Friday, February 27, 2009

Buying a refurb iPhone from the official AT&T website for $99.00



I switched my wife to an iPhone .... my 8th Verizon convert since the beginning of 2009, by the way.

I got one of the AT&T $99 refurb deals for the 8GB version. I got her to use the referral that appears on this site and it kicked some money back to me.

I started preparing my music library for her to sync to her iPhone. As I was going through my songs in cover flow ... I noticed a lot of duplicate album artwork. So, I named all of the albums (something I've never done) ... it took me a few hours. Wow! By removing the duplicate artwork, because albums had extra words in the title or artists names were spelled like "Michael Jackson" instead of "Micheal Jackson", I saved nearly 200 MEGABYTES!!

If you have a lot of music ... I'd make sure you don't have the same problem. Some of the MP3's on my computer are 13 years old and either I personally added the artwork and created the ID3 tags or iTunes mistakenly added the wrong information in an "Album Art Search".

iPhone Snaps



This is a picture of a license plate with APPLEJACK written in LICENSE PLATE-ESE.



Here's a plate I found at a thrift store - with the Apple Pie recipe right on it.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

One Of The Many Reasons American Car Companies Just Don't Get It ...



I've been meaning to post this for some time now ...

Back in January I saw a Lincoln commercial called "Lift Off" advertising the new Lincoln MKS. Lincoln is the luxury brand for Ford Motor Company.

Description of the commercial:

Now [CAT POWER'S Clan Marshall] put her imprint on David Bowie's "Space Oddity" for the new 2009 Lincoln MKS. The spot, which is titled "Lift Off" and finds a satisfied (and rich: the MKS is expected to be priced in the $38,000 range) Lincoln owner turning on the ignition and some very dramatic pistons with some lighting effects, was reportedly recorded in June and airs this month. "Boot Up. Lift Off."


The YouTube video you see here has 100's of comments such as this attached to it:

"when are they gonna have a full version?"

"does anybody know where i can get the full cover?"


The internet is littered with discussions on who sings this song and where can the song be downloaded.

When a song is featured in a commercial or movie, it is a HUGE draw. It reminds me of how I first heard of the band ColdPlay and the song "Clocks" ... it was featured in an obscure version of Peter Pan that came out a few years ago in a preview movie trailer. The internet was abuzz the next week asking what song it was. ColdPlay wasn't a really well known band then and the song wasn't on the Peter Pan soundtrack - but at least it could be located.

Ford is almost irresponsible for not getting the full version of this song [Cover of "Space Oddity" by Cat Power] and paying for it to be placed on iTunes. Why?

Because I would be shocked if they couldn't say to this band ... we'll split the revenue 50/50 with you that we receive from Apple over the downloads.

How much revenue would that be?

The song "New Soul" by Yael Naïm which was featured in an iPod commercial has seen over 720,000 downloads - the artist attributes nearly 100% of those downloads to the Apple commercial.

I believe that this song [A cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity" by Cat Power] would be even bigger than that. That would be at least $200,000 in revenue for Ford. $200,000 less they would need in bailout money. It's almost like they don't think in terms of a thousand here or a thousand there. The American car companies spend so much foolishly that they only block expeditures AND savings into the billions.

Some Sound Advice For Bands ...

I've pretty much turned February 2009 into "Music Month" here on FIXYOURTHINKING ...

Here's some more really good ideas that have come up in posts and unpublished comments:

1) The band The Presidents Of The United States Of America recently released all of their music in a cool iPhone application. I postulated that this was clever - just like the arcade game Journey from the 80's. This is the kind of thinking that will get your band really far, really quick.

2) I thought of this idea the other night while discussing this article. I was in a restaurant called Sonny's Barbeque ... I noticed music playing over the speakers while I was dining. Sonny's is a mostly local chain (to me) with an originating franchise in the southeast. I thought the same thing about Zaxby's - also a local chain. If your band lives near the founder of a business ... see if you can talk to them to play your music over their intercom/speakers for their customers for a month. After each song say something like:

[RECORDED] "Hi, I'm Dave and you've been listening to my band The Davesters ... that was our song "Dave Gave, But You Didn't". You can find our band on iTunes ... just search for The Davesters. Thanks.


3) From an unpublished comment:

"Don't try to emulate the success of another band. There isn't a formula. A lot has to do with using common sense, creativity, and luck."


4) Record a song or two that relates to a holiday, a day of the week, a month, a celebration, a year, a decade, or special event. Try to get that song played on the radio or at that special day or event. Your song could be licensed into perpetuity for use on that day.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

What Do The Lyrics To The Song "Ebudae" By Enya Mean?

This morning the song Ebudae by Enya came into my head. I want it played at my funeral as I have always thought it was a beautiful, calming song. I googled and found a number of pages that discussed the lyrics.

One website posted the song (which is in gaelic) how it sounds phonetically:

Eww harlay eyuwee heewah oohah sharlay marc toh cheeteeh woodenuh.
Aran doi dig coh hoh partenuh ooh lee ah ooh harlorh.
Eww harlay eyuwee heewah oohah harlay mwahnee kahah montenah.
Ooh de keewah! Ooh de keewah!
Oohnah li ansai angrass de la ooh hoo lee ah ooh harlorh.

Ahh

Amharc, mn ag obair l mall san och,
Ceolann siad ar laetha geal, a bh,
Bealach fada annon anall a choch.

Ahh

Eww harlay eyuwee heewah oohah harlay wooneenchi doidig dohtenuh, dohtenuh, dohtenuh
Ooh de keewah!
Woohnah wui an jaeshah woodenuh ooh lee ah ooh harlorh.
Eww harlay eyuwee heewah oohah sharlay marc toh cheeteeh woodenuh.
Ooh de keewah! Ooh de keewah!
Aran doi dig coh hoh partenuh ooh lee ah ooh harlorh.
Ooh Eww harlay eyuwee heewah oohah Ooh Li an kahah montenah.


An interesting comment in this forum said that if played backwards you got these lyrics and that it was not in gaelic at all:

"oh, what did he do?"
"do you believe me, love?"
"i would finally lock the door, wouldn't I?"
"you love me."
"you with me?"
"should -or- she would cry."
"she'd do something you wouldn't do."
"and even with me, she would cry."
"ahhhhhh"
"come out in the sun, it's time for love"


But then other websites say it is sung in gaelic and the official translation is:

"Look, women working by day and late at night,
They sing of bright days that were,
A long way back and forth forever."


* The above lyrics make no sense

I put the actual lyrics into Google Translator and the above translation also came out. I guess the meaning now makes me rethink my choice. I still like the song. The whole album Shepherd Moons is very good. Preview it with the link below and buy it from iTunes or buy the whole album from Amazon.

iTunes Store Link: Ebudae by Enya

Band Puts All Their Songs Into An iPhone App And Sells It For $3

In an interesting and creative move, the band The Presidents Of The United States Of America has decided to distribute an iPhone App that includes all of their band's music.

They own and created the iPhone app and own all the rights to their music.

This is a very creative approach to music distribution.

I had thought about this a while back. I remember playing the Journey Video Game back in the 80's. I thought it would be interesting for their band to release a port of that arcade game with all of their music. It would be a runaway success - just because of the press it would most likely get. It would probably even be featured in an iPhone commercial.

Here is a link to the full story on TechDirt

http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20090219/0123543828.shtml

* That's not me in the picture

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

TrapCall: New application that unmasks "anonymous" callers

A new service set for launch Tuesday allows cellphone users to unmask the Caller ID on blocked incoming calls, obtaining the phone number, and in some cases the name and address, of the no-longer-anonymous caller.

WIRED: TrapCall

Will be available for JAILBROKEN iPhones and is from the same people who did SpoofApp - an iPhone application that allows you to call as any callerID.

Monday, February 16, 2009

A few extra notes ...

A few extra notes about my recent "Battle Of The Band's Members" story.

Testimony in court:

[PARAPHRASED]

Attorney for Defendants [Glenn P. Churchill] asking of one of the defendants in examination :

"This is just jammin' ... you're just having fun ... you're like a what do you call it 'Garage Band'?"


Tyler Eisenhart [Defendant] :

"Yeah, that's right. Nothing serious. I'm studying Psychology and have applied to lots of colleges. I'm concentrating on other stuff."


That would be a very inconsistent statement with this website:



A NEW SHADE DOT COM

(Pretty nice & very professional if you ask me)


And this myspace page:

http://myspace.com/anewshade

MYSPACE PAGE IS TITLED IN TITLE BAR: "A NEW SHADE :: LOOKING FOR JUNE TOUR DATES

It seems they weren't serious about court testimony ... the "not serious, just jammin'" remark was really tossed around a lot by the defendant's attorney ... a touring band with a professional website and all the effort you can see above is "just jammin'"?

_______________________________


This link is inconsistent with information around the web. It still shows Drew as a band member.

One "between the lines" statement I was trying to make in my story is that your band's image means a lot. [It really applies to any web presence.] Make sure that you are paying close attention to what Google searches for your band's name bring up - get inconsistent statements and information either removed or corrected.

I try pretty hard to make sure that websites that link, aggregate, and refer to FIXYOURTHINKING have the correct information, the proper linking, etc etc.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Apple Makes Official Statement About iPhone "Jailbreaking"

As reported by the Electronic Frontier Foudation:

"Jailbreaking an iPhone constitutes copyright infringement and a DMCA violation, says Apple in comments filed with the Copyright Office as part of the 2009 DMCA triennial rulemaking. This marks the first formal public statement by Apple about its legal stance on iPhone jailbreaking.

Apple's iPhone, now the best-selling cellular phone in the U.S., has been designed with restrictions that prevent owners from running applications obtained from sources other than Apple's own iTunes App Store. "Jailbreaking" is the term used for removing these restrictions, thereby liberating your phone from Apple's software "jail." Estimates put the number of iPhone owners who have jailbroken their phones in the hundreds of thousands.

As part of the 2009 DMCA rulemaking, EFF has asked the Copyright Office to recognize an exemption to the DMCA to permit jailbreaking in order to allow iPhone owners to use their phones with applications that are not available from Apple's store (e.g., turn-by-turn directions, using the iPhone camera for video, laptop tethering)."


I have my iPhone "Jailbroken" - I enjoy the ability to record video with Cycorder. I also use iPhoneModem to connect to the internet and did so to post this article as a means to make a point. The iPhoneModem application which allows tethering is the only questionable app on my iPhone. That said, I also have a Sierra Wireless AT&T branded and contracted 3G USB Modem with an AT&T unlimited data service plan. I feel as if I pay for the ability to access the internet through AT&T and it shouldn't matter by which means I do so. I don't visit highly intensive data sites and iPhoneModem is incapable of accessing file sharing services. I don't use it to download applications either.

I consider it my right to do whatever I choose with a product I own and a service I pay exactly what is owed. We're not talking about guns or missles here.

It was better to allow it and just add these features in future iPhone updates so people won't have reason to jailbreak their iPhones. If the iPhone had turn by turn directions, tethering, and video recording - there would be no need to jailbreak ... then I actually think Apple would have a case that the remainder of Cydia (the jailbreak app store) was unnecessary.

* For the full article at the EFF website visit: http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2009/02/apple-says-jailbreaking-illegal

Battle Of The Band's Members: The Whole Story


* A NEW SHADE's myspace layout created by Tom O'Brien and A NEW SHADE

If there's one thing I've learned over the years ... it is to document everything, get everything in writing, and get everything verified and legal (in some way) if at all possible. No where is this more pertinent than in the story I'm about to convey.

At the end of this story ... I'll provide a checklist for anyone in a band to illustrate creative ways to help your band make revenue, create bonding and legal contracts without an attorney, and to hopefully avoid any entanglements and nasty conflicts.

I'll divide this into three sections ... Part I: The Band / Part II: The Battle / Part III: And The Winner Is; You. So as not to add any fluff to this piece ... the first part may be a tad bit boring, but is important to read.

Part I: The Band


A little over a year ago my best friend came to me to ask my advice about promoting his son's band in a contest run by a website called TuneCore. The idea; to get as many people to request for a performance from your band through the TuneCore website. The grand prize - going to the band with the most requests - was a trip to London to record in Peter Gabriel's studio. The second and third prize was a TuneCore/iTunes distribution (which I will explain later) and mixer with a retail value of $1495. My best friend's son thought this would be a great opportunity for his band to finally make a full length album and get noticed. I had mentioned that even if they won the second place prize - we might be able to sell the prize (the mixer) and use the money to buy studio time. (More on that later as well.) My best friend and I mulled over ideas that his son could promote the contest. I emailed all of my customers - I have a list of approximately 200 regular clients. I told them I would give them a $20 credit on Apple service if they would go to the website and vote for "the band" - "A New Shade". Ends up - 18 people took me up on that offer. We mulled over launching balloons with a message inside. We talked about promotions on Myspace, Facebook, and other social/viral networking methods to friends, family, and contacts.

One of the ideas we came up with was to make 100 "professional" CDs with some of the band's DEMO music - essentially an EP. My friend's son would give the CDs away as prizes for all those that requested his band. His father and I would donate the materials and time. I also suggested to try selling a few copies cheaply on eBay. On my recommendation my best friend bought an HP CD printer from the local office store on sale. Using my CD duplicator, I made 100 copies for him using the CDs printed with the art you see to the right.

A little more background: My best friend's son's name is Drew. For greater than a year the band members had been practicing in Drew's Charleston, South Carolina home - which was owned by his father - my best friend. This house is located in a nice safe neighborhood. Drew rented the rooms to make maintenance and mortgage payments. He used one room and some of the storage specifically for the purpose of practicing and helping promote his band. They practiced regularly for months - in a room that had been soundproofed. Many tenants declined renting other rooms because they didn't want to be in the same house as a band practicing. Essentially, he sacrificed $400 or more each month so his band could have a nice practice facility. Many small bands in the Charleston area (and elsewhere) rent a storage facility - which typically runs $75 - $150 a month. These units typically do not have power - and so no heat and no other equipment other than self powered amps could be used.



Carrie, the band's extremely talented lead singer ... found Drew in a class at the University Of Charleston. Upon her recommendation - Drew became a part of the band. He was initially brought in to compliment the band on bass guitar and to assist the band with songwriting. It would suffice to say without extrapolation or impression - the band wanted to get serious.

Drew was a music major. He had a 3.7 GPA at The University Of Charleston. Often, Drew would assist "New Shade" band members in structuring their music on their various instruments or vocals. Each band member was talented - but Drew would often hone each member's strength. Drew can also write music - by notation ... something the other band members can do but struggled with.

Drew, almost solely, booked paid engagements at various Charleston bars for the band to perform. The band held a number of performances with Drew playing bass guitar.

With this knowledge, I was interested in the future of Drew's music career personally. I thought the band, "A New Shade" had potential. Since I serve a number of musicians and studios in my Apple Computer consulting business - I decided to talk to a few of my contacts. One person I spoke with was Noel Golden of Golden Records.

From press releases about Golden Records:

Golden has more than 20 years of experience in the music industry and has worked with artists such as Matchbox 20, Edwin McCain, Tom Cochrane, Sister Hazel, Metallica, Sammy Hagar, Willie Nelson and Lee Ann Womack just to name a few.


To me ... it seemed the sound of "A New Shade" fit in perfectly to the stylings of the music you can see Noel Golden produces and edits - somewhere in between Matchbox 20 and Metallica.

I approached Noel about possibly recording "A New Shade" if they didn't win the first prize in the TuneCore competition ... but maybe the second place prize - selling the mixer on eBay, which at the time of the competition ending, was fetching $1200 average end price on eBay. My idea - if they won that prize - they could sell the mixer and get some of Golden's studio time at a reduced cost. I mentioned this to Drew's father; which he in turn relayed to his son.

Eager to win the competition ... Drew went through with many of the promotional ideas brainstormed about.



The top two bands that you can see in the graphic above - were professional bands with paid promoters. Drew's band, solely from his promotional efforts, won the second place prize - as seen in the picture above. As you can see ... the 4th place band wasn't even close to the same tally.

The contest ended in October of 2007. The results were given in November. The semester at the University Of Charleston was over soon thereafter. Drew communicated back and forth with the prize sponsor and "New Shade" band members about the prize. Drew said he would just get the prize shipped to his Charleston home while the other band members, who were from Ohio, returned home for the holidays.

Without knowledge or communication with Drew, one of the band members contacted the prize sponsor and had it (A mixer valued at $1495.00) rerouted to Ohio. After a few unanswered inquiries from Drew - one of the band members communicated to him that he was no longer a part of the band, that they had acquired a promoter, and were possibly going to tour in the summer of 2008 or 2009 when the band members finished college.

My best friend came to me again for legal advice on what to do ...

Part II: The Battle


In the first part of this series, I outlined the background to a legal matter I was recently involved in and helped provide expert testimony for.

Before I begin telling you about the court case, its implications and lessons, let me give you a background concerning my role.

I'm a PowerSeller on eBay. I've been on eBay for 12 years now. I have sold just about everything - but I focus mostly on Apple Computer related items. This sometimes encompasses musical equipment. I both buy and sell musical editing and mixing equipment for my Apple computer consulting business in the Upstate of South Carolina.

I'm fortunate to have one of the largest musical equipment pawn shops in the southeast near me - Luthi's Pawn Shop in Greenville SC. I use this pawn shop often to buy, sell, and trade musical equipment, plus get an idea of "going prices". The management knows me and is sometimes willing to give me more than the standard 25% of retail that most pawn shops offer for items.

From experience, I know that I can usually fetch a premium on eBay for the items I sell versus other sellers - even specialized ebay consignment stores. I've sold mixers and audio equipment both online on eBay and locally - as it relates to computer integration.

I have also set up a number of studios for the likes of Edwin McCain and Emile Pandolphi - not to mention; I've assisted dozens of small musicians and churches with musical equipment purchases and Apple computer integration.



I have assisted a number of musicians big and small with getting their music promoted and listed with iTunes, on MySpace, and on YouTube. As a note, I have shown musicians how they can monetize freely distributed music with ads, sponsorships, and affiliate income - such as this blog makes with Google ADsense advertisements, Amazon affiliate links, and sponsorships.

I've been involved in a few small claims court cases - some people suing me - some I sued them. I've won or settled each of them with no money out of pocket for me. I also went Pro Se in a federal court case brought against me - I solely secured a huge victory for bloggers regarding free speech and blog defamation and reinforced deep linking precedent. I've learned a lot about the legal process and I have taken the time to study it carefully. I regularly consult with a good friend of mine who is a patent, copyright, and intellectual property attorney. It also helps to have had an infamously litigious father and that I'm able to slide a legal question or two when doing computer work for attorneys.

Other of my clients, in my local Apple Computer Consulting business, are creative professionals in advertising, marketing, and promotions. I work closely with these individuals and see their work flow on an almost daily basis.

Over the years, being self employed, I've learned the value of a contract and the peaceful means of enforcing the terms outlined in them. At first, my contracts were my word ... and while to most it meant enough and meant a binding obligation - to others, as I found out - it meant "if it's not on paper.".

I journal on an almost daily basis. I take mental notes most of the day and find the time to write about my day at some point. I've kept a journal of my entire life since 4th grade. It is one of my proudest personal achievements.

By many people, I'm considered a highly creative, extremely self motivated person.

As a member of a band, if you do not have a professional promoter - you need to be associated with someone like me or have the skills, experience, and encompassed knowledge of what I have just outlined for you.

These would be considered my areas of expertise that I provided for the trial.

Ok ... ok ... I sort of bragged ... and I wasn't trying to be vain ... I was just illustrating; that unbeknownst to the band with the exception of Drew - they had a lot going for them that I was prepared to help them with.

The first matter that was taken care of in the court hearing, presided over by Honorable Judge Henry W. Guerard, was identifying various parties appearing in the court room. I had purposely asked Drew to wear a nice button down shirt with no tie. I asked his father, who was also there, to wear something rather casual. I wore a nice grey suit with a conservative tie, tie chain, etc. I had intended for my look to be a bit of intimidation - as if to appear like a music industry executive or possibly legal counsel. I was immediately stripped of some dignity in the first few minutes:

[PARAPHRASED]

Judge (asking of me) : "And you are?"

Me : "My name is Philip Smith."

Judge : "And you are here today for what purpose?"

Me : "I'm here to provide some legal advice and assistance to Drew. I'm interested in the dynamic of the band and how this matter has unfolded unpleasantly. I plan to blog about it. I'm also hear to serve as an expert eBay seller, music equipment integration expert, and support for a good friend ... which is each pertinent to this case."

Judge : "Are you an attorney?"

Me : "No, but ...."

Judge (interrupting) : "Then you won't be dispensing legal advice or addressing parties involved."

Me : "I plan to provide expert testimony and back up anything Drew has evidence for because I've been involved in the matter before this court from the beginning. I've also been involved in a number of legal matters, carrying one to Federal Appeals Court; Pro Se and winning, I serve music industry professionals AND their attorneys in my job, and I plan to blog about this case on my website."

That raised an eyebrow and a look towards me from the Defendant attorney.

Judge : "Why are you interested in blogging about this and what is your website?"

Me : "I'm very interested in the dynamic of what has gone on here. Drew has been unfairly treated. Many of my associates are also interested in the outcome of this case and want me to report back to them about what happened here today."

Judge : "Report what?"

Me : "Report of Drew's victory."

This got a rise out of the Judge.

Judge (laughing as asking) : "What's your website called and what do you do again?"

Me : "I'm an Independent Apple Computer Tech, service, and sales person ... and I also run a website. My website is called FIXYOURTHINKING.COM



Judge : " And what is the general topic of this website?"

Me : "Anything that interests me ... but I generally focus on Apple and eBay ; news and opinion. That sometimes encompasses the music industry ... as you may know has been the focus of Apple over the last few years and as I told you - I serve a number of well known musicians and their studios."

Judge : "Well known; as in?"

Me: : "Edwin McCain and his producer who has produced for many famous artists." [Various artists namedropped]

The Judge returned a bottom lip poked out and a head nod to show a slight fascination.

Judge : "Yes, I know about Apple and the music industry, I've had an issue shuffling songs amongst my number of Apple computers and three household iPods."

[SIDE NOTE] Ah ha! So I have identified the judge as a Mac user - and a seemingly dedicated one at that. All I could think in my head was; Brownie points! I looked over at my best friend, who is also a Mac Service Tech, and smiled.

I'll also note that in my trial with Bidzirk (over this blog) the Plaintiff attorney had belittled me quite a bit about my legal experience and representing myself - attorneys often take this for granted - thinking they have the power to crush you because they know the system. As it was there ... it was also here in this case;

Nothing beats a good attorney, but a bad attorney is always a loser.


I could see the other attorney looking at his watch and getting anxious.

The trial started after everyone in the band was identified and sworn in. The Defendant attorney, Glenn P. Churchill, was there to represent someone in a small claims court case. I'll repeat, a small claims court case. I can't be for certain, but it seems he might have been hired through an Attorney Assistance Program at The College Of Charleston. That's interesting. (More on that later).

The first matter of business was directed to both parties to settle - as it is with all normal court cases. The Defendants had prepared an insulting settlement of $150. Drew was asking for $4000+. After researching this matter, I now have an idea of why this attorney made such a ridiculous settlement. It's my supposition that he was paid a flat fee for his appearance by the Attorney Assistance Program. I had hoped that the Defendants had hired an attorney. Nothing is more pleasing than wasting a bad attorney's time. That said, I respect a good attorney, even if against me, and will do whatever I can to make things go as quickly as possible.

The Judge asked Drew to clarify what his case was. He had been nervous before entering the court room, but seeing the environment and the initial ice breaking that went on - he stated his case calmly and professionally.

I had mentioned to Drew that a great opening statement would be mentioning that he had been approached by several TV court shows to make an appearance. TV court shows pay from the producer, pay for airfare, and a hotel stay for both parties. Both parties come away with cash in hand and a memorable experience. I asked him to say the following ...

"I think it's noteworthy to mention that we were approached by several TV Court shows, including Judge Judy. The Defendants declined these offers knowing that it would actually make them money and that no one would be out of pocket. I accept this as a partial admission of guilt because they didn't want to lose on national TV."


That statement also got the Judge to return a bottom lip poked out and a head nod to show recognition of a good tactical statement.

His case was pretty much as follows:

• The band had won a mixer in a contest - the win was solely and provably Drew's work. Drew was inexplicably and abruptly kicked out of the band after winning this prize. He wanted 1/4 of the retail value. ($1495.00 US)

• Drew had costs associated with this contest that he solely promoted for the band.

• Drew wanted 1/4th of the rental value for the practice room that the band used for greater than a year or the equivalent value of a practice space rental as outlined in first part of this series.

• An interest in the copyright of the songs the band held.

• There were court costs involved and requested for reimbursement.

A lengthy discussion ensued for all points. 1 1/2 hours and a recess passed. I was called to the stand after the recess to provide testimony regarding the value of the mixer that had been won in the contest, to testify of its eBay value, and testify what I had proposed to Drew to do with the funds if the mixer was sold - pay for studio time with Noel Golden*. I was also there to testify about the small prize won and its significance to the band - a TuneCore iTunes Distribution contract.

The Judge was quite interested in my testimony and seemingly had a number of personal questions that he integrated into importance and pertinence in the trial. Most notably he wanted to know about revenue sources that the band was receiving or had the potential to receive. In side bar testimony that was not objected to, I had mentioned during Drew's testimony that one cannot just be listed on iTunes without an intermediary to Apple - IF they want to be paid. Essentially they have to have a label that Apple recognizes send them the music in a lossless format for PAID distribution. Anyone can submit to iTunes, but unless represented or contracted by a label, you are classified as a podcast and you receive a FREE button next to your song.

The Judge was also interested in another comment that I had made - about receiving revenue without charging for music. I mentioned affiliate income and deals with MySpace. If I place a video on YouTube or somewhere such as MetaCafe - I can sign up for ad revenue sharing. This means that, based on the number of hits/views that video receives, I receive a share in the revenue for the ads that were displayed on that page and higher percentage if an ad was clicked on. I explained this model through means of this website. I also mentioned to the judge that I had planned to help the band with setting up a blog that received revenue, submitting to YouTube to receive revenue, and placing affiliate links such as AMAZON.COM to receive revenue. The Judge was confused on how it was possible to receive revenue if one could go to MySpace and listen for free. I explained that most bands have contracts with Myspace to share in ad revenue. The judge could see where I was going that this had importance to the songs that the band was going to record and had already recorded with Drew.

The attorney had cross examined Drew upon his testimony in an L.A. Law style - asking Drew questions as if he were a murder suspect. At one point I blurted out ...

"Come On!"


I was quickly brow beaten and reprimanded by the Judge. It was apparent to me, that if Drew had an attorney, he would be objecting and claiming a badger of the witness.

This is not advice; merely an element to this story ... if you are representing yourself in a court case (small claims or otherwise) you are allowed a significant amount of leeway in your procedure. I knew Drew would have one chance for reprimand - so I waited patiently before my outburst. I chose it when I thought best to make the attorney back off of him. You may have the opportunity to do such as well in a courtroom. You need to know when to object. Talk to the Judge and tell them your feelings. Judges care most about the litigants - not the attorneys. Keep that in mind.

The attorney for the Defendants also tried to slide in a wholesale invoice for the mixer ... explaining that it was worth far less than Drew was claiming. While the contest rules specifically stated the value ($1495.00 US), and Drew had proof of the eBay value (around ($1200.00 US) and even a printout of the device at retail ( around $1400.00 US) ... the judge accepted the wholesale invoice and rejected the eBay value and contest value ... citing the old "when you drive a new car off the car lot" devaluation tale as reason for doing so.

* I even offered to look it up the value on my iPhone, but was rejected.

Again, this is not pinch hitter attorney advice ... when you have proof of something that contradicts evidence from the opposition and their proof is accepted over yours ... refuse to move on until your explanation/proof is CONFIRMED BY THE JUDGE as understood.

Drew had evidence for everything well organized. This was important to his argument and I believe important to his win. I quipped with him before the trial that no one wins a court case unless they have two manilla folders - it doesn't matter if they have evidence in them ... it needs to look like you have the evidence.

The Defendant attorney cross examined me asking me what pawn shops typically value items at. I explained usually 20 to 25% of retail. This was somehow made relevant because the Defendants had essentially pawned the the mixer won in the contest - receiving only one fourth of its actual market bearing price.

The Defendant's attorney then called his first witness to the stand; Tyler Eisenhart. Tyler is a good looking young man who essentially played as the band's lead guitar - but more or less "poster boy". His testimony consisted mostly of saying that music was his hobby, not his career - that the band meant nothing to him. This was to have the effect of making the judge think this was not a serious venture and Drew was trying to spoil a bunch of fun.

That fun had consisted of performances at bars in Charleston, continual practicing on a weekly basis, writing songs, and talking extensively about recording a whole album. Fun ... certainly. A hobby ... by no means. Drew was serious about being in a band and would have in my estimation, NEVER have been involved with any of the members, had they even ONCE mentioned to him it was a hobby.

Drew made an excellent cross examination of Tyler. Why would he want to record an album and go on tour if their band was just "a garageband" or "just jammin" as the Defendant attorney so insulted?

We were now into our third hour of testimony. I was smiling quite big at this point - thinking of how much of this attorney's time had been wasted.

As if to humor the loser - the judge allowed the Defendant attorney to completely re-testify for his witness who didn't really help his case very much. Even though objections are not allowed during closing statements - breaking procedure would have been good for this particular case. Again, this attorney was taking this matter seriously, good for his clients but it was SMALL CLAIMS COURT!!!! Everything he said got an, "Oh brother!" reaction from the Judge.

The Judge decided in Drew's favor - awarding him reimbursement for the 1/4 resale value of the mixer, court costs, and associated promotional costs for materials. He was not awarded practice space rent - even though I found this to be one of his strongest arguments. He was also not awarded any copyright considerations/royalty - but I didn't expect him to - I wanted this to be an ongoing concern for the band and I thought this would be a good charge for Drew to throw in to see if it stuck to the wall of the Judge's mind. And so it did ... the Judge said that the small claims court was the wrong forum for consideration of copyright but that with the ruling of victory in his hands that he would certainly have a case in his hands should such concerns be taken to higher level. This ended up lasting an additional 30 minutes of closing statements from the Judge.

Part III: And The Winner Is You


So ... I've outlined the background of a band, the dynamic, and the unfortunate legal battle that a band dissolved over.

Drew was very hesitant to get the band members to agree on even the simplest of contracts.

As I've been re-watching previous seasons of LOST on television; one line has been repeated:

"Live together or die alone."


This is a much more than a cliche in the show and it applies to EVERY band, business, family, or even user group. It's certainly true of Apple computer and iPod ownership. We solve problems around the internet nearly instantly. Before the internet - we were in Mac User Groups - living together ... while Windows users were dying alone - paying expensive technicians to solve problems that most user groups were solving easily and FREE.

"Live together or die alone."


It's not a legal or binding contract - it's a mental contract. Even if in passing every few days - make the ones you love and care about KNOW THIS. There are a 1000 ways to say it. Learn it. Live it. You should depend on the ones you are sharing your life with. They should depend on you.

Bands, by their very nature, tend to be casual, no-rules, free-form, whatever groups that have enough problems agreeing on what to write - without hashing through legal paperwork.

In Part II: The Battle I said this:

I journal on an almost daily basis. I take mental notes most of the day and find the time to write about my day at some point. I've kept a journal of my entire life since 4th grade. It is one of my proudest personal achievements.


If you aren't doing this, as a band member, you are making a HUGE mistake. Here's why:

1) If you talk about band unity; it's worth noting. If each of you wrote down that Band Member #1 said,

"Guys, I think we have a shot at the big time if we take this gig tonight."


If it comes true, on that night, a talent scout saw you ... you'll each have the exact date and time you first thought that THIS WAS IT! If you journaled just a few of your thoughts on that day, you'll each have a unique perspective. Your band will be prepared when VH1 comes knocking on your door to do a "Behind The Music" for your band.

2) Cohesiveness builds if you feel it. Divisiveness dissolves if you discuss it. By writing your positive thoughts down - you will genuinely feel even more positive - particularly if every now and then or on a down day you go back and read a positive thought about your band or a band accomplishment. On my worst days, I love to go back and read what my wife wrote to me in emails when we first met. It lifts me up completely. On the other hand, when I write something that I am not happy with, it helps me organize my thoughts to better discuss and resolve any problem I have.

3) If I write down that I discussed a contract with my band on a certain date - I essentially entered into a verbal contract whether signed or not - existing on paper or thought in my mind. Now hold on - don't mistake the priceless value of a written contract - just know that a consistent, relatively detailed journal, will and does hold A LOT of weight in court. A journal can also show that your band members knew you were a band, knew you split things evenly (or as agreed by evidenced documenting), and knew you were writing it down.

Don't think that you can just journal something and write something that isn't there into existence. Also, don't think you'll have the ability to just go and write a few days down and pretend you have some sort of journal you've been keeping for a while. It doesn't work that way. You, no matter what role you play in the band, should encourage everyone to journal their experience. Your stories won't match, but will be as cohesive as the gospel in the New Testament of The Bible - different perspectives that make one complete account of events.


Apple GarageBand


Along the same lines ... if you write music - notate it and keep it written down. I don't mean lyrics - while you should certainly write down ANY lyrics - not throwing away even rough drafts - you should notate any harmonics, tones, sequences of sound that you contribute to the band. If you can't do this, then get a member of the band that knows how to help or simply record your "music" into Garageband and keep the file on a thumb drive.

_______________________________

Contracts: Formal Or Not - Have 'Em


If you are a young band in college and plan to be serious - an attorney is not always expensive. Your college or university may have a Legal Assistance program. This may be necessary if you do want to draft up formal contracts, but know that a notarized contract* OF ANY KIND is legal, binding, and enforceable.

* Notary are easy to find and free. Most government employees have the ability to make a notary seal on a document. Most lawyers lawyers have paralegals that would do it for free. Most bank branch managers are notaries
A contract doesn't have to have the words, "herewith" , "on this day" , "signed" - it doesn't have to be intimidating. Agree with everyone in your band that if there is a disagreement and breakup is necessary, no matter what the circumstances, no matter what the problem - each of you will be treated fairly by the other members. Each of you should make this one of your first journal entries about your perspective of the meeting where you discussed this.

_______________________________

The 5 People Your Band Needs To Be Friends With


1) Another band that you see as an up and coming band. Who knows, they may hit it big and let you open or accompany.

2) A well known musician in your city or nearby. You need to know the business, see the business, and hear stories about the business. Go to a local well known musician's studio - most have personal studios. Contact them and ask if you can come for a field trip. Bring your instruments when you go. Don't be afraid to ask if you can come again some time. Don't outstay your welcome and don't go too often - but go when you can!

3) A wealthy individual. This may be a family member, a family friend, or someone one of you knows. Wealthy people tend to know other wealthy people. Their sons and daughters buy everything that sets trends at their schools. Wealthy people socialize with other wealthy people - you never know who might hear about you at a cocktail party.

4) A pastor at a church. Even if you are atheist, you need to pray to the wind that your band has success. A good pastor won't try to recruit you into the congregation of the church - he should and most likely will help you structure a prayer. Holding hands with everyone in your band and sharing the experience will draw you closer together.

5) Yourself. Each of you must like yourself and have a decent amount of self esteem. In turn, you must know and like each other. Remembering that each of you has weakness - each of you can compensate with your respective strength.

More lessons can be taken from this unfortunate situation.

In Part II of this series I said:

"...one cannot just be listed on iTunes without an intermediary to Apple - IF they want to be paid. Essentially they have to have a label that Apple recognizes send them the music in a lossless format for PAID distribution. Anyone can submit to iTunes, but unless represented or contracted by a label, you are classified as a podcast and you receive a FREE button next to your song.

The Judge was also interested in another comment that I had made - about receiving revenue without charging for music. I mentioned affiliate income and deals with MySpace. If I place a video on YouTube or somewhere such as MetaCafe - I can sign up for ad revenue sharing. This means that, based on the number of hits/views that video receives, I receive a share in the revenue for the ads that were displayed on that page and higher percentage if an ad was clicked on. I explained this model through means of this website. I also mentioned to the judge that I had planned to help the band with setting up a blog that received revenue, submitting to YouTube to receive revenue, and placing affiliate links such as AMAZON.COM to receive revenue. The Judge was confused on how it was possible to receive revenue if one could go to MySpace and listen for free. I explained that most bands have contracts with Myspace to share in ad revenue."


Revenue Streams


Don't just put your stuff all over the internet for free willy nilly consumption - monetize it transparently. Small bands can easily and realistically make a few hundred dollars a month from these tips. Larger bands easily see a few thousand. Stars make 10's of $1000's everyday from small sources of income like this.

Open a Google account ... open a Google ADsense account.

You can do that here!)

Open an iTunes affiliate account.

You can start that here!)

Open an AMAZON ASSOCIATES account.

You can start that here!)

Register a domain that has a unique name or with your band's name.

I recommend GODADDY.COM

Place videos on YouTube that are monetized by page views of the ads that appear with them.

Open a blogger BLOG for your band. Do not use any other form of blogging ... place ADsense advertisements on your blog just as you see here on this website/BLOG.

Update your blog with:

• Talk about performances both past and upcoming

• Share a thank you and small promotion for a place you performed

• Talk about a new musical instrument or sound you are trying ... place with the post a link to purchase the same instrument on AMAZON. (More on AMAZON affiliate income in a minute.)

• Talk about how you came up with the band's logo

• Tell a few favorite musically related stories from each band member's childhood

• Talk about new albums from big artists you like / Review albums / place iTunes links and AMAZON music links to those albums.

Try to stay relatively focused and avoid making it "an anything blog".

Go to https://affiliate-program.amazon.com/

Sign up for an AMAZON ASSOCIATES account. Once you've signed up, read this article:

How Do I Put An Amazon Search Box On My Blog?




Place this box in the sidebar of your blogger blog (just as you see on this website). Encourage loved ones and friends to make all their purchases by searching for them on your website. They won't pay any more, but they will kick back 1.75% - 8% off their purchase to you.

Regularly try to promote an AMAZON eSTORE on your blog that is filled with your band's favorite things and even a wish list.

An AMAZON eSTORE contains a pictorial description of items you like - suggestions if you will. These items could include favorite albums, your own album, favorite movies, instruments, Apple computers, audio mastering equipment and mixers, software. You can also include a wish list. You never know who might just decide they like you and send you something on your wish list.

Another form of BLOG INCOME is getting a sponsorship - maybe a place you performed, maybe a restaurant or club you like. A reasonable charge (for a small band's site) for such an ad would be $250.00 for one year's placement. I have awards I've won in my sidebar and I have one sponsor for $250.00 a year. In the past I've had a number of sponsors including Jones Soda and Donna Karen. You don't have to be a marketer ... all you have to do is call the 1-800 number for the big business or the local number for a local business and talk to the owner or human resources. Tell them about your site. Offer to send them a CD with your music. Simply ask if they will sponsor an advertisement on your site. This is also an important area where networking plays a key role. Get a family member's company, a friend's business, a friend's father's business to sponsor an advertisement.

Realize that blogging - such as you see on this website is VERY easy. It's just matter of uploading pictures and typing in text. The formatting, fonts, font size, everything is all automated.

_______________________________


Use a source such as TuneCore which charges around $50.00 as of this writing to publish your band on iTunes and start making revenue from digital downloads. This market has expanded immensely in the last 6 months; now that Apple allows direct downloads to the iPod Touch and iPhone.

Consider talking to MySpace about licensing once you have an album and a small fanbase. DO NOT PLACE ANY SONGS ON MYSPACE in a full length format. Instead, if you'd like ... place snippets and then iTunes affiliate links to purchase those songs. Make sure your MySpace page has a note such as:

"For more up to date information - including tour dates and performances - see our website at WWW.OUR-BAND.COM"


STOP PIRATING ... START PIRATING


At least once a year ... Google your band. See if your music is being distributed by anyone else without license or royalty.

At least once a year ... record a song, place it onto a torrent website or file sharing service like Limewire. At the end of the song - record something like:

"Hello, this is "X" from "XBAND" if you liked this song, you'll love the rest of our music - you can find us on iTunes and Amazon or visit our website at www.xband.com"


Most fans will appreciate the promotion ... understand that exploiting the file sharing services is one of the biggest opportunities you have for spreading.

Lastly ... if you can think of some kind of viral campaign ... one that starts with flyers with a shocking message like:

"On Feb 14th 2009, YOU WILL OWN THIS CITY!"

www.xband.com


On your website tell all those that saw the flyer welcome and to come to your concert on that night.

That was a lame example ... but you get the idea. The more people that are funneled through YOUR BAND'S website - the more of this small revenue you will receive. You want everything that one can Google for about your band to result in your website. As your band gets bigger ... you may want to consider purchasing sponsored search results from Google.

Because Google owns the majority share of searches I haven't mentioned Yahoo ... but don't neglect your search placement in other search engines.

_______________________________


Don't do business with anyone that gives you less than a 50/50 share ... this includes businesses like Guitar Center. This business often takes advantage of bands. When selling musical equipment ... use places like eBay or the classified ads in your local paper. If you have a local classifieds only paper - list there. In my area, I have a classifieds only paper called iWanna.



You can typically sell for higher prices and buy for lower prices from other sources than retail. Become friends with local pawn shops that sell instruments. Note ... do not become a pawning or loan taking customer ... become a buyer and a friend. Offer some pricing advice if you feel it might score you or your band mates some brownie points.

From all that I have read, researched, and learned personally from this experience ... don't enter "Battle Of The Bands" contests. If you do, make sure you get winner's lists from the sponsor. Make sure all the contestants are meeting contest requirements. Make sure there's no shill votes for any band involved - including your own. The worst thing you could have happen to your band besides losing a contest like this is that you are exposed for fraud during the competition.

One of the things that came from my experience before writing this article is that Noel Golden - the producer's name who I name dropped earlier in this series - had told me that just about all "Battle Of The Bands Contests" are rigged. He was quite surprised that Drew's band had even placed and commented that it must show some level of talent and dedication.

If you do enter such contests - use the arsenal of what I've described above to spread the word.

Do you have any advice for bands? Feel free to share in the comments to this article.

Use this article ... show it to your band mates. Talk about it. Record an album. Send me a signed copy.

* MYSPACE page for A New Shade

* See A Few Extra Notes ... about this case in another post on FIXYOURTHINKING.COM.

* See Some Sound Advice For Bands ... for more creative ideas in another post on FIXYOURTHINKING.COM



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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

You can wait until May 10th ...

All the blogs and media out there telling everyone to buy FOREVER STAMPS now are crazy - I know that I can make greater than 5% return on a few hundred dollars in 3 months time. They have to keep printing them - they won't run out of stock.

US Postal Stamp Goes Up In May


* I'M POSTING THIS AS AN FYI TO EBAYERS - it'll be a good way to save on your shipping come this summer.

What I can't understand is why they don't just go up to 50¢ and not have a rate increase for 5 years. The actual reason - they depend on junk mail to stay afloat. They are essentially raising prices on taxpayers - when they should be raising bulk letter mailing rates.

The term used when you throw up a bad burger at Burger King.



The lights were partially out in this Burger King sign and my wife managed to catch a picture.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

It Isn't Popular Because It's An "- ism"

As reported by Slashdot:

"... Carl Safina, an adjunct professor at Stony Brook University, has an interesting essay in the NYTimes that says that equating evolution with Charles Darwin opened the door for creationism by ignoring 150 years of discoveries, including most of what scientists understand about evolution — Gregor Mendel's patterns of heredity, the discovery of DNA, developmental biology, studies documenting evolution in nature, and evolution's role in medicine and disease. Darwinism implies an ideology adhering to one man's dictates, like Marxism, says Safina. He adds that nobody talks about Newtonism or Einsteinism, and that by making Darwin 'into a sacred fetish misses the essence of his teaching.' By turning Darwin into an 'ism,' scientists created the opening for creationism, with the 'isms' implying equivalence. 'By propounding "Darwinism," even scientists and science writers perpetuate an impression that evolution is about one man, one book, one theory,' writes Safina. '"Darwinism" implies that biological scientists "believe in" Darwin's "theory." It's as if, since 1860, scientists have just ditto-headed Darwin rather than challenging and testing his ideas, or adding vast new knowledge.'"


It seems like any way people can they want to see where the huge movement and momentum of "creationism" came from. I suppose for so long ... they thought they had won - public education, TV, books - all media saying there's no such thing as Creationism - then starting about 10 years ago more and more SCIENCE that is demonstrable, provable, and plausibly alternative started coming out. After my trip to the Creation Museum, seeing the movie Expelled, seeing the Discovery Channel documentary The Privileged Planet - I'm totally convinced that scientists have had their science backwards and that the reason "creationism" has taken off - isn't because its an "-ism". It's because more and more people have been able to see the truth behind evolution.




This scientist seems to think that creationists don't believe in evolution - in fact - to the contrary it compliments creation theory substantially - just adding intelligent design into the equation. I am the first to agree that some take creationism too far - but no more so than evolution being the ONLY answer to everything that exists as many scientists so allege.

What I haven't figured out is if the debate isn't actually over Judeo-Christian beliefs then why bring more people's attention to it such as articles in the New York Times?

Monday, February 09, 2009

iCooly Stand for iPhone / iPod Touch = Weird!

This is one of the oddest product launches I have ever seen:

Steve Wozniak to be on ABC's Dancing With The Stars



The Mac web is buzzing with the news that Steve Wozniak, Apple co-founder, is going to be on the next season of Dancing With The Stars airing March 9, 2009.

This is a genius move by the producers/promoters of the show because they knew that capitalizing on the Mac blogosphere would get viewers to the show that never EVER would watch normally.

Dancing With Stars website

Personally, I can't stand Wozniak. It goes without saying that his vision of Apple was much different than Steve Jobs and it's clear to me that the dynamic of disagreement that went on between the two of them - ultimately built the animosity at Apple that led the board to fire Jobs in 1985. He often acts like a dope - not the "total nerd" that many people on the internet. seem to admire him for - still I hope he wins.

Also ... my photoshop does wonders for his body - he has to be close to 300 pounds.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Another way to spend a billion - but really all it'd cost is $100 million!

While surfing a recently linked to blog (APPLE DIFFERENT BLOG) I noticed this article: An Idea: An Apple T-Shirt with every computer.

I had thought of this way before I even started blogging on this site.

The Apple logo stickers are genius and always have been - even though the rainbow Apple logo was sometimes confused with gay pride.

Just as people put the Apple logo stickers on their vehicles - this would be an immense amount of free advertising.

As bonus income - they could sell the T-Shirts in Apple Retail Stores - something I have NEVER understood why they don't do already. T-Shirts are HUGE profit margins and Apple could sell just plain black short sleeve and long sleeve T-Shirts with screen printed logos by the thousands each month. It would easily pay for one employee salary in the store each year.

Aptera officially announces the 2e



One of my most linked to articles is:

Apple: The Only Company Capable Of Revolutionizing The Car Industry


As reported by AutoBlogGreen:

... Aptera's 2e electric car, now on display at this year's Technology, Entertainment, Design (TED) conference. The 1,500-pound aerodynamic vessel has just a 0.15 coefficient of drag and features a smart key, emergency tire inflation, and energy-reflective solar glass. Inside, [it's] got LED dome lights mounted overhead, a DVD-based navigation system, optional rear backup camera, and interior fabrics / plastics made from recycled materials. The company's still touting 100 miles on a single charge of the 10 to 13 kWh lithium ion phosphate battery pack. No new details on price, which we last heard would be between $25,000 and $45,000 ...


I do have one quip about one feature - the DVD based navigation system. This item almost certainly has to weigh more than an iPhone/Garmin solution or integration. One of the reasons Aptera has interested me so much is their PR regarding weight saving wherever and however they can make it. A pound is a pound and over ten years of driving could add up to a meal at McDonald's in savings. It seems trivial but I thought it worth noting because of their extensive mention of this in the media.

I'll maintain that with the car industry failing - it seems ripe for Apple to jump in just as they did with the iPod (and really even with the iPhone) to shake things up - I think Aptera has the most going for it and Apple's $20 billion (or say $5B of it) would be perfect for making this a reality for everyone in the USA and abroad - they should buy THIS company! It could also create a lot of jobs right here in the US.

Netbooks running Mac OS - About like a 5 year old iBook G4


* Photo from APPLE DIFFERENT BLOG


If you happen to have Leopard installed on your iBook G4 - you know how some significant beachballing occurs.

The techs at The APPLE DIFFERENT blog benched a hacked MSI Wind Netbook, got it fully optimized, and came to the conclusion - it's essentially the same strength as an iBook G4 from 5 years ago. They also compared it to the Macbook Air - which is inarguable - an awesome light computer - it's just not priced in the netbook range.

And So ... I Unpacked My Adjectives: Recent Court Case Where I served as a legal advisor & expert witness

Last weekend I helped my best friend's son fight a small claims court case in Charleston, South Carolina stemming from the breakup of his son's band and the unfair treatment he received following.

This is a great cautionary article that I will frame with a parody of my favorite SchoolHouse Rock song, "Adjectives". (YouTube video below)



Full lyrics (with credits):

Music & Lyrics: George R. Newall
Sung by: Blossom Dearie
Animation: Phil Kimmelman & Associates


Got home from camping last spring.
Saw people, places and things.
We barely had arrived,
Friends asked us to describe
The people, places and every last thing.
So we unpacked our adjectives.

I unpacked "frustrating" first.
Reached in and found the word "worst".
Then I picked "soggy" and
Next I picked "foggy" and
Then I was ready to tell them my tale.
'Cause I'd unpacked my adjectives.

Adjectives are words you use to really describe things,
Handy words to carry around.
Days are sunny or they're rainy
Boys are dumb or else they're brainy
Adjectives can show you which way.

Adjectives are often used to help us compare things,
To say how thin, how fat, how short, how tall.
Girls who are tall can get taller,
Boys who are small can get smaller,
Till one is the tallest
And the other's the smallest of all.

We hiked along without care.
Then we ran into a bear.
He was a hairy bear,
He was a scary bear,
We beat a hasty retreat from his lair.
And described him with adjectives.

}} {Whoah! Boy, that was one big, ugly bear!}

{You can even make adjectives out of the other parts of speech, like
verbs or nouns. All you have to do is tack on an ending, like "ic"
or "ish" or "ary". For example, this boy can grow up to be a huge
man, but still have a boyish face. "Boy" is a noun, but the ending
"ish" makes it an adjective. "Boyish": that describes the huge
man's face. Get it?}

Next time you go on a trip,
Remember this little tip:
The minute you get back,
They'll ask you this and that,
You can describe people, places and things...
Simply unpack your adjectives.
You can do it with adjectives.
Tell them 'bout it with adjectives.
You can shout it with adjectives.


My Version

Served in a court case just before spring
Saw judges, evidence , and things
I barely had replied,
When the judge asked me to describe
The whole messy detailed thing.
So I unpacked my adjectives.

I unpacked, "unfair" first
Reached into a folder and found "worse"
Then I picked, "unethical" and
Next I picked "pathetical" [sic]
Then I knew I was ready to tell the judge details.
'Cause I'd unpacked my adjectives.

Legal jargon is what the attorneys tried to use
But all they did was abuse
They sounded "stupid", I seemed "brainy"
Lawyers like this drive me crazy
But 'calmness' and 'cordiality' will go a a long way.

Jargon was used to confuse everything
The judge just looked at the lawyer like a "ding-a-ling"
This lawyer started to compare
The lives of everyone everywhere
To nothing more than just "hobbies" "frolics" and "childish things"

So, I unpacked some more adjectives.
I described MySpace as "revenue"
I said iTunes was too
I even threw in a video on "YouTube"

Next time you serve in a court case
Just put a smile on your face.
The minute that it's done.
You'll know that you have won
Because the lawyers faces will be "red" and "blue"
Cause you knew exactly what to do.
You had expert witnesses.
You treated it like businesses.
And, you used the right adjectives!
Yeah, you used the right adjectives!


After my case with Bidzirk - winning it Pro Se in federal court - I felt this was going to be another Pro Se shoe in for my friend's son. I'm proud to report 2 wins in court. They had a high powered, high dollar, well respected attorney - my friend's son had just me.

I'll complete this story over the next few days. I'll discuss the importance of contracts and documentation and potential revenue streams that band members could possibly be hiding from their fellow members. I think it will also serve as a good primer for anyone being Pro Se in a court case.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

So what happened to that bogus "FTD Gift Card" promotion from MyPoints

While I still think MyPoints is a good rewards program and I will continue to use them ... I really think they dropped the ball on this promotion.



Here's what ended up happening ...

The webmaster of COMPARE-REWARDS.COM googled because she thought ripped off by the promotion as well. That led her to my article. She contacted me and then after a bit of correspondence between us; she emailed an insider at MyPoints.

Here's the response I received:

Dear Philip,

Thank you for contacting MyPoints Member Services.

First of all we would like to thank you for reporting this issue. Due to valuable input from members such as yourself, we reviewed the offer and agree that the copy for the free FTD Holiday promotion could be misleading as MyPoints members are mailed a promotional coupon URL printed on a physical card. Thus we had changed the copy for this promotion to read "Free $15 FTD Coupon" to prevent any potential member confusion, before ultimately taking it down. Please note that MyPoints teamed up with FTD to create this offer to pass along special savings to our best members, and this was not intended for general public distribution.

We appreciate the effort you made to bring this to our attention and have awarded Goodwill Points to your account. We value input from our members and encourage you to continue sending us feedback you might consider useful.

Furthermore we would like to offer you the opportunity to return your unused gift cards for a full Point-refund. Please mail the reward to the address below with a brief explanation of the situation (a printout of your original message to us will suffice), your full name, and your email address. Please note that the Fulfillment department will only refund your Points if the reward is in good condition.

Please allow 4-6 weeks for our Fulfillment Department to receive and process your returned reward. At the end of this process, Points will be returned to your account so that you may re-redeem for a fully-funded card.

MyPoints.com, Inc.
P.O. Box 681517
Schaumburg, IL 60168-1384

Members like you are our number-one priority, and we want to keep you happy. If you still have questions, you can reply to this email. Thank you again for your support of the MyPoints program.

Sincerely,

Kenneth Baird
Member Services Manager


That's a bunch of fine and dandy cut and paste PR. Here's why I say that with little gratitude ...

I received 1500 points credited to my account - termed "goodwill points".

According to COMPARE-REWARDS.COM calculations - this equals $6.30 at it's best redemption rate.

It was also "generously" but half hearted/half brained offered for me to send the unused gift cards at my expense back to MyPoints for a credit.

These cards were ordered in early December for Christmas gifts to my teenage daughter. She would have gotten relatively nothing had I not given them to her and she has already redeemed them. My wife's birthday was January 11th - I had planned to use the $75.00 worth of FTD "gift cards" to get flowers sent to her work (maybe birthday or extra Christmas love). Alas ... better "discounts" could be had if you just went to the regular FTD website and applied commonly googled coupon codes.

Here's another slightly sneaky misrepresentation about this promotion. You do NOT receive ANY MYPOINTS if you bought through the link. But if you bought after linking through the affiliate in the email or on the MYpoints website you did. The www.ftd.com/ftdgift link actually REMOVED THE MYPOINTS COOKIE from your hard drive and replaces it with a new one that does not award MYpoints. While not a big deal - this cheats you out of an additional $3.15 savings if your 750 point bonus for buying from FTD isn't received.

I sent Kenneth Baird a note expressing that I didn't really want points - instead I thought an apology to all MyPoints members who received the FTD "cards" would be better.

I fully expect that the March newsletter from MyPoints will include how someone used the FTD Gift card and was so excited!

HA!

I have asked the SC Attorney General to followup with this.

Monday, February 02, 2009

How do I put an AMAZON search box on my website?

After searching for days on how to add an Amazon search box on my website to make affiliate linking easier - I finally found the page on AMAZON.COM and thought I would share it with everyone and hopefully get the message out into the search engines more prominently than all of the con sites trying to get you to put their link on your page or giving you some sort of bogus HTML code that either doesn't work or has to be tweaked.

First you want to register your website or blog with AMAZON ASSOCIATES:

You can do that at this link
(LINK IS: https://affiliate-program.amazon.com/gp/associates/network/main.html)


After registering, go to

https://widgets.amazon.com/

From that page - click on the graphic that looks like this:



You will be redirected to a page where the proper HTML code can be copied and pasted to your website or blog.

You have two sizes to choose from.

AMAZON ASSOCIATES pays from between 1.75% - 8% for each purchase and or search link made from the "SEARCH BOX".

I would encourage you to always use this site, your own site, or favorite website's "SEARCH BOX" when buying from Amazon. It doesn't cost you any more and helps support your favorite sites.