Monday, September 24, 2007

Funny tasting pudding

Just heard about a new site today called "ThePudding" that will offer FREE PC to phone calling. The service will be much like Skype in that all you need to make calls is a headset that includes a mic, and a computer with internet access. Once the software is up and running, you can dial anyone you want, and for however long you want. All for free.


But, something doesn't taste right when you really get into it. While you are sitting there talking to your friend about the movie you saw last night, advertising is being displayed in the window about that movie. Then, you start talking about going out to Burger King for a sandwich after the movie, and strangely the advertising switchs to an Ad for McDonalds. How does it know what you are talking about? Well, it's simple, the Pudding servers are listening in and looking for key words. Yes, Gmail, and other email services, look through your email for certain words to display advertising, but this idea is just creepy.

The service is not up and running yet, but they are accepting people for a beta test. I have added myself to the beta list so that I can play with it, but you can be sure that I won't make real calls with it. It will be fun to call my cell phone with it and see what words I can say to make it display certain ads. But other than that, I don't like the idea of it listening to me.

And, on top of that, it only works in IE.

Friday, September 21, 2007

BlogRushing more readers

I mentioned a few days ago that I was going to try a new service called BlogRush. The service is having a rought start, as people are trying to cheat the system (surprise, surprise). They are working to fix that problem. But the idea is promising. Basically, the widget on the right side of my blog provides a list of other blogs that are related to my blog. When you are reading my blog, you might see something of interest at another blog. And that blog may be a blog you have never heard of before. So, you are able to discover new content. Likewise, people will discover my blog because my posts will be linked in someone else's blog. Cool huh?! All of this is free, by the way.

So far I have had 107 impressions on other blogs with no click throughs (bummer). Each time the widget is displayed on my blog I am allowed an impression on someone else's blog. And right now, oddly enough, I have a minus 67 credit balance. Since the widget has been displayed 40 times from my blog, and my blog has been listed 107 times, that leaves me 67 impressions in the hole. This happened because they, for the beta test, gave bonus credits to everyone in the network.

Once the network grows, and is secured from cheaters, it should provide a fair way of getting other blogs noticed. Especially the more popular ones. And hopefully it will help get my blog out there more. But only time will tell.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Minty fresh finances!

I have been playing with a new website the last couple of days that helps you manage your finances. It's, so far, looking really really good. I have been using Microsoft Money for quite a while now. But this site makes managing my money easier than MS Money.

After signing up, the first thing you will do is add your bank and credit card accounts. The site will then download transactions and other information every day. Once that is complete, it will show you things about your money that you probably didn't know before.

I know how much credit card debt I have, but to see it in one place is kind of shocking. It will show you the interest rate you are paying, and how it compares to other people. It will even show you how to save money, based on your spending habits. For instance, it saw that I had made gas purchases on a credit card. It offered another credit card that actually gives a 6% cash back option for gas purchases. And based on the gas purchases so far, I stand to save $147.00 a year. That is awesome! Once it has a couple of months worth of data, I imagine it will find other areas where I can save money.

The only down side I can see to this is the fact that you have to give it all of your username and passwords for each of your accounts. I checked out their security information and they seem to have everything in order there. So, I'm not too concerned, but it is still a risk that you are taking.

Mint.com has also won the TechCrunch40 Top Company award at the TechCrunch40 Conference this year. The site is free and easy to use. They just launched, and some aspects have been a little slow. So, if you want to give it a try, keep in mind that it's new. I have noticed speed improvments over the last couple of days, and I'm sure it will only get better.

Monday, September 17, 2007

ViaTalk

Well, it's been a rough time, but I finally have decent phone service
again. And to recap, I was on Sunrocket for about 2 years before the went belly up on me. During that fiasco, I had heard about ViaTalk, and it sounded like a good alternative. It had all of the features I was used too from Sunrocket. And, was even a bit cheaper. So, I signed up. And, so did everyone else... Which caused it to take FOREVER, it seemed like, for my service to be activated. I didn't have to wait for hardware because I could use my Sunrocket device instead of their own. But because I was dead in the water, thanks to Sunrocket, and because it was taking a long time for them to activate my account, I decided to try another Voip provider and dump Viatalk.

That worked, but there were some serious sound quality issues that I had not had before with Sunrocket. And, while setting up the other Voip proivder, ViaTalk finally activated my account. So, for fun, I thought I would try the Sunrocket device on ViaTalk and see what it sounded like. I would cancel the worse sounding one. I never got the chance to try that because when I reset the Sunrocket device, I lost access to the web interface. The Voip provider assures me that they didn't change the password to the unit, but because I wasn't able to get to the web interface, I'm guessing they are the ones that disabled that. And then throw in the fact that I didn't disconnect it from the outside world, I think Teleblend reset the unit completely. So, now I have a dead device. The Voip provider I was trying wanted $75.00 to ship out a device. And, ViaTalk wanted $40.00. And they were even going to rush it to me. So, I got the device and immediately started the process to transfer my number.

Now, 2 months later, I have stable phone service. My phone number transferred just fine. And, I'm canceling the other Voip provider. Luckily they had a "first month free" deal, and it isn't going to cost me much for all of this mess.

But I have a chance to save even more. ViaTalk has a referral deal where if I get 10 people to sign up, I will receive my service free of charge. For each account, I receive a 10% discount. Once you sign up, you'll have the opportunity too! So, if you would like to help save me a buck, leave a comment with your name and email address, or email me at rmorgan@boxbe.com and I'll get you an invite right away!

BlogRush

I'm trying out a new widget on the site that promises to attract more visitors to my blog, and to provide links to other blogs for my readers. In order to activate it, I need to do a posting that has my referral code in it. I'll do another posting soon after I play with it a bit.