Ouch! Greed exposed – Your $45 broadband costs your Internet Service Provider (Comcast – Time Warner) … $1.35

As quoted from “The Problem With Cable Is Television

“The operating cost of providing broadband service is low and getting lower. At Time Warner, the cost of connecting to the Internet and other direct costs of providing its high-speed data service fell to $33 million, down 18 percent. That represents just 3 percent of the revenue it collects for broadband service. But it doesn’t include the capital expenses needed to upgrade the network. Comcast reported $120 million of costs for high-speed data service, down 13 percent from a year ago. That represents 6 percent of its data revenue.”

Ok.. so If you pay $45 a month for broadband … it costs them $1.35 at Time Warner … and $2.70 at Comcast.

Lets put that in perspective … lets say it cost $1.35  to make a loaf of Wonder Bread (Of course that doesn’t include packaging upgrades) … $45 to buy it? … No more outrageous than the cost of broadband!

To add insult to financial injury they want to raise the price.

Do you think broadband users should be paying to subsidize Comcast and Time Warner Cable Television?

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Auckland secures faster-internet deal … The gothcha? It’s $135 a month

Astronomical pricing for Wi-Fi lauded as a boon by city … From the New Zealand Herald

“Auckland became the first city in the country yesterday to offer the service, which allows users, for a small charge, to connect to the internet in certain areas in and around the CBD.
The Wi-Fi project is a partnership between Auckland City Council, Wi-Fi service provider Tomizone and telecommunications company Kordia.
The service will cover seven zones of the Auckland CBD and fringe – Aotea Square, Remuera, Parnell, Karangahape Rd, Ponsonby, Viaduct Basin and Westhaven, including the marina.
Within these zones, users can access wireless internet at speeds of at least 2Mbps for $3 per hour, $6.50 per day or $30 per week. The Wi-Fi service does not require contracts – users can pay as they go, using portable log-ons.”

“For a small charge” my foot … and 2mb ain’t that fast … What an outrageous ripoff … $135 a month for 2mb Wi-Fi. I’m sure New Zealand and her people are nice but how do they expect to encourage internet usage at those prices. Can ordinary New Zealanders really afford $135 a month for internet access? The city should be setting up free wifi!

Dishonesty, Deception, Trickery … it’s the way of doing Business in America

Why has America accepted these practices with an “Oh well!” attitude.

Why aren’t we outraged when Monster Cables sells an HDMI cable for $79.99 that they imply works better than a standard cable  when video expert (Scott Wilkinson) will tell you the $5.99 HDMI cable works the same. Dishonesty is everywhere. Companies will go to any length to increase their bottom line … ethics be damned. Those who choose to mislead others discover that this is not the type of corruption that sends people to prison. It is more a matter of intellectual dishonesty and lack of personal ethics. Compensation has replaced ethics as a governing principle.

dishonesty

If you have to “trick” me into buying your product through overstating its merits or altering the packaging to make it appear larger or the same size with less content you’re being dishonest … your moral values need work. The “That’s the way its done in this business” excuse just doesn’t cut it.

Deception and dishonesty are running rampant practically everywhere you go. It’s exhausting trying to sift through it all and get to the truth. This is what is considered “marketing.” It has gotten to the point that if you are honest in what you are selling, you must be some sort of “fool.” However, what is “foolish” is not to recognize that if you are being deceptive in your business dealings, so is everyone else. Therefore it simply is not intelligent to continue these practices. Everyone seems to be doing his or her very best to try and take advantage of everyone else.” Quoted from an excellent article by Elizabeth Fink .

Some of my personal observations:

Java update with the pre-checked toolbar install … Every time there’s a new java update it try’s to trick you into installing either Open Office or some toolbar by having a pre-checked box about 1/2 way through the install … anytime there is a pre-checked box to install something like this they are being dishonest. The “That’s the way its done in this business” excuse just doesn’t cut it.

“Like New” items on EBay … EBay is a good place to find items and lots of those items are used. Unfortunately many sellers  overstate the condition of the item or fail to mention material defects.  Yes …  it would have helped to know the cooling fan on that router doesn’t work. What do you mean you forgot to mention there was a 4 inch crack on the back of that antique figurine? The “That’s the way its done in this business” excuse just doesn’t cut it.

Credit card bill mailing and late charges … Credit card companies make a large profit on late payments either by charging a late fee of $30-$40 dollar or by raising the interest rate on your balance … or both. Did you think it was a coincidence that you receive your bill only 5 or 6 days before its due? The “That’s the way its done in this business” excuse just doesn’t cut it.

The towing and car rental premium on your insurance policy … That $30-$50 charge on your insurance policy premium for towing that your agent didn’t mention when quoting a price … because he gets a big commission on it. Many people already have this coverage with AAA or some other entity. The “That’s the way its done in this business” excuse just doesn’t cut it.

The guy on eBay that sells his item for $1 with shipping charges of $27.99 – I can’t think any of the carriers charge more than $5 dollars to deliver a DVD (the item was shipping 1st class mail which actually costs less than $2). EBay charges a commission based on the sale price of the item sold. If the seller is willing to cheat EBay they are probably willing to cheat you too. The “That’s the way its done in this business” excuse just doesn’t cut it.

USB cable not included or power adapter optional … Granted some printers now come with a USB cable but many still don’t and buying one at Staples or Office Depot for $15 (they are about $5 delivered on Ebay) just adds insult to injury. Battery operated electronics that sell a power adapter separately. No Thanks! The “That’s the way its done in this business” excuse just doesn’t cut it.

The tire sale … advertisement – 15″ name brand tire only $39.99. Of course when you arrive the model for your car is out of stock but there happens to be a Goodyear model available for only $15 more … and did you want that mounted, balanced, a new air valve … the total $72.99.  “Oh, by the way, I noticed your brakes pads are getting low .. we’re having a special this week”.  The “That’s the way its done in this business” excuse just doesn’t cut it.

The $19.99 Jiffy Lube oil change … No sir, the $19.99 price is only for certain models your car model costs $29.99. Did you want to replace the air cleaner too, no that’s not included … but  it’s only $9.99 more?  The “That’s the way its done in this business” excuse just doesn’t cut it.

Free download … When you search for freeware you’ll come across a lot of sites that say “Free Download” these are not for freeware but software that requires a fee … free to download? Who charges to download?  Its not free to use. Shame on them for misleading us. The “That’s the way its done in this business” excuse just doesn’t cut it.

Buying an item then wearing or using it and returning it ... Businesses aren’t the only ones cheating … I think we all know someone who has bought an item for short term use then returned it to the store for a full refund. Its even worse when they brag about it … The store has to reduce the selling price. You may as well have dipped your hand into the cash register. I hope you don’t have children you are teaching these morals to.

Indeed dishonesty, deception and cheating are all common place. “It is exhausting trying to sift through all of this deception. Nothing is easy anymore. You need to take your time and read the fine print on practically everything. You need to have received a college degree practically to be trained in deception in order to be able to see through it. It is unfair and taking advantage of the public at large. We should not continue to be so accepting of these practices.” Quoted from an excellent article by Elizabeth Fink .

Here is another story I spotted that makes my point.   From an article in the Telegraph News

Managers at Comet, Britain’s second biggest electrical store, forced staff to lie to customers to boost profits, an employment tribunal heard last week. They encouraged assistants to deceive shoppers into paying for unnecessary extras such as extended warranties, credit agreements and accessories, according to a former employee.

As a result of the allegations, Comet – whose mission statement is to aim to be the “most trusted and respected” electrical retailer – has been stung into launching an internal investigation. Gareth Sweeney, a former salesman who worked at the Comet store in Llansamlet, south Wales for 4.5 years, cataloged a series of sharp practices intended to squeeze money from customers.

Mr Sweeney, 45, told the tribunal in Cardiff that staff were told to give 40 per cent discounts to those prepared to pay for full warranties – but just 10 per cent if they refused. Customers who showed an interest in Sky television were offered just one package costing £40 a month and none of the cheaper options, he said.

Sales staff also gave false demonstrations of equipment to encourage customers to buy expensive cables, he told the tribunal. In one instance, Mr Sweeney said, they altered settings on DVD players to make it appear that a £60 cable produced a better picture than one costing £29.90, even though there was no difference.

Mr Sweeney, a father of two from Llanelli, near Swansea, also alleged that staff were encouraged to push accessories into the hands of customers even if they did not need them. Staff were also told not to use the term “store card” because it was associated with high interest rates, he said. Instead, they asked customers if they wanted to open a “store account”.

Mr Sweeney is claiming constructive dismissal after leaving his £20,000-a-year job. He told the tribunal on Friday that he resigned after being told that he faced a disciplinary hearing for not selling enough extra products. He said that sales assistants who sold more extras – called “key performance indicators” by the company – were rated higher than those who sold more goods. “I could sell £30,000 worth of items but no extras, but the celebrations would be for someone who sold lots of extras but just £2,000 worth of goods. I was bullied and pressured into selling extras,” he said.

“It was the final straw when I received a letter from a sales manager telling me to attend a disciplinary hearing because I had fallen down on my targets. “I felt as if I was being punished for being honest and decent to customers. I decided that the mis-selling of DVD connection leads amounted to deception on our part,” he said.

OK … so that is the end of my rant on dishonesty in America. My Advice to you … Steer clear of these unethical merchants and remember to treat others as you would like to be treated yourself.

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Windows 7 Beta Release … Huge Failure Friday – Back again Saturday … Apology on Monday

Update: Saturday January 10th 1:00 PM eastern time.

Site is back up .. Key acquired … all is right with the world.

Update 2: Monday January 12th 9:00 AM. Microsoft Apologizes – 2.5 million key limit removed!

“I know many of you had issues with the Windows 7 beta site of the last 24 hours,” Brandon LeBlanc, a Windows communications manager, wrote in a blog post. “As you may have noticed the download site has been up and running smoothly since this morning. That said, we apologize for the inconvenience that it caused some of you.”

Friday January 9th

OK, to start with there wasn’t a clear statement on when the Windows 7  Beta was going to be released or which website to go to to get it.

So at 9:00 AM I started watching the site http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windows-7/default.aspx . The site was not available for quite a while … and then came up with the message Windows 7 Beta available for public download the afternoon of January 9th.  Geez … they couldn’t be a little more specific … like eastern time or pacific time or zulu time?

I trudge on … checking the site every few minutes  … Noon eastern time passes, 1:00pm comes and goes … 2:00 PM slides on by … I’m getting excited now as 3:00 PM approaches .. so pacific time  … that makes sense right … NOPE – 3:00 PM passes and I’m still checking the site every few minutes … ARGHHH!

I keep plugging away and around 6:00 PM eastern time I notice a message on the web page:

Thanks for your interest in the Windows 7 Beta. The volume has been phenomenal—we’re in the process of adding more servers to handle the demand. We’re sorry for the delay and we’ll re-post the Beta as soon as we can ensure a quality download experience.

Now I assume those guy’s and gal’s at Microsoft are pretty smart .. and they have tons of servers right … and its not too hard to add servers so I decide to keep trying … because I’m been doing this since 9:00 AM this morning and I’ll be damned if I’m going to quit  to have the beta come back up an hour later and the 2.5 million keys be gone when I try again tomorrow. 7:00PM …drags by … then 8:00 slowly ticks past … What .. is the server guy on vacation? 9:00 PM and I’m starting to get a little testy … at 10:00 PM I’m burning holes  in the shape of an X in the custom Windows 7  T-shirt I made for the occasion with my cigarette. 11:00 PM … yep you guessed it still no love from Microsoft.

I mean they could have said something … like come back tomorrow at noon pacific … instead of leaving me hanging with false hope  …

I went over to Friendfeed to see what my mentors had to say .. Paul Thurrott (my favorite tech person) was strangley quiet after his initial post about the beta availability … Chris Pirillo posted about the fail and posted a link for the direct download of the beta  http://www.lockergnome.com/griffin/2009/01/09/windows-7-public-beta-direct-download-links/ . Thanks Chris, but what we really want is an official release with the key that’s good thru August and not just the 30 day “no key” beta.

Now its 2:17 AM Saturday and NO the Beta is still not there. I’m throwing in my Mahalo towel and giving up for the night!

Paul Thurrott, I know you’re a pretty laid back guy… but I truly hope to hear you rant at least a little on the next  Windows Weekly about this whole debacle.

I’ve run the PDC Beta for a while. I like it.

Yeah I know Beta 1 is free … I already have the the Beta 1 from a direct link.

My concern is there are only 2.5 million keys and from the results yesterday its apparent they will disappear quickly … that’s what caused the “traffic jam” Friday and my complaint is about Microsoft’s handling of information …

“available the afternoon of January 9th” caused part of the problem and the vague follow up of “we’ll re-post the Beta as soon as we can ensure a quality download experience” continued it.

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Black Friday – The Shopping Spree Online – All Week – and then Cyber Monday Sucked!

For those of you who didn’t notice last week had some pretty nice discounts  … You didn’t have to go to Walmart or BestBuy at 5am to get the deals either.

In fact you didn’t have to wait until Friday to start shopping either because most of the online stores had deals going all week that were usually better than the stuff in the advertising circulars where you had fight the crowds  only to find the 10 of that item they had were already soldout.

And while we are on the subject I can tell you … because I paid close attention … that Cyber Monday sucked. Most of the items on sale from last week were back to their regular prices … the majority of the free shipping was history.

So what deals made my week?

Well I’m been using the beta trial of windows home server on a spare pc and it expires in February so I was planning on buying the software (its $100 after Microsoft’s price drop).  I spotted a deal on slickdeals for the HP Media Smart ex470 which includes the 4 bay media smart server, a 500gb drive and windows home server for $299 … ordered last Monday. ( $549 today at newegg.com).

Speaking of Newegg.com  They had the samsung 1TB drives for $92 … no tax and free shipping . I bought 3 last Monday. They are $95 now and still have free shipping

I’ve been planning on another HDTV and spotted the Dell deal (also on Monday)  … Sharp 42″ 1080p free shipping for $799. Granted there were cheaper 42″ off brands for less .. some even 1080p but most of the decent models were $899 and up. The TV arrived on Black Friday.

I really love Newegg.com I buy tons of stuff there and never pay tax and free shipping (I only buy if its free shipping).  I also bought the Rosewill dual bay sata II enclosure for $50 (down from $60). Lets you put in two 1 tb drive as 1 big drive. I have one already and its splendid and significantly more expensive everywhere else. The cheaper duals you see there are crap .. don’t bother.

Then I bought the Western Digital HD media player for $99 … for a spare bedroom tv set … hookup a usb drive with content and plug the hdmi cable into your tv and you’re good to go. Its back up to $119 today.

I already have the popcorn hour box, netflix roku box,  and the netgear digital entertainer hd eva8000 in the main entertainment  rooms but in another bedroom with an hdtv I wanted to get a video card for the pc in there with hdmi out so the guests could watch netflix and hulu from the pc desktop on the tv. I picked this one up for $20 after $10 rebate.

So I got the hp media smart server and the drives in on Wednesday. Put 2 of the 1 tb drives in the server along with a 750 and 2 external 400′s I had laying around for a total of 4050. I put the other 1tb drive in the main pc for the time being.

I put two 750gb drives in the Rosewill dual sata II drive enclosure.

I almost forgot … Newegg had an hmdi cable for $1.99 after rebate with free shipping so I picked one of those up too.

Meanwhile back on Newegg.com they had a 5 port gigabit switch for $14.99 … got one … then slickdeals got me again with the hitachi 1tb for $80 after rebate. (rebate is over now) … and while I was thinking where am I gonna put this one … I decided to pair it with the other 1 tb from earlier and bought another Rosewill dual drive sata II enclosure ( I love those). You can never have too much storage.

If anyone spots a good dual drive enclosure for ide drives cheap  … I got a couple of 500gb’s ide internal  drives looking for a home.

Oh….oh … I almost forgot I used Microsoft Live Search cashback for all my purchases.. average cashback was 3%.

And please someone take away my credit card! OUCH!

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Got Windows 7 ? .. find out how to unlock the special features

This was discussed last week on Leo Laporte’s TWIT podcast featuring Paul Thurrott and Within Windows blogger Rafael Rivera discussing Microsoft PDC and Windows 7.

Rafael stumbled upon the unlock while looking thru the mounds of stuff provided at PDC and posted the how to on his blog. Way to go Rafael 2 points for you!

read more | digg story

You should also check out Ed Botts follow up story.

OfficeMax’s ElfYourself.com partners with jibjab

Read the full story: NOTE … now open for business at elfyourself.com

This Christmas, OfficeMax’s ElfYourself.com Will Get a JibJab Twist

From Tech Crunch:

“A year ago, one of the surprise holiday breakout hits on the Web was ElfYourself.com. It was a promotional viral video site created by OfficeMax that let people upload their pictures and create dancing elves that they could then send as e-cards to family and friends. ElfYourself turned out to be the fastest growing site last December, peaking at 39 million unique visitors in the U.S. (and attracting a total of 100 million unique visitors worldwide throughout the campaign).

When Greg Spiridellis, CEO of JibJab Media, saw ElfYourself, it resonated with him because JbJab is organized around a similar series of “Starring You” videos that allow people to upload their photos so that they can star in the videos, and send them as digital cards.”