Thursday, December 27, 2007

How do you defeat Ticketmaster's visual barriers?

captchatm logo

You pay people in India $2 per hour to do it for you.  Maybe you've heard of Ticketmaster's lawsuit against RMG Technologies, a company that sold special software to scalpers to allow them to bypass Ticketmaster security, including the "captcha" visual barrier?  Well, the President of RMG let it spill that they're simply paying people in India $2 per hour to enter the information.

It'll be interesting to see if this turns out to be fully true as RMG has had to turn over source code, but if it is, I wonder if Ticketmaster really has a case.

This will be interesting to watch.


Captcha picture from Gea-Suan Lin  

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Big Head Todd's new CD is free to download

bht all the loveBig Head Todd partnered with Crocs to provide their new CD to everyone as a free download.  If you want an actual CD, you can get one for $5 or free with a $15 merchandise purchase.

Does this change the game?  Sure it does.  A company that makes shoes that many people love to hate just became a record company.  Further, they find a correlation (presumably worth paying for) between their customers and the band's fans.

I had to (and you'll have to) give your name, city, zip code, and e-mail to get access to the free digital download.  I'm not sure what the current acquisition cost for Crocs customers is, but I'm guessing that what they're paying the band is less than what they spend on the average piece of advertising acquisition.

My best guess is that there will be a lot more of this happening.  Not only for music distribution, but just in general: there's no good way to ban cellphone cameras, so why not give Nike a piece of the action and make sure that every cellphone camera picture of an artist carries the brand logo?

 Anyway, follow the link below to give up some of your personal data in exchange for the digital version of the new CD.


Saturday, December 15, 2007

How to be a real artist? Just observe Corey Smith

corey smith Corey Smith is a musician that you've probably never heard of.  He sells out about 1/2 the shows that he plays and he plays north of 200 shows per year.  Oh, and the tickets to his shows, if you buy them in advance, are $12-$20 with no fees; they're only around $30 if you buy them the day of the event -- he does his best to not play Ticketmaster buildings if they can be avoided simply to save his fans from paying the fees.

You can buy all of his CDs (there are 4) for $36, meaning that you're paying $9 a CD, or you can get a CD and a t-shirt for $30.  He's also worked with Amazon to make downloads available for $8.99 and $7.99 on iTunes; his newest release is available on Amazon for the holidays for $6.99.

Smith lets you try before you buy -- you can download a number of tracks as MP3s directly from his site; pretty good sample across the albums.

It's refreshing to see a musician that's focused on just playing his music and makin sure that his fans can enjoy it.  I love seeing an artist that is organically growing his listener base, just like bands in the sixties and seventies used to -- this isn't the "new music business," this is the business getting back to its roots, one artist at a time.  Perhaps instead of suing their customers, the record companies should spend some of that lawsuit money on finding and supporting artists like Corey.

Oh, and he sounds really good -- sort of a mix between Jimmy Buffett, Kenny Chesney, and James Taylor.

Check him out -- pretty low cost of entry even if you don't like him.


P.S. -- Corey if you have people looking for stuff like this and you happen to read it, I'll go out on the road with you in a heartbeat because I believe that you'll be great. 

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Google Calendar Sync for BlackBerry


The title of the post accurately describes it, but if you go to on your BlackBerry, you can download a client that allows you sync your BlackBerry calendar with your GCal.  The only portion that's missing now is an over-the-air contact sync and Google will basically be providing all of the over-the-air DirectPush features.  If they really wanted to make it cooler, they would partner with BlackBerry to provide this functionality directly through a BIS server so that there was nothing to download on a client device. 


You can actually play with cell phone interfaces before buying at TryPhone.  If you're like me, just spending a few minutes in the store playing with a cell phone isn't enough time to see how all of the features work -- TryPhone puts up interactive images on their site of cell phones and their operating systems so that you can play around with features.  The number of phones currently listed is pretty slim, but they promise to be adding more phones shortly.

The site is also social, allowing users to post reviews and their experiences with the phones listed.  Quite frankly, I could see the features in this site being very useful as an add-in to Amazon or even a carrier sales site.




So I took the plunge and set up an account on Mint to try out the single-source money management site.  The process to get the data into Mint is as straightforward as your credit card company or bank allows it to be: ING Direct was probably the hardest, but all of those levels of security make me feel pretty good vs. simply entering a username and password for other banks.

Once Mint has connected and downloaded your account data, it presents interesting transaction histories and trends.  The system is not perfect, however, and requires some user intervention to tweak things.  For example, it downloaded payment data from my checking account that were actually electronic payments to my credit card, but came through with "Ross" as the description, which Mint classified as the department store and put into my retail purchase history.

Although it's not 100% perfect, it is a very useful tool and I'm definitely going to continue to use it.  I would like to see the ability to add in 401K, IRA, college savings, and mortgage accounts to get an overall picture of assets and liabilities, but my guess is that those items will be coming.

I did check out some of the offers that would either save me money and/or produce more revenue in terms of interest payments, but I'm not sure that I am going to make any changes before the first of the year.  It is interesting to know that there are online banks that are giving higher interest rates than ING and I will likely investigate switching to chase the higher rates. 


Saturday, December 08, 2007

CompUSA closing all stores


It's official: CompUSA is closing all 103 of its stores.  Like most, I've got some CompUSA horror stories, but I also have found some insane deals over the years -- I guess I'm a little sorry to see them go as the BestBuys and Circuit Citys of the world to not have the depth of equipment inventory that CompUSA carries.  At least there's a MicroCenter close to me in South Denver that can take care of my needs for more technical, less consumer-oriented items at the last minute.

Link -- CNN article 

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

AIM live in Gmail

It's not as seamless as chatting with AIM contacts through Google Chat, but I've verified that the ability to sign into AIM through Gmail is, indeed, live.  I wonder what I'm going to use Meebo for now.

aim in gmail


By the way: if you're like me and you've had Gmail open all day, just referesh the screen in your browser, click the "Options" button under "Chat", and you'll see the AIM sign-in option. 

Sonicare UV Sanitizer



So Bzzagent sent me the Sonicare UV Sanitizer to talk about and it's kind of an interesting little device.  Let me say that I've used a Sonicare toothbrush for years and have never been anything but happy with the the way the results feel and the feedback from my dentist (not just the feedback, but the lessening of scraping, etc. over the time I've used it).

The UV sanitizer uses and ultraviolet light to kill any bacteria that might be on your brush head.  Although it fits some other manufacturers' brush heads, the Sonicare head that I use fit inside it perfectly without the use of any adapters and there's a magnet on the bottom to hold the brush in place.

After having used the sanitizer for the last few days, I can't tell anything different than just let my brush air-dry.  Sure, I go through the routine of putting the brush int he container, hitting the button, and seeing the light come on, but there's nothing that's changed in my brushing experience that I am aware of.  However, my dentist charges $25 for a little laser treatment that supposedly kills bacteria in my mouth prior to a cleaning and I pay it every time, so investing $50 in a brush head sanitizer that does the same thing to a brush I put in my mouth every day doesn't seem too far out of line.

I probably wouldn't rush out and but the sanitizer, but if it came included with an upgraded Sonicare brush, I would use it.  Similarly, if there was a deal where I could purchase a number of brush heads and get the sanitizer as part of a package deal, I'd probably buy it and use it.  With the amount of travel that I do, I guess it is nice to have my brush stored inside an enclosed space rather than leaving it out in the air to attract dust, etc.

End result: I'll keep using it and would use it if it were another bell and whistle as part of some sort of kitted sales piece, but I'm not sure I would run out an buy it.

Link (Amazon) 

Things to think about when travleing and driving a rental car

broken window The first thing I do when I get into a rental car is put my bags in the back seat, which is usually where they stay until I get to my hotel; many people that I know do the same thing.  A couple of Sundays one of my friends was in town, driving a rental car, and we met in downtown Denver (LoDo) for dinner.  He parked his car under a streetlight, across the street from a well-lit bank, on the corner of a fairly major intersection, and while we were at dinner, someone smashed his back window and took off with his suitcase and laptop bag.

2 big lessons to be learned here:

  1. Put your stuff in the trunk of your rental car (or in the far back of a SUV and use the privacy screen if it has it).  No matter how safe it is where you park your car, you want to create a less attractive target; chances are good the thieves would have walked right on by had they not seen the luggage in the back seat.

  2. If your laptop bag is your life, take it with you.  My friend lost his laptop (secured with passwords), his backup memory stick (not secured), all of his chargers, his Blackberry (secured), his iPod, his camera, and his car and house keys.  I have to admit that I keep all of the same stuff in my bag and though I've considered putting a flash drive on my keychain, my keys always wind up inside the bag so that I don't lose them, so I would have been in the same situation.

Travel smart. 

Thanks to r3v || cls for the image.