BWW E-Commerce Seminar = Amway Global

A couple weeks ago while shopping, I met a young, well-spoken guy who seemed to be looking to make new friends. We exchanged numbers, and I received a call several days later regarding a job opportunity. He was vague about this meeting other than to describe it as a business formal event (in retrospect I found the lack of details odd), but with little to lose or so I thought, I showed up at the 20th floor of the Renaissance Hotel last night for an info session, noticing immediately that a ton of Indians were attending (I would estimate they comprised over 50% of the packed ballroom). He said he would introduce me to one of his IT contacts at the end of the event. The weird vibe I got was later confirmed. I noticed that other participants were paying money at the sign-in table, but I was signed in by my host without paying any sort of fee.

After showing my yellow ticket (labeled "BWW E-Commerce Seminar"), I was given a seat in the front row, while my host sat a few rows behind. Shortly after, I overheard a conversation about "recruiting 20 people" and "MLM" popped into my head. Newcomers were encouraged to sit in the first few rows, and an Indian man took the stage and began a presentation about a "business opportunity" leveraging social networks. After squandering an hour making lame jokes and asking what people would like to do if they had extra side income ("where would you like to go on vacation?"), the presenter finally got to the nitty-gritty, drawing a diagram with the entities Britt Worldwide (BWW) and Amway Global and pointing out various products on a side table that included energy drinks and what looked like skin creams.

At this point, my main concerns focused around minimizing the amount of time wasted and the fact that the second hour of hotel parking was now costing me $6 instead of $2. I stuck around for another half hour out of curiosity to see how this scam was being sold. In a nutshell, $250 per month to own a small business, FTC-sanctioned, private franchises, blah blah blah. Annoyed, I walked out of the ballroom, determined never to speak to this new "friend."

[Updated 2011/05/26] Re: IBO's claims, a brief Google search turns up the following links:

AMWAY Partner Store Claims Embarrass Their IBOs

Debunking Quixtar IBO lies.

Partner store is an "Ad. gimmick" of Amway/Quixtar


End of another experiment

Over a year has passed since its inception.  Is it too soon for the mid-life crisis to have passed?  My idealism seems to be fading.


Entouch and Clear QAM

The second HD experiment... Figured I should do a cheap test before forking over a substantial chunk of change for an HDTV with QAM tuning capabilities. Grabbed a Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-1600 off Ebay and plugged the coax cable into the antenna connection. Worked exactly as I had hoped. In addition to getting all of the regular broadcast channels, I was able to pick up CNBC, Discovery, Cartoon, and TV Land, among other channels. Too bad BeyondTV doesn't yet have built-in QAM support for the Hauppauge card. This is, nonetheless, a pleasant discovery.

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Turbotax market share

Typically around tax time, there are some good deals to be found on Turbotax, but not this year. Only discounts for other software that I don't want. Looks like Intuit isn't even trying to compete with Taxcut. In fact, the discounted price for Turbotax Online offered to Vanguard clients was increased recently from $19.45 to $32.45.

I finally tried TT online this year, and while the convenience of e-filing is a plus, I am finding a fault that is tough to overlook: I cannot import .TXF files. For versions of Quicken 2005 and later, this is not a big deal as the direct import into Turbotax works fine, but I am still using the 2001 Basic version. Fortunately, one is not charged for the online version until the return is printed or filed. I would prefer to preview my entire return before filing/paying, but I can certainly understand that this makes little sense for the vendor. One could simply copy the preview numbers to paper and submit manually without ever paying for the software. Given such a high quality product, I will gladly spend $38 for the desktop version.


What better place than here, what better time than now

The experiment is on. A conversation I had on Friday planted a seed in my head to write a book about this. I had toyed with the idea earlier, but now it sounds like a great idea. My backup alarm was meowing at the bedroom door around 7:00 this morning, which was pretty well-timed. The air is cool and crisp outside so I may finally grab that morning walk after breakfast.


Your plan is changing

Thought I would be able to retain the old plan when the pricing changes were originally announced, but BBI finally dropped the hammer yesterday...

We hope you're enjoying BLOCKBUSTER Total Access™!

There are some changes to our subscription plan lineup that introduce a new pricing structure and new plans which limit the number of in-store exchanges.

As a result, your current plan, 1 Online DVD out at a time up to 2 per month plus 2 in-store exchanges each month for $5.99, is no longer available.

We'd like to extend you a new plan that includes 1 Online DVD out at a time up to 2 per month plus up to 2 free* in-store exchanges for $7.99.

In addition, exclusively for BLOCKBUSTER Total Access customers, we have introduced in-store movie rentals for $1.99* per movie should you need more than the in-store exchanges included in your plan.

Your new plan will go into effect on your regular monthly billing date following November 1, 2007. If you do not select a new plan by November 1, 2007, we will automatically move you to the new BLOCKBUSTER Total Access plan referenced below as "Your New Plan".

The new plan is the same one I have currently with a $2 price increase. Gotta love the easy cancellation process. On the other hand, an aggressive promotion of 20% off (first three months) inevitably leads to...

Thanks for joining Netflix! Your sign-up is complete and you're all set to start adding movies to your Queue (movie list). Add at least six movies so we know what movies to send you.


Online DVD rental price war

Netflix, Blockbuster Make Users Happy, Investors Unhappy. I have enjoyed using Netflix in the past, but the decision of which subscription service to use almost always boils down to price. When Blockbuster introduced Total Access, allowing customers to exchange by-mail rentals for free in-store rentals, I'm sure a good number of Netflix customers defected. Netflix recently announced a price cut on some of its unlimited plans, and shortly after, Blockbuster revamped its subscription plans, essentially raising prices. The 1-at-a-time/3-max plan (was $7.99) appears to be no longer available, and the price of the 1-at-a-time/2-max went from $5.99 to $7.99. Also, BBI is limiting the number of in-store exchanges for the "regular" unlimited plans and charging more for unlimited exchanges under its new "Total Access Premium" plans. It appears that existing customers will not be affected unless they switch.

With Blockbuster and Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) locked in a bloody price war over online DVD rentals, the only winner seems to be the consumer.


Before his death, I simply thought of Gerald Ford as the President that wrongly pardoned Nixon. Now I consider him a coward as well for not speaking out publicly even though he disagreed with the decision to start the war in Iraq. Although Jimmy Carter, the man to whom Ford eventually lost the election, left office with a poor legacy, he wields his status as a public figure to espouse the causes he believes in. In particular, he condemned Bush's decision to go to war in Iraq and criticized the Israeli bombing campaign in Lebanon.

It seems lately that the rebate fulfillment companies are doing everything possible (like deliberately miskeying mailing addresses) to avoid paying them out. With six unpaid rebates outstanding, I am boycotting mail-in rebate purchases indefinitely and hounding their phone reps until the profit-cost balance becomes a losing proposition for them.

Just realized that there is less than a week until the sixth season of 24 begins, but if it comes down to choosing between Jack Bauer and Hiro on a Monday night, Heroes is gonna win hands-down...


Cranked out my first 500+ mile tank on the hyb this morning. My best tank yet at 51.8 mpg. Booyah! Still had 3 bars on the fuel meter (~2.5 gallons remaining), too, so could have tried to squeeze out 600, but it might have been a bit stressful... Took a snapshot to celebrate the milestone.

trip meter for my first 500 mile tank on the hybrid

Switched my electricity supplier from Reliant to Amigo and got my first bill today. They charged $8 for the switch, which I figure I will make up easily in the next month. Strangely, I'm looking forward to receiving my next electricity bill.


Looks like Yahoo changed the format of its weather page recently and added the usual warning against repurposing its data. Boo! T-Mobile is going to start charging for incoming text messages next month anyways so I will just have to get the forecast online or on tv like everyone else.

Had to fax some financial documents yesterday and received quite the sticker shock. Apparently, $1/page is the going rate these days (UPS, Office Depot, mailbox store, etc.), and I had to send 15 pages to non-local numbers. Kinda weird to think that people still use faxes given the available technology (scan and email). Driven by obsessive frugality, I dug out my still functioning USR 56K modem and downloaded some freeware, but that route was incredibly time-consuming and ultimately a dead end. Finally, I purchased a small and inexpensive fax machine from Fry's, which not surprisingly turned out to be the best decision as I ended up having to fax yet another 12 pages this morning. Using retail services would have set me back nearly the cost of a new machine.

Speaking of Fry's, I don't usually like shopping there. When I checked out with the cashier yesterday, I was pleasantly surprised when the guy printed out the rebate form for the fax machine. "$59.99 with a $30 mail-in rebate. I'll get that form for you." How very helpful, I thought. I love it when Best Buy or Circuit City does this. Turned out, however, to be the wrong form (same brand, but different model). I had already saved the PDF rebate form earlier from, but I couldn't help wondering if this had been set up deliberately by management.