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opinion

Further Proof That Nothing Goes On In Goochland County

By | FAIL, funny, news, opinion | 2 Comments

This further proves my point that nothing ever goes on in Goochland County. I happened to be reading the Goochland Gazette a month or two ago and came across the county’s Incident Report. The winner for most frivulous call for emergency services? Well, see below. Almost all of these “incidents” (with the exception of a few real medical issues) is pretty silly, in my humble opinion. Either way, I got a good laugh out of it. Here’s a scan of the page:

“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.

Exile On Mainstream

By | life, music, opinion | One Comment

I’m a ridiculously-versed music junkie. It’s been established. But not in a cultural or intellectual way. No, I’ve always been a fan of pop, pop-rock, and other processed and acoustically-appealing, unoriginal music. There’s nothing wrong with any of it (with the exception of a few of the new unlistenable bubblegum pop and urban songs). I could easily be a great radio DJ for a any station that plays popular stuff from the past twenty years with all the mainstream stuff I like. But that’s not all there is to the music scene, and I’ve turned a blind eye to the rest of it for way too long.

First off, I’ve just gotten sick of this type of music and hearing the same songs over and over again. I have 200-some channels on my XM Radio in the car, and only listened, until recently, to three or four. How sad is that? So last week I started exploring other stations, and my new favorite is channel 45. It’s called Starbucks XM Cafe. There are many names for the music they play. Some call it coffeehouse music, some call it Triple-A (adult album alternative), and there are others.

Anyway, this station has just gotten me started. There’s so much good stuff out there that’s more down to earth, genuine, original, and appealing. I’ve listened to similar stuff as that station and gotten hooked on the refreshing stream of unprocessed or doctored music. I guess the main thing is I just wanna discover some new artists. If you have a particular favorite alternative artist, comment this post and pass them along! I’m done with this pop crap. There’s so much more to life, musically speaking.

Ridiculous Ford F650 Parked Outside My House

By | environmental issues, opinion, rants, sarcasm | No Comments

I had just gotten out of the shower this morning when I heard what sounded like either a train or cruise ship horn go off in my cul-de-sac. I looked out my window and saw this monstrosity of a truck.

Upon closer examination, I found out it’s a Ford F650, and whoever drives it has a whole lot more money than sense, that’s all I’ve got to say. It pulled up to my neighbors’ house and they got in for a ride and went around the neighborhood. Then it disappeared again for a while, probably because it was time for another $400 tank of gas after going around the block once. The price of diesel is scary.

Who would want one of these? It’s just over the top. They’re made for hauling. Hummers are bad enough on gas, but whoever bought this thing oughtta be embarrassed. What a waste. Here’s a picture of it I snapped this morning:

2000s Music: What Will It Be Remembered For?

By | music, opinion, sarcasm | One Comment

I’ve probably delved a little bit into this subject before, but I’ve actually done some deep thinking about it this time. Every decade since the 1950s has had a few things it’s remembered for musically. But what will people be thinking when they look back in ten or twenty years on the music of the 2000s? (As a side note, does that sound weird to anyone else, saying “2000s,” or is it just me?)

Here’s what I’ve been able to gather just by my own humble listening observations. In the early 2000s, you had post-grunge bands start to emerge, such as Three Days Grace and Nickelback. They’re doing well now, but manufactured pop (some of the stuff being played on Top 40 stations such as Richmond’s Q94 is getting almost unlistenable, cheesy and awful lately) has become more commonplace. I can think of two prime examples of annoying, manufactured pop becoming more center-stage.

The first example is Gwen Stefani. She used to be the lead singer of No Doubt in the 1990s and early 2000s. I really liked No Doubt. A few years ago when she started her solo career, she (in my opinion) regressed severely into the teen/bubblegum pop sinkhole (For a thorough definition of the word “sinkhole” in this context, try and force yourself to get through the duration of her song, “Hollaback Girl”).

Second example? Avril Lavigne. She made her debut in the early 2000s as a refreshing alternative pop rock artist with a unique sound. She, too, has now fallen into the hole (Compare her 2002 song “Complicated” with last year’s “Girlfriend” for clarification).

Punk pop groups (I like some, but others drive me up the wall) such as The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Quietdrive, and Simple Plan (Is it just me or do all the lead singers of these bands have the exact same high pitch, whiny voices?), also surfaced a lot more throughout the decade.

The urban scene has also seen unprecedented mainstream growth, and with more varieties. There is a clear difference between the urban sound of even the late 1990s and today. There’s a lot more electronic influence and instruments, as well as voice synthesizers  and a lot of resampling.

Singer-songwriters have made a big comeback, too. James Blunt, Jack Johnson, and John Mayer have seen great success in their careers. Their mellow, voice-driven tracks are refreshing in a sea of otherwise manufactured music. I’ll get to that in a minute. Other successful singer-songwriters like Sara Bareilles and Colbie Caillat have really brought us back to earth in the same respect, as well.

1990s favorites such as The Gin Blossoms, The Goo Goo Dolls, and Collective Soul have made attempts throughout the 2000s to put out new singles and have, for the most part, failed. They just don’t have the musical charisma they had in the late ’90s. Don’t get me wrong, these were some of my favorite artists in the mid 1990s, but they just don’t make the same kind of music anymore. I bet that will change throughout the next decade, because it seems as if trends skip a decade and come back.

Emo music (I’m cringing) will be another thing the decade is remembered for. Evanescence started the trend in the early 2000s, and the movement has grown in recent years. They’re not as bad as some other emo-type bands, but they’re still a little to dark and “I-hate-my-life” for my tastes.

So where do we stand? We’re in the midst of a small 1980s revival, strangely enough in urban music, with the use of ’80s sound effects and keyboards. What’s old is new again. It’s only natural. How much more can we really do technology-wise, without having them all sound manufactured and computer-generated, anyway? There’s been a trend of ’80s music being resampled and artists making successful comebacks, such as INXS, Duran Duran, and The Cars (reincarnated as The New Cars).

It will be really interesting to see where things go as we head into the next decade. It was even more interesting to see the musical soundscape evolve throughout this decade. I was so young in the 1990s that deciphering the music of that decade is more like just digging around in the past. This was right before my eyes, and I find it pretty fascinating.

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.

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.