Entries Tagged as 'Internet'

Woot spins out kids.woot!

kids.woot It seems that Woot! has been busy and working on a little something extra. While the main category still is reserved for those that are into the geeky items that sometimes are fairly reasonably priced, I find that this move is actually pretty smart to look into toys and games.

Mainly, the reasoning behind this is simple. Those of us that grew up with the entire Woot! culture probably are averaging in our thirties now and most likely have some little ones. What better way to reinforce the craziness of Woot! I mean seriously… bags of crap could get really interesting here since it literally could be diapers for the masses. Who knows!

All jokes aside, it’s actually a really smart move to spin out kids.woot! I hope it does well.

Twitter is Down This Morning

twitter If you’ve been wondering why Twitter won’t work this morning, just go and check their status section. I found it interesting that the entire site wouldn’t work at all and found it suspiciously like a DOS attack. That was confirmed here.

So in case you were hoping to get your tweeting in today, you might encounter some issues over there.

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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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Facebook Ads May Use Your Picture

Not funny Facebook ad
Image by Titanas via Flickr

So I was reading through my newsfeed on Facebook and lo and behold, there was an old high school friend that showed up in the news feed. He lives in Germany so I don’t get to speak to him as often as I like, so I read his blurb that was showing up in my feed and what do I find? Something that really bugs me from a standpoint of transparency and privacy:

FACEBOOK has agreed to let third party advertisers use your posted pictures WITHOUT your permission. Click on SETTINGS up at the top where you see the Log out link. Select Privacy. Then select NEWSFEEDS and WALL. Next select the tab that reads FACEBOOK ADS. There is a drop down box, select NO ONE. Then SAVE your changes. (REPOST to let your friends know!)

Go figure. FB is using your picture with ads and you never knew it? Not very cool. By default, it’s actually on so that your picture could show up in the advertisement to your friends (which means that your friends might think you use XYZ service).

Basically in a more ordered format, here’s how to turn it off:

  1. Go to the Settings drop down and select Privacy Settings.
  2. Select NewsFeeds and Wall
  3. There are two tabs, the right one is Facebook Ads. Select that one.
  4. The drop down box in the middle has either Your Friends (default) or No One as the choices. Select No One.
  5. Save the changes.

What really bothers me here is that by default, we opted into it than not. Usually, you want such things to be opt-ins, not determinations for the users. I don’t believe this is a serious enough offense by FB for them to lose users over, but it definitely forms a trust issue.

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Chasing Vertical Markets

vertical_markets Interestingly enough, I keep reading about biotechnology in the Business Journal and I’m failing to understand it. It seems that with every popular business trend, the business community in the Triad seems to follow and jive with it without actually wondering about the problems that occur currently and the time for a new industry to take hold.

Everyone understands that money is the number one factor in any sort of industry. To gain traction, you must invest major funds to get anywhere. But if someone else invests more than you, then they probably have an advantage. This is the same with biotechnology. In competing with national business centers with major urban populations, it’s difficult to understand how we’ll ever be on the forefront of biotech. Let me put it this way. Even smaller towns in South Carolina have biotech industrial parks. Don’t ask me why, since I don’t know what the deal is with that one.

Instead, there are plenty of industries leaving the Triad. I got word from a friend recently that in about six months, there will be a headquarter change for a company that has been in the Triad for a long time. No one knows how many jobs are effected, but I can tell you that it’s not going to be pretty when the news comes out. What’s interesting is that there are actual technology (database, programming, etc.) jobs on the line here and I have yet to see any sort of replacement area for these individuals. What next? Where are the technology jobs?

As people are displaced towards larger business centers and our community leadership is blinded by the fact that there are jobs on the line where there are skilled and educated needed, I cannot help but wonder why there hasn’t been any money thrown at technology businesses. When push comes to shove, everyone struggles in a market where you fight to be number one in an industry. But just as a business must segment their target market, a community needs to segment what they target in industry to help revitalize the job arena.

Thus, I propose vertical markets. Why not pick several niche areas and formulate vertical markets within these niche areas? There might be a horizontal market such as biotechnology, but what about being the best at grid software for biotech firms? Or the manufacturing of artificial skin? Perhaps we could even be a leader in small business applications such as online accounting? Either way, I find that the entire push for industry seems rather lost in the noise and we haven’t yet found our pulse to keep the business community going.

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First Thoughts about Bing.com

bing I have to say that from a technical perspective, I’m pretty disappointed with Microsoft’s Bing.com. A lot of press came out when Microsoft released Bing, and to tell you the truth, the fact that it held even number two for a day was pretty amusing. Mainly because most people didn’t know what it was.

I for one, was actually curious when I saw the tv advertisements and it had a bunch of pretty high contrast pictures. Bing.com? What the heck is that? Decision engine? You realize later on that the entire decision engine thing is sort of a joke. I’m not sure which marketing person came up with that, but Caterina Fake’s Hunch, is way more of a decision engine than Bing ever was. But with all of the imagery, I had thought that Bing finally hit on something that people have been waiting for. Image search on the next level.

Let’s not forget that Google had acquired Riya years back and there was a significant amount of press about that cool image searching. Basically, the thought is that you can give an image and the engine would be able to detect where faces were and perhaps next steps were to detect similarities in facial recognition and say… search out all of my pictures on the web. Now, image processing at this level isn’t something that’s revolutionary but in an indexed web form, it is. According to my father, whom I would say is an expert at image processing, it’s not about whether or not it can be done as much as the processing that comes with it. It takes a lot of power to determine if images are related and if there are matches in facial structures. That’s what I had thought Microsoft had cracked with Bing since that definitely would propel it into another arena, especially with its research into Photosynth.

Unfortunately, like many others, it was a real disappointment. It seemed that Bing.com was just another search and it still didn’t pull as accurately as Google does. While there are some that are touting the greatness of Bing’s moves in search and the gradual growth of market share, I frankly don’t see it. If the results were better or they had focused on something like images, I would definitely consider a switch. Call me a cynic, but I really don’t understand how seeing a picture of the Sydney Opera House today is really going to help me search for anything… for example: web based accounting startups.

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Anti-NC Affiliate Tax Gaining Support #ncaffiliatetax

Internet marketers everywhere are rallying behind the flag of social media. Just take a look at #ncaffiliatetax and see for yourself. I personally have written to Pricey Harrison (Guilford-D) about this and how it hurts small businesses and how it can not only put people’s jobs at risk but also put more strain on the state since if these jobs fail, there would be likelihood of more unemployment that the state would have to take into account.

Actions speak louder than words, and those that are pushing this through tell me that they don’t understand the Internet at all as a business source and how affiliate marketing and internet retail work. With this move by Amazon of notification of their NC affiliates, entire businesses will fail if NCGA pushes forward with this move. And here you thought that they were looking out for the citizens’ best interest…

Search for the rallies online. There are plenty to choose from. Write and call your representatives and tell them that your business is in eminent danger due to these bills. Either way? We have to protect our livelihoods and get those that we have elected into office to hear our cries for help.

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NCGA Unconstitutionally Taxing Scheme Will Hurt Small Businesses

The North Carolina Legislative Building in Ral...
Image via Wikipedia

I don’t know what the North Carolina Legislation is doing, but I can tell you that they’ll be hurting small businesses.

Crazy? Not at all. In fact, this morning I had to re-read my email twice and make sure that the email didn’t come from some hoax source trying to just get to respond with my email so they could sell me Cialis or Viagra or something.

This morning, I received an email from Amazon that said:

We regret to inform you that the North Carolina state legislature (the General Assembly) appears ready to enact an unconstitutional tax collection scheme that would leave Amazon.com little choice but to end its relationships with North Carolina-based Associates.

Hmm. They’re trying to collect taxes from Internet companies… again?!? Come on. It wasn’t but yesterday, I watched how Hong Kong’s civil servants take a voluntarily pay cut to help ease economics and taxes for this year. Yet, here we are in North Carolina, where we’re looking to throw up more laws on things such as taxes on cigarettes, driving mileage, even a text messaging ban while driving to try to make the economics jive. Meanwhile? We are not even enforcing the laws we do have in place such as the tint laws, covers on license plates, and all sorts of other things that could be bringing in revenue for the state.

This isn’t just Amazon mind you. Amazon is only the beginning of the companies that will refuse to do business in this state. There have been others and unfortunately the people that need it the most, the small businesses, are the ones that suffer from this move. Contact your media and state legislation right away. And if your business has anything to do with the Internet, we cannot let things such as this go through.

In the words of Gandalf the Grey, “You Shall Not Pass!”

UPDATE (10:18AM): News & Record’s Mark Binker covers some more details.

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Be Wary in Job Searches

Maximizing Your Job Search Workshop
Image by danieljohnsonjr via Flickr

If you’re one of the many that are searching for positions on the Internet and probably sending your resume along on those job sites, be wary. One of the latest scams that has been broadcast in the past six months through security firms has been an increase in identity theft through job postings.

Think about it. You’re desperate to become employed again, you hand over your social security number, name, address, and all sorts of other identification materials to a “potential” employer just to realize that they don’t exist. My suggestion? Do your homework.

While you might not stop every sort of theft, providing due diligence will greatly decrease the risk of being taken for a ride. See if that person actually represents the company that they claim they are. Are they overseas and using a local number to contact you? Do they represent a placement agency? Perhaps you’ve never even heard of this business that they claim is several miles from your house and it’s not in the phone book. There are always signs to these sorts of scams.

If you don’t, you take a great risk. If you do, you minimize that risk. And best of luck on your search.

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Amazon Gift Cards for Father’s Day

If you don’t know what to get your father (June 21) this year for Father’s Day, why not get him an Amazon Gift Card? I don’t know about you, but trying to figure out what my dad doesn’t already have that he wants is usually a tough thing. But with an Amazon Gift Card, it makes it a lot easier and I know he’ll use it since he often buys a lot of books online.

So if you can’t figure out what to get your dad? Amazon it.