After more than 10 years at my old domain (mike.reed.org) I’ve decided to stop paying the outrageous leasing fees and move my blogging efforts to WordPress. Thanks for following along, updating bookmarks, etc…
It has been a little while since my last entry. I’ve been working on some projects and doing a little life hacking, as it were.
One note: those who read my Facebook and Twitter pages know that my dad was recently hospitalized. He came through his surgery okay and is now in recovery where he should remain for another week or so.
My plan isn’t to discuss too much about my family here because, quite frankly, I’ve recently been chastised by my little girl for posting about her. In fact, she mentioned something cute one morning and I asked her to repeat it to her mother that evening and she refused to do it in front of me for fear that I would “put it on Twitter.”
Nothing I could say would convince her otherwise. My kids have been a major subject on this blog for their entire lives and eventually they’ll find those entries and will come to me in the nursing home and put a pillow over my face. No one wants that.
An irony of this move is that I was invited recently to participate in a product review based on my blog. Now that I’m ready to write about it, I’m essentially starting over and all the SEO stuff and recognition and online awareness I’ve built up over the years is being abandoned.
What are you going to do? The truth is that the company I’ve been subleasing a domain from has changed hands a couple of times and in the process my rates keep going up and the service keeps going down. For years I’ve struggled with tweaking source code, manually archiving and learning new software packages and blah blah blah.
Meanwhile my friends, colleagues and family hop on blogger, livejournal or wordpress and blog away. Good for them.
One big change around our house is that we got rid of our TV service. I called DirecTV and told them I wanted to cancel my service and they seemed shocked.
“You’ve been a loyal customer since 2001,” he said. “Can I ask why?”
“We’re making a change,” I said. “Your rates are too high and are likely to go up again soon.”
I’ve grown tired of paying for television. Between the cable package, HBO, HD, HD-DVR service, and equipment leasing, we were paying close to $100 a month.
We figured that, between Hulu, YouTube, Joost, Netflix, iTunes and Usenet, we can watch whatever we want by hooking a computer to the TV. The kids baulked, but we gave them their own Netflix queues and they were happy.
“Well, we can give you free HD for a year and free HD-DVR for six months,” said the helpful retention specialist.
“That’s great, but no thanks,” I said. Dollie had warned me that they’d try to offer me something to keep me and I promised to stay strong. I happened to catch them on the last day of the billing cycle, so it was easy. They sent me a box to ship the HD-DVR back and I’m done with them.
[Note: That’s another thing that’s bothered me for a while now. I paid $300 for that DVR and an additional $6 a month to cover it against repairs. But I still had to give it back]
The next step was to change ISPs. I’ve been a Bellsouth customer for as long as I’ve had the internet in my home. But I live in a neighborhood in which the infrastructure can’t support the higher-speed DSL service. Watching streaming video with a slow connection after years of zipping through the commercials is . . . frustrating.
So I called Bellsouth and asked to upgrade my connection.
“You have the fastest connection we offer in your area,” she said.
“But it isn’t fast enough,” I replied. “Are there any plans to upgrade my area?”
“I don’t know,” she said. “I can put you on a waiting list.”
“What will that do?”
“It will let AT&T know you want to upgrade when it is available.”
“So there is nothing you can do for me?” After checking my file, she offered:
“I see you’re a DirecTV customer,” she said. [AT&T and DirecTV had a co-marketing deal that gave me a $10 discount each month for being a customer of both services].
“Not anymore,” I replied. “They couldn’t help me either, so I dropped them.”
“I see you have a cell phone through AT&T,” she said. “What kind is it?”
“My wife has a Razr,” I said.
“Well we have many better phones than the Razr, let me take a look.” I let this go on because Dolls needs a new phone. “It looks like she’ll be eligible for an upgrade in October.”
Wow. I mean whoop-de-freakin’-do.
“Well, we can talk about that in October,” I said.
“I see that your equipment isn’t covered by a service contract,” she said. “We can cover your modem and router.”
“No thanks,” I replied, rolling my eyes.
“You don’t want to cover your modem?”
“If I can’t get a faster internet connection, I’m going to go to Comcast,” I said. “I won’t need your modem.”
So I check with Comcast for their high-speed internet service. At $44/month It costs a couple of dollars more, but the speed is like five times faster and won’t slow down when my neighbors get online at night. Plus, they’re running a special – $20/month for six months. Great sign me up.
I get into a live-chat window with someone from Comcast.
It turns out that I’m not eligible for the promotion because I’m not a cable or Comcast phone subscriber.
Fine, just give me the $44 rate then.
That’s a discounted rate for cable or phone subscribers. Your rate will be $62/month.
I’m not interested in TV service. I’m a DSL subscriber looking to upgrade my internet speed.
We went back and forth several times looking at options. In the end it came down to this:
It was cheaper to have the most basic cable service installed (in the kid’s rooms) and the internet (in the living room) than buying the internet by itself. So I’m paying for TV again, only this time it is $13.90/month.
After that we’ll drop our land line, maybe hook up an HD antenna and things will be peachy.
I mentioned the product evaluation thing earlier. I clicked on a Facebook ad for a company looking for bloggers to review their product. I clicked and filled out a form listing my personal links: blog, Facebook, Twitter. A week or so later I got a nice note from a marketing person at the company saying she was impressed with my online presence and would like to send me the product.
Her only request was that I try the product for two weeks, write about it and be honest.
The product is the Q-link. It is a pendant to wear that is designed to enhance the energy field generated by my body and . . . uh . . . Well. Here is the company line:
Q-Link® is the most advanced personal energy system available today. A quarter century of frontier research has given birth to the Q-Link, a sleek line of body worn products that tune your being for optimal living and performance: More energy, less stress, greater focus, enhanced well-being and more. Discover for yourself why individuals of every background the world over hold their Q-Link product in such high regard. It’s the life tool that makes everything you are, do and aspire to be, effortlessly better.
Sounds pretty good, right? The package came and I got a small black plastic pendant on a cord. Inside the pendant is a circular piece of metal (copper?) and what looks like a piece of circuitry.
I went to their site and took the “Q-link Challenge.” This is a two-minute test in which you have to use your mouse to follow the Q-link logo around the screen as it moves faster and faster. Meanwhile, random numbers flash under the logo. When the number is 56 or higher you hit the space bar.
I was instructed to take the challenge, wear the pendant for two weeks and take the challenge again.
So I did.
First of all, let me say that the results really don’t prove anything. There are too many variables. For a more accurate assessment, you’ve want to take the challenge several times before and after and average the results. But the test is what it is.
I took it, wore the necklace for two weeks, taking it off to sleep, and shower. After two weeks I took the test again. I followed the instructions to the letter: I took the test on the same computer at the same time of day. The results were:
The same. My reaction time may have been a few miliseconds better but that can’t be chalked up to anything conclusively.
So I can’t vouch for the effectiveness of the Q-link. What I can tell you is that I enjoyed telling the story and showing it to people. I like the idea of wearing something that’s working to counteract all the EM radiation I’m exposed to every day. I just don’t know if this device actually does anything.
On a personal note, as a PR/marketing professional, I like the idea of reaching out to bloggers to increase awareness of the product. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to do this, to see how they handle the process. I’ve pitched the idea to clients and have received mixed reactions.
The product I received was the cheapest version (which makes sense). It included a brochure geared to golfers (a good move, as they are a notoriously superstitious lot who will spend money on anything to give their game an edge). What I haven’t received is any follow up. Perhaps, once this is published, there will be some contact.
They make several models, including jewelry, bracelets and versions for dogs and horses. It’s an interesting concept. I appreciate their scientific approach to marketing. A product like this walks a fine line. It can be all too easy to get rolled up with the crystal-wearing hippy dippy crowd or the cure-all magnet-wearing bunch.
They come close, but I think they succeed in skirting the metaphysical without drinking the kool-aid.
Sold some stuff on eBay recently, including my entire collection of Spy Magazine. That was a hard one to let go of, but it dawned on me that I’ll never write a masters thesis on the magazine’s contribution to modern media design, so why hold on to them?