Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Apple Store Checkout Process

Have you shopped at an Apple store recently? I love the place. Firstly, there are almost always more employees in the store than customers, which means if you have a question, there are 10 people who would be willing to help you. And, they are all very knowledgable with the items they sell. But what struck me the most was their amazing checkout process. If you are paying by credit card, simply walk over to an associate with the item(s) you want in your hand and tell him you are ready to checkout. He will pull a PDA out of his pocket, scan the items, swipe your credit card with the swiper attached to the PDA, and - here's the kicker - offer to e-mail you the receipt. That's what really amazed me. An e-mail receipt! That's a genius idea! No longer do I have to save receipts in a shoe box and hope they don't get lost. Now, if I ever need to return that item, I don't even need to print out the receipt at home; I can just pull it up on the screen at the store.

Apple's products may be expensive, but they are good. And the store layout and features are absolutely amazing.

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Google continues to Amaze me

Today I went online to get directions to a zoo near my house, and to my amazement, Google Maps gave me 2 options: Drive There, or Take Public Transportation. How amazing is that? It showed me where I needed to walk to (and how long that walk would take) to get to the Bus Station, which bus to take, when to get off and transfer, etc. I love Google.

Check it out at Google Transit.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

AOL Bloatware: When will the madness stop?

Have you seen a computer recently with AOL installed on it? Or rather, have you tried uninstalling it? I've come across many computers with AOL installed on them. There must be 2 or 3 different icons in the tray referencing AOL, and another couple of system services that also load with windows. Things like "Connection Manager" and "AOL Dialer". What the heck are these things? Who needs them? I'll decide when I want to start AOL. I don't need it monitoring my internet connection to see when I have one and when I don't. And don't even get me started on the AOL Spyware Protection. It pops up with the same 2 things every time. And every time I delete them, a day later they're back. I don't want it on my computer. I use SpyBot S&D and some other programs to take care of my spyware. I don't want AOL doing it - especially when chances are that their own program and website is spying on me to monitor what I do online.

So I go to uninstall the software from the Control Panel. The darn program has so much attached to it that it needs to scan my computer top to bottom for AOL installations. I came back 15 minutes later and it was still scanning. Finally I asked it to uninstall every file that had any relationship whatsoever with AOL, and after I rebooted I still had some stuff on there like the AOL toolbar in IE.

I went to AOL's website to see how big the download is for the software (I couldn't tell since they use one of these small installers that goes and downloads more from the web), and I noticed that AOL 9.1 requires a whopping 460MB of free space on your computer to install. Also, there is a new thing called AOL Desktop. Apparently they want to take control over your entire desktop with widgets that are always open and its own mini browser with a revolutionary feature called 'tabs' (!) so you can browse multiple sites at once. Who would've thought!?

I could go on and on. Please do yourself and the world a favor and NEVER USE AOL.

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Forward AOL mail to any e-mail address using GMail

AOL has been on my list of "The Worst Companies" for many years. Let's start with AOL Mail. Even people who pay for their AOL service (is there anyone out there who does) can't forward their mail. Forwarding? Such a simple thing and AOL doesn't allow it? That's right! You know why? Because AOL knows very clearly that sites like GMail are now dominating the free e-mail market and everyone wants their e-mails forwarded to finally get rid of AOL. But as long as AOL denies forwarding, they'll keep their small market share in the e-mail world.

But I'm gonna show you how to get your e-mail forwarded. Simply use...a GMail account! Here's how:

  1. Start by creating a free GMail account at
  2. Once you are in your new inbox, click Settings at the top right of the screen.
  3. Click Accounts
  4. Under 'Get Mail from other accounts' click 'Add another mail account'.
  5. Type your AOL e-mail address and click Next Step.
  6. Type your password and leave the POP settings the way they are (the standard settings should work fine for you).
  7. Choose the other options such as 'Leave mail on server' which will place everything in the Old Mail folder on AOL once GMail gets it. If you leave this unchecked, you will no longer have any mail in AOL. Click 'Add Account'.
  8. If you want all of your current AOL mail forwarded to your new e-mail address, then immediately go to the 'Fowarding and POP/IMAP' tab on top.
  9. In 'Forwarding', type your e-mail address into the box and choose whether to keep GMails copy or not. Click 'Save Settings'.
GMail will now retrieve all of your e-mail from your AOL account and forward it to the address of your choice. If you only want new AOL e-mail forwarded, give GMail time to retrieve all the current messages before doing step 8 and 9. BTW, steps 8 and 9 are only if you are only using this GMail account only to forward to another account. If you actually use this GMail account and you want the e-mails in this inbox, then you don't need to do the forwarding.

Next I'll talk about the AOL Bloatware.

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5 AM E-mails? No thank you

This morning I woke up and turned on my phone as usual. Only this morning was a little different. I had 5 new e-mails waiting for me from legitimate companies that I normally want to receive e-mail from, like the Dell Deals, Windows Mobile Newsletter etc. It was quite early when I woke and I looked at the time the e-mails were sent. Most of them were sent between 4 and 5 AM. How ridiculous is that? I know they want you to see the e-mail first thing in the morning, but they have to start realizing that in todays day and age, many people have BlackBerry's and other devices where they get their e-mail. And many of those people have jobs that require them to leave their phone on in case of emergency. So these people are getting woken up 2-3 times a night from the notifications going off about the new e-mails. How hard would it be to send me the e-mail at 9 AM, or at 7 PM?

This is starting to piss me off. I now consider any legitimate e-mails which come anytime between 10 PM and 6 AM to be SPAM!

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