Monthly Archives: October 2007

auctionPAL: Selling Your Stuff Online Just Got A Little Easier.

October 30, 2007

Listen To Recorded Audio:
[audio:ACTSmart 1030.mp3]

If you’ve ever tried to sell anything on Ebay or any other auction site, you’ve probably found that its simple to sign up but that’s where the “easy” stuff ends.

You have to take and upload good photos, write compelling descriptions, choose the correct bidding information, figure out the shipping costs and then if you item is bid on and won, you need to collect payment, package the item and ship it by whatever means to the winning bidder. Whew… that’s a lot of work.

Did You Know?
Waltham,MA. based auctionPAL, reports that 54% of all items listed on eBay never receive a single bid?

Now, how about a service that does all that and more, saving you from all the work? auctionPAL just might be the answer to your auction nightmares. They even have a price calculator – just type in the item you want to sell on auction and auctionPAL will calculate what you can expect to get for it.

So, How Does auctionPAL Work?
Here’s what you do to get started:

1: auctionPAL registers you
2: Helps you figure out what to sell
3: Takes the photos (you can upload or they’ll send an agent to you)
4: Ask’s you some questions

After these 4 steps are completed, auctionPAL takes it from here:

  • An auctionexpert is assigned to your item
  • Writes a description
  • Creates a selling strategy
  • Posts your item(s) online (they use Ebay and are expanding into other venues)
  • They manage the auction
  • A winning bid is placed
  • Buyer proceeds through the auctionPAL checkout
  • The money is placed in an account until buyer received your item
  • A box and packing materials are sent right to your house
  • You package the item up and call the 800 number provided
  • DHL swings by to collect the package from your doorstep
  • The buyer confirms receipt of the item
  • You get the check

So what’s the catch? There really isn’t a catch but for all this personalized service you should expect to pay the piper, so to speak. auctionPAL offers 3 levels of service and shown below is an excerpt from their pricing page:

Q: How does auctionPAL get paid?
A: It’s easy: We do the work and you get the cash! auctionPALcharges a commission based on the level of service we provide: Easy, Easier or Easiest.

Q: What are the commission rates?
A: auctionPAL commission rates are competitive with other selling services. Our commission fees range from our special introductory rate of 20% for self-service (Easy!) to 35% for agent visits to your home or workplace (Easiest!).

Q: How do I pay auctionPAL?
A: There are no upfront fees to use auctionPAL services! Our commission, which includes all selling fees, is deducted from the final selling price of the auction item. The balance is then promptly sent to you.

Is this a good deal?
If you really don’t know or care to learn anything about auctioning on your own, auctionPAL could be a valuable resource. You can opt for the lowest commission percentage and go self service or pay the full commission and let them do all the work.

auctionPAL also has a program that might be of interest to business owners wanting to give auctioning a try without investing a lot of time, effort and money upfront.

Check them out at:
http://www.auctionpal.com

Here’s a link to their webmercial
http://www.auctionpal.com/about/webmercial

auctionPAL FAQ’s
http://www.auctionpal.com/faq

Brit's are always on Candid Camera

October 23, 2007

“There was, of course, no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment…. You had to live-did live, from habit that became instinct-in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.” –George Orwell, 1984

It used to be that troublemakers could lounge on the planters outside the McDonald’s there and pick apart the geraniums to their hearts’ content. A hamburger server or customer could complain, but these days, Big Brother does the job.The closed-circuit television camera lurking down the street from the fast-food restaurant bellows menacingly at the first sign of danger to the flora, or a cast-off cigarette butt or fast-food wrapper. “Pick it up,” commands a booming voice from . . . where, exactly?

The closed-circuit cameras in Gloucester and several other British towns now come equipped with speakers, meaning Big Brother is not only watching, he’s telling you what to do.

“When people hear that, they tend to react. They pick up the litter and put it in the bin,” said Mick Matthews, assistant chief police constable in this old cathedral city of 110,000 in the rolling Cotswold Hills .

For all the increased antiterrorism security measures in the United States , there is probably no society on Earth more watched than Britain . By some estimates, 4.2 million closed-circuit cameras, or one for every 14 people, quietly, and sometimes not so quietly, monitor the comings and goings of almost everyone – an average person is caught on camera up to 300 times a day.

Thanks in part to Britain ‘s history of terrorist attacks by the Irish Republican Army, some early, high-profile law enforcement successes helped imprint the potential benefits of closed-circuit television on the popular imagination.

With more than $200 million in funding since 1999, closed-circuit cameras were a fixture in British cities long before terrorist attacks began prompting other governments to step up surveillance of their populations.

Cameras are fixed on lampposts and on street corners, above sidewalks, in subways, on buses, in taxis, in stores, over the parking lots, in mobile police vans, and in some cities, even perched in the hats of police officers walking their beats.

Surprisingly clear images of Britons engaged in apparently nefarious activities have become a staple on the evening news there; few of the country’s many terrorism trials unfold without the jury being presented with multiple images of the defendants carrying alleged backpack bombs or driving up to a storehouse of explosives.

Pub patrons in one town last year had their fingerprints scanned as they walked in (bringing up their criminal records on a computer screen); some cities are talking of putting electronic chips in household trash cans to measure output; a toll-free “smoke-free compliance line” takes snitch reports on violators of the new national ban on smoking in public places.

The DNA profile of every person ever arrested – even those briefly detained for, say, loitering and released without charge – is on file in what is believed to be, per capita, the largest such database in the world, with 3.9 million samples. It includes the genetic markings of an estimated 40 percent of Britain ‘s black male population.

For the majority of Britons, polls indicate, there is nothing wrong with the monitoring.

Public acceptance of closed-circuit television skyrocketed after the murder of toddler James Bulger near Liverpool in 1993. In closed-circuit camera footage that shocked the country, the killers, a pair of 10-year-old boys, were shown leading the trusting boy away from a shopping center.

So, how do YOU feel about closed-circuit cameras? I’ve searched the web and cannot find even an estimate of how many cameras might be watching us in the USA .  Is it a good thing? Let me know your thoughts.

As reported in the Boston GLobe and many newspapers across the country.

Discovery Buys HowStuffWorks.com

October 16th, 2007

It’s Official. Discovery Communications said Monday that it has acquired HowStuffWorks, a how-to site. This site has been one of my personal favorites and we’ve talked about it many times in the past.

Founded by North Carolina State University Professor Marshall Brain in 1998, HowStuffWorks is the leading source of credible, unbiased, and easy-to-understand explanations of how the world and the things in it actually works. HowStuffWorks built its audience in part by focusing its content on topics that are often the subject of search queries on Google and other search engines.

It has won multiple Webby awards, was among Time magazine’s “25 Websites We Can’t Live Without” in 2006 and 2007, and was among PC Magazine’s “Top 100 Web Sites” four times including in 2007. HowStuffWorks is headquartered in Atlanta , GA , and has been a subsidiary of The Convex Group, a media and technology company, since 2003.

Discovery will add HowStuffWorks.com to its portfolio of properties, which includes Animal Planet and the Discovery channel. Discovery will also launch a new show based on the website.

According to a statement , HowStuffWorks has 11 million global monthly unique users, up 25 percent from a year ago. Discovery didn’t disclose the price tag for HowStuffWorks, but the Wall Street Journal put the price at about $250 million ( see Techmeme ).

Discovery said it will integrate its TV and video assets such as Mythbusters and How It’s Made with HowStuffWorks.com. Meanwhile, How Stuff Works will become a new show on the Discovery channel in the summer of 2008. Discovery has been making a series of moves to expand its online offerings. It also owns Petfinder.com to complement the Animal Planet channel and TreeHugger.com, which will go with Discovery’s Planet Green television network.

I like the Discovery channel for its desire to broadcast shows that may not be quite mainstream. How about Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe (the guy is whacked) or perhaps Deadliest Catch (fishing for Alaska King Crab – my mother-in-laws favorite meal)? Coming soon – Storm Chasers – the promo’s look very exciting, are they chasing twisters or is it the other way around?

I’m looking forward to seeing what Discovery does for HowStuffWorks. Hopefully they’ll continue to build the brand and keep the 160 existing HowStuffWorks employees working for many years to come.

Get Your 15 Minutes of Fame For Under $150

THe Flip

Listen To Recorded Audio:
[audio:ACT Smart 1002.mp3]

Video production is exploding and sites such as You Tube are driving the market.
Pure Digital Technologies CEO Jonathan Kaplan had a simple idea: Video cameras were too hard to use. Last year, this 6-year-old San Francisco-based company introduced a $129 point-and-shoot-style camcorder, initially sold just at Target stores. Recently, the company unveiled the revamped successor to its first video camera which has allowed Pure Digital to quietly snag major market share from rivals Sony, Panasonic and Canon.
Meet The Family – Life Now Has A Play Button
Pure Digital’s Flip Video is currently the No.1 best-selling video camera at Amazon and Target.com. Selling for $119 and $149, the new Flip Video Ultra touts improved video resolution, a better microphone and a slot for a tripod. The Flip comes in two flavors: 30-minute or 60-minute and it’s also available in five colors: orange, red, green, white and black.
Pure Digital has sold over 350,000 camcorders and predicts sales will top 1 million by early next year. It’s not just added distribution that will enable them to triple sales in just a few months, it’s also better exposure in stores as Wal-Mart and Costco have agreed to give Flip merchandising space. Pure Digital’s first product was a one-time-use digital still camera that you had drop off at a photo finisher (mostly drugstores) equipped to process the images. Many of those early customers requested a camera they could own — which led to the development of the Flip.Convenience Trumps Quality
Not that the Flip will appeal to your inner Spielberg. It shoots video the same way digital cameras do, using the image sensor to transform pictures into video. The quality is generally described as good, but not as good as a Mini-DV or a DVD camcorder.
At first glance, the new and old Flip look remarkably similar. Both are made of plastic, but the new version touts a higher-grade material and a sleeker, more contemporary feel. One noticeable improvement: a bigger and brighter LCD preview screen. On the earlier version, one of the complaints was that seeing anything on the screen in bright sunlight was virtually impossible.Pure Digital is having an easy time reaching low-end or entry level consumers, because most manufacturers don’t care about that market; companies like Panasonic emphasize high-definition and better video quality. Paul Ryder, vice president of consumer electronics for Amazon, says the Flip struck a chord with Amazon’s audience. “Online, the customers tell the story about how easy the camera is to use,” he says. “That really helps sell it.” In refreshing the camera, the engineers kept it simple. Most companies have a tendency to throw more and more into the product for new versions and then it gets more complicated to use. The Flip is still simple to use and the audio and video quality is improved. For everyday use, it’s a great camera at a reasonable price. Expect the price to come down as distribution goes up – this could be a great holiday gift this year.Check it out: The Flip

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