

I'm not OK with that. My staff are very unlikely to want to go to bat for some guy they don't know. And my staff are not here to market you, random, unnamed guy. It doesn't make sense to expose my staff and the important celebrities they know to anybody who calls. And with blocked caller ID, who KNOWS who this guy is, and what he would really do with that information!

I told him I did not think we would do that. His response was, "Well, is there someone else there I can talk to, or are you just the secretary."

(That's how to get me to hang up on you.)

I replied, "Sir, I own the company," and hung up on him. He called back. I decided to not answer. He left a voice mail saying that was going to tell all his celebrity friends to watch out for me.

Are these the same celebrity friends not hiring you right now? So many celebrity friends that you needed to call me try to get access to my and my team's celebrity friends?

Just a tip. When you do something stupid, APOLOGISE. It goes MUCH farther than threatening to hurt my business.

Another tip. Don't call a company to ask strangers to give up all their celebrity contacts to you. Not gonna happen.

I said good day. :)

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What "Don't Tattle" Teaches

Many people grew up hearing "don't tattle" and "don't snitch." Evidently, the idea is that if you see someone doing something wrong, keep it to yourself because nobody will like you. Nobody likes the person who reveals the truth, and wouldn't you rather be popular.

I've never understood this. I don't understand why people continue telling their children this. To me, this is what leads to unreported crimes, sexual abuse, and other issues. And for those of you who think that you don't want your kids to "snitch" but when they grow up, they'll know right and wrong, guess again.

I cannot tell you how many times I watch unjust things happen, and nobody says anything. Except me. I grew up being told you are your brother's keeper. Stand up for people. Stand up for the person who can't stand up for himself. Say something if you see something wrong. We were taught to tell the truth, and instead of lying to cover up bad decisions, we were taught to make better decisions.

In high school, we learned about the famous case of Kitty Genovese, who was evidently screaming while being murdered, and nobody wanted to call the police. Nobody wanted to get involved in what was someone else's trouble.

Last year, a bunch of teenagers watched a girl get gang raped. One decided to call AFTER it was over. How many kids didn't stop the attack or call the police earlier. They were standing there. Someone taught them that you don't tattle. If they had been taught to act on these things, someone would have seen this, and even if they didn't think they could stop it, they would have walked off and called the police. The attack evidently went on over an hour.

I recently saw something in an advertising blog about an ad that was being run to remind people to report things they think are crimes. The ad shows a guy feeling annoyed that his neighbours are loud... in the ad, he can evidently hear the man beating the woman. The ad asks how he will feel when he stops hearing her cries (and it's too late... and he did nothing). Good question.

It's about more than crimes. It's about standing up to what you see as wrong. It's how I was raised, and if you know me (or read my blog), you know I'm not afraid to say something. Someone recently asked if I were some sort of trouble-maker. I said I am a whistleblower.

Yesterday, I went to my apartment's sales office to ask why the leasing office is always closed (they sell some of the units here as condos, and run two different offices). The girl said she had nothing to do with that office, but heard the leasing agent is never there when she should be there. I said we should talk to the property owner about that. A grown woman said to me, "I'm not going to tattle."

Really. Someone whose job has nothing to do with you is creating a bad experience for customers who COULD be yours (if I like living here, maybe I'd buy a unit), and you don't want to say anything to your bosses. You'd rather your customers get poor service and a poor experience so that you don't have to report the problem.

I tend to think that people who don't want to tattle as adults have something or a lot to hide. I'm happy to stand up and say something because I know I have no closet skeletons. I can cast the first stone. :)

I would like to see today's parents teaching children better decision-making with the future and multiple possible outcomes in mind. I would like to see today's parents teaching children to stand up for what they believe in and what they think is right. How much less abuse, crime, or just day-to-day negative situations would there be if our children felt responsible for themselves and for their fellow man?

Just a dream.

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Friday, 30 April 2010

I'm In A Foreign Country And Need You To Send Money

It's a scam. I'm not in a foreign country. Hey, I'll take any money you want to send!

But beware of these. I just got another last week. A client's email was hacked, and I got an email saying HELP, she was in a foreign country, she got mugged, and needed me to wire her money.

Clearly, if that happened to her, she is probably NOT thinking, "I will get Debbie from As Was to send me money." But your natural reaction is to think someone is in trouble and you have to help.

Just be careful of these. If you think something could be real, call the person. Are they really in some other country? Then somebody knows at what hotel they're staying. Call and ask to talk to them.

Never wire money to anybody. Period. Don't wire money to a stranger. Don't wire money to someone who claims to be eBay. If your friend really is in trouble and really needs money, then you will be wiring to your friend's American bank account with his or her name on it. And you would have spoken to your friend to get all of his or her banking details.

Just be very careful of this stuff. It plays on the heartstrings. Think before you act. Take a moment to be logical!

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Monday, 26 April 2010

How Your eBay Designer Can Hurt Your Search Placement

eBay is tougher than ever. They crack down on more rules than they used to. And they're organising search results partially by item relevance, partially by your seller reputation, and partially by whether or not you, as a seller, are compliant with eBay policies.

That means if you break eBay rules, it goes on the old permanent record. It used to get you a slap on the wrist. Now, breaking the rules COULD get you pushed lower in search results. It's hard to spiral back up from that. Also, your competitors can't wait to catch you breaking the rules so they can turn you in! Your items come down, and you are scrambling to fix whatever it was. So play by the rules!

One thing that amazes me is that amount of eBay listing templates (and eBay Stores) that have broken rules in them. That means that when you hire someone to do design for your eBay items, you are not just hoping for something "nice." You should also be hoping that this person or company really knows eBay rules, and will keep you out of trouble. Because if your designer puts something in your listings that is against eBay rules, guess who gets in trouble. Not the designer!

Here is a great example. I saw an eBay item last week where the template was pushing people to sign up for this seller's email mailing list. That may sound fine, but that's against eBay rules. On eBay, you can only push people to sign up for your eBay Store mailing list... no outside mailing lists (like Constant Contact, Mad Mimi, etc...). So a design company that works that into your template could be hurting your business when eBay starts removing your items for breaking rules.

Same is true for putting in URLs and live chat. Against the rules. Same with displaying contact information in the design of your eBay Store. Yes, really. And let's not forget the famous Site Interference rule, which we've known about since eBay created it in 2004... as in there is no excuse for someone claiming to be eBay experts to not know about this rule. When eBay cracked down on that in January 2009, one design company claiming to be the best in the world had 1600 non-compliant Stores they had to fix. But they told their customers there was nothing wrong with their Stores, so they could pay to "upgrade" them or just uninstall them. Super ugh.

eBay's keyword spamming rule is another that so-called eBay experts often break. Here are some examples of what you CAN'T do that I see so-called professional eBay designers doing:

  • Drop down menus. Unless you do special coding around them or build them in Flash, eBay can see every word in a drop down menu. It's indexed for Title and Description searches. And that's why it's keyword spamming.
  • Paragraphs in your listing or template summarising what you tend to sell. You might have a paragraph listing all the types of items you often have, or maybe it's a list of brand names you often have. This is against eBay rules. You can write this info, but it has to be in a graphic so the words aren't indexed for the Title and Description search.

And this is without me mentioning the bad ideas designers put in... things that can actually hurt your sales! I'm just talking about non-compliant things that can get you flagged in eBay's system as a rule-breaker.

How do you find a design company that will take proper care of you? Well, I only know that we will. I don't know of any others that are creating compliant designs. Our contract even says that if anything we do is found to be non-compliant (based on rules that existed when we built it), we will fix it ASAP for free. I don't even know of another eBay-related design or consulting company that gives you a contract, let alone a promise like that.

So we feel it's time to shoot for quality over price. Expertise. Personal attention. A truly unique design that doesn't look like anything we've done for other clients. It's your branding and marketing. It's your eBay business. Choose wisely!

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Sunday, 25 April 2010

Arizona Bill 1070: What Will It Do?

AZ bill 1070 is now evidently law. People on both sides are on fire. The intention was to crack down on illegal immigrants, especially those who are criminals. Those for the bill say this is great because we have to do more about illegal immigrants and crime. Those are who against it say this is one step closer to Nazi Germany since the law gives the police the power to ask anybody to produce proof of immigration status. It also looks like it'll welcome racial profiling since the police may NOT detain a white guy with curly orange hair... even if he's an illegal Irishman. He's not who they're looking for.

Yes I want to see less crime. I'd like to see no crime! I'd like to see our immigration issue improved. But there is one thing that stands out to me about this law.

It's unlikely to change the behaviour of the bad people.

Let's say you're really mad. You want to kill someone. And you've reached the point where you're putting your morals aside, and you feel ready to kill someone. You may NOT kill someone when you realise that upon being caught, you could spend life in jail or be put to death. The law and the threat of punishment are there to keep you from doing what you shouldn't do.

What in this law would keep illegal immigrants from sneaking in? Where is the threat of something really bad happening that you'd want to not have happen to you? 

If I am a Mexican gang member and drug dealer, what in this law would make me change my plans and not cross the border? Nothing.

Australia is evidently considering a law that would mean 3 years of automatic jail time if an adult is caught posing as a child in an online community in order to connect with minors. Think the 56 yr old dude telling teen girls he's actually a school mate of theirs, and please friend him on Facebook. The idea of having a law like that is so that if you are a scary dude thinking of doing this, you will think twice because you won't be able to plea down to no jail. You will get SOME jail at least.

When I look at this AZ law, I just don't see what in it is going to make people do something different. I do NOT want to debate crime and illegal immigrants. I do not want to debate racial profiling. I know this is a hot topic, but I am boiling this law down to the most basic point: it doesn't seem to actually DO anything (good). I just don't see what in it would make people NOT do something they were planning to do (illegally).

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Wednesday, 21 April 2010

National Commercial FAIL

Sure, making one commercial for the whole country is cheap. But sometimes, you put something very regional in a commercial, and it doesn't make sense for where you're airing it.

I just saw a Maaco commercial. They always want to paint your car. Do cars need painting that often? My car is made of plastic. I would think it costs less to just replace body panels that are plastic and were cast/molded in that colour (not painted).

Maaco asks if your car needs painting after a harsh winter. They show cars driving on what looks like an upstate NY mountain road in a blizzard. Snow everywhere, snow coming down.

This is Tucson. Our station is seen by "southern Arizona" (south of Phoenix). Our typical winter day has a daytime high of about 55 degrees. We basically don't get snow unless you live at the top of our ski mountain.

So on behalf of the warm parts of the country... Tucson, Miami, San Diego, Houston... I'm thinking these places don't get snow. Maybe one commercial for places that get snow, one commercial for places that don't.

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Tuesday, 20 April 2010

How Much Personal Info Do You Need?

Tonight, I was lead by a record company to a free download of a song. A splash page asked for my email address. Well, I didn't want to give that, but I figured I couldn't get the song without that, and whatever they do, I can remove myself later from a list.

The next page wasn't the song. There was more information they wanted me to fill out. They asked for:

  • First and last name
  • Full birth date and year
  • Country and zip/postal code
  • Gender
  • Whether or not I want to be contacted by them

I wasn't comfy giving that info up to a record company for a free download of a song that's coming out soon, a song I've already seen on YouTube (so I can get it other ways).

How much info do you really need from me? If you are going to market to me about this or other band, you only need my email address and my permission. If you are going to market by geography, say to tell me that they are coming to my town, then you need email and postal code.

You don't need my name. You certainly don't need my date and year of birth. And what's gender for? If I'm a fan of this band, are you doing different marketing to men and women?

I wasn't comfy giving this much info out, which means they got none from me. And we've all seen forms like this. A company asks for so much info that you don't want to fill out the form because of the time it'll take... or the info they are asking.

With people having no attention span now, it's more important than ever to keep things short, and only ask for what you really really need. Catch more flies that way!

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Saturday, 10 April 2010

What Best Buy Will Tell You About the iPad

Stopped into Best Buy today to get another external drive. Love those Seagate FreeAgents, especially for all my travels.

Saw the iPad. Had no interest in playing with it. It was smaller than I thought for some reason.

Got to talking with a Best Buy staffer about the iPad. He agreed with me that it really didn't do much that was that amazing. Sure, it's nice for gaming, videos, music, etc... but so are a lot of other things. He said he's already had some bumpy roads with customers in the store who open up iTunes... and then open up a game... and are surprised when the music STOPS playing.

As in it doesn't multitask. Which we knew. But let's not forget it. Apple knew that was a flaw in the iTouch and iPhone, and rolled this out anyway.

The most interesting part was that based on the training the Best Buy staff got, even if asked directly, they are NOT allowed to say that the iPad is a larger iTouch... even though it mostly seems to be. I asked what they have to say. They have to say, "It does so much more." But he couldn't tell me what the much more was.

Note that Best Buy staff do NOT work on commission. It's not in this guy's best interest to sell you something you don't want or need. But they were trained on what to say, and that's the party line.

So there ya go. Me? I'll probably grab an HP Slate when it comes out, just to have something portable. Keep the laptop mostly on the desk. Run Photoshop if I need to. If you're my client, and I'm saving the day for you somewhere with my Windows slate tablet because it runs Photoshop, then you're happy I'm not on an iPad. :)

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Monday, 05 April 2010

Dear Neighbour, I Took Down Your Wind Chimes

Dear Neighbour,

I just carried a dining room chair down my steps, walked over to your unoccupied condo, lined up my chair with your patio railing, stood on my toes, and took down your wind chimes. I left you a note about why.

I do not need to be notified that the wind is blowing. I was hoping that you would get tired of the sound any time over the past few months. But you don't seem to actually live in your condo, so you don't get to get sick of the sound you left behind.

The sound of your chimes sounds like a ship needs guidance into a Maine port. They're not soft or soothing. It is a low-toned bell. Ringing hundreds of times a day.

But you wouldn't know because you don't live here. I have never seen you come or go. This must be your vacation property. Or an investment. You painted the inside. You hung photos. You're not here. But your wind chime is.

Please be courteous of your neighbours, even those of us you don't know or don't see. That wind chime kept me awake at night, woke me when I was sleeping, and keeps me from a decent nap. I can hear the sound from every corner of my apartment even with my windows closed.

Signed,

Your Neighbour At Her Wit's End

People, there is NO reason for wind chimes. None. You do not need to know when the wind is blowing. I live in a windy place. I do not need to hear these hundreds of times, day and night. If you live on a rural farm, and nobody hears them but you, hang up as many as you like. In a tight apartment complex, please consider the others living here. Zero other people in this development have wind chimes. You wouldn't know because you are never here!

Grrrrr!

Heart pounding. Not napping. Grrrr.

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Thursday, 01 April 2010

How To Use the F Word To Not Get Hired

This is not April Fools. This is real!

A friend of mine heads a tech department at an ad agency/media company. He had a phone interview scheduled with a woman who had applied for a job when he noticed that her resume had been filed under the wrong job. To interview her for the right job, he'd have to coordinate different people being on that call. So he told her what happened, and that he'd have to reschedule and get back to her.

After reviewing her resume for the real job for which she had applied, he decided that she wasn't really the right fit for that job. So he had to contact her again, apologise, and say that they were not going to interview her as they didn't feel she was right for the job, but they'd keep her resume on file in case a better fit opened up. I'm sure my friend found some delicate, professional way to say it.

This is the email he received from her in reply. Please do NOT continue reading if swear words make you sad.

Oh, ok, so you fuck up and I get penalized for it? I apply for one position, and you decide to put me in another slot without telling me? What's more, you didn't even interview me for the developer position? FUCK YOU AND FUCK YOUR PIECE OF SHIT COMPANY YOU FUCKING LOW LIFE MOTHERFUCKER.

The only CONFUSION is your STUPID ASS and your COLLEAGUES who don't seem to be able TO EVEN SCHEDULE AND CONDUCT AN INTERVIEW.

FUCKING CLOWN SHOE LOSERS.   I can design and code circles around your asses anyday. I guess I am supposed to come and work for pennies for you?

FUCK YOU

FUCK YOU

FUCK YOU you slimeball MOTHERFUCKERS.


Well, she sure told them. I'm sure they really want to meet her now. And note that they have her name and all her contact details. I would imagine that when colleagues get together, perhaps they are telling each other to stay away from her... by name.

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Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Sunbird + Google Calendar = Disaster

Alcohol and drugs. Drinking and driving. Sex and strangers. All things you shouldn't combine. Today, add Mozilla's Sunbird and Google's Calendar to that list.

I tried Sunbird. An email came in inviting me to a very confidential conference call. I accepted! Sunbird put it in my calendar. Sunbird started doing something wacky, and it looked like emails were going out. I stopped it. I thought it was stopped.

I was sync'ing with Google Calendar since my mobile phone syncs with Google Calendar, and it's a good wireless way to get all my appointments to and from my phone.

I didn't like Sunbird, so I uninstalled it. I now use a Thunderbird add-on that just syncs with Google Calendar. So that completes the triangle. Meeting requests come in as plain emails, and I manually make calendar events.

That was about 2 weeks ago. I found out today that Sunbird somehow decided this confidential meeting was MY event. It got sent to Google Cal as my event, so a Gmail account I don't use at all for anything started sending out invitations, and fielding acceptances and declines.

Obviously, I'm horribly embarrassed. This was a total tech snafu that I couldn't have seen coming. I apologise to everybody involved. It doesn't look like it's happened again since I uninstalled Sunbird.

People, please. Don't mix Sunbird and Google Calendar. Something just isn't natural!!!

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Monday, 29 March 2010

When Your Web Design Contradicts Your Message

A friend showed me a website she was having someone build for her new company. The site has no design except for her logo, which was large and clearly the main feature of the whole home page. The rest of the home page was wordy. I wasn't too impressed. I was even a little concerned.

I then started reading what was on the home page. Her main message was about being vivid, articulate, and distinctive. I know her, and she is. She is all of those things and more. She's an amazing powerhouse!

But her website wasn't any of those things. With all muted colours, and very little design, it wasn't vivid. It might be articulate, but I don't know because I hate reading a lot. :) And it wasn't distinctive. It could have been designed by anybody and be for any company or product. It was quite plain, and seemed sort of "out of a box." I could see her having paid $50 to India for it, or $5,000 to New York City from a company promoting minimalism.

My outside of the box friend deserves an outside of the box website, especially if that's her company message.

This reminds me of some of my silly blog posts about what people write about themselves on online dating sites. Don't tell me you're funny. Write something that's funny. Don't tell me your handsome. Show me pics, and I'll decide that for myself! Saying you're funny if you're not falls flat, and ends up meaningless.

Saying you're vivid and distinctive when your website is plain, cookie cutter, and lacking imagination just falls flat. My friend deserves so much better, and so do you. Make sure your design matches your message. If your message is, "Our amazing and unique company will make you remarkable," then BE remarkable. BE amazing and unique. Don't just tell me you're _____. BE it. Make sure your design reflects, enhances, and delivers your company's message.

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Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Social Networking: How Many People Connect Deeply?

I've been having an interesting email back-and-forth with someone I'm trying to get to speak at the next RocketPlace event (3 & 4 August, totally online!). The guy wasn't sure he can do it, and then emailed me last night that he's not sure it's worth it to him because he only wants to speak where he can get more clients for his business.

I have read that given today's social media technology, something I say can quickly spread to 3,000 people... between who reads my blog, twitter, Facebook, text messages, emails, and then who tells THEIR friends. 3,000 sounds weird, but it's possible. I have nearly 400 FB friends. Around 1000 people follow me on Twitter. I have hundreds of LinkedIn contacts. People stumble on this blog.

Even though something I post may be pushed to around 2000 people, let's use low numbers for our example. Let's say that something I post "deeply" reaches 100 people (5%), who get excited and want to share what I said. And let's say each of those 100 people reach 20 people, who are really excited about what they see. That's 2000 people who felt "deeply" connected to something I said... not counting people who became aware of it but didn't go bonkers over it.

Based on the tweets and other posts I see from my network, I know that when people hear a speaker they like, they spread the word. And I know that when my friends post something I find interesting or exciting, I post it... which means it now ripples out to my whole audience and network. All within minutes.

So this guy has the chance to connect with my conference audience multiplied by 3,000. Maybe 2,000. But still heaps of people.

That's how I see it when I am speaking or being interviewed. Hey, the people listening may not need me, but chances are, they know someone who does. And if they like me, they're going to make that recommendation. I want that recommendation! So I take pretty much every speaking opportunity that comes my way. Why not ripple out everything I can? Why not take the opportunity to proudly say that certain events or shows wanted me to speak?!

The interesting thing about that is that he has decided not only that NOBODY in the audience will ever hire him, but that nobody in the audience KNOWS ANYBODY who will ever hire him. As he emailed me, he only wants to speak where he'll get more clients for his business. Maybe he is psychic!

Sure, I want more clients too, but I know there is value to marketing, visibility, and awareness. I have never seen anybody in my network posting about this guy... which means they may not know about him... which means this could be his chance to get exposure to heaps of people who don't know who he is. I wanted him to speak for a half hour. How much exposure or new clients would he have to get for a half hour of speaking from him home or office computer to be worth it?

Given what this guy does, I think people WOULD spread the word about him, and someone WOULD hire him. But he's pre-decided that hundreds of thousands of people won't be interested in what he does. 

If he doesn't want the gig, I'll find another speaker. :) He's not the only guy who knows a few things about this topic. I can give someone else the exposure.

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Sunday, 14 March 2010

Terrible Grammar and Up Yours

I got a notice on my door from my apartment community. Keep in mind that about half the people here rent, and half own as 'condos.' I rent. I wouldn't buy this. But do keep in mind that this development has one of the best views in town, so it's not cheap.

The notice is to let me know that this and next week, a tree specialist will be trimming trees. OK, thanks for letting me know. Here is an actual bit from the notice, typed exactly as it is:

"The trimming is necessary an arborist evaluated out trees and has made recommendations based on the desire for safety first and foremost, and then consideration was made for the long term health of the trees not for views and personal tastes."

Not only is that a non-sentence, but I sense a bit of f**k you in there. Nice marketing, fancy apartment and condo community.

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Thursday, 25 February 2010

iPod Touch: The Ultimate Unitasker

I decided yesterday that I must be missing out on something. My lack of access to zillions of iPod and iPhone apps must surely be harming my productivity. There are so many things I could be doing... and I'm not since they're not apps for my phone. My phone is currently the HTC Touch Pro 2 for Sprint, a Windows Mobile 6.1 phone. I'm generally happy with it. I've used WinMo for so many years that I know how to make it bow to me. So I'm very productive.

But those apps! I must be missing out! I decided to go out to Best Buy and get the 3rd generation iPod Touch.

Took it home and charged it. Turned it on. Had to download iTunes (boo) for what seemed like no reason... since I can create an App Store account from the iPod. Whatever.

Got it started. Sat outside in the sun, got on my Wi-Fi, and started going around the App Store. Started downloading the usual free guys... Facebook, something for Twitter, Rhapsody, OpenTable. Started trying to log in and get things done. 

Couldn't believe how little I was getting done.

The Facebook app seemed quite clumsy. I went for Rhapsody. Got logged in, found a playlist, and started playing, "Taking Islands in Africa," by Japan. OK that's going well. Now, let's go back to Facebook or Twitter and see if I can get that going.

The music stopped. Huh? Where's my music? I guess Rhapsody doesn't run in the background, so you're either using Rhapsody or you're not.

OK, I have an MP3 player. Let's check out mapping. Went to the maps app. Asked it to find my location. I was shown a location I've never seen in my life. I have no idea what town in what city that was. It was definitely not Tucson. I don't remember where it was.

I asked it again to find my location. It finally showed the corner of Oracle Road and Orange Grove Road in Tucson. I was sitting 6 or 7 miles away from that. I decided that was really far off. Someone suggested it may have just shown me the closest cell phone tower... which would make sense if this had a phone and was looking for cell towers. This is the iPod!

I downloaded Google Earth. It first showed me in weird mystery place, which turned out to be the west coast of Florida. I asked it to try again, and it placed me at Oracle and Orange Grove. This kills the usefullness of apps that will find things, people, and resources near me. My WinMo phone's GPS usually finds me to within 20 meters. That's really helpful when you want it to map something near you.

What about all the apps? Let's say I want to track flights. Well, I can take my current phone, go to a website, and track a flight. Or I can pay $10 for an app that'll track a flight on the iPod. Twitter? I have an app (PockeTwit) on my WinMo phone. Love that app. Or I could pay $5 for "popular" Twitter apps on the iPod. I could easily have blown what I spent on the iPod on apps.

So 30 minutes into playing with the iPod Touch, I hit the factory reset button, and asked it to erase everything I had put on it. It was clearly not useful. I was not missing out on anything I felt like paying for. I am not impressed by a device that for the most part does one thing at a time, and what it can do, I feel like my cell phone will do much better and more efficiently.

People love their iWhatevers. I know. I just don't see it. I'm looking for something more useful. If you're ever watched Good Eats, Alton Brown says to always buy what multitasks, don't buy a "unitasker." I felt like the iPod was a unitasker, and maybe it's great at being one thing. I was hoping with all those apps, it would be great at being multiple things, but it's still not better than a Windows Mobile cell phone.

Buh-bye. Returned to Best Buy. Guy asked if I wanted to look at a Zune. :) I told him I wasn't using this for music.

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Saturday, 21 November 2009

Good Riddance, Palm Pre

Palm Pre, I gave you a chance, and now, it's time for us to break up. I need to walk away from unhealthy relationships.

I dumped Windows Mobile for you. I had a bunch of HTCs running WinMo. I was happy and productive. They were getting a little slow, but man, I was getting things done and multitasking. The Pre promised so much, especially to us multitaskers and heavy email users.

The Pre has so much wrong with it at the very foundation that I have been running FIFTY patches just to make it viable. For example, without any patches, the Pre makes a sound. It could be anything. Low battery. New email. Text message. Voice mail alert. You'll never know! You have to pull the phone out to see what it was. And the by the time you pull the phone out, the screen has gone off and back into lock mode. So you have to turn it on, unlock it, and see what it was.

I thought I could live with lots of band-aids, but it's been nearly 5 months with this phone, and I'm tired of two things. One is the major lack of apps. I really was missing the apps I was using under WinMo... ProfiMail, PockeTwit, Skype, TomTom navigation (and you don't need a data connection!), SPB Pocket Plus (and Diary), Slick (unified messenger), and more.

The other has to do with the OS just not making sense for how I use it. It's like they wanted an iPhone competitor, but didn't think about how power users use stuff. The patches helped, but still weren't enough. And then the new OS came out last week.

Someone kill me.

The new OS killed the "delete email from server" feature from email. I delete emails on the Pre. They still show up in Outlook. Outlook deletes them from the server. The Palm syncs, and doesn't delete them. I have to delete emails twice. It's nearly 2010. Surely, we can perfect this. Nope, Palm's official word on their forums is that this now works correctly, and that anybody who disagrees doesn't really understand POP3.

And time zones are now messed up. I just got a text message that shows up as 8:43pm. It's 9:43pm. My text reply timestamps at 9:44pm. So messed up. I don't need this crap, and I have better things to do than to keep taping a phone back together with all kinds of patches.

Screen are slow to come up. An email that comes in, I can wait a minute for the text to come up on the screen. Text message comes in? The Palm seems to load every message to and from that person ever from some remote online backup before showing me what he/she said. Slow. Stupid slow.

I don't have time to be this non-productive. I don't have time to try to make any lame piece of equipment work the way I need it to. Windows Mobile did everything I needed, and was pretty reliable. So I'm going to go to the Sprint store, and I'm going to get the HTC Touch Pro 2. The HTC 6700 and 6800 I had served me very well for many years, and I'm just going to stick with what I know works. I know WinMo may not be the hottest OS right now, but right now, I need to be functional.

This is a warning. Those of you thinking about getting the Palm Pre? Don't bother. I know it's now on fire sale for like $50 in some places. Not worth it. If you are a light user and don't care about personalising the phone with sounds or helpful things, then you might like it. But I need something better than this. Palm over-promised and under-delivered.

Good luck, Palm.

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Thursday, 29 October 2009

Dove and Walmart Remind You You're Ugly

Do you get these commercials where you live? A bunch of women are signing a song to the tune of "Do Your Ears Hang Low" (not sure what that's really the tune of), and they are going through a litany of physical characteristics that women traditionally may not like about themselves?

The words to this car wreck seem to be:

Do your eyes sit wide
Does your nose turn to the side
Do your elbows kind of crinkle
Do your knees sort of wrinkle
Does your chest tend to freckle
Do you have a crooked smile

Do your eyes sit wide

Do your ears sort of wiggle
Does your hair make you giggle
Does your neck grow long
Do your hips sing a song

Do your ears hang low

When this commercial comes on, I feel ugly and self-conscious. Are my eyes wider than I thought? Are my hips awful, but we're going to disguise that by saying they "sing a song"? Are my knees wrinkled?

And one should note that the women in this commercial, for the most part, are not traditionally attractive. Some were kind of ugly. Some looked OK. But the commercial seems to be about getting women to identify with unattractive women who don't seem to terribly mind that they're not so good looking.

Huh? Is that supposed to be empowering? And where is the message of this song? Where is the "Do you have a crooked smile but you're still beautiful and awesome?" The song is just a list of not-so-hot qualities without much of any other message.

Do you know what makes me feel beautiful? Thinking about the physical qualities I LIKE about myself, not singing about physical qualities I may not like about myself. I have nice eyes and nicely-shaped lips. My nose is a bit big, so I try to NOT bring attention to it. My ears stick out a little, so I tend to wear my hair long. My skin tone is uneven, but I have a nice butt and long legs for my short height. :)

So I focus on the good qualities! We all have good qualities. There should be a song about good qualities on average-looking people rather than a song about crappy, ugly qualities.

My sister always thought she had a crooked smile, and it seemed to drive her crazy. Every time a roll of film was developed or a school photo came back, she was not happy with her smile. I can't imagine her enjoying singing a song that asks her if she has a crooked smile, and seems to want to draw attention to that.

Dove and Walmart, you played this one wrong. If you want to celebrate the beauty in ugly or average-looking women, help us connect to our good qualities rather than having us sing along with some of the things that may make us self-conscious or feel unattractive.

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Thursday, 15 October 2009

Do NOT Bank with Citizens RSB Bank

I have never had such a horrible experience, and want to make sure everybody knows what horrible fraud and ineptitude goes on at Citizens Bank.

I moved away from where Citizens has branches, and have been trying to close my account. I called in mid-Sept asking them to close my account. They said they couldn't until I brought the balance to zero. That turned out to not be true (as in not the only way to close my account), but that's what I was told. I told them to please close the account and cancel my debit card so that if I bring things down to zero, no vendor who might have my card down as the monthly billing source would be able to hit it. I want the account to get to zero, close it, and be done. If any vendors try to hit it, the card would be declined, I'd know which vendors those are since they'll contact me, and I can give them another card.

That was the plan. I got the $25 and change out of the account, and I emailed customer service asking for my account to be closed. I got an email back on 30 Sep saying my account was closed. Great!

I then got a letter saying my account was hundreds of dollars overdrawn. Huh? I logged into online banking to see that a bunch of charges went through on the debit card on that account. The bank ACCEPTED those charges, sent my account into overdraft, and is charging me fees EVERY DAY that it's overdrawn.

I called up to complain about this, and was told that this was my fault. I evidently was supposed to call every company that might have this debit card as the card on file, and have them change it. That's news to me. I've cancelled MANY bank and PayPal debit cards, and once I did that, NO charges went through. Zero. Declined.

But according to Citizen's, this is my fault. I should have known that they would allow charges to go through on a deactivated, cancelled card on a closed bank account with a zero balance. My fault! Of course.

They also told me that a debit card charge or check coming through on a CLOSED account can reopen the account. Huh? Then why bother closing it? I'm closing it to STOP those things. I'm closing it to NOT do any more business with your bank!

I asked to talk to a supervisor. They said one would call me back. Nobody did. I called back 2 days later. The guy I got told me again that this was all my fault, and that a supervisor won't help me. I asked him how to mark my account as fraud, hacked, compromised, and frozen so that nothing else can debit it, he made it sound like he couldn't do that, and it's my responsibility to figure out which vendors might hit that card, and change the cards on file. OK, even if I did that, it's imperfect. They might hit it anyway, I might miss one, etc... Meanwhile, the bank can just STOP the transactions from being approved, so this shouldn't be my guessing game!

I was passed to the "collections" department since now I'm in collections... I have an overdrawn account and I'm just incurring more and more fees. That department was able to freeze my account, and now, any check or debit MasterCard transaction WILL be declined.

WELL WHY THE HELL COULDN'T THEY SET THE ACCOUNT FOR THAT WHEN I CLOSED IT?!?!? Why would you possibly allow my closed account to accept charges and go into overdraft when you COULD just set this freeze on it when I closed it? They made it sound like well, what if you had charges coming in? WELL, I'D LIKE THEM DECLINED SO I CAN GIVE THEM ANOTHER CARD! Why would I want that charge to go through knowing it'll cost me HEAPS in overdraft fees? Any charge that comes in after I close the account is either a mistake or fraud!

So where am I now. Well, I had to file a fraud complaint with another department. The claim is that the debit card transactions that went through shouldn't have. Those charges were unauthorised because the card was cancelled, and I expected/tried to pay those vendors with other cards. That means the overdraft and service fees are being disputed as well. I'll have to fill out an affidavit in a few days (waiting for it in the mail), and send that in. This isn't a huge amount of money. It was about $100 in debit card charges and about $330 in overdraft fees and service charges. I may owe those companies the $100, but it shouldn't cost me $430 and all this time.

So now this is going to take heaps of my time to fight and deal with. All they had to do was really shut things off and really close them. It's easy. I've had MANY banks do that all the time. When I want a debit card shut off and an account closed, you know what? The card should be shut off and the account closed. Nothing else should hit it, debit it, etc... It's EASY for the bank.

Do yourself a favour. Next time you're closing a bank account, ask about this. Ask if any charges can still come through. Ask if the bank can re-open a closed account on their own without talking to you. Just double-check. It seems insane, but please learn from the crap I'm going through now.

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Sunday, 04 October 2009

When a Customer Goes From Awkward to Abusive

When you sign onto inkFrog, you get some automatic emails during your trial. You get a welcome message from me. You get "your trial is going to expire" and "your trial expired" which still come from the CEO. But if you hit reply to any of these emails, they right now go to me. I help everybody I can. I don't have all the answers, but I do my best.

I got an email last week from a guy who was throwing around swear words, and complaining that nobody is responding to his emails. Well, I haven't seen an email from this guy, and now he's asking for the "fuckers" at inkFrog to help him with "shit," so I write him back that I evidently am the "fucker" he's looking for, and how can I help. I don't hear from him for days.

This morning, I get an angry email from the guy saying he wants to work directly with the CEO, and that I "copped an attitude after he cussed me out." He had more swear words for me, but said nothing about any of his issues. The guy seems to be angry that the form "trial will expire" email came from the CEO, but I wrote him back. So he keeps bringing up emails that say they're from Greg, but he's mad that he's hearing from me.

I feel that it's not only my job to help people, but in all honesty to act as a buffer for the CEO. While I'd like to see this customer get help, I don't need to connect him to the inkFrog CEO so this guy can just be abusive. So I tried again to tell him I'd help him, I don't have an attitude, and as his attitude won't fly with our CEO, I suggested he switch to decaf.

Yes, every customer is important, and sure, not every customer is going to be a match to inkFrog. Yes, we want to give good service, but you have to draw a line somewhere... especially when this is what you get back...

This is the email I got back from this guy, and I got his permission to publish it. It's so fantastically horrible that people need to see it. You know that the tech issue wasn't a big deal or problem when THIS is the email I get after asking twice for him to tell me what his issues are. I guess he had some sort of duplicate listing issue, but that seems to pale in the light of everything else he's burning to say.

    Well Gee, that's what the email said, " I'm Greg," blah , blah, robot bullshit. I understand that your fielding all the messages. What YOU don't get is you have problems. So your minding the store? Must be since I can reply to YOU, Inkfrog .com or whatever, and YOU answer as usual, not with any constructive help, just the usual pissing match. THE ONLY TIME I EVER HEARD FROM YOU"RE COMPANY WAS AFTER I CUSSED YOU OUT! By then, it was TOO LATE! Were you even back there way back when? So I haven't SUBSCRIBED? Yes I did. Just one of the minor problems. And if I didn't why do I have a password? So I didn't subscribe? GOOD! DON'T TAKE THE MONEY! But I'm done with you. You are not intrerested in fixing anything. Just in keeping Your status quo going. I Dare you to show this to Greg. I know you won't because you're a chickenshit. I'm abusing you? You're the one that keeps contacting me. I DON'T WISH TO SPEAK WITH WITH YOU! I Don't need your site! YOU SUCK!! GOT IT? You're the reason I can't stand women in busiiness. You screw up everything. Why don't you get back to the kitchen were you belong? My attitude won't go over with Greg? I guess not since he'll probably never see the problems. NO one needs you. No matter how bad Auctiva or even EBay is, Your total lack of support until, gee, "the money's not there, What can we do?" PISS OFF!! Comprende'?" Then," Hi, I'm Greg." THAT"S not a Robot?

    Here, try this: Here's a non techie solution to one of your probs'; IF I was to give you the benefit of the doubt that you weren't just ignoring me when it counted, And IF the subscription hadn't gone through, ( why am I not surprised, since I had to LAUNCH each of my three auctions three times to get two to stick. One was a duplicate that had to be erased immediately off of ebay after it showed up at 3:30 in the morning. Glitchy.) But the autobots can send me a countdown on my supposedly non subscription everyday asking for my suggestions which if I reply to by ANY email addy somehow funnels down to, what? Your crap cell phone, Debbie? How about this: IF I were to believe you never got the original emails, And then the 'bots start sending the pat response, why not change the email response addy every time? Didn't hear from the consumer the 1st time? who knows why. We've all created such a techno monster, even the super geeks can't unravel it. Maybe if a swallow flys south from Pittsbugh it wipes out all east coast emails for a week. So the second + third times the bot goes off, maybe it could send that persons response TO A DIFFERENT ADDRESS EACH TIME. Maybe that way you'd get it.( getting to be a lot of ifs,) And there's plenty more. I DO NOT WISH TO DEAL WITH YOU,DEBBIE! DO NOT CONTACT ME AGAIN! YOU FAILED! Show this to Greg.

    Dare Ya,

    Lov, Mike

    P.S. : Are you as turned on as I am right now?

Well, no I'm not turned on. Not at all. Not even close.

I like to help people. If someone emails me, I answer them. I do my best to help them. inkFrog loves its customers, and wants to fix any issues people have. But this is an example of where customer service can only go so far when someone becomes abusive.

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Thursday, 17 September 2009

Chase, PayPal, and Credit Card Fraud

Today was interesting. Two cards I have with two separate banks were both marked as potential fraud. But the circumstances were amazingly different.

First came a Chase card. This card is a debit MasterCard associated with an escrow account for my other biz, We Are Your People. We do tour management, so this card has probably paid around $60,000 in hotels, airfares, and other random things for the last 6 weeks... as our tour winds around North America. These hotels and purchases were in nearly 40 different cities.

We're over a month into the tour, and Chase marked me as potential fraud TODAY. 6 weeks into the tour, dozens of cities, hotels in every city, thousands of dollars in airfares... and today, they shut the card down and called me. Evidently, the $130 being charged by that Hampton Inn last night was too much! I had the card turned back on.

Goofballs.

Second was my debit MasterCard associated with my PayPal account. This morning, I flew from San Jose to Salt Lake City (for biz), so I charged at Delta airlines for checked bag fees. I then hit the card at Dollar Rental Car, and at the hotel where I'm typing this now. Total suspicious charges? About $800 across everybody, and some were just holds.

PayPal just called, suspecting fraud. I said that I had made all of those charges, so my card is still on.

To sum up, it took PayPal about 10-12 hours to think my card might be used fraudulently. Considering I started using the Chase card the first week of August, it took Chase about 6 weeks and probably more than $60,000 of charges to decide that maybe it was being used fraudulently.

I know people like to bash PayPal, but I'm going to say they're more on the ball here! Neither was fraud, but I tell you this. If anybody WERE using my Chase card fraudulently, I now know to NOT expect Chase's system to pick it up in any reasonable amount of time.

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Sunday, 06 September 2009

Tales from Online Dating

So I'm on an online dating site now. Just the one. Dropped some of the others, trying one I hadn't tried before.

And online dating is definitely an exercise in marketing. If you're not sure if it is, poke around. See what pictures people choose to show, and how they write their profile. Some people clearly had professional photos taken. You can BUY a profile-writing service! So in case you can't explain why you're a good guy or what kind of girl you want, someone can write that for you. I think all profiles using that service should be marked as such!!

Here are few that have stood out to me as a member of this site for a week:

  • I have seen a number of men mark themselves as "not" or "probably not" wanting children. But under what qualities they want their date to have, they have only chosen women who "definitely" or "someday" want children. Huh?
  • Men, please stop writing about cuddling and how much I'm not going to believe that you like to cuddle. I believe that cuddling is something that naturally happens when people feel close. If you're not going to sell me on all the ways in which you will show love when you feel love, then why are so many men writing about cuddling!
  • A 41-yr-old African American guy, whose photo made it look like he had eye liner and lipstick Photoshopped on, emailed me. I looked at his profile, and found that he has a child. I am not interested in anybody who has or wants kids. I was thinking that if someone emails me, it's polite to write them back. So I wrote him back and said that as my profile says, I am not looking for anybody with kids, but good luck finding the right woman! He wrote back that I was the wrong woman for him, and I was an idiot Jew who needed to "lose that gut." My profile has me labeled as "spiritual but not religious" and I have no references to any religion or my name.
  • I now just click "send a polite no thanks" instead of writing back. :)
  • Soon after I joined, a 25-yr-old guy reached out to me. That's too young for me (I'm 37), so I said no thanks. He just emailed me, and this email is SO outlandish, I wanted to share it.
    "Howdy

    First off let me say Your pictures don't do u justice;0) You seem like a fantastic women that enjoys many similar fun staff that any man can appreciate, BBQ"s and cuddling up on the couch that's Totally awesome Howdy I'm Joseph and if it's not rude of me may I ask how a brillant women like urself has found herself single Becuase no sane person would let you go, so I am curios to hear your story!"

Copied and pasted. And by the way, my profile says nothing about BBQ or cuddling or couches. As for my enjoyment of "staff," well, I didn't mention that either. :) I'd like to know how he knows that my pictures don't do me justice!

But wait, there's more craziness.

  • Before I was just clicking "no thanks" to people who emailed me, a guy emailed me. He's about 300 miles away. I wrote him back saying that as we had completely different preferences for kids, religion, politics, and he's 300 miles away, I figured this was not the right match, and good luck. He wrote me back that he really wants to get to know me. I clicked "no thanks." Any guy who can't take a non-subtle hint is not someone I want to get to know.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel...

They're not all bad. A few guys seem OK. Maybe I'll get to meet them.

So hopefully when people are back from the long weekend, I might have stories of actually meeting some of these people.

Edit from after the long weekend: Nope, the only people who wanted to meet me used words like "hook up," which is not what I'm looking for right now. Isn't it funny how easy it is to find sex, but not to find friendship or romance?

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Monday, 17 August 2009

RCN Tries to Charge Me $656 Million

It appears that an internet bill in my name didn't have its final bill paid in Boston. I went to the RCN website to finally pay the bill. It was about $37.

I put in my banking information, and then I got this email (stars are in place to protect my info, but the email only had stars in my bank account number):

Dear Title Lastname

Payment for account number 005509***:

Your bank account number *********, routing code ***00024, Account Name As Was could not be charged $656,***,***.00.

Thank you for using My RCN.

Huh? RCN tried to charge me 656 MILLION DOLLARS? Really?

And then I looked closely.

They tried to hit my bank account for the amount OF MY ACCOUNT NUMBER, which is why I had to put stars in there to show this to you. I have a 9-digit account number beginning in 656, and they tried to charge my bank account over $656 MILLION.

FAIL. Not enough words for fail. And did they get their $37? Evidently not yet because they were too busy trying to charge me the GNP of a third world country.

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Thursday, 09 July 2009

Chemistry.com... Holy Cats

Some of you may remember my testing of eHarmony in Feb 2006 (I can't even be bothered to check the blog archives!). That was something other than else.

This time, I decided to try Chemistry.com. I'm not looking for Mr Right or a serious relationship, but I always hope that if these matching systems are as good as they say, I'll meet people who'd make great friends.

I just don't get this. I really don't. OK, maybe people aren't that serious, and maybe they're not that interested in me. I'm not that interested in them, though I'd like to make friends. But there are some really bizarre things going on here.

This week, a guy tried to tell me he wants a take-charge woman. When I told him I am that but don't want to be that in a relationship because I want an equal relationship, his reply was that he does want an equal relationship. The example he used for an equal relationship. Referring to himself, "I might help out in the kitchen."

Are you freaking kidding me? That implies that I'm cooking and sometimes you'll help out? And that's equal? If you want a take-charge woman, you are probably not looking for something really equal... or you would have said that in the first place. :)

I picked like 7 guys so far who I'd like to communicate with and see if they're out of their minds or not. Only one responded. Seemed like a nice guy who'd have some things in common with me. Said he wanted to go out. Sure, I'll go out. Gave me his number. I called and got voice mail. I left a message saying we should plan something. Never heard back... that was like 2 weeks ago. I hope he's OK! But barring an emergency, I'll say that this doesn't look very good for what I would want in a friend (forget about some sort of date).

The other guys? Didn't respond at all. Not sure if they are logging in. One guy tried to tell me eHarmony was better, but my experiences there were WORSE. I am not sure if they've changed this, but in 2006, eHarmony treated me not wanting kids as a preference that wasn't really important to me. So even though I flagged everything I could as "I don't have kids, I don't want kids, and this is 100% important to me," they sent me people who had kids and wanted kids. That's a major FAIL. I'd rather be alone the rest of my life than to have kids or have to deal with someone else's kids, even adult children.

So Chemistry.com, I paid for a month to check you out, and I will be cancelling in about a week so you don't charge me again. I didn't expect to find love. I wasn't looking for a husband. And maybe because of that, I have really high standards.But then again, I know CRAZY when I see it, and I know a dating website that nobody seems to be logging into when I see it.

Chemistry.com, you were better than eHarmony in that you didn't send me piles of people every day who had really BASIC things completely opposite to me. That was good. But that's about it. The rest of these guys don't seem to be logging in. They're not responding to me, they're not archiving me... it's just nothing. You are more expensive than eHarmony, and I don't need that!

I'm not bothering with Match.com (Chemistry.com's big sister). When I looked at it in 2006, the second question is asked was what is your best "part," and "brain" was not a choice. I don't want to be "analysed" for my body parts, thanks!

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Wednesday, 01 July 2009

A Consulting Call Shouldn't Be A Sales Pitch

Thanks to John aka ColderICE for his great radio show today. I had to listen to it when he said he was outing someone. And wouldn't you know, it was someone on my poop list, who I've pointed at before here in this blog.

This link will download an MP3 of the radio show, which was the 1 July 2009 "BS Walks" show John does on TalkShoe.com.

John gives a bad rating for Bonanzle late in the show, which I was very interested in. I disagree that Bonanzle is a good solution if you want an eCommerce presence. If you want one, get a buyitsellit.com or Vendio Store. Why bring traffic to a marketplace with competitors! Bring people to your own website.

But it was the middle of the show that tickled me.

John found out that Skip McGrath just started tweeting on Twitter, but is already trying to push an e-book about Twitter. You can evidently get his free e-book if you sign up and agree to have a 30-minute "consulting call." Ugh. Then it's not really free, is it. It takes your time and energy.

John's first point was basically why is a Twitter newbie trying to push/sell you an e-book about something that is new to him? I've been on Twitter since April 2008. I should write an e-book! John should write an e-book. Skip, this is not your specialty.

Not mentioned in John's show is something I noticed in Skip's tweets. He's looking for YOU to tweet him Twitter tips (for his book). So once again, he's barely writing his own book. I saw him do this for his last eBay book... he was in eBay discussion forums asking people for information.

John continued with a caller, Karen, who reported her experience signing up for Skip's e-book. She got the "consulting call." She said they asked questions about what she wanted to get out of this, how her credit was, and how her finances were. She said she didn't have credit cards, and lived on a fixed income. Karen reported that the "consulting call" contained no consulting or advice, even though she asked about product sourcing (supposedly Skip's specialty). The call lasted 8 minutes and 8 seconds, and the caller told her to buy Skip's system.

FAIL. Karen said on John's radio show that her impression of Skip was that everything he sends out is just full of affiliate links. She said that wasn't a consulting call, it was a sales pitch, and she thought the whole thing really felt like a "snake oil salesman." Her call wasn't with Skip, by the way. It was with one of his "coaches."

But this matches everything else I've seen from Skip, and why he's on my poop list. Time after time, I've seen him not have original information or advice. His informational products seem to be taken from other people's information or publicly available info. He is mining YOU and your tips for his books, but did you get paid for that? Did you get any credit?

I don't think his materials are right for anybody. I don't want newbies reading that stuff. I don't want veteran eBay sellers reading that stuff. I just think that this whole thing isn't much. And I'm still not happy with the time Skip admitted that he hadn't checked out a company he was promoting (to make affiliate money)... he had to admit that after his loyal followers paid that company and felt scammed.

Don't sell out your followers.

Twitter is about quality interactions with people who have something interesting to say. I'm not following Skip, but he's following me. :) Well, as of when I'm typing this, anyway.

Thanks to John and his caller, Karen, for coming out and publicly talking about this. It's easy to keep things quiet and not want to air this stuff. But people should know the truth. A free e-book is rarely truly free. A consulting call should not be a sales pitch. No "coach" representing a blogger/educator should be asking people about their credit and finances (and Karen should have refused to answer). I'm just not OK with any of this.

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Monday, 08 June 2009

Auctiva's Lawyers Want You To Know...

I've heard from Auctiva's lawyers. They'd like you to know that everything I've written or said about Auctiva ever is false. Including the stuff I can prove to you. It's all false according to them, so let's smile and nod. :)

I'd like you to know that although I have been working for inkFrog since mid-May, nothing I have said or will say about Auctiva has anything to do with inkFrog. They don't tell me what to say, I'm not saying these things for them, and it's just not about inkFrog. Ask inkFrog - they are not connected to what I choose to say, especially the things I chose to say before they hired me. And I've been saying negative things about Auctiva for years since I just don't like their system.

I have no hidden agenda. My agenda is always to get the truth out there. I'm just straightforward and face value, and I don't blast a company one day and then run a post the next day about how great they are and how they're doing nothing wrong. Anybody who wants to pretend that I'm only saying these things so that people will leave Auctiva and join inkFrog are applying agendas to me that I don't have. If you want to stay with Auctiva, you should! If you want to leave Auctiva, you should! If you want to sign on with Vendio, ChannelAdvisor, Infopia, inkFrog, Turbo Lister, Blackthorne, or anything else, you should. I support you. :) You should pick whichever system is right for you, and I have no attachment to who you pick. That means no agenda and no hidden agenda.

Bizarre things Auctiva does are completely about Auctiva, and if you read my blog, then you know I'm committed to pointing at all KINDS of companies doing bizarre things. I am my own person, and I stand behind what I say. These are my opinions, feelings, and advice... and if those can get you a letter from a lawyer, then every blogger, every tweeter, and every person posting to an online forum disliking Auctiva should be really careful.

Auctiva's lawyer is getting your Auctiva subscription money to tell me and maybe you to not say anything they will claim is false. Well, OK, you shouldn't say false things about companies. But you have a right to your opinion and experiences. I have had nothing but bad experiences with Auctiva, and Debbie Levitt is allowed to say that. I am allowed to stand in a crowded room and shout, "I don't like Auctiva!" That's still legal last I checked.

So my promise to everybody involved is that I will only post things that I can prove without a shadow of a doubt, and without revealing any information that may be considered confidential by eBay or any company with whom I have a relationship. I won't post about something I read in someone's forums since whoever posted that might be talking crap. I promise to label my blog posts and radio shows as the statements and opinions of Debbie Levitt as an individual, professional consultant, and not the opinion, statement, or stance of As Was, inkFrog, or any company that may be affiliated with either of us.

That doesn't mean I'll stop talking about Auctiva or any other company. It only means I'll be more careful about how I express my opinions to you guys. You guys still need to know the truth, and I may be the only one who is willing to tell it to you. While other people are backtracking, perhaps out of fear of lawyers, I'm not going to let threats and bullying stand in my way of giving you my opinions and the facts I can prove. Some people don't let the truth get in the way of a good blog post. I don't let lawyers threats get in the way of the truth.

The right to free speech stops at my ability to tell a lie. I do not want to tell or spread lies. I don't like when people do that to me, and I don't do it to other people or companies. So I'll just stick with my right to free speech, and only share what my opinion is, and the things I can completely and totally prove.

Auctiva, I suggest you do the same. My opinion is that you don't always take the high road. Do unto others. :)

I trust we're complete here. Thanks, everybody.

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Wednesday, 03 June 2009

Left Auctiva? Using Their Templates? Beware!

You've been an Auctiva user, and you've put items on eBay with their "free" templates. You might have lots of items up, including Store items that you have had on "Good Til Cancelled" forever.

The big question has been when Auctiva switches to a model where you must pay for those "free" templates, what will happen to people who have left Auctiva, but still have items live on eBay that use those templates? A lot of people are asking me this, and some were banned from the Auctiva forums, so let me see if I can clear this up.

I have two pieces of information:

1) It looks like Auctiva is going to build something similar to Frooition, where your template is dynamically added to the listing thanks to some sort of scripting. This would allow Auctiva to remotely control your template, and if you stop paying, shut it off. Someone showed me something Auctiva wrote (I think in forums) saying that once they "make a future change to templates," anybody who isn't paying would have their templates changed to tiny invisible graphics so that the info would still be in the listing but not the template.

2) Someone else showed me an Auctiva forum posting that said that if Auctiva finds listings that are still up with "free" templates but the user is not paying for Auctiva templates, Auctiva might choose to contact eBay, use the VeRO programme, and file a claim of copyright infringement.

That's right, you would be reported to eBay as someone who breaches the intellectual property of others, which can not only get your items taken down, but can get you suspended. That goes on your permanent record. And Auctiva is willing to do that to you for the what, $5? So who cares if they promised you free templates... you can pay them $5 or you can be reported as a thief! [note: Auctiva is claiming they won't do this, but I saw people writing about this on their forums, so I leave it open a possibility that they may be considering... hey, who KNOWS what Auctiva is thinking at any given moment!]

Obviously, it's really important that people who don't intend to pay Auctiva get Auctiva templates out of their listings. This does NOT apply to people who have used Auctiva but with templates they bought from us or other designers. You can still use your template because you own it. This is about people using Auctiva templates but not paying Auctiva their new monthly fee for template usage.

So what can you do? Two things:

1) You can go into every listing in your new software, and change your "item description" so that it ONLY has the description of the item... no template, no border, no polices... nothing but the item description. Then, you can drop that into a free template from your new listing software, or build in a custom template.

2) Through my work with inkFrog, we're working on developing something that will strip templates out of items we are importing from other companies. So for example, if you move from Auctiva to inkFrog, and you import even THOUSANDS of listings that have Auctiva templates in them, we're working on a way to pull those Auctiva templates out, and reduce your "item description" to JUST the item's description. Then, you can use a free inkFrog template or get a custom one.

That's the story as I know it, and as of now. But the soap opera seems to change daily! All I know is that no matter what, if you are leaving Auctiva, it's important to remove every trace of their stuff in your stuff so that you don't get charged, and so that you're not reported as a copyright infringer.

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Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Unjust Price Changes, Part 2

Oh remember my recent blog post on an apartment complex that changes its price every day, and won't honour the previous day's price?

They just called me to see if I'm still interested. The apartment? Oh, it's now $1875/month.

2 weeks ago, it was $1670/mo. A few days later, it was $1765/mo. A few days after that, $1830/mo. They told me that the price changes on demand... but if this apartment is still open weeks later, evidently there isn't that much demand for it!

Nobody has rented this apartment. Yet it gets more and more expensive. That's a LOT of extra money to pay for something that evidently nobody wants. :) Can you imagine if I did that with my services? Let's see... an eBay listing template is $2000, and if nobody signs up for one today, maybe tomorrow it can be $2100! Oh, you heard that yesterday it was $2000? Well, the market changes, and I hope you understand. I could never do that. It's just insane.

That was how they treated me. And they really doled out the info on how I could have locked in the cheap rate much earlier. Once the rate was at $1830, they told me how I could have locked in the $1670 rate. Really! And today, the guy told me that they WILL honour their own prices for 24 hrs. Really! That's not what the manager told me last week. She told me they can't honour any price they've previously quoted because that would be against the California Fair Housing Laws. Drip drip drip is the sound of information. These people always gave me "oh we WOULD have done that if you had said these magic words" days late. FAIL.

So thanks anyway, Avalon on The Alameda in San Jose, CA. The apartment I've picked (from a distance) put their unit and price on Craigslist. And even though the ad was days old, they were willing to honour their own price.

Imagine that. They were willing to quote a price, and stand by it. That made me trust them more, and if I'm going to live under their management, I need to trust them. So I sent them a deposit to lock it in.

Brings back memories of when another Avalon was holding an apartment for me, and then decided to rent it to someone else. Avalon, I think we're done here. My apartment looks much nicer than yours, is in a better area, and closer to public transport. It's brand new and never lived in. And they want $1733/mo.

Speak with your dollar, people. If enough of us do that, it'll work. :)

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Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Injustice: Daily Price Changes

I'm trying to get an apartment. Using only the internet (since I'm not even in the same time zone as this apartment building), I fell in love with a community. I called them up, sent in my application, but found out that they don't run the application until they get a security deposit.

Well, I'm not ready to put that down until I know they have the right place for the right price. What is your price on the 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom unit I'm considering? $1670/month. OK, I'll think about that, thank you.

I call back a few days later. I think I might want it. Oh, the price went up? The SAME apartment you were going to give me a couple of days ago is now $1765/month? Um OK. That chips away at trust, but OK. I'll think about it.

OK I'm ready. I have my security deposit ready. The moving company is just about hired. Now, I'm in the right spot to put that deposit down, and hold that apartment! What's that you say? The price went up again? Today is Wednesday. On Monday, you said it was $1765/month, but today's it's $1830/month? WHY?

They explained to me that when demand is up and they're signing lots of leases, they raise prices because they think they can. They evidently have NO policy about sticking to a quote they gave me before. When I complain that I could NEVER get away with that in my business, they tell me that the California Fair Housing Laws won't let them offer me a different price than someone else would get today.

That's bull.

You are offering me the price that you ALREADY OFFERED ME. If someone calls today, they can get a fresh price quote. But if you already quoted me a price, at least give me a few days to make sure I am ready to put money down on this place. Stick to your own price for a few days. If someone else takes that place before me, give them the higher price... they won't know any better! But if I'm taking it, give me the price you quoted me earlier.

I could never get away with this in my business. Where I grew up, this was called Israeli Negotiating (whether or not that's flattery :) ). The idea was that you make someone an offer. If they turn it down (because they think they're going to bargain you down), you RAISE the price. You are basically teaching them that you will NOT negotiate down, and you start basically bullying them. They quickly learn that if they don't take it now, the price will just keep going up, so they'd better take it now.

That's the same thing this apartment complex is trying to do. It's bullying. They won't even honour a price they KNOW they quoted me. I can't think of any other business that gets away with this. This is not "catch of the day" where maybe the fish was harder to catch today because of the weather. This is an empty apartment standing there.

Meanwhile, the price on their website is wrong. The price on the website is WAY lower, so you also have bait and switch. I have bait and switch now, and they get around it by warning me that oh, you'd better lock this in now... the price may go up tomorrow.

I told them I will roll the dice, and wait for their price to drop. I will not pay an extra $2000 per year in rent because I am ready to sign the lease today instead of 3 days ago. That's an insult, and a waste. I will not be bullied, and I will not be baited and switched.

I've left a voice mail for the Santa Clara County team that mediates disputes between landlords and tenants. I'd like them to explain to me which part of the California Fair Housing Law allows them to do this to me, and why CA law would allow such bullying and deception.

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Thursday, 30 April 2009

Customer Support For $292/hr

This blog is the Marketing Hall of Fame, and if we had awards, this would win the award for biggest balls, if you don't mind me saying that.

Customer support. It's a sticky subject! Looking around the eBay industry, some companies have email-only support.. but you should get help, and it's free. Some companies have phone support. Some is free, and some is paid. Some companies pick up their phones while others leave you in an endless voice mail universe.

Today, I saw this blog post about Frooition charging for customer support. Before you get your undies in a bunch and say I'm just saying bad things about my competition, they're not my competition. You can't get what we do from them, I refuse to let my company do work that looks like that, and I certainly don't treat my customers like this. I compete with them about as much as a BMW 7 series car competes with that really tiny Kia that doesn't have power windows. :)

So Froo have decided that just as their clients are having a lot of problems with all their broken eBay Stores, eBay listing templates with amazing elements that can work against your sales, and Froo server downtime, now's a great time to start charging people to solve their problems.

The most amazing move is that evidently NO customer service is now free. If you want to email and not pay, you may never get a response, as the Froo site describes it. So free email support is now gone. If you need help, you're opening your wallet.

£199/hr is what you'll pay if you want your problem turned around in one day. With the British Pound around $1.47 right now, that's $292.53 an hour for customer support.

If you have a non-urgent problem (?), you can pay £99 per hour for a 5-day turnaround time. That's $145.53 to us Americans.

If you've ever been to the Froo site, then you may have seen their "we have open jobs page," where they were hiring a "junior designer" for £12/hour. So some guy works for £12/hr, and you get to pay £199/hr for that. Froo certainly know how to mark stuff up to make some profit!

We bill at $100/hr, but then again, we don't charge people to fix things we broke. Froo happily sold you a non-compliant eBay Store that they knew broke rules, they sold it to you up to the moment eBay announced they were cracking down on those Stores, they are charging to "fix" these Stores (they call it an upgrade), and now you can pay for customer support time.

I think that if Froo are doing this, not only must they be in financial trouble and under pressure to bring in revenue and profit, but they are also just not very good at this whole marketing thing. They should still have free support, especially when their servers are going down, and especially when eBay is cracking down on rules that make Froo eBay Stores break. And they should mark up their rates just slightly. For example, if you're paying staff £12/hr, and a good eBay consultant might charge £30/hr, charge £40/hr. You're still making a huge profit, and you're still taking a rate people might pay to get help.

But to jump straight to £99 and £199/hr says, "Don't get in touch with us. We don't want to give you support, so we're pricing it so high that very few people will ever take advantage of it. Just don't call us... we don't want to hear from you." It also says, "We don't care if you stay with us or leave to hire another company. Between charging you to fix your eBay Store and charging you for support, we'd rather just not deal with you."

That's what it says to me, and that's bad marketing. It tells me that they don't want to hear from people asking about the servers going down or asking about their Store breaking. You can pay to ask those questions, or just not ask them to save money.

To Froo customers, I say speak with your British Pound, and go somewhere else. There are plenty of companies out there who would love to have your business. My company welcomes you as well. :) We give $500 discounts to anybody dropping a Froo template to have us work our magic. We're always compliant, and our contract says that we fix broken things that are our fault for free. Imagine a company standing behind its work. :)

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Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Pay-For-Tweet

There has been a lot of discussion lately about "truth in advertising," especially relating to blogging. I'll be writing articles about that too. But today, I stumbled on TwittAd.com.

You are basically "selling" TwittAd's advertisers the right to post things to your Twitter account. You get paid for the ads. You're selling out your contacts. Here's how it works, copied and pasted from their website:

1 Post Twitter account for advertisers to purchase
2 Select your duration & price
3 Wait for advertiser to purchase
4 Accept or Deny the proposed ad within 48 hours of purchase
5 If you accept the ad we will use the Twitter API to upload the ad to your Twitter profile
6 1-Tweet Promo Sent
7 At the end of the tenure Final Tweet Sent


The other option they offer is instead of putting your account up for "rent" (as I'll call it), you can search their campaigns, and see if any advertiser matches something you'd like to get paid to tweet.

Oh wait, there's more. I just found this in the FAQ:

You have the option of selling your background for 7-days, 15 days, 1 Month, 3 Months. Once the advertisement has expired, you can resubmit your profile for purchase on TwittAd.com.


Yeah, you read that right. You're renting your Twitter background as ad space.

Well, good luck to the people who give this a try.

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Friday, 10 April 2009

eBay Consultants Who Kill Sales

We've been doing eBay consulting a looooong time. Our first eBay client was in 2001. I like to say I invented eBay consulting. :)

Phone calls and emails I get remind me that not every company out there is good at this. It actually IS possible to hire eBay advisors, trainers, consultants, or designers, and see your business decline directly because of them.

Here are some of the things I've heard about other companies, without naming names:

  • "They said they were eBay experts. They gave me advice, and did some design. My sales went down, and now they won't answer my emails."
  • "I paid a lot for an eBay Store design, and when I checked my traffic report after it was installed, my bounces were way up." Bounces are when someone hits your home page and then leaves without visiting any other pages or clicking anything.
  • "I hired them because they won design awards, but then they made my Store look like all the others ones they do. I wanted to really stand out."

I have a lot to say on this topic, and I'm sure there will be more blog posts about this. But today, I wanted to share with you something someone showed me yesterday. She saw Google Adwords ads for a company claiming to be an eBay consulting firm in the UK. These people had a page on their site about how they will provide extensive training. Their website also says they offer SEO, yet as you move around their website, you notice that their URLs are all http://theirdomainname.co.uk/?page_id=120 or other numbered pages. I think you can do better than that for SEO!

The most interesting part of their site was a screen shot they included of an eBay seller's dashboard to show you how much money they want to help you make. There is no "before" to compare this to, but it's presented like a success story for after they helped someone.

Click to enlarge... this is straight off their website including their redactions.

1600

Look closely...

  • Search standing: standard. They couldn't help them get any better search placement?
  • No PowerSeller discount yet the PowerSeller logo is there, and the status says Silver
  • Policy compliance is FAILING. As in this account probably got in trouble for breaking eBay rules. Hey, that doesn't look so good for your "success story" screen shot!
  • Buyer satisfaction "needs work." Ugh, this means crappy DSRs. Come on!

Ugh ugh ugh. This is the success story? This is the "after" you helped someone? And you didn't think about ONLY doing a screen shot of the sales and leaving out the dashboard summary? Ugh.

His About Us page on his website? Empty. His Our Team page tells you how he recruits consultants for what your business needs. Um, you could do that too, and possibly even without him. :) His Web Design page is blank, and his website design is a nearly-unmodified Wordpress theme. A heap of other pages that look like they're going to be about how he helps start-ups and writes your business plan... all blank pages with titles.

Ugh. Another case of a dentist having awful, rotten, missing teeth.

People, please research people carefully. Make sure they have a strong track record. A lot of factors go into success on eBay. Promises are often alluring. Google ads are designed to reel you in. Don't get reeled in. Be smart, and research. Look for results. Don't just shop by price. The cheapest guy may not be the best, and if you take your online buiness seriously, go for quality.

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Thursday, 09 April 2009

Auctiva Commerce: Review

More than ever, our clients are asking us to design eCommerce websites or customize a skin for their shopping cart system. Yeah, we do that. :) We're doing our best to keep up with all the new ones, and lean them as fast as possible.

Today, I went to look at Auctiva Commerce. One of my clients gave me his Auctiva login. Right away, I found two pages. One had me choose from Auctiva's pre-made design templates/themes. The other was a place to drop my logo and whatever text I wanted at the top of every page of my store.

That was it. I've been poking around a lot of eCommerce systems right now, most recently epages.com and BuyItSellIt.com (while one of my staff perfects our Vendio Stores offering), and I am used to a clearly-marked area where I can put in our templates, style sheets, or at least move some modules around (drag and drop) to lay pages out how you want them. I think epages did that, and so does Amazon Stores (yeah, we can do those too).

I couldn't see anywhere a company like ours would be able to do the more extensive customisation or the innovations we like to get out there. So I went to www.auctivacommerce.com to poke around and see what I can learn.

Not much. I even watched their demo video. The website and video promise that AuctivaCommerce is "the most powerful and innovative eCommerce system available today." I completely disagree. Have you seen etailcomplete.com? That was probably one of the most powerful and innovative I've seen yet, but it's also the most expensive one I've seen since Intershop in the late 1990s. :)

Back to Auctiva. Here are some other things I noticed while poking around...

  • Their website says NOTHING about SEO. So this is clearly not a priority OR selling point!
  • OK, I just found that under "features" and then I had to click on "marketing," which was in the secondary navigation but not in the left-side navigation. That's a bit buried for something I think SHOULD BE a major factor when people are choosing which eCommerce software system to use. They claim that they send out product feeds and will create a sitemap.
  • I went to "features" and then "design." They say that choosing one of their themes will instantly add appeal. I'm sorry, but I saw some of their themes, and I stopped shopping on sites that look like that years ago. I think shoppers are savvy, and have raised their standards. You're going to have to do better if you want to claim to be the most powerful and innovative eCommere platform out there.
  • Their website links to NO active stores so you can see them in action. If there are links there, I can't find them. I really expected them on the home page, or somewhere dominant so I fall in love right away. :)
  • OK, I just found them on the "shop" page. Three stores were featured and linked. Two had identical backgrounds in different colours. All three had their logo on the top, and then the cookie-cutter layouts. 
  • I want to link you to some of these stores to show you how I feel they are below the standards many shoppers will have for where they do online shopping, but I don't have the heart to point these people out and complain about their eCommerce sites. Just know that in 2009, I think that we can do MUCH better when it comes to eCommerce design and usability.
  • The pricing page says they will take a percentage of your sales while saying, and I quote, "We don't subscribe to the "the more you make, the more we take" mentality. And, we never will." GUESS WHAT. If you take a percentage of sales, then the more the seller makes, the more you make. It's just simple math. Even if your percentage is tiered and gets lower as the seller sells more, you will still make more off a $10,000 month of sales than a $1,000 month of sales.

Verdict: This is some of the biggest marketing spin I've seen outside of Apple and their iWhatevers. :) The promises and superlatives here are mighty, but based on the HEAPS of eCommerce systems I've been checking out lately, I'm whatever-is-the-complete-opposite-of-unimpressed.

I hope Auctiva will tone down the marketing hype and tone up the features and offerings. After all, marketing hype doesn't help people make sales. The eCommerce system has to really be something that goes into search engines well AND is so easy and obvious to use that it HELPS make sales and helps there be fewer abandoned shopping carts.

If our clients want us to design for these stores, we'll certainly do everything we can to design and customise them! We'll support these Stores, if our clients want them.

My faves so far... in no particular order, Vendio Stores (nice drag-and-drop Add To Cart, among other things), BuyItSellIt.com, epages.com, and if you have the budget, etailcomplete.com.

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Wednesday, 08 April 2009

Software for Corrupted Outlook PST Files

My laptop has a habit of, once in a while, really crashing. Not just freezing. Really doing it big time. Anything that's open becomes corrupted after I have to force a shutdown or reboot. I have no idea what causes it. But typically, I have Outlook open because I'm always working on emails.

The first time this happened, it corrupted a small PST I had recently started. SCANPST.exe couldn't fix the file, and I mostly gave up. But this past Saturday night, a crash corrupted my main Outlook PST file. SCANPST couldn't fix it.

I ended up on the web looking for software that promised to recover most or all of the file. I paid $129 for Stellar Phoenix Outlook PST Repair Tool. I saw similar tools for similar prices, so I wonder if this is out there under other names.

Short version: Don't buy it. Don't waste your time.

Longer version: This tool is hands-down the most poorly-designed program I've ever experienced in my life. Why? Because the tool starts by recovering your Deleted Items folder... probably the emails you care about the least, and in theory, may not care if they get recovered AT ALL.

The tool spent 24 recovering my Deleted Items folder, and then moved on, and then basically crapped out. It recovered around 800MB of my nearly 1.4GB file. Neither my calendar nor contacts were recovered, despite the website's promises about the software.

I emailed support. This is where it gets worse. They asked me if the DEMO version of their software had shown all of my emails. I said that I didn't run the DEMO for too long. Once it was clear that it was finding SOMETHING in my file, I bought the full version and let that run. They tried to make it sound like maybe I should have let the demo run for 36 hrs to see what it WOULD have recovered, and then run the full version for another 36 hrs to actually recover it. Huh?

They then tried to tell me that all my email is there! Just go into my recovered PST file, and do control-shift-F to find my files. Are you kidding me? Your software recovered HALF of my files, the recovered PST has NONE of the email folders I created, but I should expect to see every email if I just hit control-shift-F?

They are now refunding my money, and if they don't, this is a charge I will surely fight. If you have a corrupted PST, there may not be anything that can help. I'm convinced of that at this point. So I will archive more often, and backup more often, and maybe I'll reformat my computer and reinstall things. It's all I can do.

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Tuesday, 07 April 2009

Try Our Mango Juice!

I recently tried a local Mexican food place. I'm darn picky about my Mexican food, after living for years in Tucson, AZ, and let me say I was VERY happy with the food. I will definitely go back.

The waiter was probably the owner. He was happy to see us, and wanted to know which neighbourhood we came from to eat at his place. He told us how good his steaks are, and that he gets them from the same people who supply the fancy downtown places. He was charming, and between him, the place, and the food, we were won over.

At one point, he came over with a glass of juice. He asked if we'd try his "home-made" mango juice. Well, yeah, that sounded great. It was delicious. It was the most refreshing drink I have ever tasted in my life. We live around a mile away, and I could imagine jumping on the moped in the summer, and scooting over just to get some juice.

The bill came, and guess what. He charged us for it. Not only that, but the menu said "juices" were $1.75. We were charged $2.75 I think. I didn't say anything. The food was so good and cheap that I let it go, and still over-tipped him.

But my tip to you is that the freebie can go a long way. Coming over to tell us about the quality of your steak can have an impact. We were interested! Coming over with the most delicious glass of juice I've had in my life was awesome. But then charging me for it was a BIT weird. I thought this was the freebie that completely the reeling me in.

I think some people might have been really pissed off to be charged for something they didn't order. I suggest that the freebie really be a freebie.

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