Tuesday, December 23, 2008

8 Economical Things to do with Your Kids Outdoors Over the Winter Holidays

8. Photography: FREE (if you own a camera)

Ok, this is a more adult-oriented activity but you can definitely get your children into this art by taking them into a little forest or ravine and letting them take a few shots. And winter offers some of the most magnificent photos of the year.

7. Ice fishing: $20

This isn't exactly the kiddiest thing to do either but it's always fun for them exploring new areas and the first fish they catch will be a pretty satisfying experience. Just obtain a license and go to any nearby lake (or even pond) and you'll be off and running.

6. Making snowmen and other snow sculptures: FREE

This can be done right in your front yard or at any nearby park and the great thing about this is that it's very flexible; you can make pretty much anything so it's suitable for all ages.

5. Tobogganing: FREE

You don't have the control of when you're skiing but there still is the thrill of going down a hill pretty fast. But you can make up for the lost control by constructing little ramps to add an extra bit of excitement to the equation. But watch out for any dangers such as trees and roads because most tobogganing spots aren't monitored.

4. Snowshoeing: $15

Anyone who can walk can go snowshoeing so it's very easy to learn. Moreover, snowshoeing is excellent exercise for both adults and kids and can be a great social group activity.

3. Snowball fights: FREE

Nothing could be more rewarding than hitting somebody in the face with a watery snowball. Now don't be put off by this physical element; snowball fights might hurt a bit at times but aren't going to cause any major injuries.

2. Skating: $0-$5

Trying to get through hoards of people at the malls is nothing compared to whipping through them on skates at the ice rink. Just like snowshoeing, ice skating is good exercise and is an amazing social group activity but is just a lot faster.

1. Skiing: $40/person

Swerving down the double black diamond at incredibly high speeds with the biting wind gusting past you can't be beaten (that's why it's number 1). Ok, maybe that's a bit extreme; maybe the blue or bunny hills would be more suitable but whatever you choose the feeling you get when you're skiing is always good.

Monday, December 22, 2008

9 Essential Parts to a Perfect Christmas Party: The Last Four Aspects

For the first five aspects, go here.

4. Great social aspect

There is no such thing as a silent party and for good reason; a party is not a party without the volume turned to max with conversation, music and everything else. To achieve this, one tip is to invite more people because the more people, the more talking and the more talking, the more enjoyment. And if none of the guests are taking the initiative to become the life of the party, you, the host, should, to suck out any remaining wallflower left in anybody.

3. Planning

You should be ready for basically anything to happen. You should be ready for the people who like movies with a few DVDs; you should be ready for the gamers in the crowd with a bunch of video games; you should be ready for the dancers with some music and a disco ball; and you should be ready for the drinkers with a few cases of beer.

2. The spirit of giving

Invoke this spirit by setting an example, giving up the last slice of pizza or a few minutes of your day to pick someone up. Give up your parking space and even a bit of money for one of the guests to buy something they really need. As well, you can host a little bit of a gift exchange where each person is assigned another person to buy a gift for and everybody gives and receives something.

1. Christmas feel

A Christmas feel can be added to a party in many different ways. For instance, decorations should be plentiful- Christmas trees and lights are musts and lighting the fireplace can really put in some Christmasness-, you can add a bit of red and green to your food, and having your guests dress in Christmassy clothes can do a lot as too.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

9 Essential Parts to a Perfect Christmas Party: The First Five Aspects

9. Cleanliness

Although it is true that by the end of the party, your place will likely be about 5 times as messy as it was before, you should definitely take a day, preferably the day before the party, to clean. This is simply because nobody wants to attend a party in an old shack of a place. Do a little sweeping, swiffering/mopping, dusting, wiping and possibly vacuuming to put your house into a good condition.

8. Not too crazy

You absolutely want to have as much fun as possible but you don't want to get carried away. A police visit and a few fines or arrests will ruin anybody's holiday spirit and will take away all the life in your party, that is if it is even allowed to carry on. One thing you should think about is how much alcohol you're allowing guests to have; limit this to limit craziness. Lastly, tell your buds to turn their down their music and break any fights up to ensure that your party doesn't run into trouble.

7. No hurt feelings

You may be saying to yourself, "What? Why do we have to worry about that, nobody starts being a thug at a Christmas party." But you may not see it on the outside but at those teenage Truth or Dare, Spin the Bottle parties, feelings are hurt way too much. So try to lay off of the crude humour and offensive jokes for a day because Christmas is supposed to be all about peace and generosity.

6. Enough entertainment for everybody

Nobody enjoys a party where they're just standing around doing nothing half the time. Thus, you've got to have plenty of different things to do whether it's watching a hockey game, playing an Xbox, playing poker or just revelling in a nice board game. A party where everybody's just standing around with a beer, making small talk gets really boring.

5. A bit of organization

I'm not telling you to make your whole party "you have to do this, you have to do that," but there should be a few group activities that you know pretty much everyone will find fun. Also, you should, without doubt, set a loose schedule of what should happen when, detailed with the arrival time, meal times, and activity times.

For the last four aspects, come back tomorrow. Remember, these ones will be the most crucial to a successful party.

Vote For Your "Useful Crap Person of the Year" for 2008

Technology has always been a focus for me in this blog and I'm going to take it to the next level with the "Useful Crap Person of the Year". Vote for who, in the technology world, you think has been made the biggest difference or contribution this year. Is it Steve Jobs with the new wave of next-gen devices at Apple or Mark Zuckerberg with his advances in social networking at Facebook? Could it be somebody else?
You decide; you've got 'til December 31, 2008 to choose. Just leave a comment on who it is and possibly a little explanation when you've selected.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas Feature: Affordable Gifts You Can Give To A Teenage Girl

Teenage girls' tastes aren't exactly the most flexible things in the world and they have very specific and very unique wishlists every year. But here's a few items that virtually any of them will like:

Nikon Coolpix Digital Camera

An 8 megapixel Nikon Coolpix is very sleek and can be handy for teenagers at any party or trip with friends. Let them capture memories and post these on each of their 24 Facebook accounts.


This is just one of the hygenic products that are pretty much essential for any girl so why not a pack of perfume. I'm not really the expert in this area so I'll just let you decide which brand you want to buy.

Aeropostale Gift Card

I'll rave on about Aeropostale; it's popular, good-quality and not too expensive. And you can't go wrong with a gift card because you know how picky girls can be about clothing.

Lululemon Gift Card

Here's another pretty trendy clothing brand that's is really beginning to rise. Lululemon "produces yoga-inspired athletic apparel", which sounds quite lame but don't worry, they're bound to find a few garments they like in Lululemon.

Music CD

Music CDs are still in and every girl wants the new Britney Spears, Katy Perry or Rihanna album. As with the guys, you should know the music tastes of the person you're going to give this to.


I didn't put a specific type of iPod because they're all very popular and everybody needs one of these to store their 100 hours of music. The newest iPod Nano has some pretty cool features but the iPod Touch still is obviously the most advanced iPod.


I would never want one of these but then again I'm not a girl. A cellphoen can be a great gift for any teenage girl because of their amazing versatility: They can be employed as media players, phones, cameras and internet browsers.

A Book

If you've even glanced at the news recently, you'll probably be aware of how massively in books are, especially with teenage girls. The Twilight series, Chicken Soup series as well as many other publications directed at this demographic will be well-appreciated.

iTunes Music Card

To go along with an iPod, you could give her an iTunes Music Card so she can download all her favorite MP3s from the ever-popular iTunes Store, which by the way also features videos, movies and podcasts.

Christmas Feature: Affordable Gifts You Can Give To A Teenage Boy

I'm not going to be vague at all with this; I'm just going to take this topic right on. I'll give you the item and I'll give you the brand and I guarantee you that virtually any teenage boy will appreciate at least a few of these things. And by the way, this is coming from a teenage boy.

Xbox 360

Video games have been in since the 90s but they're still just heating up with great new games like Grand Theft Auto IV and Gears of War 2. And, in my opinion (but apparently not in many other people's), the Xbox 360 is the most advanced and satisfying system for gamers who play more than once a month. The Wii is extremely gimmicky and will get lame after a month and I don't even want to bother explaining how bad the PS3 is.

iPod Touch

Pretty much every teenager has some form of an MP3 player and almost all of them have iPods. Well here's the most advanced one yet featuring internet access, application downloading and a touch screen.

Aeropostale Hoody

Aeropostale specializes in teen clothing and is very trendy right now. Plus, throughout the entire holiday season, this store has been having massive sales of 50-75% off. And don't think clothing as a gift is a bad idea either because it's much easier to select the right hoody than the right electronic.

American Eagle Gift Card

Another highly popular clothing store is American Eagle, which is more expensive than Aeropostale but has a greater variety to choose from. And you can't really go wrong with a gift card, especially one from AE.

Best Buy Gift Card

As electronics get bigger, so do teens' love for them and Best Buy is the nations largest retailer of these. They have pretty much every electronic, from video games to MP3 players to mobile phones.

Sports Illustrated Magazine Subscription

Sports Illustrated is one of the most read magazines in the world and many of their subscribers are quite young. Sports Illustrated pretty much sums up everything happening in the world of sports with interesting articles and statistics as well as many cool photos every week.

Easton Baseball Glove

Baseball is America's favorite pastime and it's not like that changes in the winter (OK, maybe a bit but still). Pretty much every kid in the States has to play baseball whether competitively or recreationally and they all need a quality glove. And Easton's gloves are without doubt the best and just as a heads-up, the Easton Stealth is their top model.

Nike Baseketball Shoes

The Nike Swoosh has become a symbol all across the globe and nothing could be more in than basketball shoes right now. Those two combined really make the ultimate Christmas present.

A Book

Although there is all the other cool stuff, who can forget the humble old book. But don't make it a lame book on how Christopher Columbus found the Americas, make it about a topic that you know they like.

A Music CD

Despite the fact that CDs aren't as hot as they were before, it's nice having an actual item instead of just downloads. Head over to HMV and get something but make sure you know their music tastes inside and out. If they like metal, Chinese Democracy by Guns N' Roses is good while if they like pop rock, Famous Last Words by Hedley is good.

Christmas Feature: 5 Essential Tips to Christmas Shopping

Christmas is the busiest time in terms of shopping because everybody has to make some type of purchase whether gifts, decorations or food in addition to the everyday essentials that we all need to buy. Thus, you can't just randomly roam around; you have to know what you're doing.
Let me just start you off with a few general shopping tips that can be applied at any time of the year, whether Black Friday, Christmas or Boxing Day:

Top 10 Tips
Top 10 Clothing Shops
Top 10 What Not To Do

Now, for the uniquely Christmas tips:

5. Brand names are important.

Some may not admit it but everyone likes brand names simply because of the popularity (although quality is often better as well). Whether it's shampoo, clothing or coffee, everyone wants the real stuff. And Christmas isn't a time to be pinch pennies; it's a time to show your love and care for people.

4. Hurry in the stores, not on the roads.

I know you're in a rush and I know you have better things to do but for your own safety, don't try cutting through hundreds of cars on your way to the mall to save a few minutes. In the winter especially, it's a hazard because of the slippery, wet conditions as well as the low visibility.

3. Remember to wrap.

Not putting wrapping paper on your gifts makes the recipient feel uncared for so just take a few moments to properly wrap what you give.

2. Shop on weekdays if you can.

The weekends see malls crowded with people each scurrying their own little way, and not caring who they irritate while they do this. On the other hand, weekdays are a lot more peaceful without the stink, heat and crowds of Saturday and Sunday. Parking spots are available and you don't have to worry as much about thieves either.

1. Know what you need.

It's easy to blow a holiday budget and even the most frugal of people can do it. I understand that you want to be a generous as possible but you have to stop at a certain point. So gather all the wishlists, make your own shopping list of things you need to buy for the big party and go armed with these. Inevitably, you're going to spend a bit more but it's always better to have a few guidelines.

One More: Don't be distracted by Christmas displays or events.

There's always going to be Santa Claus visits, special decorations and what not but you have more important things to do. Refrain from strolling around a shopping center examining each little Christmassy item.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas Feature: Easy Decorating for the Holidays

Make It Themed

Don't simply buy a bunch of random items and place them throughout your house. Instead, use themed decorating and install a sort of feel into your home whether you're going for a snowy feel, a cozy feel or something centered around a specific part of Christmas.
For example, to acheive a white Christmas feel, use transparent Christmas lights, line your tree with white ornaments and even put up a white wreath. Or if you're especially extravagant, you might want to make different parts of the house differently themed.

Remember The Colors

The christmas colours are generally regarded as red, green and possibly white. However, other shades such as brown and orange will definitely work well too. So put around your house, items that feature these colors. And one flawless way to bring out these colors is to dim the lights a bit if you have a dimmer or just turn less on if you don't.

Outdoor Christmas Decor

Christmas Lights

Christmas lights are really an essential thing to have for holiday decorating because they are what's supposed to stand out particularly. You can place these on trees, bushes, walls, roofs or even the ground and don't forget to use the LED types for increased energy efficiency, which will save the environment and your wallet. Christmas lights come in all shapes and sizes and some are even animated to portray a scene.


For the most part, these will be added as door decorations but you can hang them on porch lights or flower hooks as well. You might think that there's not much you can do with these but there are special varieties such as lighted ones and ones made out of other materials. Plus, there are generally small ornaments on wreaths and to go with the them of your house, select the wreath accordin to this ornament.

Other Ones

There are so many different other items that you can utilise to really make your home shine but I'll stick to the most practical ones.


These are basically statues except they are a lot lighter, less expensive and more popular. Inflatables can range from winter scenes or just ones of Santa and the reindeer but they all work extremely well, especially when lit from the inside of them.


These only really work well in the day when they can be seen unless you have some type of a spotlight to highlight them. You might want to put one of these beside your door or right at the edge of your lawn to greet visitors. Out there are statues of elves, snowmen, reindeer and of course, Santa Claus.

Indoor Christmas Decorations

Christmas Trees

If you don't have a Christmas tree, you pretty much don't have anything, meaning you'd better get one of these by the time December 25th rolls around. Obviously, these are not bare; they are decorated with different ornaments and lights. These should, again, depend on your theme. If your theme is just the normal Christmas theme, then the ornaments and lights you use don't really matter but you absolutely don't want a tree filled only with ball ornaments; put up a variety of different types. Also, if your tree is going to be against a wall, make sure to put your favorite decorations on the front but don't leave the back empty because people are bound to look there some time or another and an empty side is not that appealing.
Lastly, you'll have to make the decision to buy either an artificial tree or a natural one. Obviously, artificial ones can last you a lifetime and are easier to work with but natural ones are always something to brag about.


The holidays are the one time of year where playing with fire is definitely good for you. Candles are always a nice addition with their scents and colors while fireplaces can be good places to talk around.


This is by far the easiest thing to do as you're essentially killing two birds with one stone. You can eat the food, but first you can put it on display and I don't mean the peas and corn but the pie and gingerbread houses.


Stockings and gifts are definitely something to consider. Putting these up just makes the home feel more natural as presents are a part of any Christmas and they don't have to be actually filled either, just wrapped boxes or empty stockings will work.

Tabletop Decor

Those beautiful holiday cards don't have to go to waste as they can just be scattered around the house, acting as extra decorations.
To add, miniature statues or christmas trees can be employed while red and green mugs, plates and bowls can without doubt be easy decorations solutions.

Put It All Together

I can only tell you so much as you just have to figure out yourself how to arrange each of these objects so they fit in with each other and make a perfectly decorated house.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Christmas Feature: A Compilation of Good Christmas Shopping Coupons

With the current financial downturn, we're all trying to be a bit more thrifty. Studies and surveys have proven that a great majority of people are making an attempt to spend less this year. Here's a few coupons to help you do this without sacrificing the quality of your gifts.

American Eagle

20% off an entire purchase (in-store)
Expires: December 16, 2008

Use American Eagle coupon code 48761907 or 36480827 or 69784794 or 68823847 or 87954302 or 29683491 (online)
Expires: December 24, 2008


$10 off when you spend $50 or more (in-store)
Expires: December 24, 2008

Dick's Sporting Goods

$10 off your purchase of $50 or more (in-store)
Expires: February 28, 2009

$15 off your purchase of $75 or more (in-store)
Expires: January 31, 2009

Best Buy

10% off your purchase (in-store)
Expires: December 15, 2008

$50 off any Garmin GPS System (in-store)
Expires: December 31, 2008


Various Dell coupon codes (online)
Expires: Various

Barnes and Noble

10% off one item (in-store)
Expires: December 18, 2008

15% off one item (members only) (in-store)
Expires: December 18, 2008

10% off of your highest priced item with code D9E4E3T (online)
Expires: December 18, 2008


10% off appliances
Expires: January 31, 2009

$5 off purchases of $30 or more
Expires: January 31, 2009

Home Depot

$5 off purchases of $50 or more with code HOLIDAY733 (online)
Expires: Unknown

Friday, December 12, 2008

Why The Timex iControl Sports Watch Sucks

Of all the gifts that people consider cool, this has to be one of the most useless. The moment I saw the advertisement for the iControl, I knew that this was one of the worst ideas of all time. But really, it's not that people would not enjoy being able to control their music from their watch but most people aren't willing to pay $50 for this unnecessary luxury in their lives. I mean, I'll admit that the watch does not lack in functionality with all the essential buttons to control your tunes but what's the point? I mean, this watch is intended for athletes, particularly runners, but you definitely would fumble just as much with your watch while running as with an iPod, if not more.
In addition, there are numerous flaws in this little device. To begin with, the iControl is only compatible with iPods and the newer ones (iPod Classic, iPod Touch, iPod Nano Video) require different adapters for the iControl that you must go through the trouble of obtaining.
Now, here's a cold, hard fact; the instruction manual consists of 13 full-sized pages, giving you an idea of the complexities involved in the iControl. Simply put, most people don't want to be reading textbooks just to learn how to work a watch.
One more thing, when you're an athlete, generally, you don't want small valuable things lying around where you can easily break or misplace them. The iControl receiver that you must attach to your iPod is one of these small valuable things. And your watch won't do anything special without it.
Just to leave you with a taste of what buying an iControl means, here is a brief list of more useful things you can buy with $50:

-Grand Theft Auto IV
-2 hoodies and a t-shirt from Aeropostale
-A top quality Christmas tree
-A two-year subscription to Time Magazine-A 7-inch Digital Photo Frame
-5 music albums from HMV
-Robosapien Robot
-A robotic vacuum cleaner

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Practical Gmail Tip For You: Stop the Annoying Noises

Before I finally decided to really explore the depths of Google's free email service, Gmail, I always had to face the distraction of a little beep playing every time someone sent me an instant message. Gradually, this became more and more irritating to the point where I would simply refuse to open Gmail.
I mean, no one wants to be suddenly jolted by a silence-breaking tone when they're doing something important such as completing a university thesis. Often, this little noise will even force me to totally lose my concentration and forget what I was thinking.
And it was a coincidence that I found the way to shut this thing off. Here's how to do it:
First, obviously open your browser and go to Gmail, which should take you to your inbox. Now, at the top left of the page, there is a link list of other Google Services but don't be tempted to click these. Instead, look to the right, where you'll find your email and links to Gmail settings, the older version, help pages as well as the sign out button. You should go to the "Settings", where in bold letters, the title, Settings, will be perceived. Below that are several tabs such as General, Accounts, Labels, Filters etc. But you don't need any of these for what you're trying to do; go to the "Chat" section. When here, scroll down and you will see a part entitled "Sounds" where there will be two options, "Sounds On" and "Sounds Off". Select "Sounds Off" and you won't have to listen to those truly agitating beeps, countless times every day.

Note: Naturally, the downside to this is that you won't be notified when someone begins to chat with you, which could mean you'll be ignoring quite a few people every day.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Top 10 Cool Alternative Uses of Microsoft Word That You Don't Know About

10. Font Tester

If you happen to be a professional font designer who is about to submit a typeface to a major corporation, then you might want to thoroughly check it's functionality. Type some lorem ipsum and make sure that you have covered all of the symbols you want to cover ("Insert... Symbol") gives you a long list of different ones.

9. Abstract Art Drawing Tool

Hey, you've seen that Autoshape feature in Microsoft Word. Sure, it doesn't have the most shapes in the world and does not produce the highest quality artwork but putting a few shapes and colours together could make something quite good.

8. Photo Editor

Again, Microsoft Word does not offer the best tools for this but for amateur photographers who don't want to waste $80.00 on an Adobe Photoshop that won't be of any use to them can alter brightness, colour type, contrast, transparency and other aspects of images right in Word with the picture toolbar.

7. Account Log

You can't remember every username and password and security question for every account you register for online. Just make a log of them here with these and possibly other things. Plus, you can use the Permissions feature to restrict others' access to this document.

6. Back-up

If you're the type that publishes a lot of stuff online, you're also the type that should be worried about losing content when a site crashes or is taken down. Thus, you can copy and paste all of your writing or possibly codes into a Word document for safekeeping.

5. Research Tool

If you just need a quick definition, synonym or a few succinct facts and you already have Microsoft Word open, then you might choose this software to give you these. You can access the Encarta dictionary, thesaurus and translation service as well as Live Search, Highbeam Research and MSN Money Stock Quotes from Word.

4. Agenda

If you just want a simple sheet of paper to remind you what to do instead of using a Blackberry, you could log all of your tasks in Microsoft Word, then print them out for your reference. You can easily detail time, location, importance and other things with the tools present.

3. Journal/Diary

Instead of reserving an amount of time every day to manually write in your diary, just casually make a few entries while doing something else on the computer. It's quicker and easier and can be just as private with the permissions feature. You may even want to employ the speech recognition program that comes with Word so you can say what's on your mind.

2. Thought Organizer/Notebook

You don't have to buy an expensive mind map software just for this purpose. Simply put your ideas and thoughts down with bulleting or numbering. To act as the different branches in mind maps, you could have different symbols as bullets at different indentations.

1. Blog

Now, you don't have to wait for your browser to load every time you want to make a blog post on Blogger. You can install
"Blogger for Word", a free Microsoft Word add-in and you'll be able to publish to your blog, save drafts and edit posts from Word. The great part about this is that you can apply all the things that can be done in Word to every blog post to really enhance your blog.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Free Logo Design Contests: 99designs

We live in a society where aesthetic appeal and design rules all. This is the first rule of marketing; it must be visually appealing. This is the first thing people see when they step into a store. This is one thing companies can't get wrong.
That's the principle, which 99designs, a host of hundreds of user-created design contests, runs on. Finally, you can put your $80.00 Adobe Photoshop to work at something productive.
99designs is the premier website for corporations, ranging from small businesses to multi-national institutions, to launch their design contests. Companies all across the globe are looking for web page designs, logo designs, icon designs, clothing designs, stationary designs, ad designs and other graphic works. You can have a little fun helping them by making such designs and earning thousands of dollars doing it.
And this isn't some scam either; 99designs offers legitimate contests that can earn you cash. The one thing you have to keep in mind though is that you'd better be good. That's your job but the site will take care of pretty much everything else for you.
To begin with, you can easily find a contest that's just right for you, sorting them by the date created, how much time is left to make a design, the number of entries and of course the amoutn of prize money. In addition, there is a search bar where you can filter contests by end date, prize amount and prize guarantee. To supplement, the competitions are all neatly categorized into various areas of design so it'll be hard not to find something you can do.
Moreover, if you're ever confused about something, 99designs maintains a comprehensive help section that covers pretty much everything you need to know about the site.

Naturally, with the design contests that you can enter, you can also launch your own contests. A nice new logo or web design can really put a spark into any company and paying a few hundred dollars for a professional-looking design is definitely worth it. If you don't believe me, check out some of the designs for other contests and you'll see what 99designs users are made of.
The process is quick and easy and within about a week, an average of 35 designs will be in for your judging. Merely, choose a contest type (e.g. t-shirt, logo, print etc.), write a description of what you want, decide on a prize and you'll be off and running.
With all these useful features, you're sure to find something you like at 99designs.

One Rule You Can't Afford Not to Follow: Avoid Online Get-Rich-Quick Scams

In your life of web browsing, you probably have come across many "paid online surveys", "paid surfing", "paid to test products" and "paid to complete offers" sites and so have I. I had thought that one day, one of these get-rich-quick scams would actually work. But now I know better as my email inbox is being flooded with spam from these websites to the point where I get over 100 spam messages within a week.
Plus, I've wasted hundreds of hours looking these up and then trying them out to come to nothing. In fact, I haven't earned a single cent for my efforts, each time finding out in the end that it was all a huge scam. And it's quite disappointing when you've spent a whole afternoon completing offers only to find out that nothing really happens; it can ruin your entire day.
However, I haven't gotten to the point where I'm paying for these opportunities. And trust me, I've seen my fair share of these types of sites. They're the ones with half the page in caps and highlighted in yellow. There's multi-colored text and even a few videos "proving" that the system the site is promoting works. And then of course, at the end there are a few made-up testimonials and finally they ask for the bill. But this isn't where it stops: When you've made up your mind that you don't want to throw your money out of the window, and decide that you want to close your browser, there'll be an alert that pops up and asks you if you're sure you want to leave. Perhaps, accidentally, you press cancel. Then, they'll take you to an extremely irritating robot chat window.
I know though, that if I did give my credit card information to these guys, they not only wouldn't give me anything in return, they would likely steal my identity and begin charging my credit card. I've heard the truly sad stories of this happening.
Slowly, I've trained my eye to recognize these types of pages and immediately close them when I arrive. Here are a few criteria:

1. Pictures of models holding wads of cash
2. Testimonials of any kind (they're usually fake)
3. A profuse amount of emphasis (e.g. coloured words, highlighted words, all caps, bolded words)
4. Impossibly large figures (There isn't the slightest chance that you'll make $2,000 per week taking surveys)
5. Attempts at professional-looking web design
6. Made-up terms ("Constant-profit"? Doesn't that just sound fishy?)

So whenever you see something of this sort, make sure to consult your common sense before making any decisions that could just about ruin your life.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Ultimate Social Network of Entertainment: Share Your Music, Photos, Videos and More on Bebo

On the web, there are literally hundreds of social networks and communities, all begging you to join and start posting. However, not many of these are actually worth your while and most of them, you'll find pretty useless. But there are definitely one or two that you have joined and are finding quite fun to play with. Bebo is one that you absolutely might want to give a try.
The basic concept of Bebo is not to center around the boring stuff but to venture into the world of entertainment. With an array of people joining every day, Bebo is becoming a real competitor in the internet market, hosting really the same things as the Facebooks and the Myspaces but with a different twist. Bebo still has the normal profiles, friends, groups and apps as well as a messaging system and blog platform but it really isn't the same.
As I mentioned before, Bebo looks to project the entertainment side of people with many band profiles as well as the ability to upload music yourself, popular videos that are posted by famous people and organizations which again, you can upload yourself, and various types of books (you can register your self-published ones to get international exposure). Even the skins (graphical customizations of your profile) and groups have a lot to do with entertainment, whether it be the web, music, movies or photos.
Still, this social network does not at all lack in the personal factor. In fact, you can create widgets, polls, quizzes, notes, drawings and comment on others' profiles as well.
So take a few minutes to check out the emerging social network of entertainment, Bebo.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

In Memory of Ted Rogers (1933-2008)

All of Canada has been shaken by the death of Ted Rogers, the former President and CEO of Rogers Communications. He was the one who brought this empire to the place where it is today.
He was described by friends as somebody who persevered and who never gave up and was always thinking of ways to improve himself and his company. His passing yesterday has been mourned by people all across this nation from the MLB stars from the Toronto Blue Jays to his employees at Rogers Communications.

Ted Rogers was somebody who I looked up to growing up because of his good-natured spirit, diligence and wisdom. I aspired to make myself as much like him as possible simply because of all the positive traits that he possessed.
And I express my condolences to the Rogers family and am sorry for their great loss.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A Good But Dying Breed of MP3 Player: The Microsoft Zune

When it was launched, the Microsoft Zune was often touted as an iPod killer and the real next-gen MP3 player but really, it has not lived up to these standards. As its sales numbers and popularity plummet, people's perspectives of Microsoft in the music market have made a turn for the worse. Don't be expecting Microsoft to be making anything close to an iPod killer any time soon.
However, I'm always making an effort to be as impartial as possible so I will explore whether these opinions are actually correct.
Of course, the first aspect that I notice in anything is the quality of the design. And I cannot rightfully say anything negative regarding this facet in the Microsoft Zune. It is definitely very sleek and comes in a number of appealing colors in addition to the unique art shown in the background of the main screen in the MP3 player.
Moreover, the features of the Microsoft Zune- the real content- are not as poor as they are said to be. In fact, every one of these devices supports music, videos, photos, FM radio and even games. And in comparison to other competitors including the iPod, the Zune without doubt is equal to or edges out all of them in each area. The sound quality and organization of music is really no different from that of any other MP3 player while the videos and photos are displayed on a considerably large screen with excellent resolution. Lastly, there should be absolutely no question in anybody's mind that this gadget's games are much better than those offered by Apple; texas hold 'em, space battle and sudoku are more entertaining than connect four and checkers. One thing that the Zune absolutely lacks in though is the aptness of the controlling scrollwheel. Of course, many MP3s don't even have this innovative feature but iPod's version is much easier to use than the Zune's. Another aspect is the Microsoft marketplace, which does not have nearly as much variety as Apple's iTunes and is a bit more complex than iTunes.
One really cool tool that Zune has is something called "Buy from FM" where the device will identify any song you hear while listening to the radio and will, when told to, download that song the next time you sync it with your computer. This supplements to Zune's ability to connect wirelessly to the marketplace so you can download that song that's been stuck in your head the whole day, on the go.
Lastly, let's look at the prices. There are five different Zunes with 4 GB, 8 GB, 16 GB, 80 GB and 120 GB. They are $99.99, $139.99, $179.99, $229.99 and $249.99 respectively. Most of these cost $10-$20 less than the corresponding iPod.
But is this merited; that's for you to decide. I believe quite firmly that the iPod is better than the Zune but the latter should be the instinctive alternative to the former.

The One Place Where People Will Listen To Your Opinion: ForandAgainst Debate

You go to work; your boss won't listen to you. You go back home; your spouse won't listen to you. You go to the mall; the employees won't listen to you. But there is one place where perhaps, your perspective actually counts and that place as to be ForandAgainst. ForandAgainst is a debate site that isn't just some blog where you'll get only a few select readers or a social network where only your friends will actually consider what you have to say. And it isn't a rough, inferior debate community either; it's the one place you sould turn to really get your view on things out.
With this website, you can vote for user-created debates, then declare your side in words, which you can keep short or add facts and evidence to. But you don't have to just stick with that, you can create your own debates, that will put your thoughts to the test in the web. Others can tell you what they think about that and basically, you'll be able to initiate an interactive discussion, with comments going back and forth, on pretty much any matter, whether it's fashion, sports, politics or anything else you can think of.
But ForandAgainst can act as a sort of social community as well with tons of features such as individual profiles and even shoutboxes. You can customize your profile picture and even subscribe to your personal RSS feed.
And arguing is incredibly fun, especially with the points system that gives you debater ranks.
You can start debating within about 5 minutes as long as you sign up and of course, it's all free.

In case you're interested, here's my ForandAgainst profile:

Financial Crisis Special: The Premier Blog in Investment Advice

With this financial debacle that we are in right now, I began checking out some money-related sites, not to do a post about them but to obtain some investment advice. However, I thought this page was just too good for you not to take a look at. So I was just thinking as I was surfing, along with all those sports blogs, technology blogs and personal blogs, there should be quite a few investing blogs. Thus, naturally I googled "investment blogs".
The first result was Lloyd's Investment Blog and I was intrigued by the fact that it was hosted by Blogger so I clicked.
Sure, I wasn't particularly impressed by the ads filling the page and the incredibly average design of the page. Plus, this blog gave a new definition to "wall of text" but because of its immense popularity, I decided to look at more in depth anyway.
First of all, I just scrolled down to observe the things he had on the sidebar. Well, I saw mostly ads but what really caught my eye were two badges indicating that the author was a "Best Way to Invest Expert" and a "Seeking Alpha Certified Writer".
After that, I obviously read a few posts. What I noticed was a very professional style, loaded with statistics, graphs, facts and analysis. He gives you advice and makes interpretations in such a precise manner that you know that he can't be wrong. In addition, with all his tellings, he'll back it up with cold, hard information. In fact, Lloyd Sakazaki will often refer to renowned financial experts in his blog.
All in all, with his Ph.D., the author, "an experienced investment banker and global
finance specialist", provides valuable insight and projections that will assist investors of any proficiency with their decisions.