Ryan Jones Blog – dotCULT.com Ryan Jones Blogs About Internet Culture, Marketing, SEO, & Social Media

October 27, 2008

WFTV in Florida Totally Biased? You Bet

Filed under: Main — Ryan Jones @ 1:33 pm

If you don’t think there’s a media bias you need to look at the recent interviews done by Barbara West of WFTV in Orlando Florida.

First, look at the ridiculous questions she asks Joe Biden: (the last 2 are the best)

Then, look at the softball questions she lobs up to McCain:

Media Bias? You be the judge.

October 24, 2008

Michigan is a Constitution Free Zone

Filed under: Main — Ryan Jones @ 4:27 pm

The US constitution simply doesn’t apply in Michigan. According to the latest ACLU post, border patrol agents no longer need a warrant to search a person within 100 miles of the US border.

The problem? There’s no place in Michigan that’s more than 100 miles away from a border.

This doesn’t bode will.

October 23, 2008

Michigan’s New Unemployment…. Fees

Filed under: Main — Ryan Jones @ 2:33 pm

Michigan no longer sends out unemployment checks. The new system sends recipients a debit card. This debit card is a Chase Visa card, and actually shows up on your credit report. I’m not sure what impact it has on people’s credit rating, but I’m sure it’s not good for future credit checkers to see the unemployment card listed there.

Instead of getting a check in the mail, unemployment recipients will receive a debit card that will get updated with money. It sounds more convenient until you get into the specifics and the charges. That’s right, charges!

Firstly, you’ll get 1 card with a 3 year expiration date on it. You’ll be expected to keep this card for the entire 3 years – even if you find employment. If you re-file before your card expires, you can use the same card. If you lose your card though, it’ll cost you $7.50 for a new one.

If you leave money on the card after you’ve found employment, you’ll be charged $1.50 per month until your balance is 0.

In order to find out if you have money on your card and check your balance, you’ll have to go online to the Chase website. If you prefer to have a paper statement sent to you, you can select that option for a small fee of $0.95 per statement.

Getting cash is as simple as putting your card in an ATM machine – but you only get 2 withdrawals per month. Any extra withdrawal will cost you $1.50. Chase ATMs are free, but you’ll have to pay the surcharge anywhere else.

The same goes for bank teller withdrawals. You get 1 free bank teller transaction per month. After that, it will cost you $4.00 plus any bank fees.

If you’re out of the country, you’ll pay $3 plus 3% to withdraw.

Oh, and you can’t use it in a gas pump.

But hey, using it inside to buy cigarettes and lottery tickets doesn’t have a charge!

Forgive me for being old fashioned, but I’d prefer the old paper check in the mail any day. It looks like the only one benefiting from this new system is Chase.

October 21, 2008

I Came For Groceries, Not a Job

Filed under: Main — Ryan Jones @ 11:08 am

Is it just me, or are grocery stores like Kroger increasingly upping their efforts to get customers to do their work for them?

The Kroger by me recently bought out all of the Farmer Jack grocery stores in the area and promptly shut them down. This means that at any given time, you’ll always find huge lines and tons of people at the grocery store. It also means they’re almost always out of any type of diet soda or milk that doesn’t expire tomorrow.

On my last trip, I found myself stuck in line behind the usual 5 or 6 old ladies who insist on writing checks instead of upgrading to a check card. When it was finally my turn to start unloading my groceries on to the automated grocery smasher conveyor belt the cashier turned off her light and said “I’m going on break, you’ll have to get in another line.”

I told her that waiting in another line wasn’t acceptable, and asked her if she could please ring me up too. Ok, actually I said something along the lines of “no, either you ring me up now or I’m going to walk out with this cart full of Cheetos and Soda.

Begrudgingly, she decided to scan my items.

The other thing you’ll routinely won’t see at my Kroger store is baggers. Does anybody remember the days when there would be a person waiting at the end of the grocery smashing belt to put said smashed groceries into a bag for you? Yeah, they don’t do that anymore.

When the cashier was done bitching about having to work 5 hours straight without a lunch break (oh the tyranny!) she scowled at me: “are you going to bag those?”

“No Ma’am, I already have a job. I don’t want to work here too.” apparently isn’t the answer she was expecting, as I got nothing but dirty looks from her while she finished scanning my items and proceeded to bag them up.

I did, however, help her by lifting the big items (cat food, kitty litter, and case of beer) into my cart for her. I figured it was the least I could do.

Honestly though, why do grocery stores expect me to start doing their work for them? It’s bad enough that the cost of groceries is increasing at exponential rates far greater than gasoline, but now you want me to do your job too?

Am I the only one who thinks I should get a discount for using the U-Scan machines? Which, by the way, are really fun when you try to scan a 20lb bag of cat litter and it won’t let you proceed until it feels that 20lbs on the shelf that’s way too small to hold the cat litter. If you ever try that, you’ll need to wait for one of the cashiers to get back from break and enter in some secret code so the machine keeps working. Trying to use your foot to apply 20lbs of pressure will only get you weird looks from the people behind you who for some reason are only buying a case of beer and a can of tuna fish.

Let’s go back to the good old days of the 90s – when grocery stores actually had employees.

October 20, 2008

The Michigan Job Market

Filed under: Main — Ryan Jones @ 2:33 pm

I’ve been monitoring the job market here in Michigan lately, and things aren’t good. There’s a reason that Michigan college graduates are leaving the state at alarming rates: there aren’t any jobs here for them.

Searching on Indeed and Craigslist, most of the jobs available in Michigan are entry level non-degree positions, or factory jobs. What few other jobs remain are currently well aware of the competition and using it to exploit applicants.

I saw one for a marketing director that required a masters degree yet was paying $38,000. In some of my previous companies, the “director” title meant a 6-figure salary to go with it.

I’ve seen PHP programmer jobs being offered at hourly rates less than what I’ve paid companies in India to develop websites. There’s so many programmers out of work that some are willing to take $10/hour jobs writing code. I’ve always been pretty anti union, but those views might be soon changing.

I know part of it is the auto-related dominance of our economy here. Whereas “product manager” implies thoughts of having a team of programmers out west, it means overseeing production of tractor tires in Detroit.

Let’s get with it Michigan. We need to start attracting some higher tech companies here. I’ve been working with a lot of start-ups lately, and they’re all in the valley or Seattle. I’ve seen a few on the east coast, but nothing good is coming out of Michigan – except our college graduates.

October 15, 2008

Advertising Digital TV Switch On Cable

Filed under: Main — Ryan Jones @ 12:11 pm

Why are they showing the digital tv switchover ads on cable?

I was watching Comedy Central last night when I saw one of those ads every commercial break.

First of all, we’re not the target audience – our TVs will keep working.

Secondly, you gave a website to visit for people who need converter boxes. Something tells me that if you still get TV by antennae, you probably don’t have a computer to visit the website with.

It seems to me your target demographic would be better reached with a newspaper article or a story on the 6:00 news.

Domain Names Tied To Email is Fail

Filed under: Main — Ryan Jones @ 11:35 am


Why do we still require an email address for domain names? Aside from that, why do we tie it to the registration and administration of the domain name?

I’ve been trying to transfer a .ca domain name to somebody else, but according to Tucows and Cira, it’s just not possible.

See, when I registered the domain name I did it with my old Comcast email account. Last football season though, I got pissed at not having the big10 network, so I switched cable and internet providers. In doing so, I no longer have my old comcast email account.

Can you see the problem?

Issuing an email change request sends an email confirmation to the old address. So does issuing a transfer. Guess what? So does changing name servers for some stupid reason.

So I called Tucows, even if I verify the credit card number, or call from the phone # listed on the account, they can’t help me.

I have to fill out the form at adminchange.com.

Sounds simple until you look at the form.

Not only does it need to be signed in front of a Notary, but I need a lawyer, doctor, judge, police officer, or certified accountant who is not related to me but has known me for 2 years to witness it. WHAT THE FUCK?

Then I have to fax it – talk about another pointless outdated technology.

Somehow, I have a feeling this domain transfer is going to take a while.

Could the process be any more retarded?

Here’s a new process:

“Hi I want to change this on this domain name?”
“sure, what’s the last 4 digits of the credit card on your account and your account password?”
“xxxx yyyyyy”
“ok great, we’ll change that for you right now.”

See how simple that was?

October 8, 2008

The Truth About Michigan’s Proposal 2

Filed under: Main — Ryan Jones @ 12:52 pm

If you live in Michigan you’ve probably seen the ads on TV urging you to vote no on proposal 2 because it’s both morally wrong and will raise taxes. I’ll get to those in a second.

If you don’t live in Michigan or if you only believe what’s on TV, Proposal 2 is an amendment to legalize embryonic stem cell research. Now, stem cell research is already legal in Michigan – but only adult stem cells.

Chepo So where do the embryonic stem cells come from? According to the proposal, only embryos created for IVF that would be discarded anyway can be used. When a couple chooses in vitro fertilization, multiple embryos are created in case the first one doesn’t take. It’s cheaper and faster that way, and that’s how it’s done. If the first one DOES take, the extras are simply thrown in the trash.

Proposal 2 would allow those embryos which would otherwise be thrown away to be used for research. That’s it. There’s no other type of embryo that could be used, there’s no selling of stem cells, and there’s no people getting pregnant to sell their aborted fetus for research. Proposal 2 specifically outlaws all of that.

Ok, but it’s going to raise my taxes right? WRONG! There’s nothing in proposal 2 about increasing taxes. The TV commercials are telling you about a system in place in other states to mislead you. Proposal 2 will not raise your Michigan taxes. It’s actually more likely that this will lower the costs of the Michigan businesses currently doing stem cell research.

If you don’t believe me, you can read the free press article that talks about it.

It’s also important not to get caught up in the pro life debate surrounding proposal 2 either. The embryos in question here already exist, and are already going to be thrown in a trash can. Proposal 2 isn’t supporting abortion, and it’s not creating more embryos. It’s simply asking to take them out of the trash can and use them for research – without raising your taxes.

It’s a PDF, but you can read the actual proposal here. I strongly encourage everybody to do so.

October 7, 2008

A Bad Time For Startups?

Filed under: Main — Ryan Jones @ 2:23 pm

With the economy going deeper into it’s death spiral, many people are saying that it’s a bad time for start ups. Last quarter was the first in a while without a venture backed startup IPO, and many are predicting the trend to continue all year.

But that doesn’t mean it’s a bad time for startups. It’s just a bad time for most startups. As a matter of fact we will like to recommend you this tool that allows you request loans online.

There’s still venture capital money out there, but it’s only going to go to the best startups with the best ideas. In order to get funded you’re going to have to have a solid business model (that doesn’t include the word adsense) and a clear path to revenue. For instance, if you want to start your own cannabis dispensary business, then you’re also going to need dispensary pos software from https://www.blaze.me/dispensary-pos-software/.

When financial times get tough, only the good ideas will get funded. That’s good for the startups with good ideas though. Taking out payday loans oklahoma city can also be considered if you have no other financial options or poor credit and would not qualify for a traditional loan.

What separates a good idea from a bad one? Here’s some helpful don’ts:

Don’t launch a website with no clear path to revenue hoping that one will fall into place.
Don’t build something that is simply a mashup of other people’s APIs.
Don’t list “adsense” as your primary source of revenue.
Don’t just have a good domain name with no business plan.
Don’t just create a copy of another site with a couple new features.

It’s clear to me why all of these ideas will fail, most of it has to do with putting all of your eggs in one basket or hoping that your competitors won’t add the same features.

So what will succeed in this market? Startups that help companies save money will have a tremendous advantage over the next year. Think software as a service, cloud computing, or anything that saves IT costs. There are also a few things you can do to ensure multi cloud cost savings. Then did you know that you can also change your business address to a big city like Birmingham by using a virtual office? It’s a brilliant way of getting a much more impressive looking postal address and also getting more privacy, so lots are now using services like that. There’s a huge market for this now as companies are struggling to offload costs. By partnering with Paystand for your invoice payment automation, you can reduce manual tasks such as paper handling, filing, scanning, and mailing by 70% and you’ll therefore have cost-effective invoice processing.

It’s often the case that “a bad time for startups” is really a great time for sound business ideas. A bad economy can let investors focus only on the good ideas. You may not have a quick exit strategy in place, but that won’t stop you from making money if you’ve actually got a good idea. I recommend hiring professional corporate formation services to do all the work for you if you’re setting up your business in China.

October 6, 2008

Why The Bailout Won’t Work

Filed under: Main — Ryan Jones @ 3:06 pm

Well, it took the addition of tons of “sweetened pork” but the bailout bill finally passed. The economy should be turning around right? Not so fast. My stocks and IRAs are still going down faster than (man I’m too old for these high school jokes)

So why aren’t things being fixed? Perhaps it’s because the bailout won’t really fix the economy.

It seems to me that the only people willing to sell off all their assets to the government at a loss are those with shitty assets. Most people who have mortgages are still paying them, so it doesn’t make much sense to sell that revenue to the government for less than it’s worth.

The people that aren’t paying mortgages still have houses. Those houses still have value (albeit not as much value as they did 5 years ago) If the bank can repossess a house and sell it for $100,000 (down from it’s original $150,000 value) they’re going to do that before they sell it to the governement for say, $70,000.

It just makes sense. As long as their assets have value, a company is going to try to get value out of it before accepting bailout money. That means, nothing is really going to change.

So who will take the bailout funds? Companies whose assets aren’t really worth anything. In other words, all the government is going to end up buying is a bunch of useless crap that they will never be able to recoup any value on. The only people this is going to benefit are the banks and investment firms who want to unload a bunch of unprofitable investments. They’re going to unload them onto the government, who will buy them with our money.

Congratulations you now own part of the Brooklyn Bridge.

In a way, that’s good. Letting the government own a large proportion of property in the country only puts us one step closer to a system like the one in place in China. Do you really want to rent your house from the government?

Another reason banks may not take the bailout is because it puts limits on golden parachutes and CEO pay. Now, I for one think that if you run your company into the ground you shouldn’t be paid at all – but unfortunately I don’t sit on the boards of any companies.

Quite simply, the same people voting whether or not to take the buyout are the very same people who would see decreased salary if they took it. Which way do you think they’re going to vote?

I’m not alone on this either. It’s obvious that many other Americans noticed this – and tried to tell their congressmen. So many in fact, that the House disabled all email from constituents. They didn’t have time to care about what we thought.

But hey, at least we got rid of that $0.39 tax on wooden arrows for boy scouts.

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