Know what bugs me the most about the new year? The need to prepare and file yet another tax return.
I've been a TurboTax user for enough years that now I just stick with it out of habit--and hence my chief goal each January (OK, each early April) is to find the cheapest possible price.
For the moment, the best deal going comes from Fidelity Investments, which is offering 25 percent off all versions of TurboTax Online. Thankfully, you don't have to be a Fidelity customer to take advantage of it; just click Visitor Entry and you'll … Read more
Going to a retail store for consumer electronics purchases can be both exciting and frustrating. After working at Best Buy for two years, I have a few opinions to share that you might want to consider before your next shopping trip.
1. We have no formal training in the field of consumer electronics. Upon transferring to the computer department from home theater, I expressed concern to the manager: "Will there be time for someone to train me on laptops/desktops? What do these specifications mean?" His reply was simple: "Just do your best. A good salesperson can just read the labels and compare specs." Ouch.
Salespeople are not necessarily experts in the products sold in their departments, even if they are expert salespeople. Though many express a strong interest in the products they sell, your time spent at a retail store fishing for information about a future TV purchase could be better spent online researching the products yourself (I heard CNET has pretty great reviews).
2. We make little off the big-ticket items, so we smother you with accessories. Remember the story "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie"? Well, if you tell a salesman you're going to buy a TV, he's going to want to sell you a DVD player to go with it. Once he sells you the DVD player, he's going to want to get you to buy an HDMI cable, too.
Managers at Best Buy (and possibly all retailers) tell employees that the store profits surprisingly little from video game consoles and computers. Cables, accessories, mice, and other components, however, have a huge profit margin-- stores can make about $120 from a $150 Monster HDMI cable. Angry yet? The point is, we're going to work really hard to convince you to purchase that big item, but once you've said "OK" you've opened Pandora's Box.
Here's my advice: Grab the big item, and run. Purchase all accessories online, including memory cards, cables, traveling cases, and so on. Amazon, Monoprice, and Newegg are all reputable discount Web sites. You'll find what you need at a much lower price.… Read more
Updated 5:15pm with comment from Return7.
The fourth time was definitely not the charm for the developers behind the CastCatcher streaming radio application for the iPhone.
Apple rejected CastCatcher 1.3 from the App Store on Monday, according to Return7 developer Amro Mousa. The reason? "CastCatcher Internet Radio cannot be posted to the App Store because it is transferring excessive volumes of data over the cellular network, which as outlined in the iPhone SDK Agreement section 3.3.15, is prohibited."
If that's Apple's policy regarding streaming radio applications, Mousa is a little puzzled, because … Read more
This week brings us a bizarre sci-fi pinball game, a home-remodeling simulator, and an original space-themed shoot-em-up.WiiWare Alien Crush Returns (Hudson Entertainment, 800 Wii points): Alien Crush Returns is an updated version of the classic Turbografx 16 game. It's a pinball simulator unlike anything you've played because it looks like you're playing inside someones digestive system. Your Nintendo Wi-Fi connection extends the fun, bringing your gameplay online with up to four friends. Home Sweet Home (Big Blue Bubble Inc., 1,000 Wii points): Calling all aspiring interior decorators: Home Sweet Home lets you design your dream … Read more
New York-based Return Path, which had a tense relationship with its left-coast competitor, said the deal will give it more scale in the "trusted e-mail delivery" market.
"While fiercely competing in the marketplace does create some degree of tension or even mistrust between two companies, that activity also creates a lot of common ground for discussion about the market and the future," Return Path CEO Matt Blumberg said in a statement on the company's Web … Read more
Zebra Technologies just announced their new "G-series" line of thermal printers. These little guys fall under the four-inch desktop printer category and, while not specifically for the consumer market, will still appeal to industries that deal with printing labels, receipts, price marking tags, shipping and return labels, boarding passes, ID wristbands and tags, and admission tickets.
The new offerings from Zebra include the GX420t,GX420d, GX430t, GK420t, and the GK420d. Across the board, these printers feature a wide range of convenient, easy to operate printing solutions in the work or home office. Notable specifications include:Wireless: 802.11g … Read more
I had the opportunity to see Wynton Marsalis perform with the 15-piece Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra last night in Seattle, and it was an absolutely stellar performance, with great song selection (Marsalis's own "The Holy Ghost" was a standout) and some of the most incredible technical playing I've ever heard--they did Duke Ellington's "Braggin' in Brass," which contains a trombone part in which each player plays a note or two in sequence, together creating this fast complicated line. (Listen here--that part starts around the -2:06 mark.) I've heard from … Read more
Maybe IT doesn't matter, after all. At least, not as much as it should.
A recently released survey of chief financial officers and their views on technology spending found that roughly 57 percent say they are getting an acceptable return on investment (ROI) from their tech spending. Lest you think that the CFOs are too distant from the chief information officer to have a true grasp on ROI, keep in mind that the survey found that 41 percent of organizations have CIOs reporting to CFOs. The Computer Sciences Corporation conducted the annual survey of 629 CFOs in association with the Financial Executives Research Foundation.
Other data from the "Technology Issues for Financial Executives" study was equally interesting:Among those surveyed, IT spending has increased over the last three years, and is expected to grow in 2008, as well. Greater than 50 percent suggest medium to high ROI on technology investments but only 11 percent reported a "high" ROI.… Read more
Note: I corrected this entry to make clear that Imeem licenses its event listing information from Jambase.A quick follow-up to my earlier post on Imeem. A representative of the company contacted me to let me know about some of the other services offered on the site, including one that lets you find local events. Testing this feature in "search by venue" mode, I discovered that Return to Forever, whose 1973 album Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy is one of my favorite jazz records (fusion for you purists), is coming to my favorite Seattle venue in a couple … Read more