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business

Choosing The Right Path & My Secret Dream Career

By | business, life | 2 Comments

It’s 3:30 AM and again, and here I sit, awoken by some more deep thoughts about life and where I want to be. In less than an hour and a half, at 5:00 AM, I’m supposed to be on the road to Radford University to repair computers for Attronica. That’s seven hours on the road by my lonesome, which I’d usually enjoy. I love driving (especially when I don’t have to pay for the gas), but I thought I’d try and write out the reasons I can’t sleep right now to try and remain sane in the car with all that alone time to be contemplative about life.

I don’t know what it is, but when I wake up in the middle of the night like this, albeit rare, it’s usually because I’m subconsciously thinking about my life thus far. I think I’m still grappling with the fact that I’m twenty years old, for one. I may not be quite to the age where John Mayer claims he has a “quarter-life crisis,” but it doesn’t change the fact that I’m already questioning what I’ve done and what I’m currently doing in my life.

First off, I feel like I dove into the working world a little earlier than most. Sure, most people my age have jobs, and some of them have full time jobs at that (such as myself), but most aren’t doing anything “corporate.” It’s not that I really work in a corporate environment in its most quintessential meaning, in a tiny cubical doing repetitive tasks, but I still feel like I’m doing something way more “business-like” than most of my friends making lattes or running checkout lines. I have a great job, make good money, and enjoy the spontaneous nature of it (for example, I didn’t know I’d be sent to Radford until around noon yesterday). I guess doing a job like this typically held by someone much older than myself makes me, in turn, feel older than I am. I worked a similar job last summer, but only for two days a week. This is the “real world.” Okay, enough unintentional John Mayer lyric references.

The whole “feeling older” thing brings me to my next point. In ten years, I’ll be thirty. Frankly, that scares the crap out of me; I won’t lie. It’s frightening how fast you grow up and start approaching your middle adult years. I’m faced with questions such as whether I’m really “living up” my college years, which, supposedly, are the best four years of life. This isn’t college as I ever imagined it’d be when I was growing up. I’m at a school who’s “campus” is the City of Richmond and I commute twenty miles from home. It’s hard to form meaningful friendships with anyone when you don’t live on campus. Sure, I have the best group of friends a guy could ask for, but none of them are really people at VCU. I’m seriously considering whether I made the right decision by going here, and if transferring somewhere else would make me happier.

The school situation also brings me to an even bigger point, which is what I want to do with my life. I have so many different interests. I’m also in the process of creating my own business. I finally have plans to get DowntownShortPump.com off the ground and generate (at least a little) sustainable income with it. I wrote a two-page business plan out last night about my future plans for the site, and possibly others, and they are nothing short of big. I’m a dreamer. I could definitely see myself running this and other future sites as a full-fledged business in the future, but I just don’t know what I want to do.

I really do think I was born in the wrong decade. No, not just because I love ’70s and ’80s music, but because I’m into all sorts of interests and areas that are, sadly, kind of past their peak. One of those is terrestrial radio. Now I’m not going to be a hypocrite here. I’ll openly admit I have both an iPod and XM Radio subscription in my car, which are two big contributors to the decline in radio, but that’s mainly because the Richmond radio scene has long been uninteresting. We don’t even have a Hot AC station (stop fooling yourselves, Mix 103-7, your music mix is bland as a saltine cracker).

So while Richmond radio has never impressed me much, one station has. Beach 104 (WCXL) in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Now if you know me at all, you know I love everything about the Outer Banks. This station is no exception. I know it sounds ridiculous, but this station is the whole reason I have had a long-secret desire to work in radio. I guess I started associating it with good memories of the beach from a very early age (we’re talking mid-’90s here), and ever since then I’ve loved everything about them.

There’s nothing I look forward to more when headed to the Outer Banks (other than being on vacation itself) than being able to tune into this station. Not only do they have the best mix of music anywhere (especially the ’90s stuff- you all know how much I love mid-’90s pop and alternative rock), but they have a certain draw I can’t explain. I’ve felt for years that I should live down there and work at this station. Something about that just feels right. Once again, I know this sounds strange, but it’s true. I can’t put my finger on what that feeling is, but it’s a notion that working there is exactly what I should be doing in my life. I know there’s not much money to be had in radio, but I’d love to do it for a few years, or as a side job. I’d love to DJ or do voiceover work. In fact, even if I never make it into the radio field, I’d love to somehow get into doing voice work, whether for commercials or just for smaller projects.

Well, I could go on, but after an hour of writing, at 4:30 AM, I have to get ready to leave for Radford in about a half an hour. I feel better now, having written all of this out. I have a lot to figure out, but I’m going to hand it over to God and pray that He will direct me towards the path I need to take in life.

Summer Goal #5: Finish DowntownShortPump.com

By | business, technology | No Comments

Almost four years ago, I purchased the domain name www.downtownshortpump.com. It was a site owned by the developer of the Downtown Short Pump complex with Barnes & Noble and Regal Cinemas. They used it as promotion for their shopping center and etched it into two huge signs at the busiest intersection in Henrico County (West Broad Street and Pouncey Tract Road). They let the name expire. I bought it for eight bucks (you snooze, you lose)! I let the domain name sit idle for a year, then made some attempts at developing it, but never got far.

After three revisions, I’m finally at the point where it looks professional enough to market as a good advertising space. I’m getting well over a thousand hits per day at this point, and have made lots of efforts at collecting data to make the site more comprehensive. Advertising efforts are starting off slow, but I have a plan of attack that will bring me more success, including full-color, glossy brochures. You’ve got to truly believe something can succeed if you want it to. I believe I can achieve success with this business, it’s just going to take some time and hard work.

I’ll keep everyone posted on the progress. As for now, I’m closing in on several major advertising contracts and working up a pitch for future businesses to advertise. I’m very optimistic about the future of the site!

“Henrico, Virginia” Mailing Address Coming Soon

By | business, news, opinion | No Comments

If your mailing address is Richmond, Virginia, but you live most anywhere in Henrico County, your address will soon change to Henrico, Virginia. Why? Henrico County loses millions of dollars every year to the City of Richmond. Big corporate chains that are based outside of the area think that because the mailing address is Richmond, the taxes should be paid there. This adds up quickly. Well that’s interesting enough alone. But it gets better.

Henrico County sent out a mail survey asking residents if they wanted to change the name to Henrico or leave it Richmond. They also did a TV ad campaign. Fair enough. What I don’t get is that Richmond did an ad, too! Richmond Mayor Doug Wilder (leave it to him) decided it would be a competition and fought to keep the undeserved money in the city! Then again this is Doug Wilder we are talking about here. Should we be surprised in the least? He needs to go.

Lifelock CEO Becomes Victim Of Identity Theft Himself!

By | business, FAIL, news, opinion | 3 Comments

How’s this for ironic? The CEO of Lifelock, Todd Davis, has finally been hacked himself! He’s the guy that advertises his real social security number on billbords, trucks, television, and radio.

And while this may be to prove the point that he has total faith in his company, which protects you from any identity theft attempts and backs up the protection with a $1 million liability guarantee should anyone succeed in using your good name.

In my opinion, it’s just stupid to openly advertise your social security number, even if you do have this service. It serves him right. Here’s an online article about the whole thing. His picture should go on the FAIL Blog!

Why did Todd Davis, CEO of Lifelock, need to contract with an outside firm when his own identity was stolen last summer? Because true resolution does not come easy…. and is not a marketing gimick. Who did Mr. Davis choose to handle his personal financial recovery when his fraud alert system failed? An Identity Theft America partner, National ID Recovery.

According to an article that appeared in the Dallas Morning News on July 23, 2007, Mr. Davis became a victim when a man obtained a $500 payday loan in his name. This, despite the fact Mr. Davis was using the well-advertised Lifelock services.

According to the article, Teletrack, a subprime credit bureau that was used by the payday loan lender, doesn’t receive fraud alerts from the three national credit bureaus – Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. In the article, Mr. Davis admitted that “Fraud alerts aren’t always going to be bulletproof. There are areas where someone can still compromise your information.” This despite the fact that Mr. Davis advertises his social security number in the media to convince consumers that his system can prevent identity theft.

You can’t afford to be left with no where to turn and empty promises with fine print. Make the same choice that identity theft industry executives use when the chips are down. Identity Theft America assures quality, professional services to help with identity theft. Regardless of the advertising, there is no prevention for identity theft, so be prepared if it happens to you.

God Help Us All, Dollar Tree Now Sells Meat

By | business, food, funny, sarcasm | 4 Comments

You’ve got to be kidding me. I like Dollar Tree for some things, but this is ridiculous. This is an actual newspaper ad I scanned in from the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Dollar Tree is now offering hot dogs and even, get this, steaks! How much? A dollar, of course. Just like everything else. Does this not scare and worry anyone else? I was already weary of buying meat at Food Lion, but this makes them look pretty good. Also, notice the top right hand corner. Dollar Tree is apparently “graduation party headquarters?” Well of course! Wow, this is like one of those headlines people send in to Jay Leno.

I’m Employed

By | business | One Comment

So just to update everyone, I finally found a job. I’m working at Attronica Computers, Inc. off of Nuckols Road. I’m in the Engineering Department as a Computer Technician. This week I’m mainly at the University of Richmond doing some help desk work (Attronica as a contract with them for their computer systems). I love what I’m doing and the experience I’m gaining, and just overall so thankful I have a job, and one I really like at that! More to come, but just wanted to update everyone on that.

Facebook Chat: Feeding The Addiction

By | business, opinion, sarcasm, technology | No Comments

So the release of Facebook Chat is all the buzz this morning, at least from what I can judge by the status updates of my friends. Apparently no one saw it coming. I’ve known about it for a couple of weeks, but didn’t think it would be released for a while.

This is bad news for people like me who are already borderline addicted to Facebook. It’s just like putting a six pack in front of an alcoholic. The temptation is just too great. The interesting thing to note, though, is that Facebook sees this as an AIM-killer. They think that by integrating a chat system into their already intricate social network, users will see it as a one-stop shop for social networking and instant messaging, putting AOL Instant Messenger on the back burner. I don’t know about that.

Personally, I’ve had an AIM screen name for almost ten years. Most people I know have had theirs for years and years, too. I don’t think you’re going to see an abandonment of any grand scale anytime soon, if ever. It’s not so much that people are loyal to products like AIM, it’s their familiarity factor and the average computer user’s resistance to dramatic change in the technology realm that will ultimately save AIM’s bottom line.

Then again, I don’t use the AIM client itself, but rather a Mac program called Adium. I’ve always been surprised that AIM allows other programs to use its network, because by doing so there’s no banner ad or anything like there is on the actual AIM program and consequently no money in the pockets of AOL. But of course I applaud them for having such an open source platform of sorts.

At any rate, it’s a nice new feature, but Facebook’s claim that it’ll take over AIM is about as threatening as Microsoft’s claim two years ago that the Zune would be an iPod killer. And we all know how that one turned out. I’m still laughing at you two years later, Bill Gates.

2008: The Year Of Green?

By | business, environmental issues | One Comment

So it’s Earth Day. I remember Earth Day coming around years ago and nobody really made a big deal about it. Well, I’m happy to say that’s really changed. 2008 is looking like it will go down in the books as “The Year Of Green” or something to that effect when we look back on it in the next decade or so. The whole eco-friendly thing is finally starting to catch on.

Everywhere you look, there are environmental themes. NBC has done a ton of things to get the public on board with their “Green Is Universal” campaign. This week, in fact, is “Green Week.” All of their shows have environmental themes, including sitcoms. I applaud them for all of their work. I’ve said this before, but I’ll repeat it again because it’s so true. Corporate America has a tremendous amount of influence on our lives. They’re extremely powerful, and they can use that power either positively or negatively. The kind of positive energy NBC is exuding is what we need across the board.

Tomorrow, in one of my Green Wednesday weekly posts, I’ll the corporate heavyweights and their efforts more in depth. We’re making big steps in the right direction, but there’s so much more we need to do on both individual and international levels if we want to stop global warming before we’re at the point of no return, which experts on the subject claim is only about a decade away.

The DTV Switchover Scam: Don’t Get Taken!

By | business, news, opinion, rants, sarcasm, technology | One Comment

You’ve probably seen those not-so-creative TV advertisements the National Association Of Broadcasters has put out in an effort to scare inform the general public about how their TVs will no longer work after February 17, 2009. Why? The federal government has mandated that all over-the-air stations turn off their analog signals by that date. The government has auctioned off the analog spectrum to private companies. For more on this, see my post, “AT&T To Bring Free Wi-Fi To Starbucks And Beyond!” where you can learn more about the plans.

Anyway, leave it to Corporate America to capitalize on consumer confusion and take advantage of all of the many people who don’t know anything about what’s really going on with the digital switchover.

Oh, before I go any further, please notice the picture on the left. I added my own caption commentary, but the picture is for real. It’s on the joke-of-a-website DTVAnswers.com. Lets have a moment of honesty and self-reflection here. Do you or anyone you know watch TV like this? Unless they just gambled their life savings on a horse race and just won, there is no way they could be this scary-happy without hard drugs. But I digress.

These TV ads are putting many people in a frenzy. My friend’s family just replaced every TV in their house because they thought without a new TV, each with a digital box connected to it, they wouldn’t be able to watch TV anymore. They already had Comcast standard cable, but they thought they needed both new TVs and to upgrade to Comcast’s digital package (hence the digital boxes) to receive programming. Comcast’s boxes and the ones the government is offering are completely different! The cable industry is raking in the big bucks this year because of misinformed people such as this family.

My grandparents recently got a second digital box from Comcast for their second TV because of the same confusion. I know there must be countless other individuals doing the same thing and flushing money down the tubes to these companies who are using shady advertising tactics to trick consumers. Don’t get screwed over by the cable industry. Here are the cold, hard facts.

If you’re one of the diminishing number of people who uses “rabbit ears” to pick up local broadcast stations and have a TV that’s more than a couple of years old, you won’t be able to pick up the signal after February 17, 2009, without a digital set-top converter box (available free or at a discount rate from the government). If you have cable from any provider at all, such as Comcast or Verizon, you don’t have to do anything. You’re not affected in any way, shape, or form, and don’t let them convince you otherwise.

The government isn’t very clear about who’s affected either. Is this Bush’s backdoor plan to help the economy by helping manufacturers selling millions of dollars TVs and related equipment and the cable and satellite industry make record profits? Okay, probably not. But that is what’s happening in these industries. Don’t get taken!

 

Circuit City + Blockbuster = Circuitbuster?

By | business, news, opinion | No Comments

News has just surfaced in the past couple of days that struggling movie rental company Blockbuster has offered a billion dollars to buy out similarly struggling electronics retailer Circuit City, based here in Richmond.

Blockbuster executives claim it would uniquely position Circuit City, the number two electronics retailer in the United States, to have a more competitive retail concept. How? By pairing electronics and end-user content together, similar to the way the Apple Store does.

But on a personal note, I don’t know how Blockbuster can afford such a deal, seeing how much of a hit they’ve taken in the past few years with rivals such as Netflix undermining their business (although they do have their own service, Blockbuster Online, of which I’m a customer, and it’s better than Netflix if you ask me because you have the option of instant in-store exchange).

In my opinion, bringing these two companies together seems comparable to raising a flag on not just one sinking ship, but two. I’ll be really interested to see what happens if the deal ends up going through.

“Blockbuster Stumbles On Hostile Takeover” – via Business Week

Shares of Blockbuster Inc. plunged to an all-time low Monday after it announced a $1 billion-plus hostile takeover bid for No. 2 electronics retailer Circuit City Inc., earning it a downgrade from a BMO Capital Markets analyst. Shares of the Dallas-based movie rental chain lost 32 cents, or 10.2 percent, to close at $2.81 after falling to a new low of $2.52 earlier in the day. Jeffrey Logsdon said in a note to analysts that he was “uncomfortable” with the deal and said it has the potential to divert management attention and financial resources from its own recovery.

Shares of Blockbuster have lost more than half their value since trading at an annual high of $6.67 a year ago. The company has struggled to compete with online movie operators such as Netflix Inc., and Circuit City management has questioned whether Blockbuster can finance the deal. Logsdon lowered Blockbuster to “Market Perform” from “Outperform” and cut his nine- to 15-month price target to $3 from $5. The analyst said the buyout creates a “two-front war” as the company struggles with its own financial problems. He further criticized the deal, saying it would take nine to 12 months to close and another year after before any financial benefit is realized. Furthermore, Blockbuster will likely have to use equity to pay for the deal, which will further push the stock downward, he said. “We find it difficult to imagine that fighting what amounts to a two-front war will ultimately enhance value for (Blockbuster) shareholders,” Logsdon said.

On Monday, Blockbuster announced that it would go straight to shareholders and pay between $6 and $8 per share in cash for Circuit City after saying the struggling retailer had not responded to repeated offers. The deal values Circuit City between $1.01 billion and $1.35 billion, based on its 168.4 million outstanding shares as of Dec. 31. The offer adds a 25 percent to 67 percent premium on Circuit City shares, based on their $4.79 closing price on Feb. 15, the last trading day before Blockbuster made its offer. Shares of Circuit City, based in Richmond, Va., soared $1.07, or 27.4 percent, to close at $4.97.