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i'm sure you've been seeing these television advertisements all over for aol's new video service.  they really have been pushing it a lot.  the ad features ed bundy (c'mon let's be real you don't know his name either) in a public service like announcement...talking about how all this video on the internet goes unwatched each year.  personally i think the approach is a bit tacky (a bit of a mockery for the charity foundations), but maybe that's because i first saw it while watching 'United 93' which was commercial free sponsored by AOL -- i just thought they might have thought of a better topic to display psa-like advertisements than the united movie.

all that aside, i couldn't escape the ads, so today i went for a look.  now i've used google video once, but rarely went back.  since then has been my source for internet video (as i'm sure yours).  has been winning me over to distribute my own videos, but i think it will take time to get there from a pervasiveness thing.  i do think the quality of videos on is better (not the quality of the content, but the digital quality).  but all that being said, this was my current paradigm.

so off to video.aol.com i go.  ugh.  horrible.  the ad gave me the impression that it was youtube-ish.  well kinda, but most of it seems to be centered around purchasable content.  and crappy (or to be fair -- not relevant to me) content at that.  here's this one with a title named "hidden camera reveals what buyers think" -- cool i thought i'd see some hidden cameras in some open houses with potential buyers talking crap about the home.  nope, a list of "sell your house" videos.  well the videos very well may have contained that content but at $1.99 per watch i wasn't going to find out.

the layout is horrible for me, and "too much" especially in this era of web <pick-your-version>.0.  it amazes me that aol didn't take all the free research from youtube/google video/soapbox and implement the best product.  (much like i would have hoped microsoft took all the free research about ipod and made a better zune)  right now at best they are an aggregator -- even listing that their videos are coming from other places.  for me, it is unusable.  i'm sticking with youtube.

the only video i found beneficial was this jay leno episode (i would have embedded a player for you but didn't see that option).

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a few weeks ago, my favorite rss service, squeet was having a holiday itself.  ordinarily i'd be okay with that but i felt lost on the information super-highway and have to have my feeds.  i thought about using the ie7 and outlook rss model, but i just still haven't adopted to that paradigm...i honestly don't know why, but i just haven't succombed yet.

so someone was telling me about google reader and i thought i'd check it out.  yes, another beta product from google.  i imported my opml and it took me a bit to understand the features of what the terms meant for viewing and how to best view the feeds, etc...but eventually i got it. 

squeet is back up now and i'm happy, but i've kept reader going just to compare for now.  the one thing i don't like is the refresh.  in gmail, when a new message comes in, the titlebar is changed as is the actual page -- the message is there.  in google reader i've noticed that as new feeds are there, the title bar updates with the infamous (#) format indicating new items, but the view pane is always empty...i have to click refresh again.  so much for the functionality.  ooh, just as i was typing this i saw it update -- the subscription list on the left updated with new items (even flashed a nice yellow color) and the title bar updated...my all items view? blank.


just something odd i thought.  i think i'll give the outlook one a new try -- if i'm happy with google reader, there is no reason i shouldn't be happy with the IE7 rss subscription format...or at least that is what i keep telling myself.

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for december only, here's my spam folder:


over 7,000 messages alone in december -- on average it is about 5,000 messages a month for me -- so let's be conservative and say 55,000 messages of spam a year...arg.

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well now that the holiday season is over (well to some it is, i'm officially writing it off -- santa came and stayed up very late putting things together in my..er...um his garage), let the red ink for the retail industry fly.  i'm talking about the "other" season that is hitting the stores...returns/exchanges.

i'm taking some time off this week and had no other better excuse so my i accompanied my wife to the mall to return some items (note to self: don't buy women clothes).  i was extremely hesitant as i'm a terribly impatient person and completely selfish...but i went...2 kids in tow as well.

the mall actually wasn't that bad -- we got there at the beginning to seemingly avoid the rush (and we did, we left at 1pm and it was a friggin madhouse in the parking lots).  this year i managed to do most of my shopping online, and was grateful for that.  in return, however, i learned a valuable lesson -- pay attention.  yes that's right, the simple lesson.  you see, when i shopped online, i only purchased from stores that had a brick/mortar presence.  my inner voice was telling me that was the safest thing to do in the event of a return/exchange -- simply go to the store and do it there.  i stuck with only big names and recognizable stores to do this.  i simply didn't question that there would be any issue.  alas, there is my naivety.

one of the places i shopped was victoria's secret (yes, i'm married -- but even if i wasn't, and had a lady friend...mucho points with the ladies :-)).  i went online shopped for some things and purchased (remember, my wife even pointed me to the pajamas she wanted).  so that was the first store we went to.  i am guessing you can see where this is going.  the clerk told her "oh, i'm sorry the online store is completely different than our stores.  you have to return it through them."

completely different?  maybe this story should be on !  let's see, i went to victoriassecret.com -- and the name on the store says victoria's secret...heck the branding looks the same to me.  as a consumer, this WAS BROKEN.  i was furious -- as was the wife.  how could such a large retailer not "get it" when it came to purchasing online?  (note: every single other place allowed the returns: sport chalet, tillys, best buy, etc.)  they lost a customer that day.  the online was a convenience sure, but i also payed for that (i.e., shipping).  even if the actual business entities are set up differently, places like that (and that are that recognizable) should have some process set up...call them charge backs, whatever...don't make the consumer suffer.  in our eyes, there is no difference...the store is the store, whether it was online or not. 

that was my only bad experience this season -- but it left a lasting mark -- hey victoria, your thong might be a little too tight -- pull it out and figure out what consumers want, not what is easiest to you...

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heard on some gaming discussion boards:

Personally, I think it is terrible that people who would gladly wait in line for days to get a new PS3 probably complained when they had to wait an hour or so to vote in the elections.