I dislike websites that flash, beep, boop, and distract the visitor with unnecessary movement. I especially dislike Flash.
Unless you are creating a moving story about your service or product, animated objects can make your site look comic-book-like. Plus, Flash and some other animation techniques are terrible for both search engine optimization and human user interaction.
Fortunately, instead of jumpy, gimmicky graphics, more and more sites are publishing elegant slideshows to inform visitors.
My email accounts have gotten over 10,000 pieces of spam in the past 30 days.
Unfortunately, most methods of spam protection fail.
The built-in spam protection that comes with the email accounts from your web hosting service marks too many legitimate messages as spam. The spam algorithms, such as SpamAssassin, are too aggressive in my experience. You’ll miss many messages you want to see if you rely on them.
The built-in spam protection of Outlook, the Microsoft email program, is both too weak and too aggressive. You’ll still see lots of sleazy messages in your in-box, and, in my experience, you’ll also have to read your spam folder to make sure real messages haven’t been filed there.
For many years, my solution was to rely on Spamarrest. Spamarrest sends a challenge message to anyone who sends you mail, when that person’s email address isn’t in your list of contacts. This approach was very effective. I have received only a trickle of unwanted emails, most of those were from salespeople who manually responded to the challenge message and clicked to get their spam to me. I dealt with those exceptions by completely blocking that user or the whole offending domain.
Spamarrest is a cheap (about $50/year) paid service. It lets you send and receive mail from a web page, too, so you can access your mail while traveling.
The downside of Spamarrest is that a fair percentage of real people either don’t see or don’t understand the challenge message that Spamarrest sends to them. As a result, I have missed some business and personal messages, including some that were time-critical. Still, Spamarrest has been the only effective spam fighter I’ve tried.
Until this month.
Over the summer I tracked the spam-catching ability of the Gmail account I use to connect with Google services. Though Gmail did not filter messages through Spamarrest, I never received any spam. The messages in its spam folder were, indeed, spam. All of them. Google, alone, seems to be able to separate spam from wanted messages.
So, at the start of October I stopped Spamarrest from emptying my email@example.com and other email accounts. Instead, I had Google connect to the accounts and get the messages in real time. It’s worked.
I have received very few spam messages. When I have checked the spam folder, all the messages I’ve seen have looked sleazy. Better, no one has told me that they sent me a message that I didn’t see.
I’m sold. I’m recommending Gmail as a spam filter for your mail. Get a Gmail account and have Gmail empty the mailboxes of your other email accounts.
Note: I am not recommending that you use an Gmail address as the published address for your personal or business life. Gmail is free, and Google has no obligation to you to keep that free service going. There are scary stories of people who relied on Google and Gmail, only to have Google suddenly block their accounts. I do not want you to trust Google with anything that is critical to you.
Instead, use Gmail as an email concentrator. Read your messages in Gmail online or else download them to your computer. You’ll like the spam protection. And, if Google ever decides to stop Gmail or to ban you, you can still access your email through Spamarrest, Outlook, or whatever other method you’re using now.
Planting a sense of urgency in your potential customer’s mind so they make a decision and buy is a time-honored sales tactic. It works!
Proclaiming specials and offering discounts off the list prices are time-honored tactics, too. They work!
Combining urgency with specials, magnifies the potency of a sales campaign. Think of all the holiday weekend specials, introductory pricing, and special low-prices sales “events” you hear and see.
Unfortunately, today’s sophisticated pricing tools allow businesses you already patronize to use limited-time specials on goods and services you’re familiar with to rip you off. Far more insidious than the deals for “new customers only,” today’s pitches tell you that you’re getting a great price, when, in fact, you are paying more than anyone else.
Here’s an example. The New Yorker sent me a limited-time magazine gift renewal recently.
The New Yorker is offering a “Reduced-Holiday-Rate(sic) of $89.99″, and I had only until October 6 to sign up. This is a perfect example of a large, savvy company creating a untrue sense of urgency and offering an expensive special.
Basically, this offer charges loyal repeat customers 225% what people wandering by on the Internet can pay at the same time it touts the price as something special. (If you want to renew an existing gift, you can call the number of the back of the renewal form and get a price of $49.99 a year, if you mention the Internet price.)
Actually, the magazine has a maze of different prices for the same product, depending upon how interested you seem to be. If you click on “Subscribe” on their home page, you’re offered a third price, $69.99, as the BEST DEAL. I think they’ve crossed the line into legally questionable claims with “Best Deal”, but I am no lawyer.
The New Yorker is not alone in charging its current customers more while trying to make it seem like they are offering a deal.
The Atlantic magazine also offers existing givers of subscriptions the chance to overpay… but only if they act quickly!
To renew existing gift subscriptions, you “save” by paying $27.95. Of course, their website offers new subscriptions for $14.95. The Atlantic website also offers you a chance to give a subscription for $24.95. As far as I could see, you couldn’t pay more than 27.95, despite the ad’s come on to “Ring in the holidays for less.”
Magazines are not the only industry eager to take advantage of their best customers. Intuit was ready to charge me more for the latest version of its Quicken product when I clicked on an in-program upgrade link than it did when I went to the website directly. And, every year I have to talk to my satellite TV provider and cable Internet companies as they attempt to raise my rates higher than those they quote the public.
I understand promotions meant to attract new clients. I am fine with offers such as “10% off the first year for new clients only”. But, I don’t like businesses preying on their existing customer base, charging them substantially more, while claiming to provide an especially great price. I’ll play the business’ game, but I hope they don’t expect me to feel loyal or supportive toward them.
The latest version of the Apple iPhone operating system offers you a way to keep your phone quiet when you are in public.
No vibrating “sound of a cell phone on silent”. No marimba alert breaking through in quiet moments of a concert. No nothing.
The Do Not Disturb toggle switch will keep your phone truly silent.
Except, you have to change two default settings to make your phone really quiet.
By default, if anyone calls you from your “Favorites” list of people, the phone will ring and/or vibrate, ignoring your Do Not Disturb instructions.
By default, if anyone calls you a second time in three minutes, the phone will ring and/or vibrate, ignoring your Do Not Disturb instructions.
To really keep the phone from making noise you have to change your Notification Settings.
Under the toggle switch where you activate the Do Not Disturb mode, choose the Notifications menu.
On this screen change “Allow Calls from Favorites” to “No One“. Also toggle “Repeated Calls” to OFF.
I don’t know why Apple chose disruptive defaults for its Do Not Disturb feature. Although I appreciate the flexibility of the optional settings, it make a lot more sense to me to have a Do Not Disturb switch actually mean that your phone will not disturb you when you activate that hush setting.
I think the phone should behave the way most people expect. Geeks and VIPs can decide that they must be reachable. These folks can then enable the exception list.
But, by default Do Not Disturb should mean just that!
Yesterday Apple unleashed a new version of the operating system that runs its iPhones, iPads, and probably iEverything. I accepted the offer to download and install iOS6 on our household’s iDevices when I synched one of our iPhones yesterday morning. I’d heard good things about the operating system’s new features, and, besides, Apple is fairly insistent that you upgrade when you can. I didn’t make Apple nag me, I eagerly upgraded.
The OS looked good, but when we took our iPhone 3gs’s outside of the house and tested the new mapping feature, the iPhones started running hot to the touch and losing battery life veryquickly.
The news media has ignored the power story, instead reiterating how wonderful the iPhone 5 is and talking about the new features of iOS6. However, consumers like me have been screaming for help (or vengeance) on online forums and Tweets. A Google search for “iOS6 Battery Drain” shows plenty of anguish loose in the Apple orchard.
The loss of battery power is severe, maybe especially so in the older models like our 3gs. A few hours without recharging and your phone is a lump of inert electronics and trim.
The Google search does turn up what the user community suspects are the problems.
Apparently the widely-disliked Apple map app is a power hog, in addition to its functional failings. It, and other apps that use “Location Services,” do something wrong, like check-in with the mother ship too frequently. As a result the cell radio is active too much of the time.
How to fix the power drain:
Turn Location Services OFF for the new map app. The setting is buried in the General, Privacy menu, but it’s a treasure worth hunting for. On my phone I went on a disabling spree, and I turned off location services for the map app, turned off Genius for Apps, and turned location-based iAds is OFF. I also turned off “Use Cellular Data” for automatic downloads and iTunes Match.Yes, having a map not be able to tell where you are is stupid.
But when we turned off that location service and rebooted (because somewhere we read that the map app keeps the gps function going even after it is closed), our phones stopped being hot and battery life returned to pre-iOS6 levels. We made our changes this morning, and my phone didn’t even want a mid-afternoon snack.
Now we’re enjoying iOS6 without having to keep our iPhones plugged into a charger.
Still, as a IT professional, I wonder all to hell and back how Apple could have put out another power-draining operating system release, this one caused by an Apple-made map app that is both inferior and faulty. Don’t they have pride, or at least a quality control department?
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