Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween ... I haven't decided if I am going to dress up or not. What about you?

Friday, October 27, 2006

iLoad Is No Longer Eye Pleasing

I caught a glimpse of the iLOAD website the other day and noticed this:




It used to be thin ...and it used to be listed as shipping this summer, which slipped to this fall, which may have slipped to Spring 2007 ...or perhaps never.

This doesn't surprise me:

An iLoad Of Drama

I also wonder if iLoad got permission to use the Madonna song, CD, and artwork found in this video:

http://www.iload.com/video_demo_iload.html


UPDATE: Turns out THEY DID NOT GET PERMISSION OR LICENSE TO use the song from Madonna in their demo video

More evidence that blogs are a step ahead of the mainstream media

Here's an interesting story from MacUser's Dan Moren.

In the article, Moren argues the specifics of a story posted in The Washington Post.

The story (from the Post) called "iPod Jeers" was poorly researched to say the least.

The story was written by Neal Mueller who is associated with/sponsored by/advertises for Creative. The Washington Post has the duty to disclose such.

This story was about Apple's iPod, but it does make you think about the sources of other articles or the motivation of other news the mainstream media reports.

[UPDATE] The post made this retraction: An article in the Oct. 22 Sunday Business section on Creative MP3 players failed to disclose that the writer, Neal Mueller, received a free player from the company to use on his 2005 expedition to Mount Everest. He is not officially sponsored by Creative. He received that player after writing to the company to say that he is a fan of its products.

ACTUALLY He accepts free products from companies (Creative is one of them) specifically for the purpose of promoting them. This retraction is still inaccurate as to the true intent of the original story. Mueller is biased against iPods and therefore shouldn't be allowed to report on them in any forum other than his own.

Jackass Of The Year: Daring Fireball's John Gruber

Three years ago, I emailed Rob Malda (Commander Taco), co founder of Slashdot. In the email I asked that he stop the moderators from posting liberally slanted Bush and Republican jab stories on his site.

Not only did he not listen, but my moderation priveleges were suspended indefinitely. Previously I was getting 2 story submissions a month on the front page. After this email exchange, none of my stories were accepted from that point on.

He did respond to my email. He said (contradictory to his action):

"I agree, but it's sometimes hard to catch." ~ Rob Malda

Over the next few months before the Kerry/Bush election Taco himself posted stupid stories inciting the reader base (which is very communistic and liberal) to the point it looked like a forum for the Unibomber or support forum for Osama Bin Laden. That's hardly exaggerated!

Then Slashdot was pretty much responsible for this story getting popular about Bush:



This is a stupid conspiracy theory that the extreme left was putting out as propoganda that Bush had a box on his back and was essentially cheating during the debate. Several websites are now dedicated to the controversy, when it has been explained time and again that the box is simply a secret service communications device and the particular night in question (the Presidential debate) was allowed to be monitored for transmission by the Democratic party. However, the Slashdot story really made this insane theory popular. I tried to submit a story to Slashdot that countered showing that Kerry pulled out a pen and placed it onto the podium. The rules of the debate were very clear that one could not bring anything with them - they must use the pen and notecards on the podium. My story submission took the angle of "home video editors helping with election conspiracies by doing frame by frame analysis and multiple camera angle comparison".

Now, on to the subject at hand. At the beginning of the year, the well respected, often quoted John Gruber decided to take his blog full time - to actually make money. He sells ads, T-Shirts, and memberships that give you a "woohoo whoop-ti-doo" RSS feed. For months I have been following his site and been enjoying the read. For months I have been quoting him often.

Well now he joins the ranks of Slashdot - it's obvious Gruber is a liberal leaning Democrat and so as such, he choses to alienate a portion of his audience that is Republican or Conservative. In the past week, he did a story called: "Jackass Of The Week: Rush Limbaugh" - lambasting Limbaugh for questioning Micheal J. Fox speaking about Parkinson's Disease. When the truth is that Fox himself said that he doesn't take his medication before speeches.



Gruber takes a jab at Republicans every few weeks or so. He lumps Republicans in the "extreme right" of Limbaugh. While not defending anything Limbaugh said, he isn't politically correct. That's his niche. For Gruber, who calls people without 100% complete knowledge of the full story - Jackass Of The Week - I think that's being a bit hypocritical. Calling someone a jackass isn't a politically correct thing to do. I thought Gruber prides himself in being much as this site is; "Not PC about Mac news". In the case of this story, if you don't agree ... don't agree amongst your friends. Leave it at that.

I don't watch CNN News because I know I'm not getting the whole truth, or the truth I'm getting is slanted or bias.

Gruber links to evidence to back up his political stories with websites like THINKPROGRESS.COM


* At last check, Congress is made up of Democrats too!

Furthermore, Gruber has jumped on the bandwagon of absurdity over Diebold voting machines. So the theory goes; evoting is problematic due to the ability for the voting machines to be hacked. The truth behind this story is that it is much easier for cheating in a paper election. The truth is that there would have to be a mass conspiracy to hack voting machines nationwide. And the truth is, no one would have to be caught for it to work on a mass scale. Such an organization of crime couldn't possibly affect more than a percentage point. Besides, it seems like the only people hacking these machines are liberal hackers so they can get press and have some claim in the upcoming elections that the democrat lost because of voting machine fraud.



More examples:

Gruber quotes the Washington Post a lot more often than The Washington Times - so it's obvious which news he reads
* I'll let you Google to see which paper is considered Liberal and which is considered Conservative

Here's a quote from Gruber's latest Jackass Of The Week column:

"...the Sunday Washington Post has a circulation hovering around 1 million, and The Post is widely regarded as one of the nation’s finest newspapers."


Next, for your consideration for making John Gruber; Jackass Of The Year:

I ordered a damn DF T-Shirt in August. I paid 30 FREAKIN DOLLARS! I still haven't received it! I had big plans for this T-Shirt. I was going to take a picture of me wearing it and waxing a Pinto with my iProng T-Shirt. So ... readers who've asked me about a follow up on my iProng T Shirt - this is it! Gruber ruined my gag!



Next, I emailed Gruber about the problem I am having over some litigation concerning this blog. I received no response. It's not that I didn't receive a response, it's that I've actually had responses from Gruber before about small quips about his articles that he's posted on Daring Fireball.

Exchanges such as this:

Philip Smith wrote on 9/19/06 at 8:35 AM:

No other MP3 player manufacturer has to worry as much as Apple about
clones, copyright infringers, and legal issues surrounding the two.
Maybe a tad bit of that 100 million to Creative is built in to iPod
pricing. For the consumer this has actually been a matter of prestige
that Apple has done a pretty good job of handling.

Philip

John Gruber wrote on 9/19/06 at 9:40 AM:

And don't forget the TV commercials! I don't see any other MP3
players spending that kind of money on marketing.


-J.G.


So, I say John Gruber is Jackass Of The Year. He has successfully become unreadable in my eye for politicizing his blog to the point of alienation and ridicule. (Not to mention an obvious bias and disrespect for a good portion of his audience who respects him.) Funny, I thought Jackass Of The Year was going to be dual honors for Maynor & Ellch.

I'll put him under the bookmark folder called "Sometimes", and remove Daring Fireball from my "Must Read" bookmarks folder.

I made a new logo for the site:



In my opinion, a great author is like a great girlfriend: balanced but exciting! Therefore, John Gruber is a jackass for ruining his blog.

[UPDATE] I got my TShirt - postmarked the day following the post date of this article.

* Ends up that I'm not the only one that pokes fun at Gruber's hypocritical "jackass blog entries"

* Grammar corrected, link added

* Ends up that I'm not the only one that pokes fun at Gruber's

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Interesting description for an eBay auction found

A bidder in one of my eBay auctions bid and won this auction two weeks ago and asked if it was compatible with the printer I was selling. Read the description of the auction he was inquiring about. Note: this is not my auction.



Been living on a shelf for ages. Crushed box. The idea is to allow your old Mac to print to ANY PC PRINTER just the way Macr0$oft allows winblows to. Hook up the Serial to Centronics cable, install software and grab a cheap cheasey printer at the goodwill or salvation army, then go to town printing. When they break, grab another $5 printer and keep going. Maybe you have a manifesto you are working on up in your mountain cabin. Great way to fool the boys with Big Brother, just change printers for those packages you send out with booming results.

Greenpeace not peacefully demonstrating?

As reported by MacMinute:

Greenpeace forced out of Apple Mac Expo

According to a report on YubaNet.com, the environmental group Greenpeace has been forced out of Mac Expo 2006 in London. "Greenpeace's high profile 'Green my Apple' stall was shut-down today at the start of the Mac Expo," notes the story. "Organizers of the Mac Expo claimed they had received complaints from unnamed sources. The Greenpeace stall was bought for the three-day expo in an attempt to raise awareness about concerns over the use of toxic chemicals in Apple's products."


This is a major hassle for Apple to have to deal with such a non issue. Greenpeace badgers Apple for one reason and one alone - publicity!

Link to detail of action and event

* added link

A few pointers for MyPoints!


A few of you may remember my suggesting using MYPoints to get a discount off of Apple Store Purchases.

It works like this: you go through the MYPoints website and link to apple.com to make your purchase. You receive 2 points per dollar. Also, on a daily basis you receive emails that you designate interest in - you receive 5 points for reading the email and visiting the associating website.

Yesterday, I found an interesting aspect to getting your reward (usually gift cards exchanged for points).

If you haven't noticed, some retailers point exchanges are higher than others. Take the two examples below:




$25 Staples Gift Card 3,250 Points


$50 Staples Gift Card 6,250 Points


$100 Staples Gift Card 12,000 Points


_________________________


25 Wal-Mart Gift Card 3,750 Points


$50 Wal-Mart Gift Card 7,250 Points


What one can do is just get your gift cards to Staples and go in store (to Staples) and get just about any gift card you want. (Using a gift card to Staples to buy gift cards to other merchants)

This could save you 500-1000 points or roughly $6 - $12 per exchange.

I really like the MyPoints program - points add up quickly and you can earn points from just about any online merchant - essentially getting a discount at many merchants that don't offer discounts - such as Apple.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

I Used I-SoldIt, but they Bought It


As frequent readers know, in January of 2006 I published a four part series on eBay dropoffs - based on a personal experience with a local eBay Dropoff.

Well, in April of 2006, my best friend won an auction from another local eBay dropoff called I-SoldIt of Greenville South Carolina.

eBay ID: isoldit.sc0140

In order to save a little bit of money, my best friend contacted the owner of the dropoff to see if he could get local pick up. His email reply was very stern and stated that iSoldIt had a local pickup fee. Through a bit of patient email back and forth my friend tried to understand the reasoning for the local pickup charge of $7 which was roughly 6% of the value of the item. (Note our local tax rate is 5% - don't you sometimes buy online to avoid sales tax?)

My best friend called me and told me about the situation. The pickup fee was mentioned (read as buried deeply) in the auction. It was not mentioned by exact price, just mentioned that there is a local pickup fee.

I told him that although ridiculous, because it was mentioned in the auction he would have to pay it and pick it up. I offered to go with him as a witness. We went to the store. It was very nice on the inside with a nice counter. The owner was up front and didn't really offer a "hello" or "welcome" - simply, "Can I help you?" (in a not so welcoming tone)

My friend explained that he was there to pick up an auction winning for an LCD he had won. The owner (a female) instantly sighed with an exaggerated high-low shoulder ... kind of like saying "Oh it's you - Mr. Question our policies and fees boy!"

Before she goes to find the item my friend asks once again.

"Can you explain the charge of $7 for the pickup?"

She can't explain anything beyond, "It's our fee, it's our policy."

But then she added, "Do you want the item or not?"

At that point I piped up and said, "You don't have to be offended, we sell on eBay too and just want to know why you charge the fee you do?"

With kind of an evil eye she said, "It requires a special handling and storage fee."

Ok, fair enough.

She looks up the auction in her computer and wanders aimlessly throughout the 5 isles of gorilla rack storage looking for it. She comes back to the computer twice looking for the item number and I suppose the item name and description. While she's near the back, I point out to my best friend that there is a Golden Retriever and giant cage sitting in the middle of one of the isles. In a few places where the counter was black, you could see dog hair.

Finally, the owner brings my friend's item to the front - a flat LCD computer monitor. It was sitting half way out of the box, seemingly just thrown in. She sets a piece of styrofoam on the counter and says, "this goes with it".

So much for special handling and the storage fee!

I, against better judgement, said something to that affect mumbled under my breath.

She piped up and said, "Look, you guys came in here and tried to gang up on me, questioning everything, you've got your item."

I told my friend to just pay and let's get out.

He paid.

Well obviously my friend wasn't pleased, nor was I. We discussed this thoroughly. Knowing that eBay Dropoff franchises are failing left and right, we couldn't understand how such an experience would be possible.

We talked about leaving negative feedback, but noticed that iSoldIt retaliated to every negative given to them. My friend at the time had 100% positive feedback. Maintaining that perfect record is a matter of pride and honor in my opinion. I told him to wait until the 90th day past the transaction and post the negative ... and just maybe it will have been kicked out of the eBay system.

Here is the comment he posted:

- Very very bad experience; seller rude and unprofessional, HIGH local pickup fee

Follow-up by [buyer]: Owner keeps DOG in store, item was by dog cage, not packed--I paid $7 for this??


He crossed his fingers, hoping that the transaction would expire. A few days passed. Then a week. Then exactly a week later he gets this negative comment posted to his feedback:

- If you would like this removed. Please contact the store. isoldit 8646759600


So, not a negative ...an extortion. In other words, you carried out your end and did everything right. You posted negative though, so we posted negative.

Feedback on eBay is suppose to be relevant, factual, and most of all honest. This comment was none of the three.

I-SoldIt clearly knew that my friend had 100% positive feedback! So, they purposely retaliated to ruin my friend's feedback!

As a 9 year eBay seller - I know that receiving a negative can damage your sales for weeks! Shame on ISoldIt!

We quipped to each other over the next few weeks .. that we gave them less than a year to stay in business.

There have been some interesting developments in the last few weeks ...



iSoldIt is a national eBay listing / eBay dropoff franchise.

Our local franchise opened in March of 2006 in a very prominent location, and advertised heavily in the newspaper and on radio. For a few months they [I-Soldit Of Greenville] seemed to be selling roughly $4000 in eBay merchandise a month. Even at an average 45% margin that would be net revenue of $1800. The lease for the area that you see empty in the picture above is currently $3410.60 a month w/ a 12 month minimum lease agreement. I-SoldIt was in business for about 6 months. The leasing company, Inland Atlantic Leasing, informed me that I-Soldit was paying the same thing and was in fact still paying on the lease until the space is taken by a new business.

So, in the case of I-SoldIt, just to make building lease payments they would have to have revenue of $7000.00 and net $3500. This doesn't include utilities, advertsing, and personal income. With net being roughly $2000.00 ... you can see why they went out of business.

According to this website that discusses failed eBay dropoffs - such a store (an eBay dropoff) must sell roughly $35,000 a month in eBay merchandise just to break even. This comes to roughly $17,000 net. But after taxes and other expenses [franchise fees, etc etc] ... the true "profit" is unknown.

Upon interviewing neighboring businesses to the I-SoldIt location the following came to my attention:

- People were walking in daily (to neighboring businesses) inquiring about their merchandise or money.

- The phone number for the business is invalid with no forwarding number. (call it yourself - it was left in my friend's negative feedback)

- I-SoldIt Greenville has not listed items on eBay in 68 days from the publishing of this article.

- It has come to my attention that eBay has sent "cease & desist" notices to eBay dropoff franchises and about to send them to independents as well concerning signage and naming of businesses with the "eBay name" - In other words - "iSoldit On eBay" is no longer allowed as you see in the picture above

If you are a customer of iSoldIt Greenville and need information concerning your eBay transactions with them, please contact me by leaving a note within the comments associated with this post.

* edited for grammar
* Note about "eBay" in logo and signage added

Bang! That sound was a gavel, not a gun, but it's every blogger's funeral!

Dramatic titles are necessary in dramatic times.

Preface: I hope that over the next few days I make a compelling case for dire and genuine need that the Apple community that I so love will help me with.

Media is changing. Quickly. But more importantly, information absorption is changing. I'm not really speaking of the internet per se - a revolution in free speech, self discovery, and knowledge acquisition. More importantly, I'm speaking of blogs. Blogs are changing the way we see things and think about important issues. The blogging phenomenon stems from the nature of man not to be confined. Since the beginning of writing - we have respected that someone would write something down for us, we would believe it, and if pertinent to our lives we would form an opinion around the issue.

In today's modern media - often called the mainstream media we are spoon fed little doses of bias politics and indoctrinated into a way of thinking - simply to be like the Jones'. Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly often refer to the mainstream media in this manner. And for the most part they are right. You have to be realistic if you are a democrat - there must be a reason Air America went off the air and Rush Limbaugh remains the most syndicated radio talk show and Bill O'Reilly is the #1 rated news show on TV.

Both Limbaugh and O'Reilly refer more and more to blogs. Limbaugh even refers to some blogs on a recurring basis. While at the same time ... the mainstream media has simply ignored the medium or disguised embracing blogs by putting up their own blogging sites. The mainstream media simply reports for profit. They purposely sensationalize or incite viewers rather than engaging them with intelligent and factual balanced news. Bloggers (and from the outside looking in newscasters like O'Reilly and commentators like Limbaugh) report for pleasure and the desire for the truth. Bloggers and a select few members of the media may go against grain out of a desire to help their fellow man understand the world and therefore prosper.

"To enable one man to prosper and be happy is to allow him to enable such in another"

My mission here over the last four years has been similar.

Over the last two years I have pared down my friend base. Currently I have only a few close friends. This is a "circle of trust" if you will. I know that each cares genuinely for me and I care genuinely for them. I consider this blog and readers much the same. I post on this blog not only to educate and assist, but to save my friends money.

I am a Pisces. Not that I put too much in the zodiac or astrology, but the Pisces description fits me pretty well:

Artistic, inwardly sensitive, wise beyond years


Most of my friends come to me for advice. In fact, just yesterday my friend who has taken a job as a cellular service representative, called me to ask how to transfer contacts from one service to another. I was happy to tell him and even more happy that I had the answer. I get a lot of satisfaction out of helping others - especially if my point of view or solution is different than the status quo. Enter this blog ....

Stay tuned ...

Later today I will explain my current state of mind and why there is need for action in my life (and yours). If you can identify with what I've said so far ... you'll be very concerned with what is happening in my life.

To me; a great writer is quoted; a great author is simply understood.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

A few research notes about viruses on iPods

As I was trying to do a little research on the few video iPods that shipped with a virus ... I had remembered that XLR8YourMac had posted a story in September about a user that said his iPod had a virus. Everyone doubted him (including me) ... thinking he just got the virus from a sync with his work PC. Interestingly enough, the guy who had mailed into XLR8YourMac found the virus with Norton Antivirus for Macs.

- Note that the virus does not affect Macs in any way, but could be transmitted to a PC via an iTunes sync with a PC.

- Last week it was discovered that Mp3 players being distributed at McDonald's Fast Food Restaurants in Japan had a similar virus issue

- Last year Creative shipped a few thousand Zen MP3 players with a similar virus

* Kudos to XLR8YourMac for being the first documented case of this incident.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The PC Guy Makes The Apple Guy Sneeze

Apple says: A Small Number of Video iPods Shipped With Windows Virus

From APPLE.COM:
We recently discovered that a small number - less than 1% - of the Video iPods available for purchase after September 12, 2006 left our contract manufacturer carrying the Windows RavMonE.exe virus. This known virus affects only Windows computers, and up to date anti-virus software which is included with most Windows computers should detect and remove it. So far we have seen less than 25 reports concerning this problem. The iPod nano, iPod shuffle and Mac OS X are not affected, and all Video iPods now shipping are virus free. As you might imagine, we are upset at Windows for not being more hardy against such viruses, and even more upset with ourselves for not catching it.

...

Because this Windows virus propagates via mass storage devices, we recommend that you scan any mass storage devices that you have recently attached to your Windows computers such as external hard drives, digital cameras with removable media, and USB flash drives.

While this Windows virus does not affect Mac OS X or the iPod itself, Mac customers can use iTunes 7 to easily restore the software on their newly purchased Video iPod to ensure that it does not carry this Windows virus. The Video iPod can then be used on a Windows computer without concern.


See this Apple page for more details:

http://www.apple.com/support/windowsvirus/

Every day, I smile because I own a Mac and because I have always owned a Mac.

iPod User Agreement as posted to the MacRumors forums:

From the iPod Software License Agreement:

6. Limitation of Liability TO THE EXTENT NOT PROHIBITED BY LAW, IN NO EVENT SHALL APPLE BE LIABLE FOR PERSONAL INJURY, OR ANY INCIDENTAL, SPECIAL, INDIRECT OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES WHATSOEVER, INCLUDING, WITHOUT LIMITATION, DAMAGES FOR LOSS OF PROFITS, LOSS OF DATA, BUSINESS INTERRUPTION OR ANY OTHER COMMERCIAL DAMAGES OR LOSSES, ARISING OUT OF OR RELATED TO YOUR USE OR INABILITY TO USE THE IPOD SOFTWARE AND IPOD SOFTWARE UPDATES, HOWEVER CAUSED, REGARDLESS OF THE THEORY OF LIABILITY (CONTRACT, TORT OR OTHERWISE) AND EVEN IF APPLE HAS BEEN ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES. SOME JURISDICTIONS DO NOT ALLOW THE LIMITATION OF LIABILITY FOR PERSONAL INJURY, OR OF INCIDENTAL OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES, SO THIS LIMITATION MAY NOT APPLY TO YOU. In no event shall Apple's total liability to you for all damages (other than as may be required by applicable law in cases involving personal injury) exceed the amount of fifty dollars ($50.00). The foregoing limitations will apply even if the above stated remedy fails of its essential purpose.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Getting To Know Me ...


Every now and then I like to post an entry that lets you know who I am ...

I was recently asked: "What is your favorite childhood memory?"

My favorite childhood memory ... that's a tough one. I have a very detailed photographic memory and have a lot of good memories from my childhood. Some people think it's odd what I think are good memories, but I see them that way because they were formative events in my life.

If I could single a memory out though, I would say it was Christmas 1981. I was 7. My parents were on the verge of separating so ... it was the last Christmas I shared with all of my family intact. In the next few years following; my parents would get divorced, the majority of my family would die, and I would move to 3 different schools 4 separate times in two years. (Clemson, Greenville (Shannon Forest Christian school), back to Clemson, then Six Mile Elementary) My parents were starting the who's going to get custody of Philip preliminary rounds. That Christmas I got the most Christmas presents I've ever gotten and my brother got a new car! I got a pair of remote control cars, a bike, a laser tag shooting range, a lego playset (actually a knockoff called Tente), New Edition and Michael Jackson on cassette, and a new basketball.



Each of them was wrapped elaborately or presented Extreme Home Makeover Style. For instance, my bike was behind my brother's car. In a "Move that bus!" fashion came my bike. The night before I had gotten a lot of Star Wars stuff from my extended family. I know now that I was being prepped for what was about to happen ... my parents separating. I will always remember that as the most magical Christmas and memory of my life. The following summer my family (minus my mother) would go to Walt Disney World in Florida for the opening of EPCOT.

* picture is of me @ age 5 (says Age 4, but was taken my first year in school)

How to get out of a cell phone contract so you can get an iPhone!


I was looking at different ways to cancel my cellphone contract with Cingular just in case Apple decides to be an MVNO [Mobile Virtual Network] for the iPhone. There is speculation that Apple will choose one of two different paths. Either they will have the iPhone exclusively on Cingular (at least in the USA) or they will have their own Network by leasing time from a major carrier but handling all the contracts and customer service themselves. Most likely, Apple would have kiosks in malls, sell service at Apple stores, and possibly even have stores within a store at Cingular locations.

I have a hard time figuring out what would be best. I think Apple is having an issue with what to do regarding being an MVNO vs going with a national carrier as well.

Regardless, I would like to provide you with a few tips for getting out of a cell phone contract just in case the time comes soon that you have to switch:



Complain due to lack of satisfaction. Say you want out because the service isn't up to par. (And really, is it?) Then back that up by filing official complaints online with the Federal Trade Commission and the Better Business Bureau.

Try a market-based fix. Some companies such as Celltradeusa.com match unhappy mobile customers with people who'd like to sign up - at a discount, of course. You'll pay a $20 fee to sell your contract on the block.

Hidden charges. Look for your provider to bury changes to the Terms of Service within your bill. Quite often providers modify their service plans, much of the time the modification is a benefit. It doesn't matter, this voids the previous contract. Read the small print on those inserts included with your bill, it will spell out that you have 30 days (may vary on where you live) to cancel your contract with no charge simply because they changed the contract.

Move or get a virtual address. Study your provider's coverage map and find a town (maybe in Alaska?) with absolutely no service. Then tell the company you're moving there. They're not legally required to cut you loose, but frustrated consumers have reported success.

The known bad. Get a known problematic phone, complain 3 times, be let out of a contract due to your local lemon law.

Join the Army. Some people have finagled their way out of a contract when they just got orders to ship off to Iraq.

Shrink your plan. As a last resort, cut back to the bare minimum the provider allows and drop any frills, like picture-messaging. Depending on the number of months you have left, this could be cheaper than paying the typically prorated termination fee, which can often run up to $200.
Make them pay.. Many people have reported success by making the cellphone company pay money each month instead of making it.

Free Roaming. Most phones come with free roaming now. But it's not actually free. The company pays it for you. So all you do is go to an area that roaming(and when you have free nights or weekends) and place a long (5 hours?) phone call to "Moviefone" or something along those lines. This will start adding up for them in the fees they have to pay to the service provider in that area and they will kick you out of the contract. Too bad.


* Thanks to this WikiHow article for the majority of the wording for this reference, which I contributed to and helped revise.

Those in Europe, for the most part don't have this problem because they are not required to have a contract.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

iPod stolen every 1/3 second at Target!

As reported by The Unofficial Apple Weblog:

39 iPods gone in 15 seconds

Stories about iPods getting ripped off in New York City are nothing new. Crowded subways, buses and Starbucks are breeding grounds for theft. But those of us who live in the Big Apple like to think that the suburbs are safe havens. Turns out we're deluding ourselves, as is proven by the fact that in Riverdale, Utah, three hoodlums (who happen to be from New York) made off with 39 iPods along with a few PS2 games from the local Target in a mere fifteen seconds!

The caper itself was rather impressive, as the surveillance camera revealed. The thieves had a lookout in the aisle and a driver waiting outside in the getaway car. And somehow it seems they were able to smuggle their loot out in an oversized pair of pants! They were spotted 10 minutes later when they tried to pull the same thing in another Target a few miles away, but left empty-handed after not being able to break the secure iPod case before police arrived. A Target security guard managed to get their license plate and just a short while later they were caught by the cops heading toward the interstate. Police say the punks were planning to hit other Target destinations as well - they found a map of every Target store in Utah and Nevada in the car and similar maps of Arizona.

Pulled from the comments ...

I pulled the following post I made to the comments concerning the New York Apple Store offending Muslims. In particular, I have questioned the legality and the surrounding ethical issue of the originating website: MEMRI.ORG.

In the comments FixYourThinking said:

... you can't do what they do - "cherry pick" stories that aren't verified.

You must state a goal, intention, or caveat emptor if you report like that.

While not mandatory, the SPJ code of Ethics for journalists says:


Members of the Society of Professional Journalists believe that public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy. The duty of the journalist is to further those ends by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues. Conscientious journalists from all media and specialties strive to serve the public with thoroughness and honesty. Professional integrity is the cornerstone of a journalist's credibility. Members of the Society share a dedication to ethical behavior and adopt this code to declare the Society's principles and standards of practice.

[MEMRI] Being a funded organization, I take it that they present to "investors" [funding sources] that they are a news organization. Again, if you claim you are a professional journalism source, you have to wear the toga AND follow the law of Ceasar [Law Of Ceasar in this case=SPJ Ethics code]

You can't masquerade that you are reporting the truth by translating or biasly picking stories that no one else is reporting.

The only ethical, non libelous way of reporting is through self experience, filming, tape recording, or "ganging" (ganging = If CNN reports it, NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX report it) - ONLY after one of these criteria are met can one add opinion, editorial, or postulation without being slanderous, libelous and accountable for damages!

Therefore, that's why I make reference to a satire site ... are they just not referencing their true intentions as Landover does?


Technically, this story couldn't even be regurgitated without explanation and clarification ... especially with the Apple Store serving alchohol comment. That's not only libelous, that's blatant!

Still stalking after a year ;-)



Today marks the 1 year point since Jack Miller's last post on As The Apple Turns. I'm sure the trolls in the AppleTurns forums will see this simple post as stalking.

Follow up reading:

As The Apple Turns Website Starting To Die

The Plot Thickens & No One @ Apple Turns Cares

The Continuing Saga Of As The Apple Turns

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

I'm offended by the stupidity ...


From The Unofficial Apple Weblog:

Muslim community offended by Apple's Fifth Avenue NYC Cube
posted by Laurie A. Duncan

The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) reports that the glass Cube Apple erected earlier this year on New York's tony Fifth Ave, dubbed Apple Mecca by many of the Mac faithful, is offensive to Muslims due to the Cube's resemblance to the Ka'bah (aka The House of Abraham). The report goes on to say that there's a genuine belief that the design of the store was specifically meant to provoke Muslims and cites other contributing insults such Apple housing "bars" that sell alcoholic beverages within the Cube structure and it being open 24/7


This is nothing short of stupidity ... and how do you like that last comment about Apple having bars that sell alchoholic beverages?

Not only does Apple not sell alchohol at ANY Apple Store but they stopped giving away free water a few years back!

Here is a link to the report that was just published but written in advance of the store's opeining:

http://memri.org/bin/latestnews.cgi?ID=SD131506



* Note that some websites are regurgitating that MEMRI is an Islamic parody/agenda site like Landover Baptist for Christianity

* Although many definitions and descriptions in Wikipedia are bias and left leaning, the best history seems to be compiled in the Wikipedia description of MEMRI... so you decide.


* Memri.org has a very high page view ... around 80,000 per day. They also have a very far reach. Go to ALEXA.COM and type in "MEMRI.ORG" If the premise is that this website is purposely reporting false news reports and isn't claiming to be satire, then why don't we as Mac Users put an end to it?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Trying something new

In the past I have avoided Google Adsense because of the rather controversial topics I talk about here.

For instance, if I discuss Bill Palmer's iProng website or HeadProng accessory company, an ad for either of these may appear at the top of the page.

Same goes for MacMice, free iPod scams, etc etc.

Google recently changed the way the it shows advertisements, so I'm going to give it a try.

If you EVER see a questionable ad, let me know and I will either remove the ad from my page views, temporarily suspend ADsense, or permantly suspend it if it gets out of hand.

I make less than $5 from this site a month after domain name costs through the ads on the sidebar (Amazon affiliate links)

If you don't like the Google ads, please express your concerns here.

Why is this site pink?



At the beginning of the month I announced that I would change my website background to show my support for Breast Cancer Awareness month.

Please assist in any local efforts to raise funding for research and financial asisstance for detection.

Go to http://pinkforoctober.org/ to learn why you should make your site pink for the remainder of the month (or maybe even permanently).

You can also find donation and resource links on the pink for october site.

New Jersey Residents Being Forced To Virtually Move?


New Jersey imposes tax on iTunes downloads


I'm a little late to the game posting this, but it appears as if New Jersey has imposed a sales tax on iTunes Music Store downloads.

While I hate taxes, this is a tough one to figure out the fairness. iTunes Music Store gift cards are taxed at retail, but I think if challenged in court, with DRM restrictions (Digital Rights Management) explained ad nauseum, and proving that nothing physical actually exists in "I can hold this" form ... I have a hard time seeing how this tax is fair, especially if purchased over the internet.

The new taxation law also taxes services, which I find impossible to prove that is not double taxation. If I get my yard mowed then my house is worth more because of appearance. Therefore I am taxed via property tax at a higher rate and homes are taxed at resale at a higher rate.

If I have an iPod, I paid tax on the iPod at retail ... I think a tax on "music" that that is not in physical form, is like a tax on air. You must pay for quality air (and air conditioning/ionization). What court could prove that I physically own anything that I could resell or throw away in a physical garbage can?

Some enterprising New Jersey residents have already blogged about creating "virtual iTunes accounts" in other states to avoid the tax.

Calculated or Coincidence?

MacMinute regurgitates:

A story on Macworld UK says that Microsoft has confirmed that Office 2007 for Mac will not ship until the second half of 2007. The story quotes a Courier Mail report saying that "Microsoft's Mac Business Unit (MacBU) product manager Mary Starman revealed the news, which means the Mac version of the office productivity suite will lag eight months behind the Windows version of the software (scheduled to ship January 2007)." However, the company has said that the new version with offer a Mac OS X look and feel, interface improvements, and enhanced features.


How interesting ... a day after Apple released a new "I'm a Mac, I'm a PC" advertisement:


See the Self Pity Spot advertising that Macs have Microsoft Office too

It's hard to say whether annoucements like this are calculated or coincidence. Hmmmmm....

Monday, October 09, 2006

Where'd you get those figures?



Michael Robertson had this to say over the weekend on his BLOG:

As summarized & presented by ENgadget:

Michael Robertson ...the anti-tech-powerexec known for founding MP3.com, Lindows / Linspire, Skype competitor SIPphone, and DRM-free online music sales biz MP3tunes, not to mention former employer of DRM freedom fighter Jon Johansen -- so it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that after the ruckus being raised around the Zune's crippled WiFi and worthless DRM system that he stepped in to take a potshot. [He rails in his blog] against DRM and the somewhat absurd position Microsoft is taking by scrapping PlaysForSure in their own device efforts (what he calls "Screwed for Sure"). "At first glance the features seem compelling, but my prediction is it will be the biggest flop of 2007 with less than 50,000 units sold worldwide." Also, says Robertson, "I've been looking for a good verb to describe losing all of your music to DRM because it's increasingly common and I think I have one: Zune."


Not sure if this was already said, but there are more than 1 million already presold into retail channels. Circuity City, Best Buy, Radio Shack, Walmart, Fry's, etc - just if each location for these chains buys the minimum stock of 10 per store - that's over a million units.

* Just the stores mentioned here; at 10 units per store = 150,000 units. You can almost be assured that Walmart will stock more than that in each store. Walmart has over 6500 Worldwide locations

That said, I think it will be a flop, if you want to be like the Jones' (which the average person does) you'll want an iPod for Christmas.

Little Johnny at school: "Did you get an iPod for Christmas?"
Little Johnny's friend: "No I got a Zune."
Little Johnny: "Oh"
Littler Johnny to another friend with back to previous friend: "Did you get an iPod for Christmas?"
Little Johnny's other friend: "Yeah"
Little Johnny: "Cool, which one?"

Updates: Bear with me

Hi Readers,

I've gotten a few emails asking why my updates have been light as of late. There is a reason and I plan to reveal that reason this week.

Bear with me ...

A small update coming today.

Philip
fixyourthinking editor

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Quote O' The Day

" "


Pulled from a recent Daring Fireball post by John Gruber:

One of my favorite programming slogans is from Larry Wall, regarding his goals for Perl: “Easy things should be easy, and hard things should be possible.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Why Did Fred Anderson Really Retire As CFO?

In a press release issued today, Apple announced that its independent investigation into stock option grant irregularities has been completed.

The investigation found the following:

- There was no misconduct by any member of Apple's current management team

- The most recent instance of irregularity relates to a January 2002 options grant

- Stock option grants made on 15 dates between 1997 & 2002 appear to have grant dates that precede the approval of those grants.

- In a few instances, Apple CEO Steve Jobs was aware that favorable grant dates had been selected, but he did not receive or otherwise benefit from these grants and was unaware of the accounting implications.

- The investigation raised concerns regarding the actions of two former officers in connection with the accounting, recording and reporting of stock option grants. The company will provide all details regarding their actions to the SEC.

Steve Jobs had the following to say regarding the probe's findings:

"I apologize to Apple's shareholders and employees for these problems, which happened on my watch. They are completely out of character for Apple" said Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO. "We will now work to resolve the remaining issues as quickly as possible and to put the proper remedial measures in place to ensure that this never happens again."


Former Apple CFO Fred Anderson (CFO 1996-2004) announced his resignation from Apple's board of directors, beginning the investigation's fallout. Earlier this year, Apple missed the deadline for reporting their 3Q filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission due to the accounting errors related to the "irregularities", which prompted Nasdaq to warn Apple of possible delistment from the exchange if the situation was not promptly rectified. Apple will most likely have to re-state historical financial statements.

This was all initiated by Apple being warned it was not complying with a new corporate accountability law passsed in 2002:

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act

More to come ...

* corrected date of The Sarbanes-Oxley Act

Monday, October 02, 2006

To Serve Man: It's A Cook Book!



One of my favorite Twilight Zone episodes involves an alien race coming to earth, benevolently providing us with a cure for cancer and solving world hunger. They offer to take "visitors" back to their home planet to help repopulate their own planet. The aliens carry a "sacred" book called (by translation) "To Serve Man" - a few select translators eventually discover that "To Serve Man" is actually a cookbook.

Just as you see in the screenshot above, I am very disatisfied with the MyDreamApp competition so far.



The second round of voting ended on Friday. The front runner is now a Cookbook app called very "un"creatively Cookbook.

Another of my favorites was eliminated; iStyleIt. To me, this type of app has never existed on the Mac before (in any form). I think it would have been an interesting app - intriguing enough to "download for curiosity sake". It also followed the "initial guidelines" for app ideas by potentially being a great app to use Leopard's Core Animation functionality.

In the forums at MyDreamApp:

oyvind said:
I guess Omni making OmniFocus sort of kills iGTD before it even has lifted off the ground. Add Inbox from Midnight Beep and you have two awesome competitiors. Even if it's a great idea, I'm afraid it never will be able to compete with these.

Too bad iStyleIt dropped out this round. Not because I'm sure I would use it myself, but because it was somethin entirely different, and something that I think that the Mac would have handled in a very cool way with Core Animation etc.


And my comment in the MyDreamApp forums:

This is depressing ... the most uninventive and already done by Williams Sonoma and Bloom grocery stores concept has reached number 1? This is an obvious great choice from a programming angle ... it'll be a cinch to code!

I sure hope one of the guest judges like Gruber brings some sense back to this! I want to hear a reasonable analysis and explanation of the results thus far.


I'm losing interest in this competition each day. It seems to be yet another "Overhyped" idea that had great potential that has been ruined by lack of moderation and sensible judging.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

I'm ALL pink this month


I'm joining in with other bloggers and websites for Breast Cancer Awareness:

I encourage all other bloggers to do the same if they can.

http://pinkforoctober.org/

And for those of you that think pink is a sissy or girl color or that men can't get breast cancer - did you know that men can get breast cancer too?

Fortunately no one in my family has had breast cancer but several of my friends have had it. I know that one thing is very important to know ... getting checkups regulary after the age of 30 is paramount. If you think you can't afford a checkup, you should call your closest hospital who will put you in touch with financial assistance.