Category Archives: Informative
I’ve carried a blackberry for 12 years.
First off it was the phone my previous company told us we had to use when we entered the email age in the late 90s (yea we were a little slow rolling out technology).
But now I work for a different company and for the last 5 years I’ve still carried one because of all the other PDA/ Smart phones I’ve ever tried, it’s the only one that I can bang out a 3 sentence e-mail on in less than 5 minutes. That’s important to me and the 80 million other people still carrying blackberries around the world ( at least that’s what RIMM says the user base is in this article)
And the reason I can actually type a message on a berry is the ingenious little QWERTY pad that they invented and perfected. (If you ever wondered why it’s called a QWERTY just read the top row of letters on the berry or your keyboard). I’ve tried Apple and Android (Samsung and HTC) touch screens but never felt close to being able to work it like that stupid little keyboard. It’s why I have a love hate relationship with my Berry – I love it as an e-mail device (which is Job #1) but it sucks balls as a smartphone.
So it was with hope and trepidation and read that article – on the release of the new Blackberry 10 slated for early next year. Did they get it right? or will it be yet another piece of shit that does e-mail very, very well? – I don’t know but I’m willing to give it a try
Since this is IBC the Mother of all Stock sites, I should mention RIMM as an investment, or maybe more accurately a trade. There’s going to be buzz about BB10, and add in the rumors of IBM or amazon acquiring the enterprise services group .
It’s currently a dollar (14%) off it’s 52 week / 3 yr. low at $7.56. and the overhead supply of money losers is staggering. On the flip side, 18% of the float is short so if BB10 actually is something I could see a nice squeeze developing quickly.
First things first it would have to bust through that 17 week EMA and it’s acted as a ceiling throughout the entire 15 month avalanche that saw it shed 90% of it’s value
My Sister Paid Progressive Insurance to Defend Her Killer In Court
I’ve been sending out some impertinent tweets about Progressive Insurance lately, but I haven’t explained how they pissed me off. So I will do that here as succinctly as possible. There’s a general understanding that says, “insurance companies— oh they’re awful,” but since Progressive turned their shit hose on my late sister and my parents, I’ve learned some things that really surprised me.
I’ll try to cleave to the facts. On June 19, 2010, my sister was driving in Baltimore when her car was struck by another car and she was killed. The other driver had run a red light and hit my sister as she crossed the intersection on the green light.
Now, I don’t discount the possibility that Katie was at fault in the accident, but it never really looked that way. The only witness who gave a statement on the day said that Katie had the light, etc. The totality of the evidence left some room for argument, but that will be the case any time there’s a catastrophic car accident that doesn’t happen underneath an array of video cameras.
One indication that the case was pretty open-and-shut was that the other guy’s insurance company looked at the situation and settled with my sister’s estate basically immediately. Now, because the other driver was underinsured, that payment didn’t amount to much, but my sister carried a policy with Progressive against the possibility of an accident with an underinsured driver. So Progressive was now on the hook for the difference between the other guy’s insurance and the value of Katie’s policy.
At which point we learned the first surprising thing about Progressive: Carrying Progressive insurance and getting into an accident does not entitle you to the value of your insurance policy. It just pisses off Progressive’s lawyers. Here I address you, Prospective Progressive Insurance Customer: someday when you have your accident, I promise that there will be enough wiggle room for Progressive’s bottomless stack of in-house attorneys to make a court case out of it and to hammer at that court case until you or your surviving loved ones run out of money.
Which is what Progressive decided to do to my family. In hopes that a jury would hang or decide that the accident was her fault, they refused to pay the policy to my sister’s estate.
Out of a sense of honor, and out of a sense of the cost of my sister’s outstanding student loans, my folks opted to try to go after the money through legal channels. At which point they learned another delightful thing. In Maryland, you may not sue an insurance company when they refuse to fork over your money. Instead, what they had to do was sue the guy who killed my sister, establish his negligence in court, and then leverage that decision to force Progressive to pay the policy.
Now my parents don’t harbor much venom for the guy who killed my sister. It was an accident, and kicking that guy around won’t bring Katie back. But kicking that guy around was the only way to get Progressive to pay. So they filed a civil suit against the other driver in hopes that, rather than going to court, Progressive would settle. Progressive did not. Progressive made a series of offers (never higher than 1/3 the amount they owe) and then let it go to a trial.
At the trial, the guy who killed my sister was defended by Progressive’s legal team.
If you are insured by Progressive, and they owe you money, they will defend your killer in court in order to not pay you your policy.
The trial was a real shitshow for my parents, and I did not love it either. As it happens, the jury did find that the other driver was negligent, which, if justice or decency were priorities for Progressive, will result in them finally honoring Katie’s policy. At this point, I hope you’ll forgive me if I wait for it to actually happen.
Don’t buy insurance from Progressive. Not only will you be paying the salaries of people who put my family through the wringer (really a smaller wringer that Progressive attached to the main wringer of my sister’s death), but also when the chips are down, your money will have bought you nothing but a kick in the face.
from the macrumors website – photos of the i 5 phone / logic board – Expected release date of Sept. 12
The photos appear to be the front and back of the next generation iPhone logic board which houses the processor and other support chips for the device. The board is distinct from both the Apple’s iPhone 4S and iPhone 4 logic boards.
Nowhereelse notes that the screw holes of the logic board lines up exactly with those of the previously leaked shells The site even created this animated GIF which shows how the holes line up. The image appears to be mirrored, presumably for clarity.
After IKEA estimated and sold its trademark at $9 billion Euros (US$11 billion), The Wall Street Journal decided to find out the worth of some of the world’s most popular brands.
For the infographic entitled ‘What’s a Brand’s Worth?’, created by Alberto Cervantes, The Wall Street Journal looked to research firms to find out the worth of companies, such as Apple, IKEA, McDonald’s and Nike.
According to research firm Millward Brown the most valuable brand in the world is Apple Inc., with a worth of US$183 billion.
However, Interbrand judges Apple’s brand worth to be only US$33.5 billion—and that Coca-Cola Co. and McDonald’s are worth more at US$71.9 billion and US$35.6 billion respectively.
The firms disagreed less on the value of IKEA and Nike—Interbrand valued IKEA at US$11.9 billion and Nike at US$14.5 billion, while Millward Brown valued IKEA at US$9.2 billion and Nike at US$16.3 billion.
Which is more accurate? That depends on the branding firm. Different firms use different methods are used to come up with values of the companies.
Allen Adamson, a managing director of a branding firm owned by WPP, Landor Associates, told The Wall Street Journal that the value of brand is both art and science.
He said: “It’s simple in theory but hard to pin down in reality. It’s really about how much would a consumer pay for a caramel-colored soda versus how much they would pay for a Coke.”
According to a report from barracuda labs, there is an exploding underground economy for twitter users going on right now
The Market place is ebay and other websites. Right now there are 196 listing to buy twitter followers with prices starting at $15 per 20,000
So who buys twitter followers? Commercial products, political campaigns or anyone wanting to look more popular
The irony, according to barracuda labs, is a large number of these “followers” are actually fake accounts:
For the past 75 days, we have been investigating the business of trading Twitter followers on eBay and other websites searched from Google. As it turns out, this underground economy on Twitter is blooming! The results show that this Twitter business is growing very fast to form a series of underground markets.
As part of this study, beginning in May 2012, our team set up three Twitter accounts and purchased between 20,000 and 70,000 Twitter followers for each of them from eBay and another website searched from Google. After collecting these followers’ profiles via Twitter API, as well as additional information from eBay sellers and Google search results, we found many interesting highlights of this business, summarized as follows into 3 categories
Dealers (those users who create fake accounts and sell followings):
- There are 20 eBay sellers and 58 websites (within top 100 returns of searching “buy twitter followers” in Google) where people can buy (fake) followers
- Twitter username is used to purchase, no authentication is required
- The average price of buying 1000 followers is $18
- A Dealer can control as many as ~150,000 or more Twitter followers (contact @kashifrox)
- A Dealer can earn as much as $800/day for 7 weeks of selling followings if they can control 20,000 fake accounts (estimated on several random fake accounts reaching 2000 followings in 7 weeks and assume each following involved a minimum $20 purchase)
- In addition to selling followings from these fake accounts, there are numerous opportunities for expansion into other services: selling tweets/re-tweets to earn additional profits
Abusers (those users who bought followers (most of which are fake) in order to look more popular or to use the accounts for selling ads):
- There were 11,283 Abusers identified (each has at least 470 fake followers; magic number 470 is explained later, hint: it is related to @GregoryDEvans)
- The average Abuser has 48,885 followers
- 53% of Abusers have 4,000-26,000 followers
- 75% of abusers have set a URL in their profiles (compared to 31% for random Twitter users)
Fake Accounts (created by dealers for selling followings or tweets business):
- There were 72,212 unique fake accounts identified
- 61% of these fake accounts are less than 3 months old (since April 16th, 2012)
- Average age of these fake accounts is 19 weeks or about 5 months
- 55% of fake accounts have ~2000 followings
- The average number of following for a fake account is 1,799
- The oldest fake account @krails is created on Jan 15th, 2007
Considering there were more than 11,000 Abusers identified from only 3 purchases we made, we are amazed by the size of market for selling and buying Twitter followers.
Several quick conclusions about these statistics:
- Dealers are controlling the following speed and total following number of these fake accounts to avoid being suspended by Twitter. Dealers built various business services from the controlled accounts, as every cent is still money, e.g., selling 2000 re-tweets for $5 at here.
- Half of the abusers have 4,000-26,000 followers, which makes them the most likely to be “cheating” group; and 3/4 of Abusers have set a URL in their profiles, meaning they might buy followers for website promotional purposes.
- Fake accounts normally follow a lot of people, but normally no bigger than 2001 followings, indicating Twitter may internally uses this number as a cutoff for abused account detection.
- Still, these statistics of fake followers can be easily used for detection purposes. However, Dealers can apply obscure techniques to make them hard to detect, e.g., randomly following some famous and some average people, or posting tweets grabbed from the Twitter stream, etc. This is one reason that the prices of followers vary dramatically on eBay and other online websites, ranging from $2 to $55 per 1,000 followers. The higher the price is, the more real these followers look.
- On the other side, Abusers can try to avoid being caught as well, by buying followers multiple times from different services. For example, since March 2nd 2012, the world’s “Top One” security expert Gregory D. Evans (@GregoryDEvans) seemed to be purchasing 4 times to gain at least 50,000 new followers from several resources, which we do not know. But, by running an overlapping check between his followers and our purchased followers, we found 470 fake accounts shown in both list. Bingo! That is also the **magic** number used in our study to detect all other Abusers.
It looks like even Mitt Romney’s Campaign gas fallen victim to the ruse
Most interestingly, during our investigation, Republican nominee for US President Mitt Romney has been scrutinized recently for his abnormal increase in new followers (@mittromney), indicating that these followers had been purchased in the same way as the Dealers/Abuser scenario from our study. We do note that these followers could have been purchased by either himself, his associates or by his opponents. Particularly, on July 21st, 2012, his follower number went from 673,002 to 789,924, representing a gain of 116,922 or 17%. As this story picked up momentum, we quickly pulled his newest followers since the big breakout, (resulting in 152,966 new Twitter accounts), and can disclose several interesting statistics of these followers.
Statistics of Romney’s newest 152,966 Twitter followers(between Jul 21st and Jul 26th 2012):
- The number of Romney’s followers increased 17% (or 116,922) on a single day Jul 21, 2012, going from 673,002 to 789,924
- 25% of these followers are less than 3 weeks old (created after July 17th 2012), 80% of them are less than 3 months old
- 23% or about 1/4 of these followers have no tweet
- 10% of these account has already been suspended by Twitter
Based on the above distinguishable features, we believe most of these recent followers of Romney are not from a general Twitter population but most likely from a paid Twitter follower service. Also notice that Romney’s newest followers did have few different statistical features than our purchased followers (e.g. much newer than ours), indicating his followers were purchased from a different data resource than ours.
It is important to note that authentication is not required when buying Twitter followers from eBay or other websites. It is possible for anyone to buy followers for other Twitter users. That being said, Romney’s newest followers could have been paid for by himself, his associates or by his opponents. So far, there is not a feasible way to confirm who is responsible.
Finally, creating fake Twitter accounts and buying/selling followers is against Twitter’s ToS, and gradually erodes the overall value of the social network. Twitter keeps on detecting fake accounts and followings, and suspending them in last few years. However, if they do not move faster and smarter, these fake accounts will continue to be created, blended into the massive Twitter population, bringing bigger and bigger impact.
This underground Twitter business is just blooming.
Obviously Mitt made this choice to energize a rather lackluster GOP constituency who seem to have “settled” on his candidacy as “Not Obama”
Ryan, known for slashing budgets, could be just the thing to ignite a rally Monday – if the markets think he can help push the GOP over the top in November.
Job numbers came in at 163,000 for July, slightly less than the 172,000 jobs added in June. An improving job market is a positive sign for payroll processing firms so lets take a look at the results of the two biggest players:
Automatic Data Processing (ADP) Q4 revenues grew 5.2% over the year to $2.64 billion, marginally shy of the Street’s projections of $2.65 billion. EPS of $0.53 was in line with the market’s targeted EPS and reported growth over previous year’s earnings of $0.48 for the quarter.
By segment, Employer Services’ revenues grew 7% over the year to $1.88 billion, with the number of employees whose payrolls were processed by ADP in the U.S. rising 3.2% over the year. During the quarter, ADP bought back 6.4 million shares of its stock at a cost of $342 million.
ADP ended the year with revenues growing 8% over the year to $10.67 billion and EPS of $2.82. For the year 2013, the company projects revenues and earnings to grow 5%-7% over the year. The market is looking for 8% growth on revenues and 9% growth on earnings.
ADP remains focused on small and medium businesses and continued to expand service offerings for this segment. Recently, the company announced an integration with online accounting software provider, Xero. Through the tie-up, Xero’s general ledger solution will be integrated with ADP’s RUN Powered by ADP payroll platform. ADP’s RUN is a cloud-based solution that delivers compliance tools for payroll, tax administration, and employee management.
The integrated solution is tailored to small business owners. Xero provides SMB owners with real-time visibility into their financial positions. The solution also helps online collaboration with clients, virtual teams, and prospects for accounting professionals. The integration will enable both businesses and accounting professionals to transfer data in a simple and secure manner to Xero’s cloud-based software.
The stock is trading at $57.61 with a market capitalization of $27.99billion. The stock provides a $1.58 dividend = 2.8%. The chart shows ADP pulling back slightly from it’s 52 week high but still in strong uptrend
Paychex (PAYX) Q4 revenues grew 6% over the year to $551.5 million, short of the Street’s projections of $558.0 million. EPS of $0.34 was in line with market expectations and grew 4% over the year.
By segment, payroll service revenues grew 4% to $369.5 million and Human Resource Services revenues grew 12% to $171.2 million.
The company ended the year with revenues up 7% over the year to $2.19 billion and EPS up 6% to $1.51. For the current year, Paychex expects payroll revenues to grow from 3%-4%, just shy of the market’s projected growth of 4.5%.
As part of its expanding product offerings, Paychex recently released a smartphone app for its solutions. The smartphone app for iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry will offer clients and clients’ employees a tool to stay connected to their Paychex payroll, benefits, and retirement information.
Paychex’s closed Friday near it’s one year highs - $33.18, with a market capitalization of $12.04 billion. The stock provides a $1.28 dividend = 3.9% The Chart continues to show a strong uptrend:
This Gravity-defying swimming pool hangs over 24-story ledge with a transparent glass floor is located in a Shanghai Holiday Inn.
It’s design is what’s known as a cantilever pool, in which part of the pool extends beyond the ledges of the building. The cantilever engineering allows the pool to extend over the edge of the hotel’s wall while being anchored only at one end. Here are a pictures from street level and from inside the hotel of the pool which measures 98 feet long, 20 feet wide and 5 feet deep
The extension gives swimmers the sense that they are traveling through the air, all while pedestrians can view them from below. If you happen to be in the area, rooms at the hotel start at $125 per night.
I don’t look over my checking account statement that closely. I keep a healthy balance and don’t write many checks. Most of my payments are on line and I rarely have to use my debit card (fuck you Sam’s Club). They include my lockbox at no charge and I just assume my bank makes enough interest off my money they don’t need to try and fuck me with any hidden little fees.
I had just read this article and decided to dig out my most recent statement. Low and behold I am getting charged $2 a month for getting a paper statement. I’m not sure how long I’ve been getting dinged for this, but am planning to give them a call Monday.
It’s not the $2 – it’s the fucking principle.
For those of you not up to clicking the link, or wondering if it will give you a typical Yahoo Page Not Found Error - here’s the other fees:
1. Early account closure fee.
Many banks require you to have your account open for a certain period of time before closing it, or else you get slapped with a fee. BB&T and Citibank charge a $25 fee if your account is closed within 90 days of opening it. Meanwhile, U.S. Bank, HSBC, and PNC Bank charge a $25 fee to close an account that has been open for fewer than 180 days. “There’s significant cost to opening and closing an account, and the banks are trying to recover some of their costs,” Feddis says.
Odysseas Papadimitriou, chief executive of credit card comparison website Cardhub.com, adds that banks impose early account closure fees to dissuade you from closing your account at all. “It’s a way to deter people from closing their accounts, because after 90 days they’re less likely to leave,” he explains.
To avoid that early closure fee, you can keep your account open past the minimum period.
2. Monthly or annual maintenance fee.
A number of banks charge monthly or annual maintenance fees for certain accounts. For example, a regular checking account at Bank of America comes with a $12 monthly maintenance fee. However, if you fulfill any number of requirements, such as maintain a minimum daily balance in checking of $750 or more, you can get the fee waived.
Check your bank’s policy to see if you’re being charged a maintenance fee and to find out ways to avoid it.
3. Minimum balance fee.
Some banks charge a monthly fee for customers with low account balances. For example, Citibank customers who have the bank’s EZ Checking account are charged $15 a month if they don’t carry a minimum balance of $6,000.
“We’re in an environment of low interest rates, which means that the interest banks earn on their customers’ money–especially the money they get on accounts with low balances–doesn’t cover the costs of providing the account,” Feddis says. She says that it costs banks on average about $300 a year to provide checking account services, so enforcing minimum balance fees is one way for banks to recoup that cost.
To avoid a minimum balance fee, review your bank’s policy to see what amount you have to maintain.
4. Returned deposit fee.
If you deposit a check that bounces, your bank could charge a fee. Customers of Sovereign Bank are charged a $15 fee ($25 for an international check) when a check that’s been deposited is returned unpaid. Similarly, Bank of America charges a $12 fee ($15 for international checks) for a returned deposit item.
A majority of big banks charge a returned deposit fee, but many small banks and credit unions don’t tag on this fee, so it might be worth looking into changing where you bank if you think you’re going to encounter a lot of bounced checks.
5. Foreign transaction fee.
If you buy something from another country with a U.S. credit card, the bank may charge you a conversion fee. For example, Bank of America generally charges a 3 percent fee on foreign purchases used with its credit cards. So for an $80 purchase, the bank charges a $2.40 transaction fee. With Bank of America, it’s also important to note that even if a transaction is in U.S. dollars, the bank still applies a foreign transaction fee if it’s processed outside the U.S.
“There’s a greater potential for fraud with international transactions, so it costs the banks money to protect the consumer,” explains Feddis.
If you want to avoid this fee, you can use any number of cards that don’t charge for foreign transactions, such as Capital One’s Venture and Platinum Prestige cards or Chase’s Sapphire Preferred card.
6. Lost debit card fee
Accidentally misplaced your debit card? It’ll cost you. Bank of America charges $5 to get a replacement debit card; PNC charges $7.50.
“There is a cost [for the bank] to providing a new debit card, and it’s not just the manufacturing,” Feddis says. “Banks also pay for the mailing and the fraud protection systems connected to the card.”
In addition, some banks charge extra for rush orders, like PNC’s $25 expedited delivery fee for a new debit card. To lessen the blow, you don’t have to request expedited delivery on your new card–you can simply use cash for payments or a different card in your wallet until the new one arrives.
7. Paper statement fee
If online banking isn’t your thing, receiving paper statements could be costing you. For most TD Bank accounts, it costs an extra dollar per month to receive paper statements. Meanwhile, U.S. Bank charges customers who opt for paper statements up to $2 a month on some checking accounts. Such paper statements are expensive to produce and they’re not environmentally friendly, so banks try to dissuade people from getting them, Feddis says.
“The price of postage keeps going up, and it costs banks more than $1 to send a paper statement,” Papadimitriou says. “If they do that once a month, that’s a lot of money going out.”
If you’re being charged for paper statements, you have the option of searching for banks that don’t charge the fee or looking into an account that enables you to bank entirely electronically.
8. Redeeming rewards points fee
A few banks have begun charging customers a fee for redeeming the points they’ve accumulated on their rewards cards. At Wells Fargo, for example, you have to pay a $24 processing fee for each airline ticket issued through the bank’s rewards vendor. However, this type of fee isn’t particularly common, Feddis says. Nonetheless, if you want to avoid paying for using your rewards points, Feddis says you need to shop around and compare various banks’ policies.
9. Returned mail fee
When you move, a mail forwarding request with your post office may not be good enough for your bank. Many banks print “return service requested” on their envelopes, so your mail gets sent back to the bank if it can’t be delivered, upon which a number of banks charge a fee. U.S. Bank, for example, charges a $5 fee for the second and subsequent months that a statement is undeliverable. Many regional banks also charge a fee for this: FirstBank & Trust, Bank of Arkansas, and Bank of Oklahoma charge undeliverable mail fees of $15.
“There’s a potential for identity theft with returned mail, so it triggers other actions on the part of the bank that cost money,” Feddis says.
These fees can add up, so make sure you update your address with your bank upon moving.
10. Human teller fee
Some banks even charge a fee for using a person to handle certain transactions. For a Bank of America checking account, there’s no fee when you choose online paperless statements and make your deposits and withdrawals online or with an ATM. However, if you use a teller, you have to pay the monthly maintenance fee of $8.95. If you’d like the ability to consult a teller, seek out bank accounts that don’t levy this charge. “It’s easily avoided by choosing an account that aligns with your behavior,” Feddis says.