Saturday, December 26, 2009

Affiliate Marketing For Recent College Graduates

Many people have found themselves unable to obtain unemployment directly after graduating from college. So without a job, what do you do?

I remember it well, and it wasn't even a recession back when I graduated. Four years of college and a Bachelor's Degree later I had interviews where I competed against at least twenty other candidates.

It took a couple of years for me to find part time work, which eventually became full time. In the meantime, I worked several jobs at all hours just to make my bills. Had I known about Affiliate Marketing back then, I certainly would have preferred it to working as hard as I did.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Best Bang for Your Entertainment Buck!

You may choose DirecTV, while your neighbor chooses Satellite Direct. A block over, someone chooses Dish Network while their neighbor opts for cable.

What's the commonality in this group of neighbors? Choice. And that they're all happy with their choice. The reason for this is that all these people have individual needs or desires that relate directly to their programming. As an example, I'm not a sports guy so I'd like to forgo any packages with my provider that offer year round sports. My friend John, however, is a football fanatic and would turn his nose up at any service that didn't provide regular access to his favorite team's games.

Content is important, but so is price- if you're willing to go through a little bit of trouble, you can watch most of your shows on Hulu or Satellite Direct, watch your movies with a Netflix subscription and be very happy, all with the perks of digital video recorders and all the goodies available from cable or satellite.

The bottom line is, once again, do your research. Know what you want and what you're willing to pay for it and see which company will meet your needs most efficaciously.

Best Programming Provider?

Today, we have cable, satellite and Fios among other televised entertainment providers. Many people use Satellite Direct, and Netflix to round out their entertainment without breaking the bank. But what are your options?

Let's start simple. That would be the old style antennas that plucked Jackie Gleason out of the air and introduced America to eating while watching television in their own homes. Then came cable, with "limited commercial interruption (unless you count self promotion, very true), which dominated from the late 70's to early 90's. Attempts in the 80's to utilize enormous satellite dishes eventually fell by the wayside.

Once question that comes up frequently is "Between Dish Network and DirecTV, what service is best?". As with any other arena of endeavor with regard to entertainment, the factors are varied and too many to reach one simple decision. Again, do your research, write down what is best for you as far as equipment (DVR's,etc.) and programming and make your best deal. Either way, you will be choosing a winning option.

High Definition: Cable Box or DTV Tuner?

You really can't go wrong either way, to be honest. What you will need to do is consider is what your provider actually provides (ie; do they provide all true high definition programming or are signals compressed? Almost all companies compress at least some programming).

As with all other applications, your results may vary, although only slightly. Individual component choice will come into play and will affect the final result greatly. What helps is to make a list and keep track of what you change and/or modify. This can be something as simple as upgrading a cable. Keep diligent records and be sure to note any favorable or unfavorable results.

Wait, wait, wait, I thought you couldn't get a tv signal over the air anymore.

Not so very long ago, the public was told that they could no longer use an antenna to obtain our television broadcasts. The truth of the matter is that we can no longer receive analog signals in the traditional manner. But we can receive digital signals.

Yes, this means you can use an antenna. But what about high definition channels? How might we obtain those with an antenna? The quick answer is that you can't. The long version is you can't, at least not without an upgraded antenna.

A high definition antenna will deliver high definition programming over the air (OTA). If you'd like an even better option, get one that's meant to go outside, a la the old style roof mounted television antennas.

Are You Limited To Cable or Satellite for Your Television Programming?

The short answer to the question in this post is: "No". You can use your internet connection to access
and watch television series with minimal commercial interruption (typically commercials are at the beginning of segments and you cannot fast forward through them as with a Tivo type service.

Options such as Satellite Direct can provide you with over 3500 channels (including high definition programming) that are streamed directly to your home computer. There are drawbacks to all programming services, not the least of which being price, so diligent research is tantamount to finding the service that works best for your needs.

Connecting Home Theater Equipment

I recently connected an Xbox360 to a high definition television and noticed that there was not an option for using component cables. I've often wondered what the deal is with these different connection types; why not go to an industry standard and leave it be?

Well, if you'd like to start a nice argument, talk to your favorite techie and ask the difference between HDMI and Component cables. You'll get an in depth explanation for both, assuredly, but each person will have their own opinion on which is better. People don't realize that, while not infinitely complex, the subject is a bit too broad to simply ask what will work best without regard for individual components and user preferences.

In short, most people won't notice a difference, but if you will then make sure you try both to make an informed decision.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Do it Yourself Home Automation

I've always wanted to have a house like Tony Stark (and if you haven't seen the brand new trailer for Iron Man 2, go here: Iron Man 2 Trailer on I don't have the money for something as elaborate as Stark has, but I do have 14 dollars to spare to read an e-book on the subject of Home Automation.

Most people already have a network, either wired or wireless, in their house for use with the internet. What you need to have in place to control a house set up for automation is a network and if you have one already set up for surfing the web, you are ready for the next step.

So what is all this automation stuff? Well, imagine being able to integrate your audio and video sources and send them to whatever room you like. How about turning the lights on and off remotely without the use of bulky timers? Concerned about going out of town and not being able to check on your house? Well, integrate video surveillance equipment such as cameras and digital video recorders to store data and you can access that information anywhere and at any time.

I personally think it would be a great idea to buy this book just to be able to control heating and cooling remotely. And e-books are instantly available via password. This particular e-book even comes with a 90 day money back guarantee. Everybody wins.

Thursday, December 3, 2009


Being unemployed means I have less money coming in than I'd like. Even so, I do like to contribute a portion of my income to The Smile Train Charity.

My mother was born with cleft lip/palate, so I chose my charity based on that. Most people choose something near and dear, which might be something like Alzheimer's Research. Whichever charity you're giving to, give yourself a pat on the back because helping others is sadly not something everyone does.

It feels good to help others. Remember all that stuff in your childhood about it being better to give than to receive? Ever tried it?

I don't think there's anything at all wrong with charity. Of course, just as with anything else where people are involved there's an opportunity for the unscrupulous among us to exploit the others. There certainly has been skepticism about whether all your money is used to it's fullest when donating to some charities. So it pays to do your research and know where your money is actually going. This is a good reason to check out The Smile Train because they have a way of streamlining their process to maximize every donated dollar.

They actually have something called "Virtual Surgery Videos" to train doctors to repair cleft lip/palate. Rather than fly our doctors overseas to perform surgeries every few months, they can learn how to do it themselves remotely. Innovation in charity, I guess you'd call that.

In sum, if you'd like to donate a few dollars to children born with a condition that interferes with the simple acts of eating and speaking, please head on over to The Smile Train and/or check out my Lens on The Smile Train Charity.

Affiliate Marketing

OK, so you keep hearing people talk about making money as an "affiliate". What does that even mean? What's an affiliate?

When I was in school preparing to be a teacher, I developed research skills and had to become confident in my ability to interpret this research in order to reach my students.

Basically, a company will pay for online advertising. One of the places that money goes is to what's known as an Affiliate Network. The Network hires Affiliates (you and I) to promote the product in various ways such as reviews and article writing. You then share in the profit of each sale.

The short answer to the question most people are asking right now is that Yes, this is a real thing. But it's not something you just pick up and do. It's not a get rich scheme. If you believe in those, please read the following truth: there is no way to easily make money online. I say no way because the ways that are out there are either immoral or illegal. Anything I tell you will be what's called "whitehat". "Blackhat" is the opposite- those shady fly by night things I won't even provide information on (I know that 99% of people my age (37 so far) are making Good Side/ Dark Side of The Force connections right now- works for me).

There are skills you will need to develop or learn outright- as my Grandfather always said: "There's no royal road to learning". That applies here too. Be prepared to fail and learn from your mistakes. Be prepared to put in real time to learn this and even more time to implement it correctly. Be prepared to do research and be prepared for the *lightbulb* moments when it all starts to just "click".

Beyond that, all I can say is the longest journey begins with the first step. Unemployment checks don't last forever, so don't dawdle. Learn and grow your knowledge- be prepared to look for answers on your own. Others may not help you because guess what? They're busy working on this too- so make Google your homepage (your computer is now more than just a source of entertainment- it's turning into a source of income.

So do some maintenance on your computer if need be. If it's been a while, reformat your machine. If you've done that in the last 6-12 months, go through and do some cursory checks like virus scanning (use AVG Free), Registry repair (Eusing Free Registry Cleaner) and defrag while you're at it. Restart and make sure your machine is running in tip top shape before you begin this. Your computer now should be ready for some heavy duty usage while you do your affiliate research (you could check out my Lens on the subject for a decent start).

Feel free to post comments. I'll be glad to help people along.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Powerbar Club Platinum Review

I really like the idea of working from home. If you don't know me well yet, I'm an unemployed teacher. I've taught the most challenging students for the last nine years. Becoming one of the over ten percent of the US population currently looking for work was a real eye opener for me. I'm always on the lookout for something I can either exploit financially or for something I can at least learn from; this post will be about a new toolbar I found online calledthe Powerbar. If you look below, you'll see an example of their sensationalistic promotional tactics- the first thing to get my spider-sense tingling.

Due to the intensity of working with such a challenging demographic and a lack of confidence in a system that couldn't hang onto a longtime teacher I've decided to make my own luck. I'm proud of my career, but I don't intend on going back to it, at least not right away. I have an entrepreneurial bent which has called me all my life. Now, much like the people in this article, I feel the pull of new opportunities.

I'm no stranger to web design, affiliate marketing and other virtual centered endeavors. I have no doubt that I can make money online because I have. It's never about being easy though. Few businesses can boast about being easy to set up and low maintenance. Making money on the web isn't any different. You have to work hard at it.

We'll see what the Powerbar brings me. I predict it will be either a significant amount of extra income or a complete flop, which I'd learn from (I'll report either way). I doubt there will be much in the way of shades of gray with this.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Tenured teachers losing jobs!

What do you do when you lose you job? It sounds perverse. You go to college to earn a Bachelor's Degree. You then pay fee after fee to The State to become licensed. Then you enter a very competitive job market. Then you go back to school for an advanced degree to make you a more efficacious educator to be able to keep the job you worked so hard to get in the first place.

You work hard, do what everyone tells you you're supposed to do and then receive tenure. You think you've arrived, right? Wrong.

The economy finally lets go and funding suffers. Next thing you know, your school district sits down with you and tells you how sorry they are but they can no longer pay you.

What do you do next? I found myself asking this question not too long ago. Fortunately for me, I try to never rely on one source of income. I've had businesses and sold them at a profit, I invest wisely (Will Rogers always said "Invest in Real Estate- they're not making it anymore") and I'm a saver.

Unemployment doesn't last forever and I like putting money into my bank account, so I decided to expand on some of my online ventures and invest a few dollars in my own ideas as well. I'm actually writing a series of Lenses on which will focus on ways that someone with little to no knowledge of the internet can use to make a bit more income. I even focus on a method of making money online that is revolutionary in it's implementation and elegant in it's simplicity.

You may be wondering (if you're still reading, lol) what any of this has to do with teaching. Well, although anyone could technically pick my methods up and get good at them in time, I feel that the skills learned and encouraged in teacher preparation programs are a big help. I'm uniquely qualified to judge this notion, as I've done both successfully.

Thanks for reading and God Bless.

A Surround Sound system is a must for the Home Theater buff!

I know there's no help for me. I like to have nice things and that's all there is to it. I have a great television, so I naturally wanted to have a great surround sound system.

Why spend a lot of money on a surround sound system? Well, if it's worth it to you go ahead but what I did was picked a middle of the road model that had a good, solid reputation and all the features I wanted. I believe mine cost around 200-250 dollar and is a Sony.

The only bad part about it is the wired speakers- my house is carpeted and I'm not scared to get my hands dirty so I just ran the wires under the carpeting. Surround sound systems typically have a few modes that can be chosen to emulate different "optimal" settings for movie, concerts (like if you're watching music videos), etcetera.

I prefer to sit in my usual spot and adjust the levels myself because I'm really picky about these things. I chose to mount my speakers directly on the walls (with the subwoofer mounted low on the entertainment system to make the floor shake) at the recommended height for a truly immersive experience.

I love movies like you wouldn't believe. Some of the best presents I've received were from my grandmother, who understood my love of cinema, and made sure to get me gift certificates for the local movie theater. Fast forward fifteen years or so and not only is my grandmother gone but so is that desire to go to the movies on a regular basis.

Movie theaters are usually packed full of rude people who don't know not to talk during the movies. As if that weren't reason enough to stay home, the theaters around here are dirty and far from state of the art. Add to that the fact that my tv and surround sound system absolutely blow the movie theater's equipment out of the water. If Hollywood would let me stream the newest blockbusters directly into my house, I probably wouldn't go to the movies much at all.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Black and Decker Power Scissors Rock!

I found a neat little item at Wal Mart not too long ago called the Black and Decker Power Scissors. They're inexpensive and make for outstanding stocking gifts. I bought several extra pair for family members.

If you've ever been annoyed with those "clamshell" plastic packages (the kind that envelops the product and is heat sealed), this tool is for you. The idea, obviously, is to act as a theft deterrant by making the package hard to open and then stuff the item in your pocket. How about those packages that have the plastic ziplock baggie style way of sealing them? I always cut too deep or not deep enough when I use my scissors. They just sort of go right through the packaging like a knife through butter.

I've used these for so many different things I can't possibly recall to blog here today. But some of the uses are mail, packaging, plants and cutting out corrugated cardboard for various automotive projects to be used as templates. Is this really something blog worthy? I think so, because they are inexpensive and come in sooo handy. If you don't believe me, buy a set- you won't be disappointed.


I'm a geek. I wear it proudly and consider it part of who I am. Comic books in general and superhero books in particular have been with us in the form we currently recognize them (underwear on the outside, heroic bent on the inside) since about 1938 with the introduction of Superman in Action Comics number one. Comics have evolved due to influence from the economy and the rantings of the book Seduction of the Innocent.

You could quite easily build a business around comic books if you had enough knowledge of the industry. Books can be rare and valuable and in many cases not too rare and still worth a bit of money due to the author or artist signing the book (I've had Spiderman's creator sign multiple original copies of Amazing Spiderman one and let me tell you, that adds significant value!).

You could get into the world of comic book based niches such as action figures, statues and other high end collectibles

Another great way to make money with comic books is to buy and sell original art. I have a few pieces of original art, but it isn't a focus for my collection. Again, signatures (particularly if they can be verified with a picture of the creator signing) add value but you don't have to go for something incredibly expensive if you just want to be in the hobby for pleasure instead of business. I have a relatively low value piece which was published in the late 80's or early 90's. It's a page of a Spiderman comic that was actually used to produce the issue that month. Very cool, but I was also able to get the artist to sign it to me when I had worked the deal out with him (in this case, unless I'm going to sell it to someone named Jim I stand a lower chance on making a profit from this piece- but that isn't why I bought it).

So long story short; you can collect comics for fun or for profit and either will serve you well.


I never knew that portable media could be so easy. I'm from the era of the original Sony Walkman and anyone that had one can tell you it was anything but convenient. Big and bulky, not to mention a little on the heavy side for an accessory you carry around a lot. I'd also tried some of the first smaller MP3 players to listen to notes when in college and those weren't very convenient either.

But this post is about the ipod touch 3G, so let's get on with the story! 3G refers to the third generation of the ipod Touch. The original ipod Touch was revolutionary in and of itself and paved the way for many look alikes (hey, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!). You can get an ipod Touch 3G in different configurations such as memory capacities of eight to thirty two gigabytes of storage space for music, movies, television shows (my wife uses hers whenever she has downtime to watch episodes of shows she likes) and a slew of other fun things.

What's really neat to me is you can tilt it to manipulate your character while playing games. This opens up all kinds of possibilities for applications from Apple as well as custom applications from private coders. My only complaint is that the screen shows a lot of fingerprints. But hey, what can you expect when it's call the ipod Touch? I'm happy to wipe the screen in the name of convenience and utility.


In the spirit of being a modern woman (as well as being a really cool chick!), my wife, after receiving her engagement ring, decided to buy me a nice present to celebrate as well.  Enter the Samsung LED HDTV; a 52 inch picture that will absolutely blow your mind when you see it.

This television utilizes LED backlighting much like the ipod Touch 3G and similar to the lights used on pre lit LED Christmas trees.  My wife knows how to pick 'em (not me, the tv), as evidenced by the shockingly realistic picture this unit puts out.  We're big movie buffs and have a really nice surround sound and with this television it's downright sad to see the picture and hear the sound in movie theaters.  If I could stream brand new movies to my tv, I would do it in a heartbeat.  Everything looks good on this tv- from a show on HGTV to the Iron Man movie DVD.

It's nice to look at too- very sleek and modern looking, with a thickness of only 1.2 inches.  One of the best things is our energy bill has gone down a noticeable bit since using LED's in so many areas of our house.  My next mission: hook the internet up to the tv (it has a port on the back just for that) and surf on my couch on a 52 inch monitor!

How to Become or Meet a Modern Gentleman.

I've had an idea for a while now to try and weed out all the bad things that come with a dating site.  I built a site that is designed to help men become more well mannered with the input of both men and women.

The main idea is that people should be acting better toward one another.  How many times have you seen a child who swears in public and backtalks their parents relentlessly.  I've seen this many times and when you see the parents you can immediately tell where their child got such a foul attitude.

What does this have to do with being a gentleman?  In short, have some manners and class and you will stand out from the rest.  These are the values you could pass on to your progeny instead of just acting crass or rude.  Out of the mouths of babes come the words we never should have saved. 

Well, on my site you can participate in a discussion about the qualities of a gentleman.  This is where the fun part comes in, because you get to be part of a like minded community.  If you're a man and you decide to take on the values of my site, you will stand out from the rest to women.  If you're a woman looking for a man who is a cut above the rest, you have the opportunity to filter out some of the men you meet on other dating sites.  And everyone gets to chime in on what they think a Modern Gentleman should be and how he should act.

Moderators are now being sought for duties on the site and once things are up and running will be sharing in all profits.  If you're an exceptional person (man or woman), why not stop by and contribute something to the Modern Gentleman Online community?  Hope to see you there!

Christmas 2009- the LED Christmas tree story.

     My wife and I had kicked around the idea of getting a new Christmas tree for a while now.  She happens to have a rather severe allergy to natural Christmas trees and the one we had in the basement was somewhat worse for wear.  So off to Google we went to search for a new tree.

     We wound up settling on one from Sears that has a rotating base and a programmable box to do different light shows with the LED's.  I happen to have quite an affinity for Light Emitting Diodes and their implementation on a Christmas tree is only one of the newer and more ingenious uses for them. 

     The tree was very easy to set up- basically, it's in three pieces and you just put them together and plug the tree in.  You do have to fluff the branches out a bit as with just about any artificial tree, but the lights are already fitted to the tree and all you really need to do next is put ornaments on your new tree.  The quietness of the tree's motor (which is in the base of the tree and serves to rotate the tree) is amazing and the patterns, speed of lights as well as the speed of the tree's rotation all are customizable.

     I give this tree 5 out of 5 stars, as it was reasonably priced, was easy to set up and looks great.  Heck, we got the tree in mid-November and decided that it was almost time to put it up and we wanted to see it in action, so we put it up and left it up.  We will be putting it back in the box after the holiday within a reasonable time frame, however ;)