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Amazon ended its price post guarantee?

If there was a super weepy face, I’d have it.
I had requested a price refund for the difference on an item, and they did actually give it to me, but they also told me that there wasn’t a price post-guarantee. I thought the customer service guy was out of his mind until I got fed up with not being able to find it in their Help section and did a little external research.
What I found was chilling. They had canceled the price post-guarantee as of September 1, 2008.
That’s really sad. Sad for consumers like myself that buy a whole lot from Amazon since it does take away some of their advantage of being that online giant that could provide me pretty much everything and some of my money back if I was paying attention.
Here’s to hoping that Amazon re-instates that policy sometime. It won’t stop me from shopping there at all since they still do have really good customer service and I adore Amazon Prime.
But I do feel sad that it’s gone though. (ToT)

Apple Updates corrupted my Finder preferences

apple_logo.jpg Had a weird bug error today. After applying what was just a normal update that required a restart (for Safari no less), I lose my clock in my menu bar.
It was pure annoyance without a clock when you would go to System Preferences, set the clock to show and it wouldn’t show. Finally found out that apparently my preferences were corrupted for the Finder. Somehow or another, the updates upon restart had corrupted the Finder preferences and had basically thrown them into a tiffy.
To fix this extremely annoying problem, you need to hold Command+S on boot:

fsck -fy
mount -uw /
cd /Users/[user’s short name]/Library/Preferences
rm com.apple.finder.plist

Good to know that there are people that have run across this. Something that I hope to rarely witness since it’s one of the many reasons I switched from a Windows PC to a Mac. But I’m happy it was a simple fix.

Movie Review: 88 Minutes

88 Minutes is one scary psychological thriller. In it, Pacino’s character basically is a profiler and had this one guy pinned for life behind bars. Yet, the entire time, that particular person claimed to be innocent. Then one day, he receives a phone call saying that he has 88 minutes to live. As the time ticks down, strange attempts on his life start occurring as people start to wonder if he had placed an innocent man away.
This movie was actually very much one of those twisty, turning type ones where the plot totally changes at the end. For the better in my opinion too. It wasn’t without predictability and if you have seen a lot of psychological thriller type movies, you’ll be able to guess spot on, whom the killer is pretty much somewhere mid-movie. But even that aside, it’s still a wonderful film and it didn’t take much to get me sucked in and watching it until the end. Pacino as always gives his characters a flair that more experience actors tend to do. Enjoyed it extremely and believe that you would be missing out if you didn’t rent this movie.

As journalism evolves

The online medium has drastically changed the way news is perceived. Gone are the days that people read the paper for the latest and greatest. Television took care of that. But for even more real-time unfiltered action, we turned to the Internet. And with each younger generation, the more the Internet plays as part of their daily lives and the less of the other modes of communication.
So what is the newspaper industry doing right versus wrong? I believe that understanding the online medium is definitely a good step. But there are also issues that could be used between the mediums, and others that the medium has special rules for. Take for example, layout. I have heard a lot of online people talk about how the layout for newspapers cannot be used in a similar application as online. But I disagree.
A clean layout is useful in any application. In a newspaper, your ads are fixed, but online they can rotate. So the spots don’t move around. In newspaper, the pages can turn and ads shifted, but in online, usually the ads are in similar spots and there is more real estate from top to bottom. There is not the issue with length of article anymore like with print, but the clean look still needs to be represented just as print. No one wants to read a newspaper that has ads everywhere, and likewise with online.
A difference would be how advertising is tracked. In normal publishing, it’s based on dollar amounts by advertisers. Your readers are a set group that takes it in and the publisher focuses only on the monetary numbers to judge. In online, there is a statistic called unique visitors. These are the actual numbers that can effect any sort of advertisement so instead of focusing on the amount of money you generate, you have to focus on how to gain as many eyeballs on the news site as possible. The more, the merrier since by probability, it gives better ROI for the advertisers. All online advertisers pay attention to uniques and pageviews. Here, the difference between uniques and pageviews versus a newspaper reader is not all that much different except the former is a free viewer of the news, and the second is a subscription based or buyer of news. That trivial fact changes the way you must perceive tracking numbers in the online realm.
As newspapers keep migrating to the online medium, the more news changes from journalists to bloggers. The more the fight is to get real-time unfiltered news. And the look from monetizing the entire publication as similarities with websites that run affiliate advertising. Journalism isn’t about writing that great piece anymore. It’s about writing the great piece as fast as you can and hoping that someone clicks on something within that piece.
Photo Credit:(wallyg)

If Obama truly wants to change government

“Yes, we can.”
That’s been the motto of the Obama campaign and now the president-elect has put up a site called change.gov where his staff will update with new moves that will put the country in the right direction again. Hopefully.
But here’s a couple things he needs to do. First, it’d be nice if he put a timeline and status bar on his website. Like, we’re moving in this direction with this, that, or another policy that he’s promised during campaigning. Accountability is key, and that’s a step in the right direction in showing transparency. If he scraps an idea later on, hey, we’ll know why. Call me a cynic, but not all the plans are actually realistic.
With all the policies he wishes to enact, that money still has to come from somewhere. And why no one has told him about the GAO (U.S. Government Accountability Office). The problem however, is that GAO has no power over other agencies and only release reports of bloated spending and bad management of funds. In fact, Reader’s Digest did an entire piece that was based pretty much purely on GAO findings. If GAO was given more power to implement the nature of their findings working together with the Office of the Inspector General of each agency, then that would cut back a significant amount of money that could be used for something else. Don’t ask me why we as taxpayers are still paying for the storage of some satellite that will never be launched. To be perfectly honest, it’s ridiculous but I can also understand why it’s there. Someone didn’t want it to come down on their watch because they wouldn’t have gotten their promotion or what not. Pretty standard in the depths of top level government management.
Of course, Obama and his staff wouldn’t really listen to me. Who the hell am I? Not even a registered Democrat (nor do I want to be). But I do love this country, and I want to see it get better from all the turmoil it’s been put through. I’d like to see agencies actually comply with the FISMA security standards for once instead of spending all their budget talking about how they will comply with it. I wish that government would implement standards in their facilities much like those in the corporate world so that if you need to lock down proprietary or confidential information, then provide your employees with all the necessary utilities to do that (everything from locking desks to shredders). In the corporate world, we are actually subject to firing if violating these codes due to potential loss of data that could hurt the company. So should government.
Maybe at some point, someone will pass along some information and someone up top will hear. I’m glad he’s in office, but there’s still more work to be done. Especially to counter those like myself that have a healthy bit of cynicism for empty promises. Are you willing to stand behind your words? I suppose we’ll see with the next four years.
Photo Credit: (jmtimages)

iTunes Saturday

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Movie Review: The Bank Job

There’s just something about Jason Statham’s acting in most action films and The Bank Job is no different. Based on a true story, with obvious some creative changes…it’s about a bank robbery that was quashed by the British government by what is referred to as a D-notice to protect a member of the royal family. It is believed that the protected was Princess Margaret, whom is named in the film, and had knack for getting into some compromising photos. These photos were in a box at Lloyd’s bank and there was an elaborate scheme built to hire some hooligans to break into the bank and steal the contents of that particular box.
Obviously nothing ever goes as it seems and the robbery became an amazing escape and recovery story where the parties are caught up in a twisted game of cat and mouse with MI5 in the midst of the entire thing.
What was amazing about this story was the actual Bonus features on the disc that talked about the 1971 Baker Street Robbery. There was actually a D-Notice served and the contents were never found out of the vault that was looted. Strangely enough, everything was just dropped. Many of the owners of the safety deposit boxes didn’t come forward to stake claim to their belongings for insurance purposes which makes one wonder if there were other illegal items besides the one in the black militant’s Michael X‘s box.
A wonderful story and definitely worth your time to watch if you have a couple hours to spare. Collector’s item it isn’t, at least not for my shelves, but to each their own. Definitely a fun movie though.

Why blogging platforms should introduce DNSBL at network layer

I truly wish that blogging platforms would introduce DNSBL lists. DNSBL are usually referred to as blocklists, blacklists, or blackhole lists. Basically, they’re lists of known spammer IP blocks, and they basically deny access if there is any access coming from those addresses.
There’s a good reason for this from a technical perspective. If you actually host multiple blogs, then one of the problems that becomes an issue on your server resources is that with each comment/trackback spam that is logged, that’s a little bit of your resource taken up. If you calculate out the additions of each insignificant portion, all of them added up become a lot of wasted cpu cycles that could be used for more useful things.
Noted, if you block with a .htaccess or what not, then you would still be committing some resources to processing ip checks. But this would be far more efficient than actually running the complete spam through your blogging platform, then marking it as spam. That makes it inefficient.
That’s the inherent issue with blocking spam at the plugin level. And currently with the TypePad Anti-Spam and Akismet, I have to say that it does drive some serious cpu cycles that I could be using for other blogging efforts.

iTunes Saturday

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