Sunday, December 02, 2007

College Football Goes Ballistic

As the college football season rolls into the month of bowl games, only one thing is for certain: there will be upsets.

On Saturday, the top two teams, Missouri and West Virginia, both lost, marking th second consecutive week that the #1 and #2 teams lost and will likely drop in the rankings. Last week, it was LSU and Kansas, who lost to Arkansas and Missouri, respectively.

This weekend, the winners were, Oklahoma - 38-17 winners over Missouri in the Big 12 conference championship - and lowly Pittsburgh, who stopped the West Virginia Mountaineeers in their tracks with a 13-9 win in the Big East finale for both teams.

These results, and those of weeks past, have college football fanatics now wondering if there really is a #1 team in the country. A few radicals point to Hawaii, which, while most of us were sleeping, rallied to beat Washington, 35-28 and remain the only Division 1 team without a loss at 12-0.

Other teams which now may lay claim to at least a chance to play for the national title are Ohio State, Kansas, Georgia, West Virginia, Virginia Tech, LSU, Oklahoma and USC.

Hmmm... Eight great teams, plus Hawaii. Anybody for a playoff system?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Vintage Magazine Prices Fall

Here's a sign of the times: A first issue of Playboy, December 1953, recently sold on ebay for $1525.00. Just 3-4 years ago, these magazines sold for as much as $3,500 and up.

The economy, in addition to the wealth of issues pouring onto auction sites such as eBay, has pushed the price of vintage magazines to their lowest levels in years. Buyers should be able to find deals aplenty this holiday season.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Is There Intelligent Life on eBay?

Today, eBay announced that they had overpaid for Skype, the free phone service they purchased two years ago, and cited that the service had not met the company's profit and revenue objectives.

In what has to be the strangest deal I've ever seen, somehow, eBay won't have to pay all the money promised at the beginning of the deal. In either case, it looks like eBay made a bad deal for their investors. Skype was supposedly going to be used by every auction user on the planet, but most of us who list and sell on the site really don't want to be bothered answering phone calls.

Naturally, eBay executives never bothered to ask sellers if they would be interested in using a service like Skype. Had they, maybe they would have saved themselves some money and embarrassment. Oddly enough, eBay stock was up nearly a buck after the news came out.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Hot Football Picks

Normally, I don't boast, but last weekend I was KING OF THE NFL, romping home with a stellar 11-3 record in Week #4 Against the Spread.

See for yourself, the only games I missed were Atlanta over Houston, Tampa Bay over Carolina and Indy over Denver.

And there were a fair share of upsets, all correctly picked by me. I had the Browns over the Ravens, Detroit over Chicago, the Bills over the Jets and Oakland over Miami. Plus I had the two big ones, Arizona over the Steelers and Kansas City over San Diego.

Yes, I am doing a bit of chest thumping. Nothing like an 11-3 week to inspire some confidence. You can get all my picks for free every week, at SNAP CENTRAL or purchase my single college and pro BEST BETS for a very reasonable price.

Would You Sue Your Web Host?

Here's an interesting quandary. My web site hosting company refuses to answer any correspondence from my lawyer. The reason my lawyer is trying to contact them is to avoid a lawsuit.

The crux of the matter is that I've had intermittent uptime issues which got so bad over the summer that I pressed the company for first, six months of free service, and later, a refund of $400, to which the COO of the company agreed.

Now, more than a month later, nothing. No refund, no free service, not even a response to emails. They just think I'm going to forget it.

The company hosts this site, but I'll risk them shutting me down when I sue. Over the course of 4 years, because I run PPC ads, has cost me a ton of money and untold amounts from people who just plain could not access the site during one of their unplanned downtimes (at least 30 of them).

There are lots of web hosts out there. The one I'm with isn't the best, though I'll admit, now that they've moved me to a new server (4th time), it's better. But I know it's only a matter of time before the downtimes begin to occur again. I'm not leaving until they pay up or get the subpoenas. That's my leverage at this point.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Immigration and self-actualization

Soul Twins: A Latino Journey From The Edge To Self-redemption. By Oscar Vega Romero. ISBN 978-0-915745-93-7. $22.95 162 pages.

With immigration currently a topic of great debate, this new novel by Mexican author Oscar Vega Romero offers a glimpse into the world of illegal immigrants who cross the border to the United States seeking a better life.

Based on his actual experience, Vega Romero contends "My view as a Mexican is that my people are hard workers who possess a strong desire to succeed in life. I was only one of the many Mexicans willing to face the prospect of death and of leaving a mother bereft, by crossing the United States border illegally, in the attempt to make their dreams reality."

The book is designed to help men and women improve their lives through positive ideas. Filled with heartfelt honesty and passion the novel traces the author's life from gaining entry into the US, being institutionalized and finally coming to some light and a new way of seeing life in more positive, constuctive and fulfilling ways. Soul Twins is a story of self-actualization available from Floricanto Press.

Baseball Playoffs and World Series

File this under shameless self-promotion. With the greatest month of sports just beginning, you can get all the insight and coverage you'll need for the MLB playoffs and World Series on my Baseball On Deck blog. Not only do the playoffs begin this week, but NFL and college football is mid-season, and the NBA and NHL seasons begin. They ought to rename October Sportober. There is no more exciting time of year for sports fans.

Coverage begins today with a recap of the one-game playoff between San Diego and Colorado, won by the Rockies, 9-8 and the playoff schedules. On Wednesday, I'll break down the four divisional playoff series and announce my picks for AL and NL MVP and Cy Young awards. After that, game previews, recaps and commentary.

There are also advertising opportunities available. You can check my ad offers at ebay for details.

And don't forget to get updated College Football Top 25 plus my college and NFL picks every week at Snap Central. My NFL picks were 11-3 last week!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Old browsers and computers

Need an upgrade? Is your computer 7 or 8 years old but still extremely functional like my Mac Powerbook G3 that I purchased in 1998 (Geez, it will be 10 in 6 months)?

I run two websites, six blogs and do all my record-keeping on this ancient relic. It's only broken down once and cost me an entire $142.00 to repair. It's been one of the best investments I've ever made and one of the most reliable products - like most things from Apple - I've ever owned.

The trouble is that the processing speed is not what it could be and there are some web sites that simply don't respond well to my Mozilla 7.6 or IE 5.3 browsers. It's time for an upgrade, though, as I cannot upgrade Flash or some other products, but what's really going to cost me are all the programs that I will have to purchase new.

Technology. Love it AND loathe it.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Super Stats in PHP

Recently, the hosting provider for another of my sites, crashed the stats program attached to my hosting package and I was left without any reliable stats to track.

Now, my displeasure with hosting providers runs from extreme to lawsuit, but this particular bozo continues to operate with outdated systems on shared hosting facilities. The only reason I stay with him is because the hosting is part of a trade deal, for which I get hosting for free.

So, I looked around for some stats packages and found this great, easy-to-install, free PHP program called TraceWatch, which provides real-time stats and traffic analysis for any web site.

I found the program through another excellent resource, the PHP resource index a site which lists and rates thousands of PHP programs in various categories.

If you need a reliable stats program that operates silently within your site (you just need to paste the code on your pages), TraceWatch is an elegant solution.

Best Sports Week Just Ahead

The first week of October is one of the best of the year for sports fans. Not only are college football and the NFL in full swing, but the baseball playoffs get started on Tuesday, this year on October 2.

One wonders how much work actually gets done in this week. It's probably comparable to the first week of the NCAA basketball tournament in March, when people everywhere are paying more attention to their picks in the brackets than to their workload.

Just a reminder to readers that they can catch all the playoff and World Series action at Baseball On Deck and weekly football picks on the main site, starting with updates at Snap Central

Friday, September 14, 2007

Talking to Google

I simply had to write about this experience from today.

Frustrated that my ads from Google Adsense were delivering clicks paying less than 2 cents each, I decided, after penning an extensive email to Google support, that I would find Google's phone number and try to talk sense to somebody about my need to make a decent living.

Guess what? Google's phone numbers are a pretty well-kept secret. I couldn't even find one on Google itself. Finally, I resorted to an old trick I've known for years, and came up with an 800 number for the internet search giant.

Much to my surprise, I was connected not to some corporate office, but a fellow by the name of Billy who answered the phone with, "hello" rather than a customary "thank you for calling Google" or something of that order.

Billy, I learned was full of information about the company and actually revealed some insider search and ranking secrets to me. Don't ask me why or what they are, he just did.

It was one of the strangest phone calls I've ever made.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

What you get when you're not looking

I just copied a word at random (photograph) and plugged it into Google. As usual, there was the spammy links Google likes to throw at you, a Wikipedia entry, but further down the page an interesting link to The First Photograph, an online exhibition from the University of Texas at Austin.

To say I am constantly amazed at the depth and scope of the online experience produced by this august community of scholars - in a place such as Texas, no less - would be an understatement.

The exhibition begins with a discussion of one Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, who began experimenting with photography in 1813, according to the text. There's also a timeline, an exposition on the term "heliography" and exceptional illustrations and photos, nicely displayed.

That's what makes the web so wonderful. Even when you're not even looking for anything, you can learn.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Football Previews and Predictions

If you're ready for some football - I know it's a little early, but the first weekend of preseason games begins on Thursday, August 9 (omg, that's tomorrow) - I urge you to head over to Fearless Rick's Pro and College Football Picks where you'll find not only picks for this weekend, but previews of the NFL teams and the Top 25 College Football squads.

Also, I'm offering a tremendous ad package for people whose site's thrive on football traffic. It's just $99 for the entire year - less than $4 per week, including the regular season, college bowl games, NFL playoffs and the Super Bowl.

Whether you're a fan or a football marketer, you won't want to miss my picks every week, exclusively on Downtown Magazine.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Stock Market Crash Looming?

If you're interested in the future of the US economy (and you should be if you live in the USA), you're probably wondering what happened this week on the stock market, which took a terrific dive.

All the info you need to know and how severe this crisis (yes, it is a crisis) really is can be found on my financial blog, Money Daily.

Just a hint: If you think your mortgage payments, gas prices and utility bills are too high, you're probably on the right track. The middle class is being squeezed out of existence, and like it or not, that's not a very good outcome for corporations. Check it out.

Thursday, July 19, 2007


I stumbled somewhat upon a great site for magazine fans the other day, quite by accident.

With over 2,000 print magazines in their media directory, Wooden Horse Publishing is more of a site for free-lance writer's, but it makes for great reading if you have any interest in the magazine trade.

The site boasts a directory of all US and Canadian consumer and trade print publications, including:

  • Contact and publishing information

  • Editorial calendars

  • Reader demographics

  • Editorial concepts

  • Writer's guidelines

The site is a wealth of information and is quite well designed and maintained by publisher Meg Weaver, who has been a free-lancer herself, in addition to having taught article writing in classes and one-on-one, consulted with startups, redesigns and through ownership changes.

It's well worth a visit and a spot in your bookmarks.

Friday, April 27, 2007

An Object (ionable) Ebay Lesson: Identifying Deadbeats

Recently, I sold an item on eBay. The buyer purchased with "Buy It Now" which indicates a willingness to pay a higher price to get the item rather than waiting for the auction to expire, and risking loss.

This particular buyer did not pay, even though eBay, via PayPal, offers an easy means for immediate payment. In other words, "buy it now, pay for it now." The buyer did not avail himself of this option, so I sent an automated bill, requesting payment.

No response.

After three more days without any contact, I sent a follow-up email, again requesting payment in more strident terms, threatening the buyer with negative feedback and suggesting that he was "human trash." Well, maybe that was a bit harsh, but I've dealt with plenty of what ebay calls "non-paying bidders" and what I call "deadbeats."

Nine days after the "buy it now" incident, the "buyer" decided to contact me with the following email.

I had a major computer crash which accounts for my delay. You only sent two emails, so how much distress could it have caused you? But since you called me "human trash" I will also be notifying ebay. Do what you want with your [item] but I will not do business with you.

Allow me to dissect this too little, too late conveyance. Hopefully, it will serve as a guide to identifying when you're dealing with a bone fide deadbeat.

First, notice that there is no salutation. As deadbeats go, this is a tell-tale giveaway. The individual is too lazy to even begin the message properly. "Sir" or "Hello" or even my name (he has it) would have been sufficient. No salutation = deadbeat saying, "yo."

I had a major computer crash... - The classic deadbeat excuse. Everybody has computer crashes at the most opportune moments, like when they're supposed to pay for something they want, but evidently cannot afford.

You only sent two emails, so how much distress could it have caused you? - Deflecting the blame and minimizing the issue is another deadbeat dodge.

...since you called me "human trash" I will also be notifying ebay. - this is a twofer. The deadbeat expresses pique at being insulted and then the time-honored deadbeat tradition of the threat, as though anybody at eBay will object to having called him "human trash." They'll want to know why he hasn't paid, and calmly explain to him that being upset at the seller doesn't relieve him of his contractual obligation. It's likely that deadbeats know this, but they try to weasel out nevertheless.

...I will not do business with you. - Once again, the deadbeat relies upon the well-worn canard of moral indignation, refusing to pay because, somehow, my expectation of such failed to take into account his personal misfortune.

Finally, note that the deadbeat never drops his/her name. They thrive on anonymity, so an email with no name attached is expected behavior. Unbeknownst to the deadbeat, eBay sends the buyer's full name and address when the item is purchased. Sadly, deadbeats are generally not very bright.

Dealing with deadbeats is never fun nor easy, but hopefully this concise guide will save you some of the trouble and help identify when you are dealing with one.

I also have the perfect response to emails such as these. Very simple and to the point and only two words (of course, you've already begun the process of recouping your eBay fees, added the deadbeat-in-question to your blocked bidder list and plan on leaving negative feedback at a later date, ideally at the very last minute so as to avoid the retaliatory negative.).

The proper response is: "Thank you." It will leave them wondering forever.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Save the Environment - and Money - by Working From Home

Imagine the amount of gas that would be saved in America if half the population worked from their homes and didn't have to drive to work every day.

Better yet, we'd probably save the planet from Global Warming, as auto emissions are one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas in the atmosphere. I've been doing my part for the past 7 years, working from right here in my spare room and I just thought I'd figure the money savings since I don't have any way to accurately calculate the environmental impact.

If I were to drive 20 miles each way, that would amount to roughly 2 gallons of gas per day, because my car is not very fuel efficient. At 200 days per year X 7 years, that's 1400 days of driving. If gas averaged $2.50 per gallon and I would have used 2 gallons a day, I've saved $7000, or $1000 a year.

That's a lot of money! Think I'll go for a celebratory joyride!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Elitism, Ignorance and Anna Nicole Smith

Elitists are people who think they are better than the rest of the population. In some cases, they have a valid point of argument. The world has more than its fair share of half-wits, morons, slackers, fools and sloths. The general public is usually so woefully misinformed and concerned only about their own small circle of life as to render them sub-beings to the enlightened crowd.

A case in point can be made over the recent hysteria over the life and death of one Anna Nicole Smith. Here is an utterly unremarkable woman - aside from her famous pair of surgically-enhanced breast - who through good looks, good luck and the good graces of one rich old man and many drooling, slack-jawed adult males, rose to abhorrent heights of fame and wealth.

The recent hysteria and American media love affair with all things Anna Nicole has, thankfully, subsided. The woman was of little talent, having never made a feature film worth remembering, her most notable contribution to culture being the short run of her annoying, sub-par cable TV reality show. That America would go ga-ga over her upon her death - apparently a self-inflicted drug overdose - is testament to the elitist credo that yes, much of the population is beneath them in matters of taste, sensibility, credibility and intellect.

It's difficult to justify fixation upon a promiscuous, overweight, stupid, drug-addicted woman who's now more than a month dead and depreciating, yet there it is, in all its ignorant, wasteful, indulgent splendor for the elitist to ridicule.

What's even worse and more contemptible is the misconception by some - arguably from the bottom of the gene pool - who think that artifacts of Anna Nicole Smith's life are somehow valuable.

Over the past few weeks the value of magazines and videos featuring the buxom blonde have roller-coastered like a bad dotcom stock IPO. The initial reaction was positive and values skyrocketed until the realization came to the misinformed minions buying back issues and nudie videos that there was a massive oversupply of images featuring Anna Nicole's bounteous breasts, and the prices came crashing down.

The Anna Nicole saga, the posthumous celebration and capitalization are only the latest reminders that the vast majority of the public at-large can still be led like so many nose-ringed cattle. The elitists are tugging and prodding. Come along now...

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Baseball Blog

If Baseball's your thing, you owe it to yourself to make a daily trip around the bases of my mew baseball blog, Baseball On Deck.

Every morning, I scan the boxscores for you and pick out the peak performers and fabulous flops from the games of the previous night. There's also inside scoops - I'm MLB registered press - on player news, trades and overnight action, plus great photos of the top players.

The season's just begun, so you haven't missed much yet, and the big bats are just getting heated up for the long, long season, so check out Baseball On Deck for insight and analysis of the great game.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Anger Release

Somebody asked me, "Why are you so angry all the time?"

So, for their benefit, here's my answer.

I'm not usually. Basically, I'm a very happy person when things work right. I absolutely cannot stomach incompetence, however, and I am surrounded it by it day and night, in all forms of life at all levels. There are also certain people who have made it abundantly clear that they are willing to be as nasty as needs be. I loathe those kinds of people and wish to expose them for the louts they are.

But, most of all, there's this little thing we used to call America. I remember it well, and we're rapidly losing many the principles and ideals that made it great. So, I guess you could say I've been just a tad angrier than usual since around, say, January 20, 2001.

I've spent a good deal of time documenting and understanding the position our government has put the American people in, so excuse me for wanting so much or trying to revive what little is left of decency, righteousness and humanity.

I look at our world and see Iraq, and Zimbabwe, and all the other injustices, and I suppose I'm guilty of letting some of that anger out in misplaced ways. On the other hand, I often wonder how anyone can actually be happy in the midst of what's going on. Maybe ignorance is bliss.

Maybe that helps explain why I am angry. I feel a little better now.

Blogging for fun or money?

I've been having a great time with the heavy duty fans at the PPP blog. Some of them will justify almost any kind of activity, including vulgarity and outright spam. I managed to get a whole bunch of them cranked up at me because I was complaining that I couldn't make $20/day from PPP.

If they only knew the truth... hahahahaha.

I did manage to call one of them a foul-mouthed welfare mom (true) and there was no retort because she knows it's true. I called another one of them a psycho knitter. Again, no response. I know they're really upset with me now, and will keep me from all their little linky love sessions and other PR, Alexa and technorati manipulation. I feel like Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer. They won't let me play in any of their reindeer games.

Women, once they get over like, 40, get pretty uptight and the bunch over at PPP, sucking up all that pseudo-spam marketing money, don't like to be talked about in anything but the highest priase. They are really an uptight bunch. Wonder if I'll meet any of them at Postiecon?

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Pork versus Beef

I love a good steak. I'm sure you do too. However, a tasty sirloin is going for about $4.95 to $6.95 a pound these days and affording a nice steak dinner - even cooked at home on the grill - for the family is getting a little costly.

To those of you who have to have some kind of meat in your diet (no, we're not all vegans), I suggest you try pork steaks. They are just as tender and tasty as beef - well, it's a different kind of taste - and they're awesome on the grill. Pork steaks are not like pork chops, they're more loin-style meat, with a fatty edge, just like their beef brethren, but they are less than half the price of beef.

I get mine from a local butcher at around $1.79 per pound. You can buy 2-3 times the number of pork steaks as beef steaks for the same amount of money and your family will love them, guaranteed.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Al Gore: The Planet Has A Fever!

Al Gore, the man who should have been our 43rd president but instead continued his crusade against Global Warming, won an Oscar for his documentary on the subject and has been nominated for a Nobel Prize, took his message to the US Congress today.

You must appreciate Al Gore. He actually said to the assembled Congresspeople, "the planet has a fever." What a phrase!

Now, if the people in Congress don't want to take Mr. Gore seriously, I suggest they study the issue a little more, and maybe contact the thousands of other scientists who not only take Global Warming seriously, but are ardently pushing for governments to legislate changes to reverse - or at least slow - the trends that threaten our planetary existence.

Personally, I agree with the findings of Gore and the rest of the Global Warming community. I have seen with my own eyes the evidence of glacial melt in the Arctic and Antarctic, the mountains of Peru and the Himalayas and elsewhere. I don't need any more proof because I, unlike morons like Senator Imhoff and other right wing numbsklulls, actually believe in the rigor, discipline and yes, the honesty of science.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

You Say Tomato, I Say Tomato Tree

I saw this on TV, so I thought I'd check it out. This offer says you'll get a yield of 180 pounds of tomatoes for just $10. The offer sells you 3 of their Tomato Trees and, as a bonus, you get three early hybrid tomato (do they run on ethanol?) plants as well.

Of course, you have to plant them, water them, make sure bugs and critters don't get to them, but, with tomatoes running about $2/pound at the local supermarket, even if you only get a crop yield of 20 pounds, you're going to be way ahead.

A little gardening can go a long way. This sounds like an OK deal. Tomatoes are not cheap, but they are yummy. Growing your own is pretty easy, and besides, you can say "crop yield" and impress your eco-friendly associates.

Don't Vote. Slate will pick 2008 winners

Just when you thought American democracy could stoop no lower, Slate magazine pre-empts the 2008 elections.

Darn, and I just registered to vote.

According to a press release, Slate has launched the 2008 Political Futures Database, which utilizes data from three prediction markets to forecast the outcome of 2008 Presidential and Congressional races.

The futures data from is to be gathered from Iowa Electronic Markets,, and, beginning with the presidential primary races of both major parties and then the 2008 Congressional races.

With so much pre-polling and now futures betting going on, there's almost no need to vote anymore. But, if the voting machines are rigged, as some (including me) insist, won't Slate and other predictors like exit polls be way off?

Oh, that's right. Exit polls have only been found to be inaccurate in the United States in 2000, 2002, 2004 and 2006. Strange, but hey, why bother? Or aren't you happy with the government we've got?

For more on how to understand the Political Futures charts and decide whether your vote matters enough to even cast it, click here.

Monday, March 19, 2007

What Spring Means to Collectors

According to weather experts, Spring officially arrives late in the day on the 20th of March. Those of us living in the Northeast are welcoming the date with open arms.

Following the freak storm last week, most of New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Massachusetts were blanketed with anywhere from 6 to 18 inches of snow, so don't blame us if we're not quite ready for warm weather.

It will come, however, and those of us in the collectible business ought to be ready for the early garage, charity sales and library book sales that occur in the Spring. Some of the best bargains of the year can be had at early season garage sales in late March, April and into May. The reason is that many serious buyers are not out in force and casual buyers won't be out until June.

So, get yourself into a strong cash position and get out to those early sales if you're looking to make a killing or find some really great bargains.

Deal firmly with credit card companies

Some of you may have had similar experiences. It's a sign of the times, especially by HSBC Bank and Providian lenders, a tip-off to when you are dealing with a predatory lender instead of a company that actually cares about your finances.

I received an email informing me that my account had exceeded its credit limit. Since I almost never use that card these days, it could mean only one thing: they had assessed the annual fee and then charged my account an additional amount for going over the credit limit.

I called customer service and explained how absurd it was that the annual fee should result in an additional over limit fee. I calmly stated that if I had tried to charge the $59, my card would have been declined. But, since they are in control, they pass it through and tack on another $30 on top of it.

The customer service rep understood and told me she would remove the overlimit fee. I got her name and company ID number. Make sure to get that information from anybody you speak to at any credit card's customer service.

This kind of practice happens all the time by these predatory lenders. To avoid it, make sure to protest the assessment of an overlimit fee and don't take no for an answer. The companies engaging in this kind of practice know it is marginal and probably illegal, so they'll back off if you're demanding.

The best advice is to kick the credit card habit by making scheduled payments in an amount that will work your balance down to ZERO within 12 months. Pay the card up and tear it up. Learn to live within your means.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Bush Ethanol Plan Makes Sense... for Exxon

President Bush traveled to South America this past week, ostensibly to shore up support for administration policies. By all accounts, the President's visit was a colossal failure except for his mission to Brazil, which, in reality, was the real reason he went south for the week.

While in Brazil, the president negotiated a deal to import more ethanol from Brazil. As it stands, Brazil is the world's largest producer of ethanol; the US is already the largest importer of Brazilian ethanol. Brazil produces 17.5 billion liters of ethanol a year and intends to increase production to 30 billion liters by 2012.

The US will need 132 billion liters a year to attain the lofty goal of 20% reduction in overall gasoline consumption. Currently, 90% of Brazil's ethanol is for domestic use, but the US charges a 54-cents per gallon tariff on every gallon (3.785 liters) of imported Brazilian ethanol.

So, why is the president promoting more imported ethanol from Brazil, replete with a cost-raising tax and instead of dependence on oil from Gulf nations, dependence on Latin American nations?

If the whole affair seems curious, it's because it is bad for Brazil and worse for US consumers. It is, however, a grand idea for agro-globalist companies like Cargill, already invested in Brazil.

For Brazil to increase its ethanol production by almost double would require further destruction of the sensitive rainforest and converting fertile food crop-producing land to monocropping of sugarcane, the primary source for ethanol.

There's also the cheap labor in Brazil to work the fields, keeping the cost of production low. Of course, that's going to be offset by the tariff before the fuel substitute reaches the US. By the time Brazilian ethanol reaches the gas tanks of US drivers, it's nearly as expensive as a gallon of regular gas.

The purpose of Bush's trip was not to curb the use of greenhouse gasses or promote the use of ethanol, but to keep the price of oil (and gas) at high profit levels for his corporate buddies at Exxon/Mobil, Chevron, et. al.

Bush could care less about reducing our dependence on foreign fuels. He actually is working to increase that dependence rather than promoting domestic ethanol production. Naturally, Republican senator Richard Lugar thinks importing ethanol from Brazil is a great idea.

For more background on the issue, see this article at CounterPunch.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Deal or No Deal Minimums and Maximums

Unless you've been living under a rock the past six months, you must be aware of Howie Mandel's hit show on NBC, Deal or No Deal. Besides the gorgeous gals (my fav is Anya Monzikova, #10, shown at right), Howie is adept at squeezing the emotion out of the contestants and sweating them until the end.

I've seen people turn down over $200,000 and walk away with a lot less and I've figured out my strategy should I ever get a chance to compete (How do they find contestants, anyhow?). Actually, I think I'd be a better fit for Jeopardy than any other game show, but that's another story.

If I was on Deal or No Deal. and the money ever got over $150,000, I'd take it, unless I had something like the top 3 out of 4 amounts still available. I mean, after taxes, you'd still end up with over $100,000, and that's not bad.

Suggestions Welcome

I have a site that's been up almost a year, and am seeking suggestions for what to do with it. If you have any ideas, post a comment here and I'll check it out.

The site is and it has a PR of 2 currently and links to some other good pages.

If you or anybody you know is interested in developing the site or buying it, contact me by email. The site is currently hosted by GoDaddy, but I'm unhappy with their services, so a move to a better host may occur within the next two weeks.

Since I don't live in Las Vegas, maybe somebody who does can come up with a good use for it. I've been told that the name is a keeper.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

The Adsense Conundrum

There's a solid discussion going on over at WebmasterWorld, called Anatomy of an EPC Collapse which has stirred up the great "don't be evil" debate once again.

For those unaware of what EPC means, it's Earnings Per Click - a valid metric in measuring the effectiveness of cost-per-click advertising on publisher's websites.

I've got a couple of zingers in there already and there doesn't seem to be any end in sight. The matter concerns Google's AdSense program and how some publishers have seen EPC collapse while all other metrics - Pageviews, Clickthrough Rate, # of clicks, etc. - rise.

The effect is usually slow growth in overall earnings. For instance, one publisher reports clicks more than doubling when comparing Feb. 2006 to Feb. 2007, but earnings only rising 28%. A linear system would have produced a better-than 100% increase in earnings, but, of course, when dealing with Google's swift algorithms, nothing is linear, or revealed.

Personally, I think Google is FOS, but that's just my opinion.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Stocks, Bonds and Basketball

If you're wondering why I'm not answering my phone over the next couple of weeks, the easy answer is that I'm busy blogging.

The NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament (March Madness) begins in just about a week and the first weekend of action is furious and non-stop, but this week I'm covering the conference tournaments on the College Basketball Blog. If you want updates, scores and picks, that's the place to go, especially if you're looking for some guidance on how to win your office bracket pool.

Now, if the excitement of college hoops isn't quite your cup of tea, maybe you'd prefer my insightful stock market commentary on Money Daily. I provide a brisk overview of economic and market activity, plus an occasional stock pick. I must know what I'm talking about when it comes to market timing. Last Monday, I saw the signals and headlined my column "The Correction Is Underway." The next day I (and my readers) didn't bat an eyelash when the Dow Jones Industrials tanked 416 points.

If you think the worst is over for stocks, I suggest you cruise over to and catch up.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Spring Breakers: Get Your Passports Now

If you're planning on spending spring break in Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean you'll need apply now for a passport, thanks to Congress and the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

The new passport requirement, known as the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI, thanks DHS), went into effect on January 23 and applies to all air travel into the United States. Yep, you can fly out of the country without a passport, but you won't be able to get back in (Roach Motel in reverse). You can drive back in, though driving from a Caribbean island might be a little more than your Saturn can handle.

The new rules affect all citizens of the United States, Canada, Mexico and Bermuda who previously could use birth certificates, drivers' licenses and other documents to enter the U.S.

As usual, the government is cashing in. The State Department will do expedited passport processing for an additional fee on top of the higher fees they implemented last year.

The NEXUS program, whatever that is, also fulfills the document requirements of WHTI. The CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws. Yep, all those Spring Break college students are sure terrorism threats. What a bunch of garbage. I'm driving to Toronto! See next post.

MobiTV Signing Subscribers at Record Rate

While satellite radio companies Sirius and XM struggle to sign new subscribers, a similarly-styled company in the video space, MobiTV, is surging with subscriptions to their mobile and broadband television and music services.

The company announced today that it has exceeded two million paying subscribers worldwide, more than doubling their base in less than a year.

MobiTV offers the most comprehensive content, with more than 100 television channels worldwide, and nearly 40 channels in its US service, including many of the same stations available via cable. The company supports nearly all existing commercial network standards plus future 4G networks such as WiMAX and DVB-H.

"MobiTV has quickly become the industry's go-to resource for mobile content delivery," said Paul Scanlan, president and co-founder of MobiTV.

Some key achievements since April 2006 include a service with AT&T to deliver real live TV to any PC broadband user in the US, interactive ads and m-commerce, content deals surpassing 100 channels and support for 150+ handsets worldwide.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Getting Ready for March Madness

File this one under shameless self-promotion.

With the annual rites of Spring upon us - no, not baseball or dating - basketball fans are gearing up for the NCAA Tournament and our blog, College Basketball Daily, will have all the news, stories, game recaps and action from the opening tip to the final buzzer.

I've been covering college hoops all season, and things are really heating up. This is the first season I've put all the coverage on a blog, but since things happen quickly once the tournament starts, it's a good place to go to get a quick overview and my expert insight all on one page.

You'll find the AP poll rankings updated every Monday and beginning this week, conference tournament results in addition to the usual mix of Top 25 recaps, picks and pans.

March Madness is upon us!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Coke & Pepsi To Disclose Caffeine Content

Coca-Cola and PepsiCo will soon reveal the exact amount of caffeine per serving right on their labels. Everyone knows that the two popular beverages pack a punch, but until now, nobody knew whether it was a right hook or just a jab.

Since 2003, the nonprofit Caffeine Awareness Alliance (CAA) and the American Medical Association have been asking the Food and Drug Administration for caffeine content disclosure on food labels. CAA praised both Coca-Cola and PepsiCo's new labeling and called on Starbucks and others to follow suit.

"The right for consumers to make informed decisions is vital to the health of this nation," said CAA founder Marina Kushner.

Kushner strives to educate through her book, "The Truth About Caffeine -- How Companies That Promote It Deceive Us and What We Can Do About It."

To learn more about Kushner's book, or National Caffeine Awareness Month, you can visit

Carnival.Com Cruises to Top Spot

According to Hitwise, which tracks Web traffic in more than 160 different industry categories, Carnival Cruise Lines' web site,, is the most visited cruise line site on the internet.

Carnival's success was attributed to a huge upgrade in 2006 and the addition of new tools and features including an interactive destination map, guest video testimonials and an enhanced meeting and incentive cruise section.

Carnival operates 21 Fun Ships worldwide offering a wide variety of trips to the Bahamas, Caribbean, Mexican Riviera, Alaska, Hawaii, Canada, New England, Bermuda, Europe and the Greek Isles.

The line currently has four new ships on order, two of which, the 130,000-ton Carnival Dream and Carnival Magic will be the largest Fun Ships in the fleet. They are scheduled for delivery in October 2009 and June 2011, respectively.

Web site:

Mirage Las Vegas to host TopCoder Open 2007

80 top programmers from around the world will compete for $260,000 in prizes, June 27-29 at The Mirage Las Vegas. TopCoder, the leader in online programming competition, , skills assessment and competitive software development, today announced that AOL will serve as title sponsor of the of the TopCoder Open 2007.

This year's event will bring a total of 80 competitors from around the world for a total prize purse across all competitions of $260,000. Online registration for multiple tracks opened Monday, February 19th and continues through March 27th. For full TopCoder Open registration details please visit

The 2007 TopCoder Open onsite competitions will feature the Algorithm competition - 48 semifinalists with a first prize purse of $25,000; the software Design track - 8 finalists, first prize $25,000; the software Development track - 8 finalists, first prize $15,000; TopCoder Studio competition - 8 finalists, first prize $15,000; TopCoder Marathon Match - 8 finalists, first prize $15,000.

TopCoder membership is free and brings with it eligibility to compete in high profile tournaments, discussions and learning, plus access to some of the world's leading employers of software developers.

"Las Vegas is a spectacular venue for the TCO 07 sponsored by AOL," said Rob Hughes, President and COO of TopCoder, Inc. "We believe our competitors, sponsors and audience alike will find this the most exciting and entertaining TopCoder Open yet!"

Web site:

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Data Security Getting Worse According to IT Pros

According to a survey conducted by nCircle, 66% of IT security professionals believe their own personal data is less secure than 2 years ago.

nCircle, the leading provider of agentless security risk and compliance management solutions, conducted the survey of 83 IT professionals in January 2007.

The critical question: "Do you think your personal confidential information is more or less secure than it was 24 months ago?" yielded the following results: Total votes: 83; Less Secure: 66%; More Secure: 34%

According to Abe Kleinfeld, CEO of nCircle, "These results point out the real and present danger to online data that IT security professionals see everyday. Security professionals believe that their own personal data is at risk because they know that most organizations approach the problem of data security from a defensive position, one which leaves both the data and the organizations vulnerable."

If these professionals are this skeptical of network security, how secure is your information?

SBE, Esquire Sponsor Academy Awards Fundraiser for AIDS

SBE Entertainment and Esquire Magazine will host The Envelope Please 6th Annual Oscar-viewing party at The Abbey, to benefit AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA). Over 500 guests will attend this fundraiser on Oscar night wth Jennifer Love Hewitt serving as host for the event.

"The Envelope Please" is a major fundraising event for APLA. The organization operates food banks, dental clinics and other direct services serving the HIV community in Los Angeles.

Additional sponsors include ClearChannel, Merck, Effen Vodka, United Airlines, Wells Fargo and the City of West Hollywood.

Festivities will begin on Sunday, Feb. 25, with a cocktail reception at 4:00 pm, followed by dinner and viewing party at 5:00 pm. Individual tickets begin at $300 and space is limited. For more information or to order tickets, please visit

New Broadband Service Brings Romance Novels to Life

Every five seconds somebody buys a romance novel. With that kind of market penetration, beaming the background of the romance genre via broadband should make an instant success.

Founded in November 2006 by Maria Lokken, Marisa O'Neill and John Werner, Romance Novel TV is the first broadband network dedicated to cover the genre from cover to cover. Lokken, O'Neill and Werner bring more than a combined 60 years worth of television experience to the new network.

Romance Novel TV ( will have an array of original programming that will feature best-selling authors like Nora Roberts, Christina Dodd, Eloisa James, Mary Jo Putney and JR Ward.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Revolutionary New Mortgage Account Pays Debt Faster

Anyone who's ever dealt with a conventional commercial mortgage bank knows how difficult it is to pay down interest faster, apply an extra payment or generally reduce the debt faster than the standard amortization allows.

A new type of account may be a first step in changing how a mortgage is paid down. This account, called the One Account combines the mortgage with your monthly salary and optionally, any savings, and pays down the debt in a much more powerful, more efficient manner.

At One Account you can access their amazing Mortgage Shrinker, an online calculator that will show how much shorter your mortgage term could be and how much you could actually save by paying smarter.

The idea is a blockbuster and anathema to the banking business, but for consumers, well worth a look.

Sponsored Post

I Am Human, Feel Me Blog

Rafe Needleman reports on his Google Blog that the search giant sometimes wants to know if you're a human or a computer bot.

Leave it to Google, the master of algos, bots and all sorts of whiz-bang techno geeky gadgetry to offer up what's known as a CAPTCHA which stands for "Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart."

These are the messed up words or numbers that ask to be identified as a security measure that you'll find on registration or login pages around the internet.

Now you know what they're called. Well, if you're H-¢-U-£-M-¶-A-ª-N, that is.

High Paying Opportunities for Bloggers

Life as a freelance writer could not be much better.

Since I found, I've been blazing away at my laptop, writing about new websites, sports, business, the internet and products like wireless phones and computer peripherals.

But, it's just gotten better, especially if you've done proper blog marketing like getting your PageRank up above 3 or 4, a high rank on Alexa and positive reviews of your posts.

Pay Per Post's new segmentation system awards bloggers who operate high traffic blogs with good PR. A recent opportunity offered $1000 for a single sponsored post. Now, that's what I call good money. Ernest Hemingway would even have taken that one in a heartbeat. He used to get 10¢ a word back in the day.

I haven't had the good fortune of picking up a grand for one post, but I've seen other posting opportunities paying $25, $50 and more. Whatever I make on my posts I consider a real blessing. I've been writing for years for next to nothing promoting my web site, and that's finally paying off, but blogging gives me the opportunity to really stretch my writing skills for positive purposes. makes sense for high and and lower traffic bloggers alike. The main requirements are that your blog has been online for more than 90 days and that you disclose that PayPerPost posts are sponsored or paid. To make matters easier, PPP provides tools to automatically include a disclosure badge or provides them per post, like the one below.

Who knows? Hemingway might have been jealous.

Webcast Alert: NetObjects Fusion 10

NetObjects Fusion 10 software enables users to easily develop affordable, full-feature websites. Novices to nerds can learn more about the robust features of NetObjects Fusion 10 website-building software, which requires no programming or HTML experience via live webcast on February 22, 2007 at 2 pm Eastern

Featured panelists include Ovidiu Podisor, Chief Software Developer, NetObjects Fusion and Steve Raubenstine, Vice President and General Manager, NetObjects Fusion.

Website Pros, Inc. offers a full range of Web services, including website design and publishing, Internet marketing and advertising, search engine optimization, customer support and technology, and leads generation, meeting the needs of any business.

Based in Jacksonville, Florida, Website Pros can be reached by calling 1-800-GET-SITE. More information is available on their web site.

Free Blogs, Calendars and Classifieds

Social networking web sites are popping up all over the place, but seems to have a leg up on the competition with a nice assortment of user options. There are blogs, web page hosting, events calendars, classified ads and dating, all free to use.

I was especially interested in the free classifieds because I'm always looking for ways to reach new markets in a cost-effective manner, and nothing is more cost-effective than FREE.

The interface for placing ads is really simple and easy to use. There are more than adequate categories, whether you're selling your home or car or just looking to sell items from around the house.

The whole process of setting up a classified ad takes less than 3 minutes in a 4-part process that goes quicker once you're registered. It's all part of a very nice social networking site that should thrive on being completely free.

Sponsored Post

Robb Report Report: The rich eat different

I just received this month's installment of the Robb Report online with a teaser for the feature article titled, America’s Finest Dining: 57 Of Our Favorite Restaurants.

This is pretty funny, when you think about paying $45 for a four-course meal featuring fried chicken, pot roast or pork loin at Ad Hoc, chef Thomas Keller's most recent addition to his California collection of restaurants, which also includes the French Laundry, Bouchon Bakery, and the bistro Bouchon.

In Washington, D.C., chef Michel Richard of Michel Richard Citronelle also opened a new sub-prime eatery, Central Michel Richard, which offers such delicacies as lobster burgers, rotisserie chicken, corned beef and cabbage and banana splits.

It's what makes me curious about the upper crusters in our society. Eating the same foods as the "ordinary people" somehow has become vogue. Pretty lame, if you ask me.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Oh! The Horror!

The boys of summer may be working out the kinks down in Florida, but a horde of football fanatics are already scratching that pigskin itch. This was the first Sunday since the Super Bowl (not including the wasted week in between the Conference Championships and the big one) that there wasn't an NFL game on the air.

Guys across the nation were rediscovering that they were married. Some, to their surprise, found out that they were not, as football reached the first off-season milestone.

But there's hope. Football never ends.

The actual NFL draft is still two months away, but that doesn't stop NFL maniacs from formulating some way to whittle down the time without actual live crunching hits, long bombs and touchdowns.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Fans Choose Ricky Rudd for Daytona 500 Broadcast

Ricky Rudd's in-car audio has been chosen by NASCAR fans to be featured on SIRIUS' Fan's Choice broadcast during the Daytona 500 this Sunday.

Rudd, driver of the No. 88 Snickers Ford, was the top vote-getter for the Daytona event, which kicks off the NASCAR racing season. Over 10,000 fans cast their votes at the Driver2Crew website, specifically for fans of NASCAR with Sirius radio.

Sirius will carry 10 in-car audio broadcasts for every NASCAR NEXTEL race this season, based on drivers NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series standings and every race will have a featured channel based on fan votes.

For this weekend's Daytona 500, SIRIUS subscribers can hear:

  • Live race call provided by Motor Racing Network channel 128

  • Jimmie Johnson in-car audio channel 122

  • Tony Stewart in-car audio channel 126

  • Dale Earnhardt Jr. in-car audio channel 125

  • Jeff Gordon in-car audio channel 121

  • Kasey Kahne in-car audio channel 114

  • Kevin Harvick in-car audio channel 119

  • Matt Kenseth in-car audio channel 130

  • Jeff Burton in-car audio channel 147

  • Denny Hamlin in-car audio channel 144

  • Ricky Rudd in-car audio (Fan's Choice) channel 140

SIRIUS combines race broadcast with the driver-to-crew communications on each channel, allowing fans a true insider's broadcast experience.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Famous for a Day

Well, just a day after the untimely death of Anna Nicole Smith, my association with Playboy (I look at the pictures and read the articles) has boosted my ego and hits to my web site.

This article is on the Reuters Newswire and, as such, is available for publication in newspapers around the world.

So, my high school jerkwad ex-buddies can say what they like about me and my association with Playboy magazine, but I've gotten my 15 minutes of fame at least six times from it.

Hey, even for the Dan Graham's of the world, that's still an hour and a half.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Anna Nicole Smith Dead at 39

Suddenly, a favorite ditzy, buxom blonde is gone.

Anna Nicole Smith, renowned Playboy Playmate, Guess Jeans Girl and Supreme Court appellant, died today at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida.

The cause of Anna Nicole's death were not immediately known as she was found unresponsive by a private nurse in her hotel room. The Chicago Tribune has more.

Over on my main site, I have a couple of issues featuring Anna Nicole the way most of us will want to remember her, as the sizzling hot blonde that captivated Playboy's ardent admirers. The issues are from June 1993 and May 1994.

The June 1993 issue in particular, is a favorite of mine. Anna Nicole was named Playmate of the Year and the cover photo, by Danielo Federici, captures her magnetic beauty. Both magazines are linked to our feature pages on the main site and are for sale.

She will certainly be missed. Rest in peace, Anna Nicole.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Do-Nothing Congress

If you've been paying attention at all over the past 6 years, you have to believe that Congress certainly hasn't done the average American taxpayer any favors.

That trend seems to be continuing, even after there was a huge shift in voter preferences in the last election, sweeping Democrats into power in both the House of Representatives and Senate. Yesterday, the Senate voted to essentially cut off debate on the troop surge into Iraq. Basically, the Republican minority staged a successful filibuster to prevent voting on a non-binding resolution.

So, after a month in session, what has Congress wrought? Nothing, absolutely nothing. Sure, the House passed Nanny Pelosi's promised "first 100 hours" agenda, but the Senate hasn't budged much. They mangled the minimum wage bill with a slew of amendments and that's on it's way back to the House. Naturally, the President will veto any legislation that comes to his desk, so what's the point?

Considering the utter contempt the Congress has shown for the average American, I wouldn't expect much from them. My advice is to steer clear of politicians (dirty whores, every one of them) and go about your business, take as many tax deductions as possible and keep quiet. They're stealing from us, so why pay them any mind?

The president's Budget to Congress

George W. Bush is a complete ass. And Congress isn't much better. The budget request he sent to Congress yesterday for $2.9 trillion - $2,900,000,000,000 - averages out to just a little under $10,000 for every man, woman and child in America.

It's a little much, don't you think? Put another way, there are roughly 150 million working people in the USA today, so this budget calls for about $20,000 per working adult. Naturally, the money for Iraq and Afghanistan is not included.

I'll tell you what my contribution is going to be to the funding for this budget: ZERO. That's right, I'm not going to pay a single cent, and it's all perfectly legal. Keep those tax breaks for business coming, you morons in Congress and the White House. I'll use them all day long.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Stocks End Week on Quiet Note Again

Maybe it's the Super Bowl, or the weather, or just the end of the week, but whatever it was, traders seemed to have taken an early exit on Friday (similar to last Friday), leaving the major indices spilt amid middling volume.

With little to excite investors, the Dow left the record high set on Thursday intact, falling 20.19 to end the week at 12,653.49. For the week, the Dow did very well, up 166 points. The NASDAQ closed 7.50 to the positive, while the S&P 500 gained 2.45.

All three indices posted weekly gains of more than 1%.

With well more than half of all companies having already reported 4th quarter and 2006 earnings, the market will increasingly be driven - for the next 6-8 weeks - by economic news and events outside the financial realm.

Of course, the main concern is still going to be focused on the Middle East and a resolution (or lack thereof) to the conflict in Iraq. Nothing is more important to the world economy presently than what the US decides to do policy-wise with the untenable situation there.

Any good news on that front would likely translate into higher stock prices in the near term, though from the seeming intransigence of the administration to the vacillation in the Congress, the chance for a prompt positive outcome looks neither imminent nor particularly probable.

The recent rise in the price of oil certainly tempered the mood on Wall Street and continues to nag at the merchants on Main Street. Oil rose another 3% on Friday, closing up 1.72 to close at $59.02. Less than 2 weeks ago, the price had dipped to nearly $50, so the recent action (up $9) may be more a technical adjustment than the beginning of a longer term trend.

Since August, the direction has been decidedly to the downside for the slippery stuff, and that trend seems to be still in place. Regardless of daily noise, everybody - from the baker to the banker - would like to see the price stabilize in the $43-50 range. Whether that is attainable or merely wishful thinking depends largely on politics, war, weather and demand in coming months.

The employment report for January revealed unemployment at 4.6%, its highest rate in four months. The Labor Department also reported the addition of 111,000 jobs in the month. Traders barely noticed.

For the week, the news was mostly positive and that was reflected in the trade. Persuading most of it was the Fed decision to keep the Fed Funds rate level at 5.25 on Wednesday. It was the only day to see a big move in either direction - in this case, higher - and was the overriding positive development in an otherwise lackluster series of sessions.

Speaking of Swimsuits...

One of the places I'd love to visit is Montevideo in the tiny, almost unnoticed nation of Uruguay.


Well, for one reason, it's summer down there when it's winter up here and the beaches stretch wonderfully over hundreds of miles. The city sits on the coast of Uruguay, on the Atlantic Ocean, and it's modernized, though not so metropolitan as nearby big cities. So, it's not overcrowded.

Uruguay sits between the two giant countries of Argentina and Brazil and there is daily ferry service to Sao Paulo and Rio De Janiero, so if you want the glitz and glamour, it's only a few hours away.

Montevideo is one of South America's hidden gems, in a continent that somehow has managed to escape the colonialism of the United States. While countries like Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia are turning socialist, most of the Southern countries of the continent have become more market driven economically.

WebEx Meeting Software is Top Shelf

For teleconferencing, internet collaboration and online meetings, there are few companies than can compete with the offerings from WebEx Communications.

The company offers solutions for every size business and just about every need. For individual and small business they offer WebEx Connect, an on-demand platform for collaboration, business applications, and project flow.

The software works via the WebEx Connect grid, allowing users to create customized workspaces that integrate WebEx solutions with third-party applications.

Another recent innovation is MeetMeNow which provides users with unlimited web meetings with up to 10 attendees per meeting, audio, desktop sharing, integration with email and instant messaging clients. All this accessible from any desktop computer.

The company is offering a 14-day free trial. For more info, visit WebEx.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Hockey Smack: Sabres Rock

OK, it's the middle of the day, but I have to spread the word on hockey and the Buffalo Sabres. And what better place to talk smack (other than right here) than on the superb
NHL Forums that cover every team, every angle, from everywhere in the world.

Last season, the Sabres went down in the semi-finals, but they were hurting, having only three healthy defenders by the time they were eliminated. Barring injuries, the Sabres are headed to the finals this year and if you check the Buffalo Sabres Forums you'll see that I'm not alone in this opinion. Daniel Briere had a hat trick last night against Boston and the offense is percolating once again. Buffalo's 197 goals is tops in the league.

Right now, the Sabres have 72 points, the best in the Eastern Conference and right behind league-leader Nashville, with 75. And the Sabres are built for the playoffs. Their home and away records are exactly the same at 17-7-2. Balance, baby, that's where it's at.

Money Tip: Easy Way to Save

In my continuing quest to save money (and offset the high costs of living), I've decided to post from time to time different ideas for saving money. Not investing, not gambling, but actual money-saving ideas everybody can use. I'm going to tag all these posts as Rick's $$-saving tips so you can search for them.

Today's is called nickel and dime your way to success after my boss at Singer Co. back in the 70s, Al Silverstein, and it's a simple method to stash some cash for a rainy day.

All you have to do is pay for anything with bills, not coins. Even if something is fifteen cents, use a dollar bill. At the end of the day, toss all coins into a jar, box, etc. If you're an ordinary person, you use a credit or debit card sometimes, but at McDonald's, bars, convenience stores, you often use cash. This method can produce a couple of dollars a day in change if you're out a lot (when I'm at a bar, I'm good for $4-5 easily).

Save the money for Christmas presents or for a defined purchase (I once bought a new stereo system with money saved by this method). You can also reward yourself by throwing in a couple of dollar bills or even a five-spot every now and then. It adds up fast.

For the big spenders out there, use the same method, but use nothing smaller than a five dollar bill and save all the coins and singles. Your money pile will grow really quickly.

The Pick: Bears to Win Super Bowl

If you haven't already checked out my Super Bowl picks, blog and quiz, now's the time. Yesterday, I finalized 7 days of number crunching, comparisons and internalized knowledge to produce to final pick: Chicago by a touchdown.

For complete information on how I came to this conclusion just days before the big event, click here.

I'll be adding more information, including the over/under, alternate scenarios, and some of the props. The one prop I'm banking on is anything on Dallas Clark, the Colts' slot receiver. I believe the Bears will completely shut him down, though one big catch could ruin my day. Still, if you can get props on Clark at under 3.5 catches and/or under 50 yards, take them. I have him penciled in for 3 catches and 22 yards.

More as game time approaches on the picks page and the Super Bowl blog.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Super Bowl XLI Stuff

With the big game just over a week away, a little shameless self-promotion for the awesome Super Bowl coverage on my site. (Yes, I am allowed to say "awesome" in a shameless promotion.)

You can find all the Super Bowl scuttlebutt - everything from how to plan a Super Bowl party to who's picking the Bears or Colts to how to survive the long in-between weekend over on the Super Bowl Blog.

If you think you're the kind of guy or gal who should be hosting your own sports talk show because of your incredible sports intelligence, then might I suggest the Super Bowl Quiz. You'll find out in a hurry what you really know about the world's biggest sporting event and its history.

Of course, no Super Bowl would be complete without Fearless Rick's Super Bowl Analysis, Picks and Props. I'm updating daily, breaking down every aspect of the Indianapolis Colts and Chicago Bears with the final prediction due on Tuesday, Jan. 30. Check it out and be rightfully prepared for the game.

Yahoo! Personal Finance: Mundane

The big announcement this past week that Yahoo!, the net's oldest, largest portal/search company was launching a personal finance section was met with a long round of yawns from the visiting public.

The space offers little that couldn't be found elsewhere on the web, even elsewhere on Yahoo itself. Offering "how to" guides on such mundane topics as choosing the right college IRA, how tax changes will effect your return and mortgage basics, aren't anything new.

The landing page offers those, plus articles from the likes of Suze Orman, Robert Kiyosaki and Laura Rowley, things to do (forget resolutions), word of the day, and a roll of current articles shows that Yahoo! is still missing the ingredient that makes for truly great companies: innovation.

I found Yahoo! Personal Finance to be more of the same and barely worth a return trip.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Microlending goes high-tech

After more than twenty years of lending small amounts of money to ordinary people through his Grameen bank, Muhammad Yunus was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2006

His extraordinary, groundbreaking work with poor people who required small loans to buy supplies to produce goods for sale - and thus provide themselves with a regular income - has come to be known as Microlending and it has inspired a number of replications online.

One such company is Prosper - a community of people, companies, businesses and lenders (anyone can wear any hat) with the express purpose of cutting out the middleman (read: bank) and allowing people to get the credit they need.

Many people on the auction-style site are seeking business start-up loans, consolidation loans to pay off high-interest credit cards or bridge financing for expansion or inventory.

Prosper has helped people with more than $12 million in loans to date and can be a valuable resource for any small business.

Mortgage Rates for all 50 States

Shopping for a mortgage, especially if you're moving from one part of the country to another, can be a daunting task, but finding a Mortgage rate, a broker or applying for a 1st, 2nd or HELOC mortgage can now be as easy as a few mouse clicks and filling out an online form.

At, you can find the best rate for your state or city, check vital statistics for your state as compared to the US averages, locate a real estate agent, mortgage broker, title company, estimate monthly payments and tax benefits with various mortgage calculators and much more.

You can apply for mortgages in New York, New Jersey, Virginia or any of the 50 states.

Exquisite Stained Glass and Patterns

Looking for a unique pattern for stained glass or an outstanding stained glass design? Look no further than Chantal's Stained Glass a site that I believe is one of the most visually-appealing and colorful sites on the internet.

Designed by the owner, Chantal Paré, self-described as a woman with a box of fine point markers, piles of blank paper, inexpensive scanner, family computer, 30-yr old light box, rudimentary notions of html, but a head full of ideas, the site offers hundreds (maybe thousands) of patterns for stained glass creations along with items for sale by Chantal.

There's also a design tutorial, a link to her book Orchids in Glass, a forum, visitor gallery and updates page.

What I like most about Chantal's site are her own works, especially the one titled Dracula gigas, shown at right. Her work shows a passion and excellence we all should hope to attain in our lives.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Break Cabin Fever with a Cool Pennsylvania Trip

It hasn't been a particularly brutally cold winter in the Northeast, but the recent (and according to our weathermen, lasting) cold snap may have brought on a bout of Cabin Fever.

January is Cabin Fever Month in Pennsylvania and the good people at the Pennsylvania Tourism Office have once again answered the call with their winter promotion.

When you book a room at participating hotels, motels, inns and bed & breakfasts at, you get the second night FREE. Additionally, there's 50% off admission to any participating attraction, including ski resorts, museums, theaters, zoos, wineries and much more.

I checked out the site, figuring a short trip to Philadelphia to see the Liberty Bell would be fun, and I found over 200 hotels and motels with rooms available. Since I'm more the city type, that works for me.

For those who love the outdoors, Pennsylvania has some of the most beautiful countryside in the nation, and new in 2007, state park cabins throughout the state are also participating in this buy one night, get the next night free promotion.

If you've been indoors too much this winter (and unless you're a furry animal, you have), a trip to the Keystone State might be just the ticket to shake you out of the doldrums.

Book your Cabin Fever getaway today!

Did eBay Miss Out on Joost?

And did Google get Foogled?

Just two years ago, eBay made a huge $2.6 billion purchase of Skype the internet phone software that swept through Europe like wildfire.

Skype was the invention of Janus Friis and Niklas Zennstrom, who may have walked away from eBay chuckling to each other. Why? Because the co-founders of Kazaa and Skype may have been planning their next big thing while putting oodles of cash in their pockets.

On Tuesday, Friis and Zennstrom announced the beta for their new internet TV service, Joost. The concept had been in development under the code name Venice Project, but yesterday went... well, public.

Joost (pronounced "juiced") is presently accepting beta testers, but one has to wonder, after Google's recent purchase of YouTube for $1.6 billion, and eBay's investment in Skype, what these present-day Robin Hoods will come up with next.

If Joost allows peer-to-peer TV to evolve, get ready for a brave new world - Scandanavia-style. Buh-bye networks and HD-TV. Hello, Joost-world.

Organizing Business Meetings and Assets

As your organization grows, keeping track of people, places and things (assets) can become a real challenge. I recall (when I had two disparate locations and 15 employees) missing meetings, losing people and in a number of cases, losing certain business assets that were costly to replace.

While business assets can be handed off from employee to employee, it helps to know who has what, for what purpose and when it last made an appearance. Cell phones and laptops are high on the scale of most-desired business items, and when they disappear, it can wreak havoc on your business.

NetSimplicity has created the Visual Asset Manager - designed to help alleviate the problem. With their software, you can manage assets and easily inventory, map and track assets from a web browser or handheld scanner. Now you can stop worrying about what you own, where it’s deployed and what it’s worth.

NetSimplicity creates software that simplifies office administration. Their Scheduling Software is a meeting room manager. With it, you can schedule rooms and resources, automate service requests like catering, A/V equipment and technical support personnel and know who's supposed to be where, and when.

Both of their software offerings are available for a no-obligation 30-day free trial. Visit their web site for more information.

NetSimplicity will be at LegalTech in New York on Jan. 29–31. If you're at the show, stop by booth 3205 for a chance to win a digital camera.

Search Wars Get Local

In the ongoing battle for leadership in the search arena, the major engines have lately trained their eyes on a virtually untapped resource, local search.

Both Yahoo! and Google have configurations set up to exploit the millions of listings of small businesses in the United States. Both have similar offerings in hundreds of American cities, relying on user input to expand the breath of information and in some cases, asking for additional money from the merchants themselves for enhanced listings.

I went to Yahoo Local and found my business listing and added a bunch of information, like hours of operation, my contact email address, which credit cards I accept and then was prompted to create a free 5-page web site, which I did. You can access my Yahoo Local web site here.

The whole process took about half an hour, though I doubt most small business owners will take the time to fully implement it. There are further enhancements one can make - for a fee - but I declined for now since my business really isn't local.

This experience gave me a number of ideas for webmasters to offer further services on a local basis. Obviously, I don't have the time to explain it all here, but I'll do so in future posts.

I'll take a closer look at Google Local in the next few days

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Most Popular Cell Phones

Motorola topped the list of Wirefly's most popular cell phones in 2006, with the ubiquitous RAZR grabbing the top three positions on the list.

Other Motorola offerings, such as the v360, i850 and i710 captured another 5 positions on the list, while Ericsson (4th) and Samsung (10th) rounded out the Top 10 (see below).

Wirefly should know, as their company web site is the internet leader in comparison shopping for wireless cell phones and calling plans. According to the company, 9 out of the top 10 cell phones sold by Wirefly in 2006 were camera phones and 30% had built-in music capability.

In other trends, Wirefly noted that phones with more functionality through increasingly robust operating systems were being brought to market with the Blackberry Pearl, Blackberry 8700 series, and Pocket PC's like the Verizon XV6700 among the most innovative and practical. Another big trend was for cell phones and services designed exclusively for children and related GPS tracking and geo-location services like those introduced by Sprint and Disney.

Overall, however, the trend was for slim and sleek, in a variety of colors. Consumers still want choice, but the RAZR was the overwhelming favorite, integrating form and function into an attractive, user-friendly device.

Wirefly's List of Top 10 Cell Phones:

1. Cingular Wireless RAZR by Motorola (in various colors)
2. T-Mobile RAZR (in various colors)
3. Verizon Wireless RAZR (in various colors)
4. Cingular Sony Ericsson z520a/z525a video phones
5. T-Mobile Motorola v360
6. Verizon Wireless Motorola v276
7. Sprint Nextel Motorola i850
8. Sprint Nextel Motorola i710
9. Cingular Motorola v220
10. T-Mobile Samsung T309

For more information about wireless cell phones and various plans from leading providers, visit Wirefly.

RSS: Too much tech?

Just three years in existence, I've wondered just how many people use RSS (Real Simple Syndication) because personally, I never use it. RSS always seemed like a redundant service since we already had web sites, blogs and email newsletters, all of which many of us marketing wizards still employ.

So, I decided to so a little research and came up with a figure of 275 million (and the note that 27% of all internet users receive information via RSS without knowing it). Via Alex Barnett, who did the actual research, Nooked reports that RSS is key to the publishing/marketing dynamic, though I still haven't seen much of a boost to overall traffic (which, I would assume, is the purpose of RSS for most web site owners, marketers and bloggers). The debate seems to have stalled out because that figure - the latest I could find - is now 15 months old and nobody seems to talk much about the victory of RSS over opt-in newsletters and good, white-hat SEO.

Sometimes, technology enables us a little too much. I still find RSS to be somewhat of a superfluous addition to the internet marketing mix.

Marketing: Old School vs. New Age

In the days of newspapers, magazines, radio and TV - prior to the advent of the internet - a company might have to spend tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to launch a new product or service and even then, coverage was spotty and barely traceable. Companies with the budget power could hire an ad agency or marketing firm to push their new offering, but the doors to innovation and acceptance in the marketplace were often closed to budding entrepreneurs due to financial limitations.

The internet changed all that, especially with professionals who engage in Search Engine Placement Services such as SEO (Search Engine Optimization) for both paid and organic search results in the major engines - Google, Yahoo, MSN and others. While ad agencies are struggling to keep clients and catch up to the new rigors of intelligent web design, small internet shops are grabbing the most innovative, progressive companies by understanding the dynamics of the internet, reach and search engine optimization.

Cutting costs and reaching far-flung markets through smart use and understanding of technology today often delivers better results than old school marketing and advertising. The future looks far different as small companies can now compete with larger rivals at dollar levels that are compatible with small business.

Rubber Stamps Still Popular in Tech Age

Despite the rise of high-tech and all kinds of cheap office printing methods, rubber stamps still are in use by an estimated 75% of all businesses. Rubber stamps have been around since the mid-18th century, yet still provide business with a simple, effective way to mark documents.

The primary uses for rubber stamps are for return-addressing envelopes and other packages (ebay users love them) and for marking bills and invoices paid. The popular PAID stamp can be found in a majority of offices, with or without the date function.

In the age of high-tech, there are still low-tech marking solutions aplenty, such as pens and markers of all colors and varieties, yet the rubber stamp remains one of the most popular and easy-to-use choices for all kinds of businesses.

Any business can benefit from the proper use of custom rubber stamps and they can be easily ordered online at RubberStamps.Net.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Online Coupon Codes are Smart Business

This post was removed by "admin" on August 8, 2013.

Tech Reviews for Non-Geeks

I know a lot of people are going to appreciate the blog at
Techzoogle which delivers reviews of high-tech gadgets, computers and tech trends for ordinary people.

The site is very impressive for the quality and user-friendliness of the reviews on technology and other related tech news because they are written in plain English instead of geek-talk which only computer scientists or programmers understand.

For instance, a recent post about Apple TV pointed out that the new offering, which was previewed at MacWorld, will cost about $299 and function like an advanced DVD player which will enable the playing of music, movies, pod casts and photos.

The post also pointed out that Apple TV will be available in February and requires HD television.

That short, functional explanation made more sense to me than lengthy news stories elsewhere.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Tips for Webmasters

With millions of websites, blogs, and social networks on the internet, competition for the available money opportunities is fierce. Some sites may specialize in being straight e-commerce, others cover a particular news niche, hobby, or pastime, but one thing they all have in common is a need to generate some kind of revenue, be that from sales, advertising, affiliate programs or whatever else the creative minds can devise.

Finding reliable information for monetizing one's site may be hit-or-miss, considering the amount of junk information circulating through the 'net at any given time. Very few webmasters actually know what they are getting into besides launching a site and adding content.

If you're a webmaster looking for a site that will help you understand just what quality website content is, or reliable information on maintaining a competitive edge in the blogosphere, offers articles in a blog format under categories such as Website Content, Marketing & Advertising, Monetize, Scripts & Programming, Domains & Hosting and others.

The articles are generally well-written, informative, in plain English and, best of all, the information is trustworthy. Whether you are new to webmastering or well-seasoned, you're sure to find something of interest on this informational blog.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Now for something completely different

There are blogs and then there are what I call slogs, which are blogs written by slobs or at least by people trying to impersonate a slob. They are typified by atrocious writing style, misspelling and poor syntax (my favorites are "to" instead of "too" and "looser" substituting for "loser.")

But, every now and then, a slog is good enough to get mentioned here because it is witty, different and politically incorrect, like Grunge Ogre.

This particular Ogre is probably less of a slogmaster than most. He's actually a web site designer, but instead of being all techie, he's pretty down-to-earth and his site displays particularly good attention to form and function, as everything is clean and well organized. Plus, he's got so many cool icons that I'm somewhat jealous.

The writing comes in short blasts, is usually funny and smacks of 21st century realism. After wading though the usual web sites and blogs that deal with the mundane like stocks, tech gizmos and films, Grunge Ogre is a welcome relief.

I mean, where else can you find such tidbits as ...I had just gotten out of jail for being high the week before or I'd rather listen to George W. Bush recite SAT words? Worth a peek at the end of the week.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

It's Game Time! Do you know where your sports site is?

Often, when I have riveting opinions or superlative picks, like my NFL Playoff Picks for this coming weekend I will post on one of my favorite sites,, but today I have been unable to access the site at all.

AllSports has been around for about as long as I can remember, probably back as far as 1998, and the posts - from sports fans around the world - run the gamut from funny to insightful to dreadful, but it's always a solid read and often better than the MSM garble.

So, I'm a bit dismayed that I can't post to the site nor read any articles today since I keep getting the message that all webmasters dread, the URL could not be found.

AdsBay: A New Player on the Advertising Horizon

If the results from my small test of the new AdsBay web advertising price calculator are correct, I - and a gazillion other smart webmasters - am about to make some serious money and finally, maybe, hopefully, get paid what space on my website is really worth.

The AdsBay advertising price calculator is one of the coolest web applications I've seen in some time. All you need to do to get a figure on what advertising on your site might be worth is plug in the web address, choose a category and options such as site wide or single page, text link or graphic, where the ad will be located and the calculator delivers a number in US Dollars/month.

The few pages I tested all came back with figures that were as good or better than I'm getting from the usual suspects and AdsBay offers a number of options - including a nice graphic link to the actual calculation that you can place on your site or blog - for selling your ad inventory space.

AdsBay Auctions, Buy and Sell your Ad Space offers options to buy or sell just about any form of advertising, without the agency fees or middleman. AdsBay may be on the verge of revolutionizing the online advertising business. Kudos to them!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Bowl Picks Final 18-14 ATS

Finishing with a flurry, my picks for January 2-9 were a stellar 4-1, including both LSU over Notre Dame and Florida over Ohio State, plus the over numbers (same score in both 41-14). On BCS games, I was also 4-1, with my Michigan choice the only one preventing perfection.

One thing I've noticed about the BCS is that they often produce mismatches, which produces more winners for me. While I love winning picks, I make the case for a college football playoff system in my final Top 25 rankings on the main site. Check it out.

Monday, January 08, 2007

The Broncos put Boise on the Map

Last Monday night, fans of college football across America and around the world were treated to easily the greatest game of this young century, and surely one of the best of all time.

The thrill-a-minute, 43-42 overtime victory by Boise State over Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl was the ultimate victory for the underdog, the best of David vs. Goliath, the little guy vs. the corporation and the best part was twofold: that the little guy showed guts and grace even when the chips were down, and they took a huge risk to win it all.

We'll all remember the winning Statue of Liberty play, with quarterback Jared Zabransky handing the ball behind his back to Ian Johnson, who raced into the end zone for the two-point conversion, but what led up to it may have been even better.

The game in its entirety was brilliant. Boise State raced to a 14-point lead, then blew an 18-point lead in the 4th quarter, and actually fell behind 35-28 when Zabransky threw an interception which Marcus Walker returned for a touchdown. But Zabransky and his teammates never quit and tied the game on a critical 4th-down hook and ladder pass from Zabransky to Drisan James at Oklahoma's 35. James pitched the ball to Jerard Rabb, who scampered into the end zone with the tying score with 7 seconds to play. That was gusty.

Lost in all of this was the 25-yard TD by Oklahoma's Adrian Peterson on the opening play of overtime. Peterson, the personification of the polished big-college corporate running back stands in stark contrast to the spit-and-hellfire Zabransky and his Bronco teammates.

It really was a game of contrast and comparison. One pundit - I believe Conan O'Brien - said the game, Oklahoma vs. Boise State was between two places where nobody lived. Funny, for sure, but his remark couldn't have been more incorrect. I don't know much about Oklahoma except that it's flat and there are plenty of ranches there.

I probably know a little less about Boise, the capitol of Idaho, but having been out West last year, I know at least this much: the air is clean, the water in the lakes and streams is blue, the people are friendly and the mountain views are spectacular. It is a marvelous place to live, raise a family or retire.

To find out more about Boise, visit Boise homes and follow the links, check out the Boise blog and breathe deeply. Thanks to the Broncos, the air has the distinctive smell of victory.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

I Know What You Did... because I recorded it

Video surveillance is everywhere. Cameras are a staple now in retail stores, parking garages and government buildings. Many of the moves we make are being watched by security personnel, police or other interested parties.

But what about your home or business? Do you know what's going on when you're not around to mind things? Maybe you suspect a worker of stealing, or, what's even more unimaginable - but does happen - maybe the nanny is abusing your kids. Scary, yes, but many have been caught on videotape doing unbelievable things.

What I'm talking about here is the need for reliable, discreet, hidden Home Security that can capture the activities of thieves, liars or abusers and be used in court.

There are many ways to catch evil doers, but hidden security cameras are among the best. The perpetrators will think that they are alone and can get away with whatever their evil minds can dream up, but with a hidden camera, like the one inside this clock radio camera from Brickhouse Security is as sneaky as the person you're taping. They won't suspect a thing as this low profile alarm clock radio is fully functioning with a CCD camera inside.

The great thing about hidden surveillance is the covert nature which has been used by spy agencies for years but recently has become available to the general public.

Now, there's no reason not to be safe and secure in your home or business. The days of sneaky employees, crooked partners and nasty nannies are over thanks to devices like these.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

College Bowl Update... Happy New Year

After starting the bowl season off red hot at 7-1, my picks have fallen to a meager 14-13 record against the spread (ATS), due primarily to a series of favorites who won but did not cover from December 29-31, including Texas, Texas Tech, Boston College and Oregon State.

On January 1, I went 3-3, including the most important, Boise State's win over Oklahoma (without a doubt the game of the season and maybe the best game of this young century). One thing I will never do again is pick any team coached by Lloyd Carr. His Michigan Wolverines have now lost 3 straight to Ohio State and 3 straight bowl games. It's his coaching style, somewhat similar to President Bush's "stay the course" strategy in Iraq. We see the results of not changing policy (or game plan) until it's too late... catastrophe.

Those anxiously awaiting the Florida - Ohio St. prediction will be happy to note that it's being posted today, noting that, if Florida wins, Boise State will be declared Downtown Magazine's NCAA National Champion as the only undefeated Division-1 team in the country.