Archive for January 27th, 2008

(Product) Red Responds To Dell Pricing Controversy [Followups]

Posted by Ry on Jan 27 2008 | Consumer Interest

bonoreddell.jpgResponding to a Dell pricing controversy that boiled over last week, a spokesperson for (Product) Red, an initiative whereby company color some of their products red and donate a portion of the profits to an AIDS fighting charity, left a comment on our blog to try dispel some of the confusion they felt had arisen over the issue. At stake was a computer Dell sells for $1,299 that you can get in the (Product) Red version for $1,599, with $80 of it going to the Global Fund. What about the other $220, asked gizmo blog Engadget? Well, we could tell them that it's because you're getting Windows Vista Ultimate and Microsoft Office and Student 2007 instead of Windows XP and Microsoft Works, but we'll let the comment from Bich Ngoc Cao of (Product) Red do the talking...

We've been following all of the discussion that our recent partnership announcement has created. While most of it has been very positive, it seems there is a lot of confusion around the pricing of the (PRODUCT) RED offering. Above and beyond the entry level XPS ONE, the (PRODUCT) RED version offers Windows Vista Ultimate and Microsoft Home Office and Student, a $300 value of upgrades when purchasing through DELL.

We're aware that not everyone will need or want these upgrades. (RED) is not about buying something for charity - it is about doing good while you are buying something you need. For those consumers who are in the market for a DELL XPS ONE with WINDOWS VISTA ULTIMATE, the (PRODUCT) RED option gives them the opportunity to get all of these features AND trigger an $80 contribution to the Global Fund to help fight AIDS in Africa, at no additional cost. For those consumers who are not in the market for this type of full-featured experience, they have the option to purchase another DELL PC that meets their needs.

(RED) is just one tool for people to do good - it doesn't replace the need or desire for charity donations, volunteering or getting involved in other ways. It is simply a choice when you're out shopping for something you need.

Most of the discussion demonstrates an enthusiasm for these partnerships and a desire to have more (PRODUCT) RED PCs available at a broader price range. We are also very excited about the potential of the DELL & MICROSOFT partnerships - which are just starting with these products. These new partnerships will help increase overall awareness of the AIDS epidemic in Africa and increase contributions to buy lifesaving ARV treatment for those who cannot afford it.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact (RED) at

Thank you,

It seems the internets are better at getting angry than doing math. Would donating $300 directly to the Global Fund do more good? Absolutely, but not everyone shopping for a Dell is going to do that, while they might, however, check off a different box at checkout and opt for the (Product) Red computer. Last time we checked, $57 million donated to fighting AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria was a good thing.

PREVIOUSLY: Is Dell's Pricey (Project) Red PC A Ripoff?

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WiFi coming to Massachusetts commuter trains

Posted by Ry on Jan 27 2008 | Technology

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It's coming to planes, so it was bound to make its way onto trains. According to a report, a 45-mile commuter railroad line in Massachusetts is about to get a WiFi upgrade, bringing wireless connections to more than 18,000 passengers across 17 stations. Utilizing Sprint's EV-DO service, this will be the largest deployment of train-based WiFi outside of Europe and will bring access to 45 coach cars in the line. "There is not one commuter rail system in the country that has this right now," said Kris Erickson, MBTA deputy chief of staff, adding, "We know there are going to be some technical glitches, but we want to get in there and test it in a real environment and get a much better idea how to do it." The plan is to eventually bless all 13 commuter lines in Massachusetts with wireless capabilities, thus allowing networked games of Sid Meier's Railroads! to actually be played while on a railroad.

[Via Wi-Fi Networking News]


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DirecTV Raises Rates, Warns Customers Not To Switch To Cable [Price Hikes]

Posted by Ry on Jan 27 2008 | Consumer Interest

DTV.jpgDirecTV is jacking up rates by 4% as of February 27 and is reminding newly disgruntled customers that DirecTV still ranks higher than cable according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index. Most customers can expect a $3-$5 increase, but don't count on award-winning customer service.

Here are the new rates:

  • PREMIER™ $104.99/mo.;
  • LO MÁXIMO™ $104.99/mo.;
  • PLUS HD DVR™ $72.99/mo.;
  • PLUS DVR™ $62.99/mo.;
  • CHOICE XTRA™ $57.99/mo.;
  • FAMILIAR ULTRA™ $54.99/mo.;
  • CHOICE™ $52.99/mo.;
  • FAMILIAR™ $45.99/mo.;
  • PREFERRED CHOICE™ $32.99/mo.;
  • SELECT $45.99/mo.
Everyone with a package that isn't still offered will pay an extra $3. Customers with a promotional rate won't see an increase unless they switch packages.

DirecTV's email to customers:

Effective February 27, 2008, the monthly price of some DIRECTV® programming packages will change.

Please click here (PDF) for pricing information in English and Spanish.


For seven years running, DIRECTV has had higher customer satisfaction ratings than cable, thanks to loyal customers like you. Thank you for your business.


According to the ACSI, DirecTV earned a D- in customer satisfaction, slightly beating out cable's failing grade. exactly service to boast about.

Q1 2007 and Historical ACSI Scores [American Customer Satisfaction Index]
(Photo: cmorran123)

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MIT’s 3D Installation Pwns Roger Rabbit [Media]

Posted by Ry on Jan 27 2008 | Technology

newVideoPlayer("superscreen_gizmodo.flv", 475, 376,"");Given that we've covered the topic of real-time 3D animation in 2D video signals before, we must be fairly obsessed with the topic. But placing a 3D CG image into a video signal and manipulating said signal is still, in our book, pretty freakin' cool. Here's a tech demo of 'Installation' by MIT Media Labs. After you are done drooling over their hot camera/display, watch as they place 3D objects into the image and pan around the room. We can't wait until the technology serves its ultimate purpose and Madden places a leaner version of himself on the football field to show "what he would have done" during that last play. [MIT]

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Puppy vs. Roboquad: the ultimate man-machine showdown

Posted by Ry on Jan 27 2008 | Technology

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Ever wondered what would happen if you were to pit the Wowwee Roboquad against an excitable, yapping puppy? Wonder no longer, friends, as the answer to this age-old question has been captured on video -- replete with NES sound effects and 8-bit scorecard. Watch the battle for ultimate supremacy after the break... our money is on the dog.

[Via Digg]

Continue reading Puppy vs. Roboquad: the ultimate man-machine showdown


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Death Ray Machine Does What Jesus Could Not [Retromodo]

Posted by Ry on Jan 27 2008 | Technology

deathrayclevelGI.jpgFor this week's retromodo installation, we're looking at the Death Ray Machine, (awesome name). Apparently, the device was put together by a Cleveland scientist, and its abilities were only showcased in a one time display to members of the National Inventors' Congress at Omaha, Nebraska. The Death Ray Machine was witnessed to instantly kill dogs, cats and rabbits once its beam shone on them.

Blood was reported to spill from the deceased, unfortunate test animals, but it was instantly turned to water. Blood to water—not even Jesus could do that. The officials that attended were so in awe of the dazzling power, they prevented any further development until the Death Ray Machine could be put to a useful, defensive purpose by the government. No one knows what became of the Death Ray Machine, but we think it just may be the scariest vaporware ever. [Modern Mechanix via Boing Boing]

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U.S. News: It’s Your Own Damn Fault You Can’t Redeem Rebates [Survey Says]

Posted by Ry on Jan 27 2008 | Consumer Interest

Rebate%20Cat%20Is%20Confused.jpgU.S. News & World Report hates our inability to redeem rebates. If we only tried harder, they say, we might be able to conquer our "tendency to procrastinate and inability to follow multistep directions." Yes, that must be the problem.

...research suggests that much of the time it's not the companies offering rebates that are creating the problem. It's the customers. Their tendency to procrastinate and inability to follow multistep directions--albeit often explained in tiny print--result in as many as half of all rebates going unfulfilled. "It's their own inability to have self-control and say, 'I'm going to get this done,' " says Tim Silk, assistant professor of marketing at the University of British Columbia.

Because people tend to believe they will redeem the rebates and then they don't, they often pay more for items than they expect. "You see something that has a rebate associated with it, and you are overly optimistic that you will do all of what's required," says John Gourville, professor of marketing at Harvard Business School.

With rebates, we are anything but optimists. Readers who keep meticulous spreadsheets and take photos of their completed rebate applications are still rejected by crafty rebate processors who rely on a patented process to keep redemption rates artificially low. How low? Let's ask assistant professor of marketing Tim Salk. According to his research:
...promotion managers informed us that redemption rates tend to be "very low" when the reward is below $10, that rebates of $10 to $20 on a $100 software product range between 10% and 30%, and that redemption rates on consumer electronics average approximately 40%.
Don't count on rebates when making a purchase. If they come through, great, nice surprise—but rebates should never serve as a deciding factor.

Why Shoppers Love to Hate Rebates [U.S. News & World Report]
Why we buy but fail to redeem? (PDF) [Tim Salk]
Managing Mail-In Rebate Promotions (PDF) [Tim Salk]
PREVIOUSLY: Rebate-Processor Parago Caught In A Lie
HOWTO: Rebate Whore
Redeem Rebates With Hard Work And Luck
(Photo: Mecha Wendy)

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MacBook Air in stores Tuesday, empty pocketbook in your future

Posted by Ry on Jan 27 2008 | Technology

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Just in case you were really, really anxious to get your hands on the MacBook Air, word on the street is that the little slivers are already in stores, and you'll actually be able to stroll up into the place and nab them this Tuesday. Of course, old Jobsy has already said as much ("two weeks"), but the Boy Genius is making extra-dextra sure that everyone knows they really will be on the floor come next week. If you're lucky enough to be employed by Apple as a "Genius," then you'll be getting some Air training tomorrow. Hey, it's never too late to sign up and instantly be accepted for a job... oh, wait, it probably is.


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Worst Case Scenario: Talking On Charging Cellphone [News]

Posted by Ry on Jan 27 2008 | Technology

thumb.jpegA young man in Ghana answered his cellphone that was charging from a wall jack and was met with the full electrical current of his home's wiring. He was knocked out but still had a weak heartbeat. His parents rushed him to the emergency room where he was proclaimed dead on arrival. The remains of the phone look to have been from a Nokia, but the good news is that we know such incidents aren't the norm or, like, everyone in the whole world would be dead right now. [modernghana]

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Stay Awake at Work or School? [Ask The Readers]

Posted by Ry on Jan 27 2008 | Uncategorized

sleep-on-the-job.pngGot a tough time keeping your head off your desk in the middle of class or meetings? Weblog Dumb Little Man suggests several tips for staying awake during the drowsiest of times. The tips are fairly common sense, from taking naps and frequent bathroom breaks to ingesting lots of caffeine (those last two should work together nicely). But there's likely not much there you haven't thought of before, so if you've got your own killer methods for staying awake when your lids start to get heavy, let's hear them in the comments.

How to Stay Awake at Work or School [Dumb Little Man]

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