Thursday, July 31, 2008

Apple Computers/iPhones Appear in 50% of all movies and 67% of those that they possibly could.

As reported by MacRumors:

Brand Channel has compiled a list of "product placement" awards for movies. Apple, of course, has seen a huge rise in placements over the past 7 years.

When looking back between 2001-2003, Apple appeared in about 20% of all number one films. This percentage increased to 45% in 2005-2006 and is up to 50% in 2008. They acknowledge that even this 50% figure is deceptively low, however, since some movies (such as Indiana Jones) might have no opportunity due to its setting or time period. If you eliminate these movies, Apple appears in an impressive 67% of number one 2008 movies.

A complicated question with a simple answer ...

Received posted to the wrong section this morning:

* Suppose to be posted to RECORDING PHONE CALLS reference *

Can you provide some insight please?

Brief overview: Abusive (physical, emotional, psychological) marriage ended. Ex continued abuse via threats, harassment, etc. PFA obtained; ex violated it; did not renew. Ex continued abuse and attempts to control through outrageous court battles r/t custody of children. We were then ordered to engage in weekly phone calls to discuss kids. Ex used calls to further degrade, verbally abuse, threaten, etc. Ex informed during one call that if the abuse did not stop, I would have to record calls. Ex laughed; said you can't without my permission(he has since married someone that works for a law firm) My attempt to prove his continued abuse and request that I not have to participate in the court ordered phone calls all failed. My attorney states PA has some of the strictest laws regarding recording messages and that if done, I would be charged with a felony. Is there any way to legally prove that all oral communication between he and I involves his threatening, terrorizing, degrading, etc? This is insane; no reason to put a PFA in place...he just violates them. No way to prove he is harassing, threatening during oral communication...the courts protect fact, he was doing it with the court's blessing when it became a court ordered weekly phone call

Pennsylvania DOES have a very strict recording law.

Contained in my reference is this note:


Pennsylvania requires the consent of all parties. (A 2 PARTY STATE)

Pennsylvania Constitution Statute Section 5704(4) with the following exception: any individual may record a phone conversation without the other party's consent if:

The non-consenting party threatens the life or physical well being of the consenting party, or any member of his/her family.

The non-consenting party commits any criminal action (the statute specifically uses the example of telling the consenting party that they have marijuana they want the consenter to buy, but does state ANY criminal act).

Felony penalties may be imposed for violation of the Pennsylvania statute.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

How much revenue do theater chains get from movies?

* image modified from Boeing website

A small debate has sparked off in one of my recent posts about Batman: The Dark Knight and movie theater chain revenue:

From two comments:

The split between the theaters and the studios is nowhere near 50%. It is always a back loaded deal for theaters. Its more like 80/20 for the first few weeks and gradually over the run of the film it can swap to the theaters advantage. That's why theaters don't want you bringing in outside food. They make most of their profits off of concessions. That's also why theaters love films like My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Something that builds slowly and is then a huge hit late in its run.


I have a friend that owns a theatre. A few years ago someone stole a star wars film reel. I thought that was kinda fishy, films must weigh a ton, right? Well I asked my friend about it. He told me a few interesting things. First, star wars was on 6 reels. Each reel weighs as much as an average man. And, it costs so much to rent the films, that he makes no money from ticket sales. Profit is entirely concessions. It's not a small theatre, he owns a major theatre with 14 screens.


Its interesting that Star Wars is mentioned because Revenge Of The Sith is actually a good example of how movie theater chains are actually making more money.

Starting right around the time Star Wars Prequel Episode III came out; movies were being offered in 3 formats reels, hard drives, and satellite downloads.

The same theater where I get my 50/50 figure from is an independent theater with 4 screens that rotates 6 movies each night. They charge $9.50 per ticket. About a year ago, I spoke with this owner to see if he was interested in opening a theater up to show television shows (like LOST) in the theater and possibly open up a drive in theater. We discussed how much profit he makes per movie. I had always heard the "no profit off of the movie" line myself. He has been the owner of a large theater chain and now owns his own independent movie theater near me. He has worked for AMC and Regal.

He explained it like this:

Upon initial release, for the first 10 days of a movie, the box office is split 80/20 in favor of the studio. For the next 10 days, it is split 60/40 in favor of the studio. For the next 10 days, the split is 50/50. For the next 10 days and usually a films final week in theaters the split is 30/70 in favor of the theater.

If a movie makes it to almost 2 months in theaters the split goes to 20/80 (theater favor) for the remainder of the film's time at the theater.

For most films - this ends up being a 50/50 split over the entire run of the movie in theaters.

The theater then has the option to sell or rent the movie to another theater for up to 75% of the cost to obtain it from the distributor (like Warner Bros). Some theaters will rent the reel out to other theaters like discount movie houses - while others will keep a reel/movie (especially children's movies) to show for a Kids weekend. The same revenue split applies to the second theater with the distribution studio. (Independent movies make their own deals with discount or second run theaters.)

Furthermore, archive houses buy the reels/movies back to rent them out at a later date or to provide paid archive use for news/research/education use.

For the past year, movie cost to theaters have gone down dramatically because of the much lower cost it to get a movie.

Reels have also gone down in cost a small fraction as they have moved from developed print to digital print.

Most Regal Cinemas get movies in on BluRay, HD DVD, a pair of hard drives, or they download it from a secure satellite connection. Less and less films are coming on reels these days.

As for the concessions - yes they are a big profit margin, but they simply don't sell the volume of concessions that they use to, plus prices for concessions have gone up dramatically at a wholesale level.

Furthermore, theater chains make revenue based on the previews a movie has before it.

Also take into account theaters OTHER revenue streams like Fantom Live events (Miley Cyrus concerts, the MET opera performances) and classic movies (I've seen Poltergeist advertised for a horror weekend) Plus you have corporate meeting/presentation bookings.

These events are split somewhere around 25/75 in favor of the theater.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

More on Apple market share ...

I added a substantial amount of information to my already lengthy article yesterday about Apple market share. If you have any contributions to this piece let me know. And please link to it and tell your friends about it - I want it to become the de facto source for Apple market share and buying reasoning.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Review: The Swivel Sweeper

I'm not one to be enticed by the "Only 19.95 + Shipping & Handling" type of infomercials - I do enjoy watching them though - just see what kind of claims they make and if they use any clever advertising or camera tricks.

I've hated using a broom - getting down on the floor and sweeping the dust into a dust pan by nudging it backward a dozen times just to get all of it - occasionally having to use a piece of paper as my dust pan to get the real fine stuff.

Brooms also don't work on carpets.

For a few years - I've seen the commercials for The Swivel Sweeper - it looked cheap, cost to little to possibly work well, and it seems from the commercials that there might be some camera angles or clever marketing. On all counts of it being another scam - I was wrong. This thing can really replace a broom AND a vacuum cleaner. Yes, a vacuum cleaner!

A few weeks back I was in Staples Office Supply store where they have a new "As Seen On TV" section. With a 12% off coupon and a sale going on - I decided to try it out. My final cost was $22.00. For $48.00 shipped you get two of them on TV.

It amazingly picks up hair and string and dust balls and sand and cereal - just like the TV ads show. It lasts about 15 minutes on a charge - plenty of time to do my whole house where needed.

My only complications with the Swivel Sweeper is that it wraps hair very tightly around the rotating bristles and it's a bit hard to clean them from the rollers. You also need to learn how to use it. Just pushing it around won't yield good results - if you've ever seen the informaercial they kind of rub it on the floor with a quick back and forth motion . If you learn that it picks up amazingly well.

I don't really like pitching products like this - but this is truly an invention you should try!

Information & Education About Steve Jobs Health

What's Wrong With Steve Jobs?

The above link is a great informational and educational piece about Steve Jobs' health - an over exaggerated "problem" that seems to have spooked investors about Apple's future. This article lays everything out in laymen and scientific terms and should put any fears about the Apple CEO's future to rest.

Godspeed in your quick and painless recovery Steve!

Being Serious About Batman Box Office Revenue

It's interesting to me to see the media hype up the record setting box office take that Batman: The Dark Knight has generated in a short ten days worldwide ... but just to give the movie a bit of reality numbers-wise:

Domestic: $314,245,000 88.4%
+ Foreign: $41,300,000 11.6%
= Worldwide: $355,545,000

The Dark Knight STILL hasn't made its money back that it cost to produce. The movie cost a very high and out of control $185 million to make. Box Offices are pretty much divided 50/50 between the studios and movie theater chains. That means that The Dark Knight must make $370 million before it makes its money back.

If adjusted for inflation the 1989 Tim Burton version of Batman gross was $445.7 million ($255.1 actual) but only cost $35 million to make or an inflation adjusted $67 million.

Batman: The Dark Knight will have to make $1.25 BILLION worldwide to generate the same return the 1989 version gave Warner Brothers.

Take into account that movie ticket inflation has also been very high (around 20%) over the past two years. The average ticket price in 1989 was $5.75 - now it's $10.20. The Dark Knight is also showing in more expensive IMAX theaters - which have a premium ticket charge as well.

Apple Market Share: You Can Take It Seriously!

"Whoever says Apple is going out of business is going to go out of business themselves."

I said that to an Apple executive in 2000. Apple has had ONE losing quarter since I made that statement - but only because of a failed product launch (The G4 Cube) and because of a dramatic economy slowdown after Sept 11 2001.

Sam Jaffe, reporting for BusinessWeek on December 11, 2000:

Investors may be asking themselves what Apple can do to revive its fortunes. The likely answer, unfortunately, is that Steve Jobs has no white rabbits left in his hat. Apple appears to be facing a dead end in its business growth, the victim of mismanagement and unmitigated hubris. Apple lovers are a loyal bunch, and they'll probably stick with the company. But Jobs's dream of becoming the world's biggest computer-maker will likely remain just that -- a dream.

* Apple was 8th in marketshare when Jaffe wrote the piece above.

Jobs isn't pulling rabbits out his little hat - he's pulling new species of large exotic albino animals out of his hat in every show!

Example: The iPhone.

Need more examples from the last 10 years?

The iMac, The iBook, First to adopt Wifi, Only manufacturer to offer an affordable wireless 56k modem access, Removing the floppy, the iPod, the Mac Mini, iMovie, the switch to Intel from PowerPC, allowing Macs to boot Windows ...

NONE of these did any analyst predict nor did ANY Apple user think would happen.


Here is a pair of 2008 quarterly research reports released revealing that Apple is continuing to experience growing U.S. market share among PC shipments.

A Gartner report places Apple's share of U.S. PC shipments for the 2nd quarter of 2008 at 8.5%, up from 6.4% in the 2nd quarter of 2007. Apple's U.S. shipments increased 38.1% year-over-year, outpacing the total industry shipment growth of 4.2% - allowing Apple to pass Acer for the 3rd position in the U.S. rankings.

* Acer is now Gateway, eMachines, Acer - three companies that were previously EACH ahead of Apple in marketshare. Also take into account when Apple had 4% - 4.5% US Marketshare in 2001 - PC shipments were SIGNIFICANTLY lower as a total. Making a gain when the total market has grown is an even bigger accomplishment than it appears to be by just analyzing the recent numbers.

An IDC report places Apple as being tied with Acer for 3rd place in U.S. market share at 7.8% in the 2nd quarter of 2008, up from 6.2% in the 2nd quarter of 2007. IDC's estimates show shipment growth for Apple of 31.7% year-over-year in an overall market growing at only 3.6%.

* These are not conflicting reports, but complimentary and based on different data.

Who would you say is bigger: Motorola, Sony, or Apple?

Answer: Apple is bigger than both Motorola & Sony combined!

Motorola's 2nd quarter 2008 results were $7.45 billion in revenue... but a $194 million loss.

John Gruber of Daring Fireball posits: What matters is profit; market share and revenue only matter insofar as they lead to making money. Motorola sold 16 times more phones than Apple for at least 8 times more revenue — but is there a person on the planet who would trade Apple’s phone business for Motorola’s?

Sony CEO Howard Stringer:

"Apple is a marvellous company, but it is a boutique. We are a giant conglomerate."

How giant? Sony’s current market cap is about $44 billion. The boutique’s market cap is about three times larger, at $149 billion. In terms of net income for the most recently reported financial year, Sony’s was $3.7 billion; Apple’s was $3.5 billion.

Who would you say is bigger: DELL, HP, or Apple?

Answer: Apple is bigger than both HP & DELL combined!

Michael Dell at the Gartner Symposium and ITxpo in 1997 (speaking about Apple):

"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders."

Dell's comments followed Steve Jobs' keynote address at the Seybold trade show the week prior in San Francisco, where he gave his explanation of why he had made certain key decisions such as killing the clone market and making an alliance with Microsoft over Office for Mac.

As of today's close: Apple's stock indicates Apple has a $149 Billion market capitalization; DELL market capitalization is $47 Billion.

DELL may be #1 in computer sales, but Apple, for the last ten years has averaged a profit margin of 33% of all products sold while Dell has averaged 4% - 6%.

Hewlett-Packard in contrast, has a market capitalization of $107 Billion. HP is #2 in computer marketshare.

Apple is as big as both HP & DELL if looking at market cap & profit margins. Apple has fewer employees; doing work more efficiently, with the added burden of producing an operating system & the hardware. Microsoft (with Windows) produces the operating system for the majority of Dell and HP PCs.

Both HP and DELL have recently downsized (cutting thousands of jobs) - Apple is constantly hiring.

Employees as of July 28 2008:

DELL: 58,000
HP: 150,000
Apple: 22,000 (including those in retail stores)

Apple has no debts and $20 billion (that's billion with a "B") in cash - as in MONEY IN THE BANK for blank check writing, acquisitions, research and development, expansion, venture capital, and most importantly consolidation of every aspect of its core businesses. It also means that unlike HP, Apple is focused AND funded.

* Not even Walmart or Exxon (USA's two largest companies) can claim $20 billion in cash reserves and no debt.

Why is $20 billion important to market share? Apple could withstand 5-7 years of straight quarterly losses (20-28 quarters) and not go out of business - a notion that has plagued Apple for the past two decades. To put it simply; Apple cannot fail at this point - while a similar loss for 2 years straight would put every other computer manufacturer either up for sale or out of business. This is a hard point for many to comprehend and seems insignificant - but it does solidify Apple's staying power.

Many analysts say if Apple didn't have it's iPod business - it would fail. Apple's cash portfolio simply won't allow that. Their constant yearning to introduce new technologies will only serve to grow other areas if one area of business fails.

Here are Apple vs DELL vs HP 4th quarter 2007 revenue reports:

Dell increased revenue by 10 per cent to $16 billion, but net profit fell by 6 per cent to $679 million.

Apple posted revenue of $6.22 billion & net quarterly profit of $904 million.

HP 4th quarter 2007 profit was up 27% to $2.8 billion, but HP also cut jobs & sold off arms of business

Dell is at the top of computers sold marketshare, but at the expense of both quality and profit margins.

HP has a much greater revenue due to its dominance in the printer, medical equipment, and server markets.

As computers become more powerful, consumers are seeking out design and functionality over price and "sameness". HP seems to want to compete against Apple with products like the Touchsmart PC - capitalizing on both the iPhone and iMac popularity.

In the age of the iPod, which has now been out 7 years and has begun to see the initial target age group 16-24, capable of making their first computer purchase decisions - they are choosing Macs. It goes beyond a "halo effect". That term is only an analyst cliche. The term "halo effect" implies that current buyers are buying Macs because they already have an iPod. Many adults are now buying Macs, who have never owned a PC or are Windows Box converts. These young adults, who control the USA (and for that matter the world) fashion trends - are buying Macs; not PCs. They are buying iPods, they are buying music from Apple, they are using Safari (Apple's internet browser) to navigate the web, they are using Quicktime subtly in other hardware like cameras and to watch movie trailers, they are using Apple hardware and software to create media and to do academic and medical research ... the list can go on and on where Apple products are not just more popular, they are preferred.

iPod sales:

iTunes song sales:

Sales graphs from Wikipedia

A favorite quote of Steve Jobs is by famous painter Pablo Picasso:

"Good artists copy, great artists steal"

The best that HP and DELL can do at this point is try to copy Apple. They don't have the momentum that Apple has as the cool guys. Many an article has talked about the PC manufacturers just not getting it. I don't think that makes sense. Toshiba, HP, and Sony have ALL released technologies like touchpad laptops, built in webcams, and media PCs - long before Apple. Sony has even had the design down. From a pure design point of view - Sony's PictureBook line of laptops is beautiful. Sony introduced the PictureBook line in 1998 with an integrated webcam. Apple released its first subnotebook with an integrated webcam called The MacBook Air in 2008 - a full 10 years later. Apple introduced its first laptop with a built in webcam in 2006 - but Apple got all the press. Sure, at the time, Sony got a lot of buzz and positive reviews for the PictureBook - but there are very few Sony blogs, there are few (if any) widely published Sony ONLY magazines, and there's no SonyWorld Expo as there is a MacWorld Expo. Sony does have Metreon - its retail experience in San Francisco. But, as I pointed out - EVEN THEY SELL iPods.

From FixYourThinking January 2006:

One other quick note about Metreon that I thought was worth mentioning ... part of the store was an iPod accessory store and another part was a Macally peripherals area ... including Mac keyboards and mice. I just found this odd ... being in a Sony Store that had ALL OF THESE items Sony branded or had Sony counterparts. I think this is extremely telling of the market the iPod has ... even your competition has to sell your product!

Apple has over 200 successful retail stores worldwide - adding a half dozen each year or so in more locations.

Sony has also become known to the younger adult crowd as buddybuddy with the RIAA and MPAA - known for their outlandish lawsuits and fearmongering to protect a dying model of distribution. Apple, while maintaining a fine balance of contracts has become known as the company that's your friend, that's looking out for you, and has the products that can make your life happier, more creative, and more productive.

The subliminal Quicktime & iPod.

I have a hard time quantifying which is a better subliminal message; Quicktime or iPod. I think everyone realizes that an iPod is made by Apple. However, the lack of association with Quicktime and its creator as Apple; is just as subliminal to me. I hardly know of a digital camera or camcorder that doesn't feature Quicktime as a standard used with the device. Consumers see the Quicktime licensing message at the bottom of their boxes, on product stickers, and pages of their instruction manuals:

Quicktime® is licensed from Apple Computer©

They see it and don't think about it ... but just like seeing someone in a magazine advertisement drink a nice cool glass of lemonade on a hot day ... it makes you thirsty. The seed of the word "Apple" has been planted in your mind. Sony on the other hand is no longer subtle, Sony is everywhere and makes every thing you can imagine. People look at Sony nowadays as if they were a pine tree amongst a forest. A subtle reference to the word Apple and older adults remember them and tend to be more curious about what they're up to these days.

Journalists don't ask stars what music they listen to, they ask, "What's on your iPod?"

The most hit article on this website is the recording phone calls laws section. It has subtle references to Apple products, and every page on this website contains archive links galore referencing Apple and Apple products <-- those archive links (and article tags) also make it into search term results. Very subliminally - it's advertising for Apple. College campus after campus is turning to Macs. It's no secret that Apple used to be the dominant PC or at worst; used on 50% of college campuses. During the 90's, Gil Amelio, Apple's then CEO, didn't see the education market as important. The penetration of Macs dwindled on college and K12 campuses to below 25%. This market share loss can also be blamed on a bloated lackluster product line and the introduction of clones. Steve Jobs has taken a new direction for education market share; mindshare. The iPod is every where - its the device to have if you're in college. Not only do you see students walking to class and running with them, but also recording lectures and listening to books. The Apple logo on the back of every iPod has caused an interest in Apple computers and has gotten professors to notice as well.

Apple is regaining its market share in education as more and more school districts and campuses become Mac friendly.

If your school district has signed an exclusive contract with Dell or HP know that you may be able to get an exception to purchase some Macs for your school. Dell is required by my state contract to provide creative departments with Macs - a lot of Art teachers and media classes have them.

* Apple holds a 28% market share in Europe's educational market.


In 2005, Creative Inc CEO Sim Wong Hoo had this to say about the release of the iPod Shuffle:

We're expecting a good fight, but they're coming out with something that's five generation older. It's our first generation MuVo One product feature, without display, just have a shuffle feature. We had that — that four year ago product. So I think the whole industry just laugh at it, because the flash people — it worse than cheapest Chinese player. Even the cheap, cheap Chinese brand today has display and FM. They don't have this kind of thing, and they expect to come out with a fight; I think it non-starter to begin with.

This parody shows how Creative has had to make gains on iPod market share:

Kidding aside, my best friend and I have been discussing the misconceptions that "corporations" hold about Apple. What they don't realize is that they are being fed by Apple's competition. Furthermore, shills like John C. Dvorak, Rob Enderle and Paul Thurott who get quoted a lot in print media are able to quickly disseminate misrepresentations about Apple that spook financial analysts. Most likely if you're reading this you've read one of the following:

"Apple computer virus out in the wild and very serious"

"Steve Jobs health could prevent his company from moving forward."

"iPod sales slump means weakening demand"

There have not been ANY viruses propagated on Macs or infecting Macs in the past 10 years that would be of any concern. There have been security issues, but these issues have been addressed by Apple within 3 days or less for the more serious cases.

Steve Jobs has been private about his health and pancreatic cancer remission, but he has also said that he is in near perfect health.

iPod sales have not slumped, they've grown consistently for the past 7 years. (see chart above) To say sales are weakening is a twisting of facts much like the government will say they are reducing spending. What they mean is they aren't raising the budget as much as they did in the previous year or money is being shifted to another program. iPod sales (which are in the millions) have increased single digits recently - rather than double digits as in previous quarters. The iPhone and is not counted as an iPod sale - it's counted as an iPhone sale - Apple has sold close to 9 million iPhones since launch - surely a good number of those buyers are using the iPhone with it's built in iPod functionality instead of buying an iPod separately - I know I did.

If you hear negative press about Apple and that information would make you lose confidence in the company and therefore not support or buy Apple - then make sure your source is correct and purely factual - not a shill.

While Apple's been doing a much better PR job lately and had more successful advertising campaigns - the consensus amongst CEOs and the above age 50 crowd is that Apple has insignificant market share. What they don't realize is that may be missing the opportunity to be ahead of the competition by starting to buy Apple products for use in their homes and businesses NOW and start providing support. If not, it could soon be a support nightmare for technology call centers. If 1 in 10 of your customers is an Apple Computer user, can you afford to lose them?

References for Apple in enterprise, research, and education:

Virginia Tech Super Computer Cluster Uses Mac Pros

School Districts around the country buy 10's of thousands of Apple laptops for use in K12 education

NASA uses Macs heavily for number crunching

Genetech, multibillion research firm uses Macs exclusively

Comprehensive FAQ Regarding Macs

Size Matters & Matters Not

Any Apple fanatic will brag about how long they've had their Mac and how many old Macs they still use or have in their collection. The truth is; this isn't just a hobby, it's a market share booster. Apple isn't just gaining quarter to quarter sales gains - they are placing more and more Macs into service every day while PCs are being replaced with Macs and simply thrown away. For nearly half the PCs sold - it is replacing an older or broken PC.

I've worked in the surplus property business for over a decade. I've been supporting Macs for almost two decades. I have customers that have uses for Macs from 1988. I have one customer whose whole business relies on a 1995 Macintosh Quadra. I have never been in a business - not even an auto mechanic - who had a 10 year old PC running Windows. The majority of my large customers have 6-8 year old Macs - side by side with new Intel models. Again, Macs aren't being replaced and taken out of commsion and use as much as PCs. PCs (Windows boxes) are being recycled for materials - Macs are recycled for use.

One other aspect of the re-use of Apple computers is the design - a plain PC box seems harsh but okay to toss into a dumpster - a Mac looks odd anywhere near a trash can - it's art! It's harder to throw away. The mac purchaser has also spent more money on their computer than the average commodity PC - it's harder to just go out and buy new - but why buy new when things are going well. Most new PCs now can't do what Macs have done well for the last 6 years.

You can't expand a Mac

While the MacPro is the only desktop model with industry-standard expansion slots, that doesn't mean the other models aren't expandable: their USB & FireWire ports allow them to attach a wide variety of devices. Furthermore, Macs come with most features built-in as standard.

In most cases, it's better to have an external solution attached via USB or firewire rather than an internal one - this makes for better portability and futureproofing.

Apple uses all proprietary connectors & hardware

Apple uses industry-standard USB, FireWire, DVI, audio (both digital & analog), standard PCI Express, ExpressCard expansion slots, wireless 802.11b/g/n, and standard memory & hard drives.

There's no software for Macs. They're for artists & creative people.

VersionTracker & MacUpdate list several dozen new programs every day in almost every category, totalling tens of thousands of applications. Home finance, CAD, recipe organization, 3-D modeling, accounting, engineering, DNA sequencing, data acquisition, electronic circuit design... just about anything you want to do has a program that can get the job done. Additionally, there are thousands of ports of Unix programs for scientists, and engineers. NASA and Genentech rely heavily on Macs for crunching numbers, from satellite sensors to gene sequencing to spreadsheets. MIT uses Macs for a project called KIZMIT - an artificial intelligence/emotion research program. If you haven't noticed lately, both Best Buy and Office Depot are offering a limited selection of popular Mac programs - Apple retail stores have a nearly complete collection. Fry's also carries an array of Mac software titles. Just about every online retailer sells Mac software including popular sites like AMAZON.COM and BUY.COM. You also have options like MacMall and MacWarehouse for mail order and online software and hardware purchases.

Macs can access flash media content on the web, interact with all banking websites, read PDFs, access java and javascipted web content.

Macs that have Intel processors can run Windows XP and Vista natively using the Mac OS Leopard feature BootCamp or simultaneously using programs like Parallels.

When having to tell friends, family, or business associates about Apple's market share - to entice them to buy, support, or provide training for Apple products; refer them to this article. I will update it regularly and place a link to it in the sidebar - just tell them to go to FIXYOURTHINKING.COM and look in the right hand column.

* Some references from MACTACTOE.COM

[UPDATE] On October 13, 2010 various news sources report that Apple's worldwide computer marketshare surpassed 10% in sales. It is estimated that Apple holds an 20-21% installed base.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

A Phone Call From The Big Guy ...

Joe Nocera, who asked about Steve Jobs' health at the recent AAPL conference call:

In a column about his investigation into the state of Steve Jobs’s health:

On Thursday afternoon, several hours after I’d gotten my final “Steve’s health is a private matter” — and much to my amazement — Mr. Jobs called me. “This is Steve Jobs,” he began. “You think I’m an arrogant [expletive] who thinks he’s above the law, and I think you’re a slime bucket who gets most of his facts wrong.” After that rather arresting opening, he went on to say that he would give me some details about his recent health problems, but only if I would agree to keep them off the record.

What a jerk to post any of that ... but in a way I'm glad he did ... you gotta love the confidence Jobs shows in himself.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Google invests $2.75 million into Aptera ... Apple should match it with $2.75 Billion

AutoBlogGreen> reports:

Google invests $2.75 million in Aptera

... back in September of 2006, GOOGLE.ORG, the philanthropic part of the Internet giant, announced that it would be investing in PHEVs [Personal Hybrid Electric Vehicles]. The following year, Google followed that bit of news up by launching its RechargeIT initiative which would begin investing in some for-profit manufacturers in an effort to see these fuel-saving products make it to market as quickly as possible. The first two investments from RechargeIT have now officially been announced, and at least one of the companies benefiting from the $2.75 million investment should be well known to our readers: Aptera.

We've been covering the futuristic new vehicle since it was first introduced, and its exciting to see the project mature to the point where people, in California at least, are anxiously awaiting the first electric Apteras to be delivered. This financing should only help matters as the company works to get its electric and hybrid vehicles to customers as quickly as possible.


I've posited before that Apple should just outright buy this company and have the most amazing car ever - with the amount of free press Apple gets - can you imagine how many people would pre-order?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

I've been busy working over the last few days writing reviews on eBay for my favorite movies, products, books, and music.

I had almost 60 reviews and guides on eBay - now I have close to 100. I've found it's a good way to draw traffic to my auctions and even to this website - plus its nice to have what looks like an award next to my eBay ID.

Here is a link to my eBay reviews if you'd like to see them.

Many of these reviews you'll recognize from this site if you're a loyal reader.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The late two for one review: Batman: The Dark Knight & WALL-E

First, I'll start with WALL-E. This is now my most favorite Pixar film. Previously ... Monsters Inc held the top spot amongst Pixar films for me.

There are several Apple Computer references - very subtle ones too - ones that only long time Mac Owners will chuckle at. The most prominent Apple Computer reference is WALL-E's recharge full sound. WALL-E is solar powered. It takes him roughly 15 seconds to recharge and restart. When he is fully charged he makes an original Mac startup chime. It is very sweet and warms you up to him right away - even if you don't get the inside joke.

I was amazed at how well my 5 year old stay entertained even though there was almost zero narration or human conversation.

One of the tell tale signs of a good children's movie is if a child wants a toy immediately following seeing the movie. I know I wanted a WALL-E.

The movie also has several adult themes regarding waste, environmental damage, consumerism, and obesity.

The story centers around one of the last functional WASTE robots from a series of trash management robots called WALL-E units.

What does WALL-E stand for?

Earth Class

Everyday WALL-E collects trash by sweeping into a trash compacter, compacts it into a 4x4 cube and places it neatly into piles.

Then, one day EVE, an earth observation robot appears. To WALL-E, it's love at first sight. She is also another subtle Macintosh reference - looking as though she were designed by Jonathan Ive.

The movie continues with a very entertaining and funny romance that develops as WALL-E & EVE travel across the universe.

Watch the credits at the end to see the surprise guest star voice!

I'm going to add this movie to my top 100.

Next ... up for review and recommendation is Batman: The Dark Knight. This is a hard movie to review for me. I want to like it, but I have a number of problems with it. Critiquing this movie seems both over analytical and unnecessary to a point ... because it had its good points.

First ... the good, Christian Bale has been a favorite actor of mine since I saw him in American Psycho. I enjoy a movie where he seems to pay homage to that role - he appears to have done that several times in The Dark Knight. Both Bale and Ledger at times compete for who's the craziest - the dynamic plays out well.

Any movie with Morgan Freeman in it is a good movie. Who doesn't love his voice and good ole friend feel? Same goes for Michael Kaine as Bruce Wayne's butler.

Jack Nicholson's version of the Joker still reigns supreme in my mind ... but Ledger gave a strong, convincing role - he should win best supporting actor. As a "cool thing to do" I'm sure the Academy will award it to him.

Now for the bad casting ... Maggie Gyllenhall is just ugly to me. She isn't someone who looks like Bruce Wayne or Batman would fall for. I commented after the movie that she would have made an excellent Harley Quinn (A Joker sidekick in the comics). Rachel Dawes was played by Katie Holmes in Batman Begins - I'm not sure if I thought much better of her, but anyone with a prettier face, a more sultry voice, and a beautiful body would have been better than Maggie Gylenhall.

The movie seemed 30-45 minutes too long ... as it seemed screen time was being thrown in for Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman, and Maggie Gylenhall. Too much detail was given to these characters that played little to no advancing of the plot.

The movie, as most Batman movies, is full of great one liners - the director and writer (Christopher Nolan) proves his talent here.

Joker:"I don't have a plan. I'm like a dog chasing a car, I wouldn't know what to do with it if I caught it."

And I can't exactly recall the phraseology of the next line by Alfred,

"Sometimes the world isn't looking for a hero, sometimes they just want a knight - a knight does what's expected of them and lets the king take all the credit"

The vehicle design, choreography, and action was incredible.

The only scene that seemed very cheap was the hospital. Gotham General was a small building in a remote place, near an industrial yard. They either need to matte a better hospital in with special effects or find a different building. That one scene seemed to cheapen the movie for me.

On a scale from 1 to 10:

Batman: The Dark Knight 7.5


Friday, July 18, 2008

Bidzirk ... Going Going Gone

As many dedicated readers know ... I was involved in a nasty, lengthy legal battle with a company called Bidzirk for most of 2006 & 2007. The eBay consignment company sued me for defamation, invasion of privacy, and copyright/trademark infringement. None of their claims held up in court and the Plaintiff attorney was sanctioned, scolded, and embarrassed in an unprecedented fashion. I'm in the process of filing my own legal action as I lost the majority of my business, remained depressed during most of the legal action, and lost the time to do much else than file paperwork for the court Pro Se (= defending myself in court). My name and all my personal information, plus my finances, and multiple instances of embarrassing comments are littered across the internet from sites that have aggregated every piece of paperwork and filing from my case.

Some interesting developments occurred over the last few days ...

1) It has been made known to me that Bidzirk has let go employees.

2) I reviewed their auctions (which have gone from 1000's of listings to less than 200) - it appears they are selling off assets. I remember the good ole days when I saw this monitor in a Bidzirk drop off store. It also seems as if they are selling off their entire photography studio.

And I'm not sure but I think that even this light was in a Bidzirk location at one time.

3) I'd stop by and recommend a buy on some these items - The owner of Bidzirk was a Jurassic Park John Hammond spare no expense kind of guy. His attorney reminds me of the attorney in Jurassic Park as well - a wise cracking "know it all" - full of petty insults.

One last Jurassic Park comparison - my nickname is Rus - remember what the TyranosauRus did to the attorney?

This is the lighting studio where Bidzirk took pictures for its eBay auctions. (Also up for auction.) I would imagine they're keeping one to list the rest of the inventory.

When everything started going down hill and I started to write my article (the one I was sued over) ... I saw other businesses similar to Bidzirk struggling ... then iSoldit started getting press for franchise fraud. My business partner (best friend) and I gave the model of eBay consignment stores two more years and then we predicted it would be out of business. iSoldit! has all but failed and left a wake of misery in its path. Now Bidzirk seems to be on the same imminent path. If only the owner had listened to me. If only he hadn't spent 100's of thousands (yes 100's of thousands) to fight me in court ... maybe he'd have capital for the lean times ahead.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

DivineCaroline more like HackDvorak ...

This "I need attention and hits Dvorak-style article appeared on DivineCaroline.COM this morning:

* comments = rebuttal

7 Reasons the iPhone 3G Sucks

1. Too expensive to own.

Apple and AT&T may have shaved a couple of hundred dollars off the price but they will more than make up for it in monthly fees. If you take into account the regular monthly fee, the data fee, the text message fee, which used to be free, and the $99 annual mobileme fee you could end up spending over $1,000 a year to own an iPhone, that’s 200 gallons of $5 gas.

* MobileMe is not only optional but unnecessary on 95% of the iPhones being sold. If you require MobileMe - most likely its a business expense or paid for by your employer.

2. Can’t use the GPS like a GPS.

Forget about getting turn-by-turn voice directions in your car from the new iPhone 3G. The iPhone SDK makes it pretty clear it’s not allowed, “Applications may not be designed or marketed for real time guidance.” Yes it will superimpose your position on a Google map, or show you the closest pizzeria but what about getting real-time route guidance? If you read reviews for other GPS devices you never come across a GPS that doesn’t provide some form of guidance. There’s a rumor that TomTom may be developing a guidance application but you have to wonder how they’ll get it past the Apple police.

* Its not a rumor - Apple IS going to allow turn by turn - several interviews with Apple have indicated such

3. Can’t tether the iPhone to your laptop.

Want to save sixty dollars per month for a 3G card for your laptop and use the iPhone instead? Not going to happen—not allowed. Although there are plenty of phones, including AT&T’s Tilt, that will allow you to use your 3G phone as a high speed modem for your laptop, the iPhone won’t be one of them so you can add the cost of a 3G card for your laptop at $720 a year to your total cost of ownership.

* This is a limitation of AT&T and MOST of their phones - not just the iPhone. One does not HAVE to access the internet via 3G. This statement also doesn't take into account that buying the 3G card for your laptop also opens up 70% of USA airports, McDonalds, and Starbucks wifi hotspots for use. And by the way, AT&T will not allow VOIP on their network either - so no 3G VOIP calls.

4. Still no cut and paste.

Cut and paste has been around on Apple computers since the earliest Mac Plus computers. What’s the big problem with implementing it on iPhones? Why is cut and paste so important? Suppose you’re browsing a web site and want to capture some text or a URL, or someone sent you an email and you want to grab some text from it and send to someone else. Not possible on an iPhone. Speaking of email, where’s the spell checker? Predictive typing is fine but spell checkers are everywhere else but here.

* Apparently this isn't an easy "just add it" feature from a design or programming perspective. Apple wants to avoid writing to memory and avoid menu pop up - cut and paste requires both.

5. Wimpy 2 MP camera.

In the world of 5 MP Smartphones and 10 MP point and shoot cameras that you can buy for under $200, why is the iPhone still stuck with a measly 2 MP? That’s so 2003. While we’re at it how come we can’t record video, afraid the non-existent SD card might fill up? The iPhone should be able to stream video by now just like many other cell phones can already do right now.

* The camera on my iPhone ROCKS - it takes pictures better than any of the 3 dozen cellcameras I've had

6. No stereo Bluetooth.

We thought the iPhone was supposed to be part iPod. At least they fixed the recessed headphone jack flaw (and called it a new feature) but the A2DP stereo Bluetooth standard has been around for a while and is missing from the iPhone.

* There aren't many good stereo bluetooth headphones and I don't think Apple wants to invest in their own separate product at the moment. Besides its not secure and would provide an easy avenue for sharing music - something that I suspect the RIAA has harassed Apple about. This also doesn't mention that Bluetooth Stereo is a HUGE battery hog - I've had a Motorola dock connector for my iPod - oh and that's a point - buy a dock connector!

7. The list goes on.

Still no Flash player for rich media content (what grudge does Steve Jobs hold against Adobe). Still can’t send pictures in MMS messages, still no native voice dialing, no mobile TV, no replaceable battery, no flash memory card, and on and on.

* Flash is a CPU hog, insecure, provides too many instances for Spamvertising, and isn't needed. The web needs to change, not the iPhone.

* A sling player is available for the iPhone - a better one is promised SOON

* The battery is replaceable

* I don't need a memory card - I'd love to see a poll of how many people actually use their memory card slot

The only valid point here is no voice dialing and pics in MMS - but I'm almost positive a poll would indicate how few people actually use it.

USB To Ethernet Adapter For Macs That Have Lost Ethernet Port Functionality / Save A Costly Motherboard Repair



EXCLUSIVE USB To Ethernet Adapter

Save a costly motherboard repair for your Apple All In One iMac or eMac Mac Mini or your iBook & Powerbook, MacBook or MacBook Pro

I personally use this adapter on my MacBook so I don't have to plug in my ethernet cable ... I just use a USB hub with two of these adapters so one can be hooked to the internet and one cable can be hooked to a network printer. I don't have to worry about IP addresses or the constant plugging and unplugging ruining my laptop's broadband connection. The USB also stands an intermediary for surges from the network as well.

EXCLUSIVE - I also offer this adapter for OS 9 (Classic) * PLEASE email me for details

This is for your surged ethernet/broadband port on your Apple computer

USB 2.0 ... backwards compatible with USB 1.1

Another great use is for network printers and NAS storage - have this plugged into a free USB port while accessing your network or broadband connection on your Ethernet port.

Your ethernet port does not have to be bad to use this adapter.

Get this in case of an emergency!

Comes complete with drivers in pack with manual/instructions

PLEASE EMAIL ME with any questions or for OS 9 compatibility ...

This adapter ONLY works with all updates applied on Mac OS 10.3 (Panther) or Mac OS 10.4 (Tiger) Mac OS 10.5 (Leopard) and All versions of Windows that support USB

Note: this adapter does not work with OS 8.6 - 9.2.2 or 10 , or 10.1 , or 10.2

Best compatibility and guaranteed to work with Panther, Tiger, Leopard, and Windows 2000, Windows Millenium, and Windows XP ... all other operating systems are not guaranteed ... but please email me for details.

I am the EXCLUSIVE eBay seller of this item! Look at my feedback (I have each item labelled). I have sold nearly 1500 of these over the last year!

* Item may vary slightly in appearance, but warranted for functionality

I now also warrant this to work with the Playstation 2 and Tivo! (you MUST mention that you need this function when ordering)

These adapters are NEW!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Reply Regarding McDooDoo

I received a followup email from McDonald's and followup phone call from the manager of the Buford GA McDonald's. While apologetic, his phone call seemed very "this is what I have to do". I was told that I was mistaken because the "Playplace is cleaned each night and a log is kept."

My beef with that comment is that the manager admitted that he and the rest of the lead staff was out for the weekend. Don't you remember that when the boss was out, you or someone else at your work would just check the list off rather than actually do it. I will back up with four others as witness that the doo doo was still on the play equipment on July 6th - after we initially saw it on July 2.

I didn't expect compensation, but I did expect a better response from such a company as McDonald's.

This is the mail corporate customer care of McDonald's sent me:

The Manager stated that the owner of the franchise was going to call me ... I never received that followup call or a detail of what was going to be done so I could report a positive outcome here on my website.

Jabra JX10 Bluetooth Pairing Code

I picked up this elegant and tiny Bluetooth Headset today at the flea market (only $2) ... called the Jabra JX-10. On the adapter it is listed as BCE-JX10. It is great sounding, easy connecting adapter that has an awesome little dock to charge it.

Pairing is easy.

1) Turn the unit on by holding in the "phone button"

2) On the earpiece side of the headset, press in the small button in the center - this places the unit in Bluetooth Pairing mode

3) Enter "0000" as your pairing number on your phone (or Mac/PC)

4) Enjoy!

I noticed that the process seems much quicker - pairing my iPhone with the new 2.0 firmware.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Apple Files Lawsuit Against Psystar

As reported by MacRumors:

In April ... a company called Psystar[offered a] Mac clone. Using off the shelf PC parts and a modified version of Mac OS X Leopard, Psystar promised a cheaper alternative to an Apple Mac.

Despite some initial concerns about their legitimacy, Psystar has delivered what they have advertised and later even offered software updates and server models.

Throughout, Apple has remained quiet about the company and many have expected that they would pursue legal action. AppleInsider reports that on July 3rd, Apple filed a formal complaint against the clone manufacturer. Apple's lawsuit is said to on the ground of copyright infringement.

[Apple] filed a formal complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on July 3rd, just one day after Psystar began distributing a modified version of the Mac OS X 10.5.4 Leopard update to customers who had previously purchased one of its unauthorized Mac systems.

[UPDATE] Apple has demanded as part of the suit that Psystar recall all shipped units.

What took Apple so long?

eBay Wins Lawsuit Against Tiffany

As reported by SlashDot:

"All of Tiffany's trademark infringement claims against eBay were rejected — a knockout blow to the four-year-old lawsuit that had been closely watched by Internet companies as well as luxury goods makers seeking to stop the sale of counterfeit products online. Tiffany & Co. had alleged that eBay turned a blind eye to the sale of fake Tiffany silver jewelry on its site. EBay had countered that it was not in a position to determine which goods were knock-offs... and had said the jeweler did not adequately participate in eBay's programs that help brand owners prevent fraud. The judge... said he was 'not unsympathetic' to Tiffany and others who have invested in building their brands only to see them exploited on the Web. But he said the law was clearly on eBay's side."


I think Tiffany's main gripe is that eBay gives too much control to people in its Vero program. For instance, Adobe is allowed to end auctions themselves ... meaning dedicated people at Adobe work on this. I think Tiffany is more or less making the claim that eBay should police their auctions better rather than forcing Tiffany to police them FOR eBay.

iPhone Snaps

This first picture was taken at the Georgia Aquarium. The first place recommended to us was the "live animals" exhibit - this was the first "animal" in this hall - an African Penguin. We were a bit disappointed that we were sent to look at Frican Penguins.

My brother rents out his land to local cattle farmers - this is a new addition he got about two months ago - the cattle farmer calls it a "Sheepalo" and it is actually sheared just like a sheep for the wool.

While in Lowe's the other day I managed to catch this awesome sale. I'll bet I can't find this same sale any where else.

I guess stores are going to start advertising "no sale sales"... no price increases! Look! Our prices are NOT going up! See, was $29.87, but now...STILL $29.87!

All Your Accessories Are Belong To iPod

The other day, I bought a new Zune case at the DollarTree for $1. (Makes a perfect iPhone case by the way)

It rang up as "IPOD ACCESSORY" - oh the irony!

McDooDoo @ McD's

* WARNING: The following is NOT for the squeamish *

Also on my recent trip to Georgia, we stopped at a McDonald's - right across the street from the Mall Of Georgia.

My son and I were playing on the playground. I got to the top of the play structure and said, " ewww, what's this?" I picked it up and smelled it. It was a piece of doo doo. I did some Ace Ventura-like convulsing motions and quickly got down, grabbing my son and going to the bathroom to wash off. I had my iPhone with me and took pictures while there and while getting down.

I felt like "the scene" in Daddy Daycare with Eddie Murphy:

We went to the bathroom to clean up. I went to the register to tell the cashier about it. She stated like I was exaggerating or didn't hear me, "Ok, we'll look at it."

My family sat in the playground area for another 15 minutes waiting for them to come rope it off or at the very least come ask me where it was so they could come clean it. No one came.

Before leaving, I called the franchise owner leaving my name and phone number - I got no response or follow up to my phone call.

We went on for our weekend in Georgia. On our return, 4 DAYS LATER, I stopped back by the same McDonald's, the following was STILL THERE!

I wonder if its still there?

You may want to send your child onto the McDonald's playgrounds with a wet wipe and hand sanitizer in pocket.

link to this story | digg story

* I just followed up with an email to corporate to alert them of this story.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Retailers getting to list on eBay for free?

As reported by SlashDot:

eBay's recent deal with appears to be seriously irritating its veteran individual sellers. The deal allows and other large fixed-price retailers to list millions of items on eBay without paying listing fees, and appears to be the direction that eBay will follow in the future. Understandably, individual sellers are outraged. 'I've paid eBay many hundreds of thousands in fees over the past several years and believed them when they talked about a level playing field. And they just plain and simple are going back on their word.' [said one seller]


I've noticed BUY.COM's listings for a Hawking Mac compatible wireless adapter. They offer it for the same price on their website as they do on eBay. They charge higher shipping for the eBay auction and offer no discounts on items. It ends up essentially just being a FREE shill advertisement for things on BUY.COM. Why would I buy on eBay when I can get the same thing for 10-20% less if I use a discount on BUY.COM? What if I wanted to sell this same adapter? Which actually I have looked into becoming an authorized Hawking reseller - how could I compete against someone who is getting to list for free who most likely was able to ink a better reseller deal with the manufacturer?

BUY.COM adapter

Same adapter, same price on eBay

Apple Sells 1 Million iPhones, 10 Million Apps Downloaded In First 3 Days

Apple announced today that they sold its one millionth iPhone 3G on Sunday, only three days after its initial launch on Friday, July 11th 2008.

read more | digg story

Friday, July 11, 2008

iTunes activation servers go down, iPhone buyers told to activate at home!

Engadget is reporting that the iTunes activation servers are down after being intermittently active for the past few hours, and that customers are either being turned away or sent home from both Apple & AT&T stores to activate at home using iTunes. Apple confirmed to Engadget that there is an issue and that it's being addressed.

read more | digg story

Whither The iPhone 3G News?

I had an email asking why my iPhone news has been light over the last few weeks ...

3 reasons:

1) I'm under a non disclosure at the moment - I've had to get permission for each story that I have posted - its been an arduous process, so I've mostly avoided posting about the iPhone unless I really thought it was interesting

2) Most news has been confusing & conflicting regarding pricing plans, activation, and availability. Some carriers like Rogers in Canada have changed their plans multiple times in reaction to customer outcry.

3) This blog has a TON OF iPhone news and frankly I hate seeing all of the Google ADsense dominated by iPhone ads - it's not good for revenue ;-)

MACRUMORS has been the best source of information for me

Also the AT&T website.

Water For Gas Not A Scam?

Wow ...

Yesterday, my local NBC affiliate did a story on the internet craze of "Using Water For Gas". When I did my pieces on Hypermiling - these ads popped up on FixYourThinking and I read a few of them. It seems like 1000's are offering plans via a downloaded PDF file. The PDF contains instructions on how to build a device that uses copper wire, tubing, an aquarium filter, a cylindrical enclosure, baking soda, and about a quart of water. The device apparently produces a slight excess of Hydrogen and Oxygen gases and enhances the octane of your gas - much like nitrous does for racers or like putting premium grade gasoline in your car vs low grade. Their conclusion - in conjunction with the local technical college ... it actually works.

I had planned to try this out myself - now I definitely will.

I'm not sure why the local tv station paid $99 for their plans when it seems you can get the plans for free or as little as $49.99 in most places.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The iPhone 3G take apart

iFixit (as reported by Engadget) takes apart the iPhone 3G. Interesting pics and speculation regarding chips and changes to the 2nd gen iPhone. The take apart also confirms a user replaceable battery as the battery is no longer soldered.

read more | digg story

Apple's Remote: turns your iPhone into a WiFi remote control

The new freebie from Apple (at the iTunes App Store) which turns your iPhone or iPod touch into a remote control. Finally something like Salling Clicker. This works beautifully!

read more | digg story

Proposal For Class Action Lawsuit Against eBay For Errant & Unfair Feedback System Changes

In May 2007, eBay began implementing changes to its feedback system - changes that were long overdue as the auction site had a matured user base and generally more savvy users joining up than when it first started.

For the first few months - it seemed as though my feedback score had dropped from several thousand to several dozen because more people were paying attention to the detailed seller ratings.

My "detailed seller rating" yielded a 94% equivalent - while my actual positive feedback was 99.5%.

The two main changes eBay has implemented in the past year have been Detailed Seller Ratings and stripping the ability of a seller to post negative feedback.

At first, I thought that the detailed seller ratings were a good idea. I thought that prompting eBayers on what to say would prompt them to say more things positive. Instead, it seems to have made most eBay buyers more picayune.

Today, while trying to understand how eBay is calculating a 99.6% positive rating for my eBay ID - I noticed this equation when I rolled over "How are feedback percentages calculated?"

The Positive Feedback percentage is calculated based on the total number of feedback ratings received in the last 12 months, excluding Repeat Feedback from the same member in the same week.

Note: This could mean that the number of ratings used for this calculation is different from the same number shown in the Recent Ratings table on the left.

Positives + Neutrals + Negatives

This member's 12 Month Feedback ratings
Positives: 268 Neutrals: 1 Negatives: 0

This member's Positive Feedback percentage

268 + 1 + 0 = 99.6%

In the last 12 months I have 293 positives. Using that percentage I would have a 99.7% rating. * If you observe - even eBay shows I have 293 feedback comments. (Verified by counting one by one. I had no repeat buyers comments within one week.)

It's hard to know if this affects my sales or whether most eBayers notice. All I know is; that I notice.

Secondly, I have a detailed seller rating of 4.6 stars for shipping charges and not a perfect 5.0 stars. How is this possible when I haven't charged for shipping in over a year AND my sales price (including shipping) is purposely priced lower than final end price averages. Either this percentage isn't being calculated properly either or eBay is allowing buyers a new way to hurt sellers.

Notice how I have only 166 Detailed Seller Ratings but 293 positives - this is impossible. This means that I am missing more than 125 Detailed Seller Ratings that calculate what my score is and therefore what I pay to list on eBay.

Previously, it was hard to quantify if a negative meant anything to sales - but now eBay gives discounts to sellers that have high "Detailed Seller Ratings". If they refuse to calculate this percentage properly - how can they provide this discount fairly?

Here is an interview I conducted with a eBay blogger who wished to keep their eBay ID and identity private:

How long have you been on eBay?

6 years

Were you a buyer before you were a seller?


What is your opinion of the detailed seller rating system?

My major problem is that the DSRs are not disclosed.

Because I'm a PowerSeller, my invoice and the amount I pay every week is directly linked to [how high] my DSR rating is. On the flip side, how much ebay makes off of me is directly linked to how well my non-disclosed DSR ratings are doing.

This means it is open to fraud.

The same day that Ebay decided to make it so that 4.9 (30 day DSR) gives you a 20% discount on your final value fees my non-disclosed ratings went from 4.95 to 4.89.

I have also seen my DSR numbers drop, on the feedback page. The number that shows how many ratings you have received. This has happened twice. They should not drop because they are based on 12 months of ratings, and this program has not been in operation for 12 months yet (as of July 2008).

* FixYourThinking Note: Detailed Seller Ratings have been in place since May 3 2007. It was tabulated from this date and started to appear on feedback in late May and early June 2007.

Do you think it's fair?

Of course not, it's not only unfair, it seems illegal. If the amount that I pay is tied directly to the DSR scores, then they should be exposed, for me to see.

What is your opinion of "NO seller negatives"?

It's extremely strange. I rarely leave negatives for buyers anyway, so for me, it doesn't effect me so much. I also rarely cancel seeing negatives on other people's accounts doesn't help me either.

Did you realize that feedback percentages and calculations are being based on 11 months vs 12 months as described on eBay help pages?

I haven't calculated this myself as of yet.

What other inconsistencies in the feedback system have you noticed?

I have noticed that my feedback, sometimes, has not been going up when new buyers leave feedback. I have noticed this at least 3 times since the new feedback changes have come into effect.

Thank you for answering these questions. I appreciate your time and willingness to contribute.

Here is a page from eBay's "Feedback Forum". Does this not say that Neutrals don't count in the way feedback is calculated? Neutrals are being used in the very equation eBay gives as an example.

When we made the changes, we said we would closely watch the impact and, if needed, make adjustments. Today, we announced the following two adjustments:

Neutrals will no longer count as part of the Feedback percentage.

Since we introduced changes to the Feedback system in May, 2008, buyers have significantly decreased the amount of neutral Feedback they are leaving for sellers. Now less than 0.5% of all Feedback left is neutral, and this percentage continues to decline. Since we have removed the ability for sellers to leave negative Feedback, we are confident that buyers are leaving neutrals to represent a neutral experience and not to avoid retaliatory negative Feedback.

I would like any attorney interested in a class action lawsuit against eBay to contact me by leaving a note on this blog. This is a very serious change of terms of doing business eBay vs when we signed up. To say that one doesn't have to sell on eBay is a ridiculous retort - I make a significant part of my living on eBay and I have been selling there for 11 years - the changed selling terms are a dramatic change from my first ten years and I (and others) should be able to expect more consistency from the people whom we pay MILLIONS of dollars in seller fees to.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

The Superdrive that's actually super!

As reported by Engadget:

... a slim little external DVD burner that cooperates with more than one computer (natively) ... Amex Digital's Portable Super Multi Drive is, for all intents and purposes, a direct rip of Apple's MacBook Air SuperDrive. The unit gets all the power it needs from a spare USB port, arrives in black or white, burns dual-layer DVD media at 10x (single-layer at 20x) and sports a palatable $89 sticker.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

This is a billboard in my home town advertising the Georgia Aquarium. (Click on pic for larger view)

Avertec releases some Ivetec

Avertec released it's 22" All In One PC (That's is its full official name) <--- a shameful rip off of the iMac which I doubt will go unnoticed by Apple.

The Avertec AIOPC 22" is $50 more than the iMac 20" with the same specs.

* Jonathan Ive has been lead industrial designer since Steve Jobs return to Apple in 1997. He is the designer behind the current iMac