Entries Tagged as 'Business'

Tips and Tricks: Google Apps SPF Record With GoDaddy

Annoyingly, email from Google Apps will fail to some recipients if you do not set up the SPF (Send Policy Framework) record for your domain. And while Google Apps tells you how to do it with a TXT record, the way GoDaddy does it is a little bit different:

  • Go to Total DNS Control Panel.
  • Under the TXT section: click Add SPF Record.
  • Select An ISP or other mail provider: click OK.
  • Select Outsourced tab: put “aspmx.googlemail.com” (no quotes) in the field and click OK.
  • Click OK again when GoDaddy sets up a SPF record.

And then you can wait a little bit for that to propagate to all of the DNS servers. Once that’s done? You’ll have your SPF Record set.

Discrimination and Politics

OPINION: You Can Put Lipstick On The Economy, ...
Image by AMERICAN ARTIST BEN MURPHY via Flickr

Show me a world without politics, and I’ll show you a world where pigs fly.

Sometimes, I have to smile when I get frustrated that everyone seems to live in this ideal world where everything is supposedly dandy and we’ll have all of our problems fixed because in “today’s society”, we shouldn’t have to deal with these problems. Call me a cynic, but it’s been a long time since I have felt that way, and a long time before I ever will feel again like that.

Let’s be frank. You have to deal with certain unfair scenarios in life. It’s just like for some, they have all the luck. It’s not that people cannot achieve their dreams, but for every single person that does succeed in making their dream a reality, there are countless thousands that do not make it. That’s just a cycle of life. But the sooner you realize this cycle, the better your odds become at beating the cycle.

And that’s where the idealism comes in. I can’t stand it when people want to cry at every single turn about discrimination in the work place. Apparently, this happens to the Asian American community too and I’m sure it does. But to even have a term called the “bamboo ceiling”? I mean seriously, this just bugs me. Of all the stereotypes in the world, I was lucky enough to end up with the one that really doesn’t have too much of a negative connotation, and stereotypes exist just as everything else does. And now people want to play the fact that racism plays a factor in promotions of Asians? Come on. If you want anything that plays a factor, it’s politics. The political play is more eventful, more powerful, and when it comes right down to it, way more legal.

Seriously, who the heck plays the race card anymore? If you are, you’re not too bright considering all of the alternatives in the work place. In a dog eat dog world, the entire corporate structure relies on strategy and tactics that not only pits external competition against each other, it also creates internal conflicts where the strongest rules. It’s always been this way, and it’ll always continue to be this way. If you don’t like it, then join the ranks of the upper crust and you won’t have to deal with it.

Otherwise, there are many that believe that today is entirely black and white and have gone beyond politics where there are sweets and rainbows. The day that politics ceases to play in the corporate environment is the day there ceases to be corporations. And at the rate capitalism is going at right now, I’ll have to bet against the odds of that happening.

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More Layoffs Means Economy Still Down Toilet

sun Still think that the economy is improving? If the shutdown of the Dell plant around here isn’t enough to scoff at that mindset, let’s look at an even larger one. Sun Microsystems is looking to layoff three thousand more employees. Now, while layoffs are inevitable during mergers and acquisitions (in this case with Oracle), this also represents something a little bit larger.

It says that until corporations or the government gives a nice jab in the arm on hiring, the overall percentage of buying power has been reduced. This hurt can and will be felt through both retail and financial markets since people without jobs cannot pay loans and mortgages. And let’s face it. Saving the financial institutions do not amount to squat if the people that the money is being loaned to can’t get work to actually pay it back. This is not only brings financial players to a grinding halt, but it shows that politicians do not understand the basics of economics. Everything starts with the beginning of the food chain, not the end.

What’s worse is that until someone does actually gain this bright idea, all of the injection of federal funding is for naught. That means that the taxpayers bear the burden of a costly mistake, of which becomes more and more weight per each individual as more and more people cannot find work. And you wonder how Congress can sleep at night with a twenty or so percent approval rating.

Universal Healthcare is a Scary World

SAN FRANCISCO - MAY 29:  Healthcare reform act...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Healthcare reform is a scary thing. Not that I don’t think that people shouldn’t have healthcare. It’s definitely a necessary evil. But forcing it upon everyone not only raises cost, but it becomes under regulations that usually are loopholed by corporations. Show me any law that eventually doesn’t have SIG play in it and I’ll laugh.

The entire thing from my personal opinion is ridiculous. Every single country that has ever done it does not have nearly the population or expanse to cover. And when is anyone going to learn that the countries that do have it, do also pay a lot more in taxation? Good luck in telling your average American that the taxation currently isn’t good enough and there will be more percentages coming down the pipe. Because if the government plays options, then someone has to pay for it. And that someone is usually the middle class.

Here’s another perspective. Sometimes, it might even be worthwhile to gamble a bit. If you’re the type of healthy individual that doesn’t get sick often, then perhaps premiums are not worth it for you. In an average family, you’re looking at anywhere between two hundred to four hundred dollars for an average policy. I’ve seen up to a thousand dollars in pretty pathetic policies for two people. But if you rarely go to the doctor for anything, that’s a lot of money that you save. Say that you only go once a year and need prescriptions with it. That would probably cost you the same amount as a single month’s premiums. Coverage itself really is for those scary emergency room bills or what not. But it does show why it might not even pay to have coverage.

Either way? I can’t understand why so many people push for universal coverage. If we’re required to have it, then it’s an extremely costly joke. If we are not, then it’s not universal. Either way, if it goes through it’s doomed to land on the shoulders of the middle class in some shape, form, or fashion. Cost is always passed onto the last man on the totem pole. It’s just the nature of business.

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Stock Market Doing Well Is Not Economic Recovery

NASDAQ in Times Square, New York City.
Image via Wikipedia

Bleh. CNBC and the rest of the financial world totally is off their rockers.

I mean, think about it. The Dow Jones breaks 10,000 and people think that the economy is turning around. But in all reality, that’s an indicator of shareholder confidence in the corporations after the huge government bailouts. Not only is the dollar weak now against other currencies but it’s not likely to be any better any time soon with all the surmounting debt. But if you don’t watch the financial markets and actually just buy into your mainstream media, let me put it another way… do you think this will survive in the long term? Especially with the holiday season coming?

Think about it. Job loss is at an all time high, and corporations are not producing any more hiring. The jobs that are taking place are the entry level, non-education based while the educated workforce is laid off. On top of this, the government itself doesn’t hire civilians unless you have military discharge papers (go and try to apply and when you finally finish the entire application, you might be surprised at what you need to submit). So with all of this coming and locally, we’re losing 900+ jobs from the Dell plant closing, that means there is less money to pay for … yes, gifts. Less work force also means less taxes, and less potential profits for retail. Retail has a trickle-down effect upon anyone that supplies or transports for that industry.

In essence? Stocks that do well don’t mean jack diddly. If there is anything that it does mean, it means that the senior management is even less likely to hire. Why? Simple supply and demand. If they can squeeze the effort out of the current work force with the threat looming of job loss, and provide greater revenue for their shareholders, there isn’t one single event that could show why they would want to expand status quo unless it’s to squeeze more people with more work. And the way things are going, the stimulus money wasn’t just a wasted effort in my opinion, but it could have lead to more job creation from the government itself. Whatever happened to when we fought wars and provided jobs?

In the end? It seems like the only ones that win in the end are those that are in the upper social stratosphere. Where most want to be, but few ever achieve.

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Growing List of Hotmail Accounts Compromised Via Phishing

pirate Over the weekend, it seems that there was a compromise with Hotmail accounts. Five figures worth of accounts apparently. Now, the first thought would be that someone actually took action against Microsoft and busted through. But in this case, it was apparently ill-gotten from phishing scams. The password list was posted on Pastebin which is a place where developers share snippets of code to get more eyes on it. They have taken down the offending accounts and taken the necessary precautions.

Either way, Microsoft has identified this issue and has apparently locked down the compromised accounts. If you were compromised and are locked out, there is an email form that Microsoft Live has set up for you to reclaim your account. I took a look at it, and it asks for some serious private information.

All of this should teach you (the end user) something. Lesson here is that you don’t click on anything ever in emails or otherwise, when you can go directly to the site itself and look for it. One of the reasons I have always hated HTML emails since it stupefies the entire security aspect and makes it a more difficult problem since you go against human nature. Thus? You’ll never see me prefer text over HTML any day of the week. You can dump links there, but I can read them.

Oil Change To Go

Using a funnel to refill the motor oil in an a...
Image via Wikipedia

Amusingly, I’ve had this idea for quite a while and often had wondered why no one would do it.

This really came by way of a conversation I had with a buddy of mine on IRC and we were talking about how it was a hassle to get your oil changed. It was then, when he actually said that he would totally pay a premium for people to just come to where he was to do his oil change so he wouldn’t have to waste time going to run the errand. And there was where I thought…. hey, you could totally do that with a portable jack and a van. Think about it. There are plenty of mobile businesses, from locksmiths to lawn care. They all travel to your place of business or residence and they have you pay a premium for doing that.

Not that I wouldn’t. I think it would be splendid if I didn’t have to waste my time driving to some lube place to get the motor oil changed out. Would be even nicer to actually get my tires rotated right there in the parking lot. Either way, I could see it being a pretty profitable business if you were to have a good person doing the scheduling and map out all of your appointments beforehand.

And it could be a lube place’s extra income. I mean, they do have a way to dispose of the oil and such anyways. So it probably wouldn’t be a bad thought.

So the funny story turned up again when I made a passing mention of it on Twitter and “wham bam,” several people piped up that they thought it might be a solid business model. Not something I’d venture into doing either even though with no preliminary research, it seems like it would fly pretty well. And on the off chance that someone does read this and use the idea…. leave me a comment. I’d love to know if someone took it and ran with it. If they did, maybe they’ll remember to throw me a discount.

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Discover Bank Needs Work Still

discover-bank Anyone that knows me, knows that I’m a big supporter of Discover Card. Out of all of the credit card companies, they’re one of the few that has never done me wrong and has always had great customer service when I needed it. In fact, it’s one of the few out there that looked after my well being and has a rewards program that is definitely a way to promote why you should be using it.

So when they started a promotion with their Discover Bank, I decided to jump on it. A couple things struck me right off and whomever the product manager of Discover Bank should really take heed to this since it doesn’t align itself well considering their online system for the card services is up-to-par with today’s standards of web services.

  • Login and Password from forms – When you ask for personal information from a user, be sure to get every single bit of it so that you can populate logins and such. Nothing from that rewards program notified you that you also had to register for an online system so while you could open an account right away and fund it, you couldn’t get in to check on it because someone forgot to add it into the forms.

    In fact, I had to call the customer service number to have someone walk through why I didn’t have a login. The lady on the other end was very nice although this type of online form issue shouldn’t happen if you have a QA department. You always have someone once-over it a couple times in the place of a brand new user to see what they can break and never make assumptions. Assuming that people won’t click on something is the first no-no in QA testing.

  • https://global1.onlinebank.com – Come on now. URL that isn’t masked or loaded directly? This tells me that not only is the software outsourced, but it’s not on the same level as the web services from card side. For whatever you’re paying ORCC, you should be able to brand it directly. Even on the bottom of the interface itself, has a copyright notice from Online Resourcing Corporation. There is also a lot of web side that needs work but that’s another thing altogether. But overall, a red flag goes up as a consumer when suddenly you go from discoverbank.com to “onlinebank.com”.
  • No EV-SSL? – This is another web side thing that someone should have flagged. While it’s not a huge deal in the security matters, most banking institutions actually do use it to provide more of a peace-of-mind for their customers. I will however say that I did due diligence and found that Discover Card web side also doesn’t use EV-SSL.
  • link checking – Not all of the links on the front page work (check the ones on the footer). I’m not certain if they go to old domains that used to be owned by Discover, or whatever, but there are definitely links that point to nonexistent things. Due diligence again on Discover Card side of it and the link itself actually did exist.

I will say that Discover Card actually sets itself up with these issues. I wouldn’t have thought twice with another card services since I’ve used a fair amount of them and Discover is the only one that always seems to improve their online presence and has an awesome job of marketing their product lines. In fact, I personally probably wouldn’t have used the Discover Bank in seeing the things that I saw above if it wasn’t for the fact that Discover was also marketing their banking line on their card services.

In the future, I would love to see a merger of the two systems. I know that currently since the banking system is outsourced, it’s going to be a while considering I’ve done my fair share of online SaaS products. But from a consumer standpoint, some of the issues above can be fixed rather easily that will in fact increase customer peace-of-mind. Is this something that Discover wishes? I’m sure it is considering they’ve always stood out on that front in my eyes.

How North Carolina Will Go Broke By Stupid Tax Laws

Raleigh NC Tax Day Tea Party Protest
Image by Ivy Dawned via Flickr

I really don’t understand North Carolina state. At all.

The entire legislation is made up of some people that have no idea about technology or how it works. The fact that the final tax bill going to the floor has the “Amazon tax” tells me that not a single one of the incumbents that have pushed this or voted this in is either in the twenty first century, nor know a thing about business law. Mainly, the idea that affiliates are the physical presence for a major online retailer is so ludicrous that it’s laughable by anyone that has done consulting work. I’ll give you an example in the consultation analogy:

According to North Carolina state legislation, if I am an out-of-state corporation, but I have sub-contractors that I have agreements to do work with me, then I am to be taxed as if I operated my business in North Carolina.

Sound good to you? Well, that’s the same agreement that affiliates have with any sort of online retailer that pays them to sell advertisement. I also will be curious as far as when others such as the newspapers (News & Record, Business Journal), magazines, online radio stations, and so on feel this bite since I have heard nary a word from them even though they will technically be hurt by this. I’m surprised that actually no one has even thrown a red flag out there. Oh well, time to bite the bullet with stupid taxing that won’t bring in any money.

Here’s why it’s a stupid idea and totally the wrong way to go about taxing Internet purchases. If you want to chase Internet purchasing taxation, you’ll have to do some sort of an agreement through a payment service. Going after affiliates just allows the retailer to continue with their business and cut their ties to the affiliates (aka small business that do pay local taxes). What you miss out on is all of the taxation that the small businesses were putting into your coffers, and on top of it, you’re not making anything from the online retailer(s). This is expected to $150 million in the next two years?

Who the hell are they joking? With the way it’s written and the ties cut from affiliates, the State will be in the hole more than $150 million. Mainly with all the retailers refusing to pay and cutting their ties, and indirectly jeopardizing any real tax money that would have come into play. I can tell you that one of my businesses will be hurt by this and unfortunately for the state, unless something changes this company will probably be in the red instead of black this year and thus won’t be giving up anything to state coffers. Sucks to be you, eh?

If you want to tax internet retail, you have to move from smaller battles to the bigger picture. But if you can’t understand how to walk, I’m not exactly sure when you’ll achieve dreams of running a marathon.

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Why We Shouldn’t Have to Pay for Someone Else’s Beach House

Beach House
Image by kcolwell via Flickr

So apparently insurance providers have been bailing on North Carolina because insuring coastal homes gets expensive and so businesses and homes participate in a state plan called the Beach Plan. Apparently though, if the plan’s money runs out then insurance companies are forced to pay a percentage of the losses due to how much business they do in the state. Which in turn raises your insurance premiums regardless of if you have a beach house or not.

And guess what? We didn’t even know about this insanely stupid plan. The fact that it even was created sounded like it was by those with actual beach homes rather than the living with the rest of the state inland. In any case, this was only brought to our attention because our homeowner’s insurer basically sent us a polite letter to support HB-1305, and to go look at Fix the Beach Plan.

What’s scary is the fact that while there is a push to get the fixes on this Beach Plan, there are insurers that are leaving this state regardless of the outcome. In fact, when I asked my trusty pal from the News & Record about it, he sent me to an article he wrote earlier on the very subject. And there it was, where a couple of insurers had already pulled out of the running.

There has been a lot of back and forth about who’s paying for whom as far as Beach Plan insured versus private insurers. But from my perspective, I don’t think we should be paying any more if we live in the middle of the state if the coast does get hit by a natural disaster. Amusingly many people claim that those inland are buying into the insurance rhetoric and such. But here’s some food for thought. If insurance companies were apparently taking a share of the pie when there wasn’t any disasters, then why would some of them back out completely and not do business in the state at all? Wouldn’t that mean that they wouldn’t get a cut then?

Of course, in the end, it really comes down to the fact that I don’t want to be paying for someone else’s beach house. Ever.

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