This is probably the easiest way to get free Coke Reward Points that you’re likely to find on the web. All you have to do is sign up at the free auction site Listia. When you sign up, they give you 100 points to spend on whatever you want. You don’t have to spend a dime. 3 Coke Reward points go for around 1-2 Listia points each, so you can win quite a few point auctions with your 100 free credits.
Eventually, you will spend all 100 of your Listia credits on free Coke Reward Points, but don’t worry. If you have anything lying around your house you want to get rid of, you can list it on Listia as a free auction. You get 50 more points for listing your first item. Then you also get however many points your item sells for. DVDs with free shipping, for example, tend to go for 200-500 Listia credits. But you can list anything you own that’s collecting dust around your house.
I guess you could stop at the free 100 points and leave the site, but if you browse around the site a bit, I think you’ll get hooked like I have. It’s definitely addictive. There’s a lot more to buy with your Listia credits than just Coke Rewards Points.
If Craigslist and Ebay had a bastard child, it would probably look something like Listia.com. The site allows you to auction off your old junk for “free” and then use the points others bid on your items to buy their “junk” in return. As one man’s junk is another man’s treasure, it’s easy to come out ahead in a transaction like this. I put “free” in quotes because you have to have points to bid on items, and the only way to get points is to give away your own stuff on the site or buy them. You also get a few (100) points when you sign up for an account and 500 more free points when you list you first item. This is more than enough points to grab something cool for free from the site, such as a DVD or video game.
To give you an idea of what points are worth, I recently auctioned off one of my Wii games (Bikini Zombie Slayers) for around 600 points and the DS game Ninja Town for 500 points. A $300 netbook with MacOS installed recently ended for almost 9,000 points.
Besides the stuff other users list, the site also holds their own “Rewards Auctions” where they offer things like TVs, blu-ray players, Nintendo Wii’s, random electronics, and other big ticket items. They offer several of these a week. Currently, I’m saving up my points to buy a big ticket item in a future auction, although I did use a couple hundred points to buy a brand new Rubik’s Cube Revolution Titanium Edition.
If you’re interested in the site, you can check it out here. It’s a very promising site, although currently subject to some user abuse because of their policy of giving free points as soon as you sign up.
I buy a lot more than I sell on Ebay, mostly because I find selling anything on the site more hassle than it’s worth most of the time. The problem isn’t with using the site, which is a breeze. The problem is dealing with other Ebay users and their often irrational demands. This is compounded by the fact that sellers can no longer leave negative feedback for buyers, which has encourage a lot more buyer to leave unreasonable neutral and negative feedback.
Now, some people would argue that the buyer’s only job is to pay for an item and as soon as they do that, the seller should instantly leave positive feedback. This is what I too thought when I first started using Ebay back in 1997. However, this leaves the seller no leverage or recourse with the buyer making unreasonable demands or blaming the seller for things that are out of his control.
For example, I recently sold some video games on Ebay. The buyer left me neutral feedback (not much different than a negative in my opinion) because he claims his local post office made him pay a couple more dollars postage for his item because they told him it didn’t qualify for media mail. First, I have no way of verifying if this is true. Second, video games DO qualify for media mail (which is the method you’re supposed to use to ship video games on Ebay’s sister site, Half.com). His post office was incorrect if they claimed otherwise. He also claimed in his feedback that I offered him no other choice than media mail. Again, this is untrue. All of the invoices I send out have multiple shipping options. This user went with the $3 shipping for a box of video games over the $7 priority price. I use the Ebay shipping calculator and charge exact shipping. Actually, I charge less than exact shipping, as I pay the delivery confirmation out of my own pocket.
So now I have this neutral feedback on my account that I can’t comment on in any way. I also can only leave the buyer postitive feedback in return.
This is just one example. Buyers will leave neutral or negative feedback when the post office is slow (even though I ship within one (!) business day of receiving payment), when they don’t read a description carefully and receive an item they don’t want (without first bothering to try to return the item for a refund), because they don’t know how to leave feedback (I’ve seen users leave negative feedback but positive comments for others plenty of times, meaning they somehow chose negative by accident), and many other reasons. The simple fact is that there should be a way to appeal feedback to have it removed, especially if it’s obvious that it isn’t true. For example, if a user claims you overcharged them for shipping and you charged them less than what it cost to print out the shipping label from Paypal, then they shouldn’t be able to leave you negative feedback for that reason.
Another recent example, a user left me neutral feedback because it took 5 days for an item to arrive to him after he paid, even though we live in the same city. I shipped within 24 hours, like I always do. This was in December a few weeks before Christmas. The post office can be a little slow this time of year. Still, I don’t know how I, as the seller, can be blamed for that. I did my part and shipped the item, packaged carefully, the morning after I received payment. When I pointed this out to the buyer and asked him to check the postmark (proving I mailed it out right after he paid), I never got a response. You see, you can request that a user edit their neutral or negative feedback they leave you, but what motivation does an unreasonable buyer have to do this?
My feedback rating on Ebay is still actually 100% at this point with 710 transactions. I have no negatives, several neutrals, and the rest are positive. Maybe 25% of those over the years were from selling items while 75% are from buying items. I don’t know that it will remain 100% if I do much more selling on Ebay, however. It seems that every day users get more liberal with the neutral/negative feedback button. You should always work with a seller before leaving negative feedback. I have left a lot of negative feedback over the years, but 100% of it has been on auctions where the seller has stolen my money or ripped me off in some other way, and it’s always after I’ve given them the chance to make it right first. A few of these dishonest sellers even left me negative feedback in return (when it was still possible to do so), but you know what? That feedback was quickly turned to neutral when their accounts were deactivated. Truly dishonest sellers on Ebay don’t tend to last long. Their accounts or deactivated after enough people complain. Are abusive buyers ever purged from the site in the same way?
Sorry for the rant. Don’t even get me started on the Ebay seller fees that seem to increase every year, or the fact that they double charge you by also taking a nice chunk of each transaction via Paypal. The real problem with Ebay is that they’re a monopoly with no real competition. Until we see another major auction website, Ebay will never have a reason to lower fees or improve customer service.
It’s a bad sign when even “The happiest place on Earth” has to lay off employees. Due to declines in attendance and revenue, Disney says they will be laying off an unspecified number of employees. If I could afford a vacation to Disney this year, I’d probably be a little depressed walking around, knowing that even Fantasyland isn’t immune to our current weak economy. You can read more about this here.
Of course, for you “glass half full” types, I guess this is a good time to head to a theme park if you can afford it. Lines should be shorter than they’ve been in years, although I bet they’ll still be crowded during spring break.
Here’s another positive thing you might not know about. Anyone can visit Walt Disney World or Disneyland for free on their birthday. Click here for details.
Okay, it looks like I jumped on the Tweetback bandwagon a little early. In the last few days, one of the blogs I installed the TweetBacks WordPress plug-in on received over 1500 spam tweetbacks. I was forced to delete the plug-in for now. I also had it installed on this blog, but did not receive a spam attack here for some odd reason (lower PR/traffic on this blog, perhaps?). Anyway, I’ve now installed TweetSuite, which at this point doesn’t seem to be as susceptible to Tweetback Spam. It’s been a while since WordPress spam was a serious problem because of plug-ins like Askimet that do such a great job of blocking comment spam. It’s easy to forget that the spammers are almost always two steps ahead of any new technology. Hopefully, TweetSuite will be a better solution.
The Twitter service has slowly grown on me in the last year or so. At first, I didn’t see what all the hype was about. I hate text messages with a passion (heck, it took me years to even warm up to the concept of cell phones). Then, I started using the service to promote articles from the newspaper I was working at in early 2007. Eventually, I even came to love the service for uses beyond marketing, mainly as a way to keep up with my favorite blogs and news sites that was superios to RSS. I still don’t receive my Twitter alerts as text messages, but I do receive them in Firefox via TwitterFox and on my Ipod Touch when I load Twitterific. I find these methods less intrusive than text messages, although if I upgrade to an iPhone this year, I could see setting up a separate Twitter account following far fewer contacts and enabling the text message alert feature of the service.
The simple fact is, more and more people are jumping on the Twitter bandwagon these days, and it’s become one of the main tools for sharing links, status updates, and other small bits of information with friends and colleagues. This is called micro-blogging, and it’s a lot easier to keep up with than writing traditional blog posts like this one on a regular basis. However, when we do manage to make a blog post, we want to keep track of who is sharing it, correct? This used to be done by trackbacks but as more people are sharing links via Twitter than their own websites, it’s created the need for a new service, TweetBacks. Dan Zarella, a social and viral marketing scientist, has invented this service and a useful new WordPress plug-in that takes advantage of it, which I’ve enabled here on my blog. It will be interesting to see if I get any TweetBacks in the coming months.
It’s been several months since I last updated this blog, which was originally a staff blog I posted to as part of my job as Digital Media Manager at the Noblesville Daily Times. As some of you may know, the Times closed at the end of August, 2008. Since then, a new, smaller version of the Noblesville paper has started publishing again, calling itself the Noblesville Times. I wish this new paper great success.
I have moved on as well, working for an awesome company in Castleton called FormSpring. They have a web app that lets techies and non-techies alike build powerful web forms. There’s a free version, so if you want an easy way to throw up a quick form on your website, go check them out. You can also check out the demo.
As I no longer work for the Daily Times, I plan on turning this site into a personal blog, focusing on random things that strike my fancy. Hopefully, I can get in the habit of updating it on a regular basis once again.
For those that don’t know, early this year Netflix started offering movies from their library for downloading or streaming. Currently there are over 12,000 movies and TV show box sets that you can watch instantly on your PC. Of course, most people prefer to watch movies on their TV, which is where this blog post comes in.
The movies range from black and white classics to recent Oscar winners, although most movies are older. The TV shows include cult hits like Xena Warrior Princess, 80′s classic like Night Rider and The Incredible Hulk, and current shows like Heroes and The Office. As for pricing, the basic $8.99 a month Netflix service will get you unlimited streaming PLUS one DVD at a time through the mail. This is the package I’m on, and I use the online portion to stream TV shows and older movies and request the new releases I can’t stream through the mail. Hopefully, some day we can eliminate those pesky discs altogether and be able to stream any movie we want for one low flat-rate monthly fee.
Netflix has announced their service will be coming to Xbox Live late this fall, but you can actually stream Netflix movies on your Xbox now if you have a copy of Windows Vista on your PC. All you have to do is download a copy of the Windows Vista Media Center plug-in called VmcNetFlix and follow the directions on their website. I use the program myself to stream Netflix movies to my TV and it’s worked great for me so far. The only issue I had installing the program is that it didn’t work until I set IE7 as the default browser on my PC rather than Firefox but that is clearly stated in the troubleshooting instructions.
Personally, I don’t use the 360 option as I have an actual PC hooked up to my LCD TV through HDMI. This is probably the best method for watching Internet videos on your TV because you can watch any format movie and aren’t limited to only watching formats compatible with Windows Media Center. However, if you don’t have a spare PC running Windows Vista that you can hook up to your TV, an Xbox 360 is the next best thing, but still requires a Vista PC running somewhere on your network.
The Xbox 360 is a Media Center Extender, which means it can be used to access movies, mp3s, and photos stored on Windows Media Center machines on your network. This also holds true with the Netflix Media Center plug-in, which allows you to stream Netflix videos to your TV through your Xbox 360 once it’s installed on your PC. If you have Windows Vista Media Center, you can watch Netflix on your Xbox 360 now. If not, I recommend trying it out this fall when it comes to the Xbox Live service. Note, however, that you’ll have to pay for both an Xbox Live Gold subscription and a Netflix subscription, while with my method all you need is the Netflix subscription.
Well, the rumors have been circulating for about a month now with a decent amount of evidence, but the final piece of evidence needed to convince me was a scan of an upcoming Radio Shack ad that listed the new 360 prices. I think it’s save to say at this point that come Sept. 7, 2008, the new Xbox 360 prices will go into effect:
Arcade – $199
Pro (60 gig) – $299
Elite (120 gig) – $399
This news has caused new speculation on the pricing of the discontinued 20 gig models that are currently $299 and still collecting dust in many stores. Likely, this older model will get a price drop as well, as otherwise why would anyone pay the same price for a 20 gig model as the 60 gig model? I’ve got over $400 store credit available at Blockbuster/Gamerush saved up from trading in used games. I was going to get a 20 gig 360 for $299 a couple of weeks ago until I stumbled across the price drop rumor. Now, I’m definitely glad I waited.
Besides a price drop, the current 360 models are built using new technology and are less likely to overheat or get the red ring of death, according to gamer sites.
For those who have been holding out on getting a next gen system, the magic $199 price point for the Xbox 360 Arcade bundle may finally get them to jump into the current generation of gaming. Also, the announcement that Netflix is bringing their streaming DVD service to the 360 late this fall is sure to create a few converts as well. I already have the Netflix streaming service on my PC (which is hooked up to a 50″ HDTV), and it’s a great service, although the selection of current movies is very limited. If you like classics, TV box sets, or don’t mind watching movies that are several years old, the selection is great. If you want to watch movies that just came out on DVD or Blu-ray, you’ll be sorely disappointed.
Well, it comes as no surprise to most that the alleged Bigfoot corpse that made headlines for the last couple weeks has turned out to be a hoax. It seems extremely unlikely that a creature the size of Bigfoot living in regions populated by humans could have remained undiscovered all these years. Shouldn’t we have a body, indisputable video footage, droppings, bones, or some other tangible evidence by now? Still, if you’re like Fox Mulder and want to believe, there are sites out there where you can meet like-minded researchers and Bigfoot afficianados.
Bigfoot Wikipedia Page – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bigfoot
Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization – http://www.bfro.net/
Bigfoot Encounters – http://www.bigfootencounters.com/
The Shadowlands Bigfoot Page – http://theshadowlands.net/bf.htm
The Skeptic’s Dictionary Bigfoot Entry – http://www.skepdic.com/bigfoot.html
Alliance of Independent Bigfoot Researchers – http://220.127.116.11/~skookum/
Willow Creek-China Flat Museum – http://bigfootcountry.net/home/
Loren Coleman, Cryptozoologist – http://www.lorencoleman.com/
Bigfoot Lives – http://www.bigfoot-lives.com/
The Bigfoot Discovery Project – http://www.bigfootdiscoveryproject.com/
Skeptic World Bigfoot Page – http://www.skepticworld.com/cryptozoology/big-foot.asp