Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Bush does the Google

So we went from almost electing the inventor of the Internet, to electing someone who doesn't even use email. In a CNBC interview with Maria Bartiromo (as quoted in this article by the Washington Wire), George W. Bush was asked about his use of technology. That's like asking a 4 year old about his driving habits.

"One of the things I've used on the Google is to pull up maps."

Oh my. And when asked about his email habits, his answer (after translating from moron to English) is basically stating that he does not use email at all because he does not want a written record of what he says in emails. He's afraid of the media getting a hold of his email and having a field day. Heck, it's easier to deny something that is not written down.

Frankly, I'm embarrassed as an American to have "W" leading us. If he's supposed to represent Americans, then the world must think we're all a bunch of good ol' boys ready to drop a "nuke-u-lar" bomb and yell "yeee-hah!"

You know, democracy is great and all, but you have to question a system that allows someone like "W" to be elected. The electoral college seems to be the only college that our president has exceled in.

I propose to remove the electoral college system altogether and replace it with the "Let's-Make-Sure-We-Never-Elect-An-Idiot-Again" system. It will consist of secure voting of qualified candidates who know how to pronounce "nuclear" and know how to work a computer mouse. This, of course, will mean that we will never again have a president from Texas.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Welcome, IE7

With tabs, increased security, and better standards support, Microsoft Internet Explorer version 7 makes its debut. Yes, I am aware it was released on Wednesday, the 18th, but I've only just now had the time to write about it :-)

I've been using the betas and release candidate versions for a while, and I quite like it. It took a little getting used to the location of the home button, but I'm there now.

My favorite trick is CTRL-Q. If you have multiple tabs open to various web sites, hitting CTRL-Q shows real time thumbnails (see below)

Some sites display very minor visual glitches, but I suspect that may have to do with sites that have made CSS hacks for IE6 that they don't need anymore for IE7.

So far, all sites have been fully functional, better behaved, and faster with IE7. A huge step forward!

Is it better than Firefox? Honestly, I can't say yet. It seems to render pages a lot like Firefox...at least a lot closer than IE6 ever did. Hopefully the days of CSS compromises and workarounds are nearing an end. Of course, we'll still have to support IE6 for some time to come, but with it being released through Windows Update, and Vista coming early next year, I believe IE7 will become the new dominant web browser in a matter of months.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Products galore...Zazzle's latest

It's 1:30AM Pacific Standard Time right now, and I'm at work at Zazzle, as are many others, overseeing the latest release of our website. We're really excited about this one! Why? See for yourself! You can now customize all these different products:

Zazzle Custom Stamps
Greeting Cards
Note Cards
Canvas Prints
Framed Prints
Photo Prints
Photo Enlargements
Travel Mugs
Photo Sculptures
Bumper Stickers
Round Stickers

Many other features have also been added (image categories, private album sharing, optimizations, etc)

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

18 Startup Mistakes

Found this article by Paul Graham through Digg, and I thought it was interesting. It details 18 mistakes that cause a startup company to fail.

Here's a quick summary list. Read the article for details on each one.

  1. Single Founder
  2. Bad Location
  3. Marginal Niche
  4. Derivative Idea
  5. Obstinacy
  6. Hiring Bad Programmers
  7. Choosing the Wrong Platform
  8. Slowness in Launching
  9. Launching Too Early
  10. Having No Specific User in Mind
  11. Raising Too Little Money
  12. Spending Too Much
  13. Raising Too Much Money
  14. Poor Investor Management
  15. Sacrificing Users to (Supposed) Profit
  16. Not Wanting to Get Your Hands Dirty
  17. Fights Between Founders
  18. A Half-Hearted Effort

Although some of these are pretty obvious, you'd be amazed how many companies make these mistakes.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Bubble 2.0 - Now with more staying power!

SFGate.com published an article comparing the late '90's dot-com bubble, to the current Web 2.0 boom. Some quotes of interest:
Startups now tend to sell themselves to bigger firms, rather than have an overly hyped initial public offering on the stock market.
I think that's good. The stock market is too volatile to build foundations on.
A new emphasis on social networking and connecting people, rather than e-commerce, which was foisted on consumers before they trusted the medium.
Very well said. Many people define "Web 2.0" as the social Internet. The new thinking is more about what you can DO on the 'net rather than what you can BUY. A good step forward.

However, there are warnings as well:
The big challenge remains figuring out how to wring money out of all the people using the Internet
Let's face it. A company has to make money to be viable.

This article is a good read.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Blogger beta issue

I just recently upgraded my blogger account to use the new beta software. Because of this, all my old posts have been marked as new again, and if you use an RSS reader to view this blog, you may have received a flood of new messages that are not really new.

Just sayin'.

AJAX parody t-shirt

This is my latest Zazzle creation! Get the t-shirt now!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Buy.com fiasco update

Well, it took a week and several emails and one PayPal complaint later, but I finally got a refund from Buy.com. In the interim, I ended up buying a nice 32" LCD HDTV from Costco. It's great!

Also, all the other stuff I needed (wall mount, HDMI DVD player, cables) I ended up ordering from various places online that take PayPal, and guess what...the payments made it through no problem!

So I will never use Buy.com with PayPal again. They seem to have an issue with their PayPal integration and will cancel your order in 3 hours if they don't think they have the money. Sons of bitches.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Buy.com should be called TakeMyMoney&CancelMyOrder.com

First, let me just say DO NOT USE BUY.COM. In case you missed that, DO NOT USE BUY.COM! Ok, now let me explain what happened.

I've been in the market for a 32" LCD HDTV and found a nice one for a great price at Buy.com. I also needed an articulating wall-mount for it, and I figured I'd also throw in a new DVD player with HDMI capabilities. I was able to find all of that, plus an HDMI cable, for just over $1000 at Buy.com.

Great price for all that gear! I'm sold! And, they also take PayPal, where I keep the money I make from online ventures. This is what happened next:

  • Step 1, add all items to cart. Check.
  • Step 2, checkout using PayPal. Check.
  • Step 3, verify my PayPal payment on PayPal's site. Check.
  • Step 4, wait for products to arrive!

    I thought everything was Kosher and I would receive my merchandise in about a week. Sweet! But three hours later I get this in my email:

    Dear Buy.com Customer,

    This is to notify you that you did not complete your order #xxxxxxxx in which you selected PayPal as your method of payment. To complete your purchase please:
    1. Log into your Buy.com account
    2. Click on the order number for which you want to complete the payment transaction.
    3. Click on the "Change payment method or re-submit to Paypal" link.
    4. Select PayPal from the drop down and click on "Resubmit Information".

    Hmmm. Maybe there was a glitch. Ok, I'll re-submit. Of course, when I re-submit, PayPal gives me an error saying "You have already paid for that item." Ok, at least PayPal is smart about it.

    A few hours later I get an email from Buy.com stating that my order was cancelled.

    So I send Buy.com an email asking why they cancelled the order, and they respond with a form letter stating they never received payment from PayPal. Then, to my surprise, BUY.COM SENT A REFUND TO MY PAYPAL ACCOUNT! Ok, if they never received payment, how can they refund?

    In any case, I still gave them the benefit of the doubt and decided to place a new order, since I had my money back anyway. So I followed the steps once again. And of course, in a few hours, I get the same email as before, stating that I need to complete my order!

    Then a little while later, the order gets cancelled AGAIN, with the same explanation that they never received payment from PayPal. Except this time, I NEVER GOT MY MONEY BACK!

    I have PayPal records stating that Buy.com got paid. And I have records from Buy.com stating that the order was cancelled for non-payment. So where is my $1000?

    At this point, I called Buy.com. I explained the situation and they said that the case has been sent to their main office for investigation, and that I should have my refund shortly. Ok, when I get my money back, I'll just shop somewhere else.

    A day passed with no money. So I call again. I get the same explanation, so I asked to speak to someone in the main office. They said no. THEY SAID NO! They are not authorized to give out any information about their main office, and that I would have to wait 3-5 days for a resolution!

    So here I am, out $1000, waiting for a refund from Buy.com for an order they cancelled on me, and PayPal saying the money was sent. Where is the money? It seems to be stuck somewhere in cyberspace, although I tend to believe Buy.com has it at this point.

    So what did I learn from this fiasco? Don't shop ay Buy.com, especially if you use PayPal. You know what? Forget that. Just DON'T SHOP AT BUY.COM PERIOD.

    Ok, rant mode temporarily off...for now.
  • Sunday, October 01, 2006

    More Zune news: Form vs. Function

    Jake Ludington's MediaBlab blog just published some pictures comparing a Zune device to an iPod. The iPod, of course, is sleeker and more stylish, having been built by the masters of form, Apple. The Zune is noticably blockier and bigger.

    This may come down to the age old form vs. function debate. The Zune specs out with more features than iPod (Wi-Fi, FM radio, etc.), but the iPod looks better and still has enough features for most people. So is Microsoft's Zune an iPod killer? Well, that all depends on whether you lean towards form (iPod) or function (Zune). My guess is that at first, early adopters and techies will buy the Zune for its cool features. It may even catch on beyond the tech arena to some degree. But Microsoft has an uphill battle against Apple to topple the iPod's dominance in the marketplace. They need to pretty it up, because, let's face it, humans are vain creatures who like to look cool.

    Zune matches iPod pricing

    Microsoft has announced Zune pricing and availability. 
    Gear Factor has more...

    Zune Pricing Announced

    Finally, Microsoft has disclosed the salient details about the Zune music player. It will be released Nov. 14 and will cost $249.99, matching the price of Apple's 30GB video iPod. Similarly, when Zune Marketplace goes live on the same day, it will charge $.99 per song, just like iTunes.

    Since a price war won't be waged as some expected, it seems Microsoft is relying on Zune's limited music-sharing capability, as well as the Zune Pass subscription -- which will let users listen to any of the Marketplace's approximately 2 million songs for $14.99 per month -- to drive people to the new music player. Users will also have the option of purchasing tracks with Microsoft Points, which lets them add money to an account, a system that's already used in the Xbox Live Marketplace.

    [Via Yahoo!


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