Due to the popularity of Ledfrog.com, I’ve started going back into my super old blog posts to remember what kinds of things I used to write about and I was surprised at some of the stuff I found! Initially, the plan for this site wasn’t completely laid out and as a result, the site became a collection of informational articles mixed with personal-life ramblings that most people wouldn’t care to know about.
Now that traffic has increased dramatically on Ledfrog.com, it made sense to narrow the focus down a bit, which meant I needed to remove all of the unrelated items.
I sure am making great use of the DOTme domain space! This is the second one I own and I find that when dealing with personal blogs or websites, it really sums everything quite nicely. On this new site, you can expect the same quality you’re used to here, but much different content. Whereas Ledfrog.com is all about unbiased opinions, reviews and news about various topics, Brandon.me (formerly Ledfrog.me) is all about what I have going on in my life that I feel like sharing with the world.
I make no promises that the content will be exciting or that it will bring any value to your life, but that’s ok because a personal blog is supposed to be fun and slightly entertaining! I also make no promises as to the frequency of my updates. I find that rigid deadlines and content controls are not made for personal blogs. It should be good enough to just wake up one morning with an urge to write about something and then do it.
I decided not to create second Twitter or Facebook accounts at this time, so you’ll still see posts from all of my sites under my current accounts. The reason for this simply comes down to time. I don’t pretend to be some famous Internet celebrity nor do I think I’m so cool that everyone should follow me, so the fact remains—I don’t wish to spend time separating every little detail of each site on to multiple networking sites.
I can’t believe we’re already facing a new year! Where is the time going and why do I feel like I missed some of it? The reality is that I haven’t really missed any of it, but rather enjoyed most last year while suppressing some of it. Isn’t that the healthy approach?
At any rate, I (like everyone else) have decided to instill some new year resolutions upon myself. Since I did so well in 2010 with keeping last year’s promises, I have no doubt that this year will be just as fulfilling. Seeing as how we still have 4 full days left until I need to start acting on these, this list may change, but for now, here they are (in no particular order).
Re-design this site (AGAIN…I know, but I think I finally settled on the look I’ve been shooting for)
Throw a little more TLC at this blog
Finally decide how to incorporate all my domains together and stop competing with one another
Go back to my one-post minimum PER day
Start advertising to drum up actual clients
FINISH THIS SITE ALREADY
Stay focused on clients much better
Buy a house/condo/trailer/cardboard box–anything to own and live in
Keep schoolwork going well
Stop going out so much (to save time and money)
Get a gym pass
I will no doubt be adding or removing things throughout the month of January, but these were things I thought of just now.
The thing at the top of my list right now is trying to figure out where I’m going to be when we all say goodbye to 2010! I hope everyone has a great new year!
Because I’m setup as a TrueBlue member through jetBlue, I am constantly getting emails regarding cheap flights, hotels, travel destinations and a million others telling me why I need to go on vacation right this minute. And when I say constantly, I mean multiple times a day! Normally, I just disregard these messages as mere junk, but I got one today that caught my eye.
Viva Las Vegas
Brian Sousa and I used to frequent this town quite often and I love going back to visit family and friends that have moved out there. There’s that and the craps table I suppose. Anyway, when I saw that I could fly to Vegas for only $19, I was seriously considering going for two reasons: one, I’ve never flown to Vegas and two, it’s cheap.
Boy, this is marketing at its best! Earlier this morning, I was working on current computer projects and planning my weekend when this email dropped in my mailbox. Now all of a sudden, I felt compelled to fly to Vegas. I guess it’s similar to when those savvy shoppers find a coupon for items at the grocery store, so they buy the goods because they can save money even though they don’t need the products! Logic tells us that if they didn’t buy the item (they don’t need) in the first place, they’d save even more money.
Nevertheless, they reeled me in. Let’s move on to the point of my post.
The little asterisk (*)
It’s the little evil ‘star’ that tells us something is amiss. This jetBlue ad was no different. Right next to the big $19 price tag sat the ubiquitous symbol of pain. Naturally, I expected this…I mean, did I really think I was flying to Vegas (and back home) for $19? Of course not. Let’s explore:
The first thing to note is that nowhere on here does it say what the $19 is for. I actually had to walk through the shopping cart process at jetblue.com to find out that this price was for one-way. I’m not a frequent traveler, so maybe I should know that these ads always state one-way fares, but would the average person know this?
Secondly, it does clearly (albeit in small text) state that there are fees and restrictions. I scrolled down to the bottom of the email and found the regular stuff, valid on on certain dates, excludes Fridays and Sundays, cancellation fees, etc. The most interesting part were the fees. Normally, one could expect and even accept these fees as the cost of “doing business”, but come on!!
The hidden fees breakdown
Here’s the full terms as listed at the bottom of my email.
$19.00 – Base fare price – This is the original starting price.
$15.00 – “Fare” price – This fee is not defined more than just being a fee tied to all fares per the terms.
$9.00 – Passenger facility charge – This fee is charged for your use of the airports you depart from and arrive at.
$5.00 – 9/11 security charge – This one covers all the latest security technology after 9/11 including full body scanning.
$3.70 – Domestic segment charge – A ‘segment’ is defined as the takeoff and landing portion of your flight.
7.5% – U.S. excise tax (already included in the $19) – The government requires all airlines collect this fee and it must be included in all published pricing.
TOTAL: $51.70 one way
The end results
If you’d like to fly back home, you can go ahead and double that charge. After all was said and done, I am able to fly to Las Vegas, NV from Long Beach, CA for a low price of only $103.40 even though I was offered the price of $38. What’s worse is I also have to fly on their terms which includes many flight restrictions and blackout dates. Of course I’m saving money because this price could easily cost 2 or 3 times more without the “special deal”, but my point was to show how fast hidden fees can add up.
I’m thinking, wouldn’t it have been a better ad for jetBlue to just say, “Fly to Vegas for $100 round trip! Straight up. No fees.”?
I never even talked about checking a second bag for $30 or the cost to cancel the flight for $100!! Or how about parking your car at the airport for about $10 per day?! And the rental cost of a car when you get there? Don’t forget the hotel, the drinks, the club admission fee (if you’re a guy), the dates with girls, the gambling, etc., etc., etc.
When the weekend is over, you’ll be having flashbacks of The Hangover while wondering where all your money went! If you still want to have the flashbacks, but not the costs of flying and renting a car, just drive to Vegas. It will cost a lot less in gas money, plus you can go and come back whenever you want. Sorry to all those that live more than 300 miles from Vegas.
This will be just a quick blurb about a new blog site I helped my friend launch the other day. Over the course of the last 2 years, I’ve learned a lot about this world–this blogosphere world–and half of this website is dedicated to bringing that information to the masses. My goal has always been to help people get what they want out of the Internet and creating new websites/blogs is what I do.
With that said, my friend Brian Sousa approached me after having been a writer on Associated Content (now owned by Yahoo!) for about 6 months. He brought up some valid concerns related to the promotional and monetary value of using such a service. AC is sort of a catch 22 in which you have a very large platform (or soapbox) to write whatever you want about anything, but you don’t have any control over how it’s monetized or displayed. Basically, you write content for someone else (AC) to make money from through adspace. For most people, this is not a concern because all they want to do is be heard.
But how can you “be heard” if you’re constantly getting lost in a sea of inadequate commentary and opinions by people who don’t really have any value to add? Imagine if your favorite magazine allowed everyone to write articles for them and published them ALL! I can promise you that you wouldn’t be reading that magazine for long–for two reasons. One, the quality is shoddy and two, there’s too much coverage of the same subject.
Now, you could argue that the Internet is basically built the same way–I mean, how many tweets do we have to read about the earthquake we all just felt? However, I’m a believer that the strong rise to the top and the ones delivering quality will be recognized for what they do.
So, to steer myself off that tangent, I introduce you to
It’s sort of a catchy name that literally directs you to just figure things out. To me, this means to read what you wish, but in the end you really need to figure out your own opinions on it. Today, people tend to do nothing more than reiterate the same mindless chatter that they heard from someone else. They don’t stop to think about what something means to them or how they really feel about it.
Fresh, new content
The site is comprised of varying topics and subject matter that covers everything from politics to entertainment. There are tons of blogs out there that just rip content from all over the Internet, throw it in a word jumbler and let you have it, but all this does is clog up the top ranked positions in the major search engines and squeezes out quality blogs.
Today, we are changing that and I am helping that cause by providing quality content through my own channels, but also by helping others get their existing websites in perfect form or by creating new and exciting websites.
My two cents
So far, the site has been in operation for a couple of weeks and already, it’s jam packed with fresh articles from a new and original perspective. What Mr. Sousa has learned from Associated Content has apparently spawned an unfettering desire to create quality content–this time, under his own terms.
This post simply comes out of an interesting article I found about hyper inflation. We all know what inflation is, right? Here’s a quick explanation: a one dollar bill printed in 1900 was worth one dollar. A dollar bill printed in 2010 is also worth one dollar. The value of that dollar has changed. Loosely translated, this means that in 1900, your 2010 dollar would be able to purchase about $25 worth of stuff.
Naturally, inflation has its ups and downs (literally too) and it also means that no matter how long you keep your paper money, it’ll never be worth more than the little number printed on it. In fact, the value will actually go down the longer you keep it.
This is quite the opposite of gold by the way. If you had just one ounce of gold in 2001, you’d have about $300 in real money. If you held onto that same ounce until today, you would now have $1100! So gold beats inflation. Imaging if our country was still on the gold standard: there would be hardly any inflation…movies would still cost $0.10, cars would still be under $1000, etc. There are critics on both sides of that argument, but I’ll leave that to another day.
This country suffers from up to 2 million percent inflation prices! That’s insane! What’s even more crazy is the denominations of their paper money. Just recently, they printed a $100,000,000,000 note. One hundred BILLION dollars!
Just when you thought you’d move to Zimbabwe, let me explain to you what that bill can buy:
Well I guess I don’t have to explain that to you. It’s amazing to imagine a country where a $100,000,000,000 bill can’t even get you a dozen eggs.
Here’s the picture:
By the way, eggs are cheaper in Zimbabwe than here in the U.S. so stop complaining!
I read an article over on John Chow’s blog that lead me to an interesting bit of information from Kyle Conroy’s blog about buying Apple stock over buying Apple product. At first, I expected it to be a rant about how great the stock market is and how we should all invest in our favorite corporations, but after looking at it, it proved to be much more of a “why didn’t I think of that” type of story.
Although I loved the article, I now hate myself for not being “smarter” in my younger years. I guess I can chalk it up to just not being sure about the future, but then again when it comes to Apple, did anybody really think this company would fail? Google maybe, but Apple? Likely not.
Essentially what Kyle did was compare the selling prices of almost all of Apple’s products to the stock price on the day these products came out and then again to today’s stock price. Here are the products I own for example:
Original iPhone – Price paid on January 9th, 2010: $499 – If I had bought Apple stock on the same day instead of the iPhone, I would now have $1,460 in my portfolio.
iPhone 3GS – Price paid on June 8th, 2009: $199 – I would now have $375 in my portfolio.
2.4G MacBook (13″ unibody, late-2008) – Price paid on October 14th, 2008: $1599 – I would now have $4,161 in my portfolio.
That would have given me a grand total of $5,996 in my portfolio today! Instead, I have negative $2597. Granted, the products have served me well and I don’t regret owning (or buying) them, but the point is still made.
Could I have forgone these items to have a few extra thousand in a volatile environment such is the stock market? Probably no more than any of us could forgo our new cars and expensive clothes. However, one item that took the cake on this list is one that I could have forgone if only I had that much money at the time.
Apple PowerBook G3 250 (Original/Kanga/3500) – Price on November 10th, 1997: $5700 – If you used that money to buy stock on the same day, you’d now have $330,563 in your portfolio! On the other hand, maybe you used that PowerBook to start your business and now you make more than $300,000 a year being your own boss! You never know how the tides may turn.
I’m not the first to report this, but I will toss in my two cents. First off, if you haven’t heard, someone is claiming to have found an iPhone at a bar in San Jose and upon closer inspection, noticed that it was not your everyday iPhone! They go on to further claim that it is the newest iPhone expected out this summer and was disguised in an iPhone 3GS case.
The new iPhone is speculated to be called iPhone 4G or iPhone HD due to its faster network speed and HD screen. If the new phone is to sport a screen like the iPad, the price might still be too high for most. The HD screen for the iPad costs around $60 while the same screen in iPhone size might reach as high as $500. Gizmodo has launched a full story on the issue, and here is what they found in terms of hardware:
Front-facing video chat camera
Improved regular back-camera (the lens is quite noticeably larger than the iPhone 3GS)
Micro-SIM instead of standard SIM (like the iPad)
Improved display. It’s unclear if it’s the 960×460 display thrown around before—it certainly looks like it, with the “Connect to iTunes” screen displaying much higher resolution than on a 3GS.
What looks to be a secondary mic for noise cancellation, at the top, next to the headphone jack
Split buttons for volume
Power, mute, and volume buttons are all metallic
The back is entirely flat, made of either glass (more likely) or ceramic or shiny plastic in order for the cell signal to poke through. Tapping on the back makes a more hollow and higher pitched sound compared to tapping on the glass on the front/screen, but that could just be the orientation of components inside making for a different sound
An aluminum border going completely around the outside
Slightly smaller screen than the 3GS (but seemingly higher resolution)
Everything is more squared off
3 grams heavier
16% Larger battery
Internals components are shrunken, miniaturized and reduced to make room for the larger battery
Is this real?
According to John Gruber at Daring Fireball, Apple has has lost a prototype although Apple is considering the phone “stolen” and they would like it back. Gizmodo apparently got wind of this phone from the individual who found it and subsequently purchased the phone, disassembled it and created the exclusive article and breakdown as summarized above.
The person who found it also mentioned that at first, he/she was able to play with the operating system for a bit before Apple apparently remotely wiped it (naturally). Now, all they get is the “Connect to iTunes screen”. However, it has been said that when the OS was working, it appeared to be that of iPhone 4.0 which is due out around the same time as the expected new phone.
My two cents
I don’t really care if it’s real or not. I won’t be buying a new iPhone this year anyway. In an effort to save money, I have started a plan to skip a year for new phones, so I’m staying with my 3GS. However, this phone does look pretty slick and if this is the new design, I’m pretty happy with it.
I was just thinking how funny it would be if this whole episode was planned by Apple in an effort to generate more buzz while at the same time diverting attention away from the actual design of a new iPhone. I wouldn’t put it past Apple to send this out in the world so other phone makers can copy the look and feel and then turn around and release something completely different!
At any rate, if this is legit and the phone was “lost” or “stolen” and if Gizmodo actually paid a price to exploit it, I believe they’re going to have some tough questions to answer if Apple decides to pursue this issue legally.
This phone is indeed “a device that belongs to Apple” according to a letter sent to Gizmodo by Bruce Sewell, Senior VP and General Counsel for Apple. Here’s the full letter:
Also, we all know the who the person is that lost it! His name is Gray Powell an Apple software engineer. He truly did leave the phone on a bar stool after getting drunk on his 27th birthday. The bar is a place called Gourmet Haus Staudt and it’s located in Redwood City, CA. All you crazy Apple fans can now go here and see the very stool that the new iPhone was left on for the world to discover months before it came out. They have the stool behind bullet-proof glass and you can’t take pictures of it, but it’s sure worth the drive!
As for me, I feel sorry for Gray and I hope Apple doesn’t fire him for this mistake. Apple (as well as all of us) knows that this won’t hurt sales at all! In fact, it might even boost sales. They can now use the constructive criticism that’s sure to come to make improvements. Of course we lose the excitement of seeing the latest device from Apple being unveiled, but isn’t this whole story exciting enough?
There it is folks…the new iPhone has been leaked and the most uptight and secured company in the world has had a major blow dealt to its ego. My thoughts? Let’s move on to more important things in life–like when will the iPhone come to Verizon?!
We all know now that the iPhone 4 has just been announced and all your dreams of owning one can now become a reality on June 24th. In fact, AT&T has even allowed early upgrades for previous iPhone owners. This means that I might actually be getting the new phone! All I have to do is find someone that wants to buy my 3GS from me. Good thing there’s people on eBay looking to buy phones without having to sign up for a 2 year contract.
After a crazy and disasterous pre-order system and a bunch of drama later, I finally ordered my iPhone 4 and can expect it at my door sometime this week!
UPDATE (Oct 26, 2010) :: I disbanded my original URL shortening service and have created a new one with an even shorter URL! I’m leaving this page up for posterity, but I’ve changed the links where applicable. Also, I wrote about my new URL shortening service, so you may want to head on over there first!
This time, it’s mine!! After I got onto Twitter and Facebook, I starting noticing all these little weird looking links and came to realize they were just pointers to much longer links. URL shortening services have sprung up just about everywhere. The issue of really long links is more of a problem to Twitter users because you only have 140 characters to type your message, but they’re starting to gain traction for just about every use. Use my new URL shortener to shrink you long urls today!
You would want to/need to shorten a url when you don’t have much space to post one or you want to make it easier for someone to remember. Now, there are tons of sites out there that can shorten long links into something tiny, but I didn’t want to trust my links in the hands of some fly-by-night service. Instead, I opened my own service and now I’m offering the service to everyone.
Instead, you drop on by my new site and create a link that looks like this: http://xi.io/8m. Much nicer, wouldn’t you agree? In fact, this URL went from being 358 characters long down to only 15! That’s a difference of 343 characters!! You can use these links for any purpose and the best part is, you can also search for keyword text, so instead of getting a randomly generated number, you can get a text phrase (if available).
How is this site different?
It’s not so much different in features as it is in name. Other services such as goo.gl, bit.ly and u.nu all offer the same services, but as you can see, they all use International domain names.
Personally, I find two things wrong with this. The first reason is that the links are not universally recognized by a lot of Internet users. If fact, I’ve talked to some people that say they never click on links like that at all! This can provide low click-through ratios for your links.
The second reason is that these domain names are controlled by the countries who own the extension. This can, although probably not likely, lead to the domains becoming obsolete or even being taken back by the local government.
What can you do with a shortened URL?
The uses for this service are only limited to your creativity! Here are some ideas:
Use shorter links for Twitter posts
Cloak affiliate links
Mask a long URL for marketing materials
Use a shorter URL for your site to make it easier to tell your friends how to get there
This service is free and allows you to make an unlimited amount of links. Check it out by going to xi.io now!
I must say that I think this is great. To clarify, I think the business end of it sure looks grim, but what did China expect after forcing Google to censor it’s web search? For those of you that aren’t aware, China censors the country’s Internet access to block all “offending” subjects from entering their citizen’s computers. What the exact definition of “offending” may be is anyone’s guess, but all the standards are sure to apply.
All this is controlled by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and in total, there are over 60 regulations just on the Internet, which not only includes content blocking, but also the monitoring of Internet usage directly into people’s homes. This is all accomplished by enforcing these regulations at the state-owned ISP level. According to Wikipedia, in December of 1997, these regulations were entered into law:
No unit or individual may use the Internet to create, replicate, retrieve, or transmit the following kinds of information:
Inciting to resist or breaking the Constitution or laws or the implementation of administrative regulations;
Inciting to overthrow the government or the socialist system;
Inciting division of the country, harming national unification;
Inciting hatred or discrimination among nationalities or harming the unity of the nationalities;
Making falsehoods or distorting the truth, spreading rumors, destroying the order of society;
Terrorism or inciting others to criminal activity; openly insulting other people or distorting the truth to slander people;
Injuring the reputation of state organs;
Other activities against the Constitution, laws or administrative regulations.
Of course, nobody really wants to promote that kind of stuff, but the idea of a government controlling this content is disturbing to say the least. Imagine how many doors this can open (or close for that matter). It is said that China has the strictest laws about what kind of content can be seen in its country and because of this, they also have the largest number of journalists and cyber-dissidents in the world!
Google says, “no way”.
Google’s position stems from their will to keep the Internet free of censorship and to provide a freedom of self-expression and free speech environment for the whole world to enjoy. And frankly, they do a damn good job of it. At this time, it’s not completely official, but the plan is to be out of China by April 10th. Currently, Google is operating under the Google.cn domain name with censored search results and if the site does go dark, it may still be possible for Chinese web surfers to access Google through our Google.com domain–that is of course if the PRC doesn’t block all of Google entirely.
This is what the homepage of Google.cn appears like today:
Google.cn homepage on April 11th,
Let’s just hope this whole thing isn’t powerful enough to complete sever ties between our two countries.
::UPDATE:: Google.cn is now forwarding traffic to Google.com.hk (the Hong Kong Google) which was supposed to allow Chinese surfers to view uncensored search results, but it looks like it’s backfiring on them because China is till censoring Internet traffic at higher levels. I have a feeling this virtual war is going to be bad.