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My Ramblings Articles

Ordinary Men Can Do Extra Ordinary Things! Meet Sal Khan

August 27, 2010 | My Ramblings | Videos | No Comments

The Internet has enabled people to create thousands of websites that we can’t live without today.  From Google, YouTube, Yahoo to your local bank’s website, it’s hard to imagine living without the Internet.  However, there are many successful websites ran by one person that are making a big difference in many people daily lives.  One such site is Khanacademy.org operated solely by Sal Khan.

Khanacademy.org has over 1,600 free 10 to 15 minutes long mini-lectures/tutorials (primarily math, science and finance) all narrated by Khan. His videos are viewed about 70,000 times per day on YouTube and  his website, which is nearly double the student body of Stanford and Harvard combined.  (See video below.)

Khan is a 33 year old Harvard MBA who was a former hedge fund manager.  

Khan started out 4 years ago by helping his cousin in math by recording tutorials and storing them on YouTube.  His videos became popular and started receiving testimonials from students who found his videos helpful. He then decided to quit his job and converted a walk-in closet in his home with a few hundred dollars of video equipment to start filming his tutorials.   Khan receives zero pay, however, he does make some money from advertising via his YouTube videos.

Recently Bill Gates became an admirer of Khan and stated that “This guy is amazing…It is awesome how much he has done with very little in the way of resources.”  Gates stated that his 11 year old son, Rory, began soaking up Kahn’s videos from biology to algebra.

For more information visit khanacademy.org and youtube.com/user/khanacademy

Always Look for a Discount Before Paying Full Price

August 18, 2010 | My Ramblings | Quick Tips | No Comments

I just got back from a 2 day conference (Affiliate Summit East 2010) in New York City.  It’s a trip I planned over 2 months ago, where I booked my flight and hotel.  However, I didn’t register for conference which initially would have cost me $99 for the cheapest pass.  

To my surprise when I went to purchase the pass the price jumped to $249.  I didn’t realize the price would change and wasn’t too happy about it.  On top of that, the website claimed that there was only 2 more days to purchase the pass.  I also quickly found out via a few blog visits that every year the conference gets sold out so to buy your pass early.

I wasn’t happy about paying the $249, because last year I attended free by winning a pass.  So I began to search the internet to see if I could find a free or discounted pass.  I was able to find a coupon code that took 10% off, so that would drop the price to $224.  I still wasn’t happy and started to search forums and tweets (at Twitter.com) for anyone willing to sell their pass or had an extra pass they wouldn’t mind giving to me for free (yea right)!

I was able for find a couple of people on Twitter who was giving away extra passes they had, but I was too late.  I also found a few people on Digital Point forum who wanted to sell me a pass.  But I didn’t have to pay for a pass because I ended up getting one for free!

How did I get it for free you ask?  One tactic I decided to try was to call the company and simply ask very nicely to buy the pass for $99.  I’d tell them I’m in a financial crunch and didn’t realize the price of the ticket would more than double.  It didn’t work, however, during the conversation, the lady told me to enter their sweepstakes to win a pass.  She mentioned for the next several days, they’d give away 1 free pass everyday.  The same sweepstakes she mentioned I had entered several months before and of course I didn’t win.  So I decided to enter the sweepstakes again.  After a trip to the gym to release my frustration, I was greeted by an email that I a won a pass.  This was a more expensive pass valued at $549.  That made my day!

So the lesson to this story is to always try for a discount before paying full price.  I’ve been surprised on several occasions to get a discount on purchases just by asking.  Additionally, many times I’ve searched the Internet for coupons / discount codes to save on purchases.  

Save Money Watching Movies via the Web with the Roku Box

August 8, 2010 | My Ramblings | Save Money | No Comments

I recently read an article about saving money by watching movies/TV via the Internet.  I decided to look further into this.  

After a little research I decided to purchase the Roku HD-XR box.  This small simple device allows you to connect your TV and high-speed Internet to access video content via the Internet.  You control the unit via a remote control.

Roku offers 3 different models (Roku SD ($70), Roku HD ($90), and Roku HD-SR ($120).  I decide to purchase the Roku HD-SR because I have a HD TV and I wanted to connect to my router wirelessly.  The other 2 models do not include wireless connection to your router.  Connecting the device is extremely easy.  I just plugged the power in and plugged the HDMI cord into the Roku box and TV.

Roku claims you can setup the unit in 5 minutes.  This took me longer because I couldn’t get the unit to connect to my router.  It took me a few minutes to figure it out, but once I got it working, I was very impressed.  For one I was surprised that the videos streamed with no hesitation (or buffering).  When starting a video it does take several seconds to load, but once the video starts to run, there is absolutely no hesitation.

I currently have AT&T FastAccess DSL Xtreme service which claims download speeds up to 3 Mbps.  However, download speed in reality averages about low 2+ Mbps. This seems to be fast enough to watch HD videos with no hesitations.  When I watch HD videos on my laptop, sometimes there is hesitation (buffering) but with the Roku box, there is none which was surprising.

When initially viewing a video on the Roku it will state video quality from 1 to 4.  Most of the time my video quality is 4, sometimes 3 but rarely 2.  A video quality of 2 or 1 isn’t good.  One occasion when video quality was 2 I unplugged the router and modem to reset the connection and video quality jumped to a 4.

As far as HD is concerned, HD is only for 720p.  There are no 1080p HD videos available it seems.  So if you have a 1080p HD TV, watching 720p HD videos will not be as sharp.

I also decided to try Netflix free 2 week offer which includes watching videos via the Roku box. For $9 per month, I think this is a great deal.  You have access to many movies online and DVDs by mail.  The newer movies are still by mail, but there are quit a few movies/TV shows available online.  Again I was impressed with the video quality and streaming with Netflix.

Purchasing the Roku Box included a $10 credit from Amazon Video on Demand (AVOD).  However, when I tried watching HD movies on AVOD it kept telling me I wasn’t setup to watch HD movies because my speeds was too slow.  However, the movies streamed well and the video quality was acceptable.  I’m not certain if HD videos from AVOD come in 1080p but if you don’t have fast enough speed it drops to 720p.

The Roku box also allows you to access numerous channels if you don’t sign up for Netflix or AVOD.  

So in conclusion, I highly recommend the Roku boxes and Netflix service to watch videos and movies via the Internet.  This can save you tons of money my reducing or eliminating your cable/satellite service.

Roku is currently offering 10% off their players

How to Stop Your Car During Sudden Accelaration

July 15, 2010 | My Ramblings | No Comments

With the recent reports of Toyota’s suddenly accelerating, Consumers Report released a video of how to stop your car if it suddenly accelerates.  Very good advice given in the video.

Google is Always Recording Your Every Move

May 24, 2010 | My Ramblings | No Comments

If you use many of Google’s services like I do, be aware that Google stores a ton of information about you and your Internet activities which includes visited sites, search terms used, maps displayed, email contacts, calendar data, emails, chat history, phone records (via Google Voice), Google/YouTube videos, Picasa photos, documents you store online (via Google Documents), Google Checkout to buy and sell products/services, Google Buzz updates (similar to Twitter) and advertising (via Google Adwords).   If you use an Android handset, Google also stores your cell phone data.  

If the authorities want to know what you have been up to, they can subpoena Google to hand over a mountain of information about you.  Google also retains data for many years.  So information about you can be obtained from many years ago.

Additionally, identity thieves are a huge threat!  Getting access to your Gmail account will unlock every other Google service.  Last October, it was reported that thousands of Gmail, AOL, MSN, Hotmail and Yahoo accounts were accessed via a phishing scheme.

So be extremely careful the information you give Google.  You may want to consider using other services to spread the risk.  You can visit www.google.com/dashboard to find out what information you are sharing and adjust your security settings.  It’s always a good idea to use passwords that are hard to guess by using symbols and upper/lower case letters.  If your Google account is ever stolen or hacked, you can use Google’s account-recovery page at https://www.google.com/support/accounts/.

Use Google Ads to Find a Job!

May 18, 2010 | My Ramblings | Videos | No Comments

If you are in the job market and want to differentiate yourself from everyone else, you may want to consider trying Alec Brownstein’s method for landing a job.  Brownstein identified influential individuals in his field who could hire him.  He then created ads on Google Search by bidding on the names of the people he wanted to notice him.  When they Googled their names, Brownstein ad would appear.  As a result he was able to land his job.  See video below.  Read more here.

Lost Generation – A Brilliant Palindrome

May 14, 2010 | My Ramblings | Videos | No Comments

A palindrome is a word or phrase that reads the same backward as forward.  Check out the video, it reads the exact opposite backwards as forward.  Not only does it read the opposite, the meaning is the exact opposite. The video is simply brilliant.

The video was created by a 20-year old for the AARP U@50 and won second place.  According to the creator, the video is based on Argentinian Political Advertisement “The Truth” by RECREAR.