Category Archives: Technology

3 Cool New Gadgets that Are Blowing Minds

Mindflex

Advancing technology has set the stage for some incredible new gadgets that make life easier, more convenient and a lot of fun. If you think your latest smartphone app is something special, wait until you see how three cool new gadgets are giving consumers and creators the opportunity to utilize their minds in ways many never thought possible.

Google Glass

This amazing eyewear can do almost anything a smartphone can do, including provide access to the World Wide Web for answers to almost any question. Even more amazing, Glass can generate visual displays that augment reality. Don’t know where you are? Ask this amazing piece of Google technology for directions and arrows will appear atop the ground before your very eyes. Don’t know the meaning of an Italian word? Ask Glass and it will speak the meaning right into your ears. Completely hands free, Google’s intuitive augmented reality eyewear also lets you easily take videos and snap pictures, which you can send to any person, regardless of their location on the planet.

Mindflex

Mattel’s mind-boggling mental acuity game lets opponents control tangible objects using just their minds. Competitors place sensors on their foreheads and earlobes, allowing Mindflex to sense brainwaves which it interprets as directions. Strong concentration skills force a floating sphere in the direction of your opponent, who tries to push it in your direction using only his or her mind. It may sound like something from the future; however, this incredible “toy” is already available at local department stores.

eBook Downloads

To the dismay of the publishing houses, e-Readers are quickly changing the way consumers get their books. Additionally, these gadgets have been a godsend to authors, who are now able to use self-publishing platforms to get their novels in front of readers. According to RJ Lawrence who distributes his eBooks download through Amazon.com, this technology has been hugely beneficial to both readers and authors.

“Some of the old guards in the publishing profession say that self-publishing hurts readers by letting low-quality material into the marketplace,” he said. “In the past, agents and publishers acted as filters that supposedly worked to keep bad writers and bad stories off bookstore shelves. In reality, however, I think we can all agree that there were plenty of bad books available to readers long before self-publishing came about. In the end, readers are perfectly capable of keeping bad writing at bay on their own through basic word of mouth and ratings systems.”

UBid, Happybidday, Pennygrab: Are All Online Auctions the Same?

Auction user (photo by Petar Milošević)

Penny Auctions have grown in popularity over the past year, thanks to widespread radio and television promotion. Unfortunately, they’ve also come under plenty of fire for bilking unsuspecting consumers out of their hard-earned money. Sites such as UBid, Happybidday, and PennyGrab pit users against one another in auction-style online formats that promise to deliver bargain prices on brand name products. That said, although these sites seem quite similar at first glance; they aren’t necessarily the same.

AARP Issues Warning

Recently the AARP issued a warning to its members regarding penny auction sites that take advantage of unsuspecting consumers. According to the organization, many people don’t realize that many of these sites are unlike traditional online auctions, such as eBay, because they require consumers to pay for the right to bid. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter whether bidders win an individual action or not; they must pay to participate. This means that any time an auction ends; numerous people have lost money, allowing the auction company to reap large profits at the expense of its customers.

Are They All the Same?

While most penny auctions work the same way, not all maintain the same level of credibility. For instance, while Penny Grab and U Bid are accredited by the Better Business Bureau; Happy Bid Day is not. Likewise, while pennygrab.com and happybidday.com require customers to pay money for the right to bid, ubid.com says it only charges a consumer’s credit card if he or she actually wins. Ultimately, this characteristic makes uBid a traditional auction site, which sets it apart from typical pay-to-play auction sites that force consumers to put money at risk just for the right to participate.

FTC Urges Caution

Like the AARP, the Federal Trade Commission has expressed concern about the way some of these bid-and-buy websites work. According to the federal agency, even when participants win a penny auction auction; the vast majority end up paying more than they expected. Additionally, the FTC warns that some sites use automated bots to make false bids on products, which helps drive up prices to encourage higher profits for the company.

Funny Facebook Pictures Taking Over

funny-facebook-pictures

Social networking sites are more popular than ever; however, not everyone is using them the way they were intended. Originally, designed to allow users to connect, these websites are now being utilized for a variety of other reasons, including product marketing, political campaigning and more. If you’ve checked your wall lately, you’ve probably seen more than a few funny Facebook pictures peppered throughout. While many appreciate these humorous postings for breaking the monotony of the typical day; for some, they have become a way to creatively market books and other merchandise.

The Viral Impact

Years ago, to effectively market their creative works, artists and humorists had to land a publishing contract or spend big bucks on marketing campaigns aimed at promoting t-shirts, hats and greeting cards. Nowadays, social networks can expose these creations to millions of people in a matter of days or even hours.

Recently, Ryan Lawrence, one of our in-house news feature writers, created WTFtoids Funny Pictures, a Facebook profile intended to market his humorous Kindle book, “WTFtoids.” According to Lawrence, he got the idea from a close friend who saw great success from using social media platforms to expose his work to a larger audience.

“Not that long ago, it wouldn’t have made any sense to post your work on Facebook,” he said. “Without some sort of digital eBook available, users wouldn’t be able to purchase anything; so you would basically be giving away your work for free.”

Thanks to modern digital eReaders, authors such as Lawrence are now able to easily sell their work to consumers throughout the world, while using social media websites to bolster interest.

“A lot of people are tired of seeing ramblings about politics, religion and daily complaints,” Lawrence said. “Everyone has problems, and people would rather see funny Facebook pictures on their walls than read about annoying topics that don’t directly affect their lives.”

HappyBidDay Scam? Penny Auctions a Bad Deal: FTC

peen-auctions-scam

Allowed to operate for years without much scrutiny, penny auctions have fallen under a microscope of late, thanks to some powerful organizations that have begun warning consumers about potential rip-offs. One site, called Happy Bid Day calls itself the #1 discount auction site on the web; however, there’s plenty of Internet chatter regarding a supposed HappyBidDay scam. Before you play, learn what some consumer advocates are saying.

The Low-down on Penny Auctions

Just a few months ago, the Federal Trade Commission issued a report warning consumers about bidding fee auction sites similar to Happy Bid Day. According to the federal agency, since users must risk money to place every bid, they tend to come out on the losing end more often than not. Recently, both the Better Business Bureau and AARP joined the fight to educate consumers by issuing their own reports warning about the use of automated software to cheat unwitting users.

Is HappyBidDay a Scam?

According to the BBB, many penny auctions use automated bots to place bids on behalf of the websites themselves. This drives up prices, prolongs auctions and encourages bidder failure; all of which help the companies earn greater profits than they normally would. While there’s no way to know if HappyBidDay.com uses similar strategies; the company is not accredited by the BBB, and the organization has currently placed a consumer alert on Happy Bid Day, because “mail sent to the business was returned by the U.S. Postal Service.”

Are there Any Reputable Penny Auctions?

The FTC and ARRP warn bargain-hunters to stay away from bidding fee auction sites; however, many consumers who view the websites as contests may enjoy participating in what they see as a form of high-risk entertainment. The BBB has awarded some auction websites with an A rating, including QuiBids, which recently underwent testing by a third-party auditing company that determined the website did not use automated bots to cheat its users.

If you want to risk your money at one of these sites, but are worried about a potential HappyBidDay scam, you’d be well-advised to look for an auction site that has earned a high rating from the BBB. That said, don’t expect to have a high success rate; as most participants end up losing money in the long run.

YouNeverLose Scam? Site unlike other Penny Auctions

penny-auctions

Penny auctions have received plenty of bad press, and for good reason. Although these sites frequently offer electronics at alluring prices; consumers tend to lose money because they have to pay every time they place a bid. Additionally, many sites are known to use automated software to place fake bids on behalf of the companies, themselves. Although new sites seem to pop up every single day, most every one employs the same business model. That said, recently, a new company called You Never Lose joined the fray using a slightly different angle. If you’re worried about a potential YouNeverLose scam, consider the following.

Unlike Typical Penny Auctions

YouNeverLose.com is much different from typical bidding fee auction sites in that it allows users to hedge against potential losses. Rather than paying money for the right to place a bid, users use points, which they earn every time they purchase gift cards at their face values. For instance, if you were to purchase a $50 Sears gift card using the website, you’d also receive 50 points, which you can use to place bids on additional gift cards using the company’s auction platform.

This setup is great for people who don’t like the high-risk, high-reward nature of traditional penny auction websites. If you squander all of your points and fail to win the auction, you still get to keep the card you bought; and if you are able to outbid your competitors, you’ll get an additional card for pennies on the dollar.

Things to Consider

According to the Better Business Bureau, penny auctions are known to scam consumers by utilizing bots to place false bids on behalf of the auctioneers. That said, the BBB has given certain companies high ratings when they’ve taken steps to prove that they don’t do this. For instance, recently the organization improved QuiBids rating when the company hired a third-party auditing service to test its operations.

Currently, YouNeverLose is not rated by the BBB; so consumers have no way of knowing if the site uses automated software to scam its users. That said, most consumers tend to lose money at even the most honest penny auction websites; so if you are planning to buy a gift card, it may make sense to do it at YouNeverLose.com just in case you’re able to parlay the purchase into something special.

Just remember that you will have to pay a processing fee to claim your award, which will ultimately siphon off some of your savings. Additionally, you could get cheaper gift cards at exchange websites, which offer unused cards at discounted prices.