Living in the Future, 2015 Edition

January 5, 2015 8:20pm
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20150105_techtv

I’m a nostalgic guy, and especially when it comes to tech, sometimes I honestly just find myself in awe when I stop and think of how far things have come just here in my own modest lifetime.

Case in point – above is a screenshot of This Week in Tech, Leo Laporte’s sequel to TechTV after it merged with Comcast’s gaming channel and subsequently went belly up about a decade-ish ago? The show started as a simple podcast in a bar with some friends and has since grown into an entire network of technology-based programming, arguably better than TechTV was at its best (and probably more profitable!).

But that’s not the amazing part, believe it or not … well, it’s one of them! What really amazes me though is simply that what you’re looking at there is streaming HD video that I’m pulling through Plex onto my new 4k TV, and it looks beautiful.

This is a big deal to me because I first started watching Leo & his friends on TechTV when digital cable first rolled out to my neighborhood up in Northern Michigan, and at the time we were excited to get a whopping 1 Mbps down and I’m sure some fraction of that up! The package was about $100 for digital cable and broadband – I remember because I paid for it out of my own money when I still lived in my Mom’s basement.

Timeframe was probably around 2000-2001.

So now here we are 15 years later, and in comparison to how things were at the time we really are living in the future!

  • In 2001, we had just shrugged off the chains of dial-up in favor of high-speed broadband Internet.
  • In 2015, I have a 75 Mbps fiber line connected to my home that facilitates HD streaming and can download the equivalent of one optical CD-ROM from 2001 in less than a minute and a half!
  • In 2001, cell phones were just starting to become a thing – I think my voice-only Nokia candy bar phone had 100-minutes a month of air time.
  • In 2015, nobody uses their cell phones for calling anymore, but 4G speeds connect to that same Internet to give me access almost anywhere at speeds rivaling my home connection!
  • In 2001, HD was the new, new thing and for the first couple of years, Discovery HD Theater was how many of us justified buying our brand new, gigantic HD TVs.
  • In 2015, I just upgraded to a new 4k TV that has four times the resolution of HD, and even though there’s only one movie available for it in true 4k today, even just watching the trailer makes me drool for a copy of the full-res film to really see what this thing is capable of!

Technology has always been an exciting part of my life and today I find myself surrounded by more gadgets than ever, from advanced video game systems to tablets and smart phones to a new streaming media server right here in my own home. In a way, it’s just kind of crazy to be able to pull up TWiT on this ginormous 4k screen in my living room because 15 years ago I used to watch the same guy teaching me about tech stuff on an old TV setup next to my computer while I was building the very first version of Just Laugh.

…and ethernet cables spanned the floor because I hadn’t quite gotten wifi figured out on my laptop just yet!

It makes me wonder what the whole landscape is going to be like when Christopher gets to be in his teens, but then again, just like how *I* grew up on 8-bit consoles and an Apple II clone, my son is going to grow up in a world where you’re never really not connected to all of those people and all of that information.

In fact, by the time he’s old enough to notice that kind of stuff…

  • 75 Mbps Internet is going to feel slow to him.
  • The Nintendo Wii will be considered a retro video game console.
  • And it’s really going to drive him nuts that the cable company still doesn’t take those stupid lower resolution channels out of their line-up when better options are available!

As a wise man once said, it’s a great big beautiful tomorrow, and I for one am kind of curious to see where the next 15-20 years actually takes us! 😉

48 Hours with my New iPhone

November 13, 2014 4:55pm
Tagged with:

iphone6

After nearly a month and a half wait because apparently I’m not the only one who ordered one of these shiny, new iPhone 6s, they finally came in the mail Tuesday morning and the upgrade from my old phone was surprisingly seamless for both me and my wife’s phones, and I’ve got to say that I’m kind of loving it in a few ways that I hadn’t really been expecting!

So before this update, we were actually both still on our original iPhone 4s that we got when the iPhone first came to Verizon back in 2011. I had been through two of them, with one replaced literally days before the 1-year warranty was to expire, and even with my replacement now a couple of years later the lock button no longer works.

Remember this?

I hadn’t really put much thought into it because $300 x2 wasn’t exactly cash that we just had lying around, and then Verizon went and did this $200 for any iPhone trade-in, and here we are! It’s funny to look back and see that only three years ago I wrote this little love letter about getting my first iPhone, but now it’s time to throw that one to the curb and frankly, so far I think I made the right choice with putting the old horse down! 😉

What I like about the new phone…

  • Touch ID is a DREAM!!! I thought it was going to be terrible and pointless like most consumer-grade fingerprint ID hardware is, but they did a really good job with it when you consider the application for a phone. Despite my better judgment, I never had a PIN setup on my old phone because they’re a pain in the ass to enter whenever you want to do a single thing on it, but Touch ID makes it super simple – I ended up scanning in both index fingers and thumbs so no matter how I’m holding it, it’s easy to enter and so far it works great. And granted, in reality it may not be MacGyver-proof security, but for the random cases of somebody coming across my phone and not having my finger handy, it’s good enough for me!
  • It’s nice to feel speed again! Facebook in particular had gotten pretty horrible to use on my old phone, but it updates and posts like new again with a processor that’s several generations newer and twice as much RAM as my iPhone 4 used to have. I’ve already found myself re-exploring apps that I’d downloaded before and never really used while I was cleaning out some of the ones that I didn’t want. Plus, the camera is significantly better, so for those excited about what I eat for dinner but who were tired of straining through the darkness to see what anything was, look out!
  • It FEELS like a new phone. Because to be honest, I never really got amped up about the iPhone 4S or 5 because aside from a slightly larger display and better hardware, the previous upgrades didn’t really feel like new phones to me – or at least not enough to warrant dropping another $600 to replace both of ours. And I didn’t think that I’d like the new curved form factor to this one, but it’s really kind of growing on me – the screen is a third bigger, but not too big like some of the more recent Samsung Galaxy phones and even the iPhone 6 Plus, and my biggest critique is really that the lock button moved … which I suppose that I’ll get used to considering that mine’s been broken and I’ve been using AssistiveTouch for the last six months anyways!

In a way I feel kind of spoiled right now because it looks like this might not be the only splurging that we’re doing technology-wise this year and between now and Christmas I’ll likely have a couple of other new toys to play with that I’m really looking forward to as well! Then again, I suppose if I look back over the last couple of years, tech has really been kind of quiet in my life whereas I used to be building computers and rewiring home theater equipment and fighting with my home network all of the time! So it’s also been fun to re-explore technology over the last couple of days as I get used to the latest computer that I carry around in my pocket everywhere I go, giving me instant access to information, people, games, and so much more.

Siri: Living in the future is awesome! :mrgreen:

Steve Wozniak on Net Neutrality

May 12, 2014 3:40pm
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“The early Internet was so accidental, it also was free and open in this sense. The Internet has become as important as anything man has ever created. But those freedoms are being chipped away.”

This is a great open letter from the co-founder of Apple Computers, Steve Wozniak … it’s dated a few years ago, yet go figure that we’re still fighting these same battles, and consequently losing them quite rapidly.

The Internet will be such a different place in the next decade if ISPs are permitted to bill multiple times for the same services like they’re gunning for, and sometimes getting away with, today. Small publishers like myself can’t afford to pay toll charges to Verizon and Comcast and AT&T and Time Warner in addition to the charges that we pay for the same thing to our own hosting providers, and if you think today’s discussions are going to stop at the big players like Netflix and Google, then you’re delusional because once you have a precedence to charge extra for access, why not?!

ISPs don’t have anything to lose if millions of smaller sites simply aren’t on the Internet anymore or not. Pay up or disappear into the slow lanes – it doesn’t really matter to their bottom line once they’re allowed to do it. Give it a few years and for every Facebook and Netflix who gets coerced into paying for subscriber access and how many small sites will start disappearing by the thousands???

Businesses like the telecoms who have built their networks on taxpayer subsidies and short-changed us at every corner are the exact reason why we need Internet regulation because if left to the free market, we’d be back in the days of AOL and CompuServe where networks are isolated and nobody plays together with anybody else and my Internet isn’t actually the same as your Internet because it’s all about dollars and cents.

The Internet is much larger than that, and needs to remain open to all.

“Misunderstood”

December 20, 2013 5:24pm
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Loved this ad, and I can kind of relate to it. Offers up a good point – don’t be so quick to write off the anti-social … you might be surprised to find that they’re doing a lot more than you think…

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I think it’s time that we as consumers started demanding more of the companies that we support with our business.

Specifically, when they make a mistake that inconveniences us, I think that they should acknowledge that and make at least a small effort to be sympathetic to their mistakes. Is that too much to ask???

I wanted to write about this because I’ve kinda been fuming all evening after my interactions with Best Buy went increasingly sour regarding the new TV that I ordered from them on Black Friday. You see, it arrived via UPS yesterday – a day late – but more importantly, it was damaged in shipment and the screen had been shattered. It happens … stuff gets piled on top of stuff that it shouldn’t, contents shift during transport … I’ve driven a delivery truck before, so I know that sometimes these things happen, but it’s how the error was actually handled that really rubbed me the wrong way…

I called BestBuy.com last night almost immediately after I disappointingly found the broken screen. I spent a good 20 minutes on hold before I finally reached someone who milled about before finally asking why I hadn’t called the store instead. I explained that it was a BestBuy.com order, despite being placed in the store, and the store doesn’t even stock that item, so I called the number that was on my e-mail from the order.

He called someone at the store and transferred me to her anyways, who was actually really nice and told me to bring the TV in today and they would take care of it there. When I mentioned that her store wouldn’t have a replacement because stores don’t carry that model, she replied that maybe it could be exchanged for a similar model, or I could have a new one shipped there instead so that I didn’t have to worry about trusting UPS again.

So jump ahead to today … I took the broken TV in to the store and actually got the same Customer Service guy who had ordered it for me on Black Friday last week, and at first he seemed like he could take care of everything, even though he had to check with someone else for procedures. When he noted that they still didn’t have that model in-store, he suggested that I go over and look at the other models to see about a comparable, and in the meantime he would figure out what the other options were.

I did that and found a guy who helped me to locate the next model up in the same product line. I decided that I really wanted to stay with Samsung because right now we have two other TVs from them in the house and I’m fairly satisfied with them, so here’s what we came up with:

Pretty much the only difference was the refresh rate – everything else stayed the same … Smart TV Apps, size, brand, no 3D. It seemed like a decent option that wasn’t too much more expensive, and they had the replacement in store, so I hoped that would be the end of it.

Take it back to my new friend at customer service and he looks it up, disappears for a bit, then comes back and says, “No, it’s too much of a difference – we’re not allowed to go more than $200 over the sales price…” to which I reply, “Then this is actually perfect because it’s only $170 over that.”

But no, because apparently they’re going by the Black Friday price that I bought it for, not their current list price, even though that’s what the TV is actually worth and you’re not comparing apples to apples if you compare a sale price to a non-sale price. From their perspective, somehow it was actually a $350 difference, which from my perspective is just dumb.

The best that he could do was to give the new TV to me at the Black Friday price, which was a difference of $150. And there was no way in hell that I was going to get duped into buying even more TV when I’d brought in a damaged TV in the first place!!!

And then it got worse … my other option to have another one just like the first one shipped out … didn’t exist anymore … because the TV was now discontinued and they didn’t have anymore left.

This is where I started to get pissed.

Nevermind that I’ve been shopping at Best Buy for probably two decades, ever since my Dad started shopping there when I was a kid. Nevermind that I’ve bought pretty much every major appliance in my house there, and my old TV, and countless other video games and movies and accessories.

I’m told that the reason they can’t give me the upgraded TV is because of an agreement with Samsung that’s out of the store’s hands and that the store can’t just take a $180 loss and call it a day, so instead we screw the customer because the first TV that he tried to order got damaged in shipment and now we can’t get him another one unless he either picks something else or pays us even more money.

It was at this point where I was trying really hard not to be that asshole customer, and I knew that the customer service guy wasn’t directly at fault, but Best Buy didn’t exactly give him much to help keep me happy.

After another 30 minutes of waiting, he magically might’ve found another TV like mine (less the broken screen, that is) in another store on the other side of town, but he was waiting for them to call him back to confirm. While we waited, he explained that he could have it transferred up to his store, which would take another 3-5 business days … plus I would have to come back a third time to pick it up.

At that point I explained to him that I thought all of it was ridiculous and that I didn’t feel like my time was very valued to Best Buy, but I think I’d been written off as one of those customers by then. Really, the nerve of me being upset because they sold me a defective product, then wanting a replacement without having to go out of my way to get it!

The longer I waited, the angrier I got as I counted down the time lost between UPS’s delay in delivery and the time on hold the night before and now the time wasted in the store.

Once the store finally called back and confirmed that they did have it in stock, despite all odds, I told him that I’d just drive down and get it myself because at least it could be done that evening and otherwise it was going to require another trip on my part anyways. He cut me a gift card for the exact amount of my purchase and that was about the end of our interaction … no further apology or sympathy after working with me for over an hour.

Of course, when I got down to the other store, the first girl I talked to had no idea what I was talking about and cited that she’d been working the phone all night and hadn’t talked to anyone from the other store, so we waited some more – this time with my wife in tow – until finally a manager came by who had been talking to the guy from the other store and knew exactly what was up, and then went and got the TV and helped get us rang up.

He mentioned that the only reason they had them in stock was because they had been ordered for a customer and never picked up, not because they have a bigger show floor like the first guy had proposed.

And despite his ability to help give me a TV that wasn’t broken, he wasn’t particularly sympathetic either … I retold him parts of the story, thinking that maybe he would step up and help make things right after my wife suggested in the car that I should’ve asked to speak to the manager at the first store rather than just taking his comments in relay, but the most I got out of him was, “Yeah, that’s a long drive from XYZ Store…”

Yeah, no shit, and I just did it because YOUR COMPANY fucked up.

I guess my point in retelling this story here tonight that already has me riled up again is that even now that I have the new TV home and it’s all hooked up and it looks great, I’ve still got a bitter taste in my mouth from Best Buy because between last night and tonight, they wasted about 5 hours of my time and even as just a customer, my time is valuable to me.

Sure, you can say, “Sorry for the inconvenience – I understand that you’re frustrated…” but why should it stop at that?

What’s it worth to keep the customer happy so that he actually wants to go back and shop at Best Buy again???

It certainly wasn’t $170, which would’ve been the difference to just give me a slightly better TV right there in the store.

It wasn’t even a $50 gift card to say, “Hey, pick out a couple of movies to watch on your new TV on us because we’re sorry that you had to run all over town for this.”

After 5 hours of wasted time, 60 miles of driving round trip, and loads of frustration with a company that said that it wanted to help me, but only if it could do so without it being inconvenienced any way in the slightest, I’ve technically got the TV that I ordered from Best Buy a week ago, but I’m not a happy customer and I probably won’t buy my next one from them, either.

Why should I if my time isn’t valued to them just as much as my money is???

To be honest, it’s always really bothered me when I’ve had to deal with customer service departments for issues caused by the company where they didn’t come back and offer something proactively simply to say, “Hey, sorry man – our bad.”

My local HoneyBaked Ham store does it – if they screw up my sandwich and I have to wait while they remake it, or even if I mention that they did something wrong with my last one, they’ll throw me a coupon to get my next one for free because they see me in there all the time and they genuinely want my business.

CreateSpace, the vendor that I use to print my books, did it, too – sending me entire cases of books when I found bad ones in the mix because the loss was worth it to them to keep me happy. That was with the very first order that I had with them, and even though subsequent orders for other books also experienced some issues, I stuck with them just the same because I knew that they’d make things right no matter the cost.

And I know that most companies don’t do things like this because a random customer lost here or there might not be that big of a deal to them, but if more of us collectively started to demand it, then maybe they would be forced to start to care and they’d strive to do better. I know when I threatened this evening that I’d never buy from Best Buy again if I had to go with a refund, one of the responses I got was, “I’m sorry for the inconvenience, but that’s fine.” Maybe he didn’t mean it like that when the words slipped out of his mouth, but the entire interaction as a whole sure made me feel like it didn’t really matter whether I shopped at Best Buy in the future or not.

Which I suppose is good because next time, I won’t. 

Next time I have a TV or something for my home theater to buy, I’ll order it online from Amazon, and even if it costs me $40-50 more, and even if UPS screws up again and smashes it in shipment, I know that Amazon will stand behind its sales 100% and will do whatever they have to do to make things right if they make a mistake.

Best Buy proved to me this evening that they’re not willing to do whatever it takes. They technically fixed the problem, but they didn’t to anything to fix the customer relationship. That’s something that can’t be broken simply by dropping it off the back of a truck, but it’s also a lot harder to fix once it’s broken, too.

So I learned something last night about 3D TVs … basically, they don’t suck as much as I thought they did.

Don’t get me wrong, I still think that 3D itself is a gimmick that adds very little to the experience and I have no desire to sit and wear 3D glasses in my own living room, but I did dispel a misunderstanding that I’ve had about the picture quality for the last year that makes me feel a little more comfortable about the next TV that we buy being of 3D nature…

…even though technically the problem that I was experiencing apparently was completely unrelated to 3D…

😳

It all started last fall when we were up in New York for my wife’s Grandma’s funeral. Her parents had recently bought a new 3D TV, and while everyone else was gushing and raving over it, I couldn’t help but think that something didn’t seem right. In fact, there were shows that I flat out couldn’t bring myself to watch because the actors on screen had this extra depth to them that made whatever we were watching look more like a live recording than a feature presentation. I tried to watch some of the shows that I had been watching on HBO at the time, everything just looked really fake and terrible.

At the time I chalked it up to 3D sucks and thus vowed that I never wanted to get a 3D TV myself because of it, when in reality it didn’t even click until a year later that the 3D hadn’t even actually been on.

Something finally drove me to dig into this a little deeper last night when my sister-in-law’s new TV showed up and we set it up in the living room to substitute for our old TV until she moves out. For her and my wife, 3D is a big deal, so after getting everything hooked up, we threw a copy of the new Superman into her 3D Blu-Ray player to check everything out in full effect. And it started happening again … all of the amazing space backgrounds looked fantastic, but the actors themselves literally looked like they were performing a stage adaptation of Superman instead of the film that we saw in the theaters earlier this year!

We pretty much watched until Baby Superman landed on Earth and then everyone went to bed … well, they went to bed while stayed up in search of answers because after spending over an hour in the store with her looking at TVs, I thought that the one she settled on was a pretty damn nice TV! There had to be something else that was going on that could make a $2,000 1080p LED look like crap…

…and it turns out there was, and on Samsung TVs, it goes by the name of Auto Motion Plus.

From what I understand, what it basically does is fill in the gaps for lower frame rate videos to bump them from 24 fps up to 30 fps, which doesn’t seem like it would be that big of a deal. In fact, when you watch live broadcasts like sports it looks pretty good, but for anything done in an actual studio, the “enhanced frame rate” makes the latest action blockbuster from Marvel look like it was shot with a Handycam on a badly lit sound stage. Here I thought when the specs listed the TV as having a dual-core processor, I just assumed that it was for the new web interfaces and apps that are being bundled with TVs these days, but in fact, the processor is actually being used for video processing – in this case, generating that extra 6 fps on the fly to “improve” the frame rate for a clearer picture.

Online I found a lot of people referring to it as the Soap Opera Effectwhich now that I’ve heard the name is exactly what it looks like, whether we’re talking about a re-run of Seinfeld or Thor or pretty much anything else with actual people in it! I tried to take a couple of photos, but I don’t really think that they do the issue justice.

First, before – with Auto Motion Plus set to standard:

tv_before

And now with it turned off: (P.S. I hate how yellow that particular scene is, but I think you still get the point…)

tv_after

It’s obviously a lot more dramatic on the actual TV itself, but you can even see in the comparison photos how Thor looks a lot more sharp and shiny in the first one … and maybe that looks great to some, but to me it absolutely ruins the aesthetic of the picture. Thankfully when turning the feature off, though, the problem seems to pretty much disappear…

tv_menu

I did experiment with the other settings first to see if there was a suitable compromise, and Clear wasn’t too bad, but it still popped a little compared to turning it off completely. Turning it off completely delivered the actual HD picture that I was expecting – it looks very nice and is certainly a step up from our increasingly old, 52″ rear projection TV, but more importantly, now the picture is actually watchable … at least in my eyes! 😉

And I guess that’s the weird thing – I still need to show her how to switch it back and forth because neither of them claim to actually be able to see a difference … though admittedly my wife somehow didn’t notice the difference between SD and HD for the longest time, either.  🙄 Considering that my sister-in-law is a football fan, she might find that she actually likes that setting for watching sports – I saw some posts from last year about people watching the Olympics and they said that it looked fantastic with the higher frame rate … which would kind of make sense because it sounds like both NFL and the most recent Olympic games have actually been shot at 30 fps, whereas most movies and standard TV use 24 fps.

You may recall last year there was a bit of complaint about The Hobbit being released in both 24 fps and 48 fps formats, being the first of its kind to do so. Here’s an interesting article that does a pretty good job of explaining why the higher frame rates for that movie especially, and I would argue even here in general, make the picture look weird … essentially because as frame rates increase, you’re getting closer to the actual frame rate that your own eyes can tell the difference between … hence it looks like Thor is performing a play on public television rather than living it up in the realm of Asgard!

One thing that I did note on her TV that I found interesting was that while you can set custom picture settings for each input (i.e. cable, DVD player, XBox), what you can’t do is set different picture settings for individual channels inside those inputs … and admittedly I’m not quite sure how they would even do that, but I can see it potentially being an issue where you might say, “I want to use Auto Motion Plus for Discovery and The NFL Network and Lifetime for when I watch my stories, but not for HBO and Shotime and pretty much everything else.”

I can see that being an issue for some people because most probably don’t even realize that the setting exists in the first place … I would guess that most simply believe that this is just what TV looks like now, so it must be better! As that article mentions, we’ve already seen it with aspect ratios and even before then, with people still viewing SD channels on their HD TVs (huge pet peeve of mine – why can the cable company not remove those from the guide altogether when there’s an HD equivalent instead of just putting a small ‘watch this in HD’ button on the screen?!).

Anyways, for the few and the annoyed who both can’t stand this and want to do something about it, there you go! Turn off Auto Motion Plus or whatever your TV manufacturer calls it, and enjoy your brand new, sparkling, ultra-slim, high definition TV at a normal frame rate the way that god intended.

Who would’ve thought that we’d get to a point where TVs are too crisp and clear?!  😕

The wife and I saw The Wolverine last night and it was … so-so, I suppose. Not amazing, not terrible – just kind of middle of the road, which admittedly doesn’t translate to “good” in Hollywood terms.

Anyways, I came across this channel on YouTube this morning and needless to say, I was a little blown away by the production quality as compared to the real, $100 million thing last night! It’s crazy to see how a handful of guys with computers can rival an entire Hollywood special effects team these days! Seriously, pay attention to how many people are in the credits the next time you watch a movie, and then consider that there are some teams doing videos on YouTube that are steadily gaining speed with a fraction of a fraction of the manpower and costs… 😯

Here are a couple of my favorite, but check out the full channel for 9 full episodes plus lots more!

blogging from 38,000 feet

June 13, 2013 12:35pm
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Well, as much as one can “blog” when they’ve got their laptop wedged between their gut and the reclined seat in front of them, anyways.

Yeah, lady – I’m talking about YOU!!!

…she’ll probably never read this… 😛

So we’re en route from Tampa to Michigan to celebrate my grandpa’s 90th birthday this weekend. I’m actually blogging from the plane, which I know isn’ t really anything new anymore, but I’ve never done it so it’s new to me. And I can kinda see why I’ve never done it – the amount of space between these seats even without throwing a laptop into the mix is enough to push my claustrophobia into hyperdrive!

It doesn’t help that we’re literally in the last row on the plane, so our seats don’t recline … PLUS the lady in front of me still insists on reclining hers.

I definitely need to remember to do the online check-in earlier for our return flight!  😕

inflight

(not actually from Mark Zuckerberg)

May 11, 2013 11:08pm
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I’m not sure which is weirder about this – that actual humans with brains would honestly believe that “share this photo if you don’t want video ads” is how a billion dollar company like Facebook would choose to survey its users, or the fact that some random dude spent time in Photoshop putting this image together for no personal gain whatsoever.

fakezuck

What’s the goal here? To mislead users into thinking that Facebook is going to inundate them with (more) ads so that everyone will leave? Are their bragging rights to be earned from being the guy who created that fake Mark Zuckerberg announcement that a bunch of clueless people are sharing around? I don’t get it.

❓ ❓ ❓ ❓ ❓ ❓

domain

I really hate crap like this.

Admittedly I haven’t gotten one in a while, but I literally renewed some domain names with GoDaddy two days ago – albeit not for the domain listed here – and the final purchase price for one .COM came to a whopping … $10.38.

Or, you know, I could pay these shysters 337% to renew and transfer my name to them – you know, because they took the time to send me this kindhearted, completely non-misleading notice!

What grinds my goat about these types of things is that while *I* knew that it was a ripoff and not worth more than 10 minutes of rant-blogging here, they send these things out in bulk and I’m sure there are plenty of other unsuspecting recipients who don’t know any better, thinking that these are actually coming from their own registrar … I mean, the word America is right there in the name and everything! No way that an American Company could possibly scam a hardworking small business that barely even knows how to get to its own website, much less what all is involved with running it.

People see this, it looks official, and so they act on it, not even realizing that their domain name fees are about to triple and they’re turning over the address to their online home to the sleazy, door-to-door snake oil salesman of the domain registry.

The last time I ever paid $35 for a domain name was to Network Solutions back in 1999. It was for 1 domain – justlaugh.net – and I promptly lost it when I moved to Florida in 2003 because it expired and they immediately put it back on the open market without so much as an e-mail reminder.

Funny, I had a handful of other domains that survived the trip just fine … because they weren’t registered with Network Solutions.

In comparison, I just let a domain that I had purchased for my sister expire and not only did GoDaddy send me reminders every two weeks leading up to the expiration date, but I also got four more in the two weeks to follow after the expiration date – just to make sure that I definitely didn’t want the thing anymore.

Please don’t be a sucker. Find a domain registrar that you trust and then ignore anything you receive from anybody else telling you how to manage your domains.

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