Consulting

With a world of buying choices at our fingertips for anything from eye liner to refrigerators it’s no wonder more and more web sites are adding user reviews and ratings systems to help guide people to the better products. But like all noble pursuits, there are those that “game the system” and use the very resource meant to help people in order to deceive them into parting with their hard earned money. This article is targeted at software developers that create fake favorable reviews and consumers who aren’t familiar with the ways to spot false reviews. Also, I include a message to online retailers/app stores, etc. that do not police their own reviews to strike down false reviews meant to help or hurt a product, and include techniques to ease the burden of self-policing. Note, this article is applicable to practically any site/store that allows reviews of any type of product.

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I have a bit of time so I’ll post an observation. I’ve been reading reviews for various apps and items in various places. And the most helpful and informative reviews look at both the positives of an item and the negatives. The open discussion of what you like about something and what you do not like add to your credibility. What makes reviews even more helpful is when a person makes suggestions on possible ways to improve the product. They help both the people considering the purchase of something and the creator improve their product.

I’ve been doing this a while (reviewing on places like Amazon, B&H Photo, MacUpdate, Apple’s iTMS and AppStore, etc.) and this is the most helpful format I’ve noticed and followed myself in whole or in part. If you have any questions why it is structured this way or why certain topics are suggested please post a comment. Thanks. Now the suggested review format:

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This article was written in reponse to Lion, but it applies to pretty much any OS upgrade, aside from the OS X specific apps mentioned.

  1. Check you critical apps and anything you just can’t do without for compatibility. (Note: Rosetta is gone! you won’t be able to run PPC Apps)
  2. Update the Apps that you can.
  3. Purchase Lion from the App store for $30
  4. Make a USB stick installer out of because the Lion installer self destructs (kind of) after the install: http://osxdaily.com/2011/08/02/easy-way-to-make-lion-install-disk/
  5. Backup your files (or better clone your system to an external HD)
  6. Run Disk Utlities and Repair the Disk then Repair Permissions
  7. If you’re really careful, run a hardware diagnostic on your machine.
  8. Run the installer.
  9. Open the General preferences and check every pane for changes and make adjustments. (for instance you might want to uncheck “Natural Scrolling” in the Trackpad pane if you like the old way to scroll.)
  10. Write a terse but well argued letter to Apple about the changes your don’t like.
  11. Enjoy your new OS. And Check out my review of Lion in case you haven’t already. (Which I must update with my Apple app moving trick….)

Perspective is the ability to step back from one’s self. And evaluate what you have from an outsider’s point of view and really see where you are. Quite literally one of the dictionary definitions of the word perspective is: “true understanding of the relative importance of things.” It’s the fact that realizing that everything is relative, that helps one see where one is truly at.

If I ask someone where they are and they are standing next to me, they might say, “I am here.” But that informs no one without context — but context is what a lot of people forget to include when they’re looking at their situation. It’s really easy to interpret a person’s physical presence from the word “here” because we naturally synthesize the information at our disposal: what we see, hear, feel, etc. in short: their entire environment.

But what a lot of people fail to do is to take synthesize all the things that affect them and take everything into account when the look at what they consider a bad situation. What’s even worse is when some people think they have all the information, and make decisions without thinking of what they might be missing, or things that they are taking for granted and not including in their decision making.

I find it useful to step outside myself, which means setting my personal feelings aside for a minute and looking at myself from what someone else might see. Just that act of looking at your actions or situation from what it must look like to someone that doesn’t understand everything you know helps tremendously. It clarifies and crystalizes things you might not even realize about your situation and even yourself.

So, the next time you find yourself in a crappy situation with someone, take a step back and look at it from a different perspective, and see if your situation is as bad as it seems. Often people I see complaining about what is essentially a problem  that person created himself/herself, either out of thin air or by doing things to rub people the wrong way.

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Fry’s has 2TB Seagate drives for only $150 right now! If only I had a disposable income.

http://www.frys.com/category/Outpost/Hard+Drives+&+Memory/Hard+Drives/Internal+Retail+Kits?site=frysecampaign

Oh well, they’ll be $99 commonly next year.

I also found the Samsung CLP315W printer for $149, the same model that I got my sister last year for less than that at Office Depot. Thing is now newegg’s site is down and I can’t link it. Did new egg implode? The lowest price anyone else has it at is $229, new. I mentioned the CLP315 before, and I read the review at C|Net. It only got 3 Stars there so as far as Laser Printer go it’s only okay, but compared to inkjet’s a slow laser jet with okay output isn’t bad for $149.

I’m also looking at SD cards. This Apple KB Article details that an SD card can be used for booting up OS X! 32GB SD Cards, here I come. In an emergency one of these would be handy. I added 2 of these to my Amazon Wish List — more like “Pipe Dream list.”

Recently a small business owner came to me asking me what I’d recommend for printers. After talking to him about his needs, I recommended the HP CP2025dn because he wanted to go with HP and Color Lasers are significantly cheaper than they used to be.

I also looked at Lexmark’s C544dw which has a few features, such as wireless printing and the ability to be directly connected to the USB bus if needed. Personally I would have gone with the Lexmark since it also features a superior 1200×1200 DPI resolution. But he likes HP’s service. The Xerox 6280DN looked good too though but the wireless printing option was $200 on top of the $450 price tag putting it above the $300-$500 target price I gave him.

He asked about inkjets, but he’s printing a few hundred pages a week, meaning his consumable costs are significant. Besides that fact, he’s running a small business and color laser looks so much more professional than inkjet unless you print on expensive paper.

All in all I gave him the option of going with Lexmark — I wouldn’t have felt right not mentioning what I consider a superior product for only $100 more.