Sunday, November 23, 2008

Dr. Pepper Fails to Deliver on Promise

Well Dr. Pepper promised free sodas to anyone if the album Chinese Democracy was released in 2008. Today is the release day and Dr. Pepper planned to deliver on their promise. When you click on the link on their site you are prompted to fill in a form to claim your free drink. After you fill in the form users find several different server errors.
I received:
Fatal error: Call to undefined function mcrypt_cbc() in C:\inetpub\websites\CodeAndTheory\freeDrPepper\account\encode.php on line 13
Fatal error: Maximum execution time of 30 seconds exceeded in C:\inetpub\websites\CodeAndTheory\freedrpepper\account\VML.php on line 15

Service Unavailable

Obviously they were overwhelmed with requests. Since today is the only day you can request it I guess we're out of luck. Thanks for nothing Dr. Pepper.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Must Read Article about the Housing Crisis

Please read this article!
It describes who really caused the current financial meltdown. In an earlier posting I explained the same cause. This writer, who is a Democrat, takes it a step further though. He goes after the liberal media for not telling the true story about what caused all this. As I watched Greenspan sit up in front on Congress and say he had no idea what went wrong I just got mad. Everyone is looking for a scapegoat for this mess. The FBI is investigating companies. Everyone is scrambling to be able to point a finger at someone.

Our economy is very complex and the financial tools like Credit Default Swaps go way over most peoples heads. Most people should be able to figure out that if you give a loan to someone who doesn't qualify and has a high risk of defaulting on it then that makes bad business sense. No one should be surprised by this, and the cause if very easy to figure out. The liberal media just doesn't want their people to look bad.

We need to send a message this election and tell them we won't take it any more. Forget about the parties their both corrupt. Vote out every incumbent!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Michael Savage to Explore Launch of 3rd Party

Michael Savage announced last night his plans to explore the launch of a 3rd political party. The radio talk show host syndicated nationwide came in on a day when he was scheduled off to make this announcement. This was the same day the Dow dropped $678. I like Michael because he doesn't just bash the Democrats all day. He tells it how it really is and doesn't hold back. He also talks about all of McCain's faults. He stated that the people are fed up with the way things are and he intends to have an alternative. This won't affect this election. He is realistic and knows this will take 2-4 years to get up and running.

Savage says he will not personally run for an office. He said his voice on the radio will serve the people more than his being in office which would require him to not be on the radio anymore. He plans to be the architect of the party and run things from an office space in San Francisco where he lives. He also promised that this would be his life long mission and that this is what he must pursue as a calling. He doesn't think either party stands for the average person anymore and they have lost touch. Now might be the time to have a 3rd party which can be a true challenger to the establishment. He has a huge listening audience and can persuade many people. This will be interesting to watch. He has already posted The Savage Manifesto which explains what his party will stand for and work to change. What do you think?

Mass. Voters have 2 Interesting Questions on Ballot

I stumbled across 3 questions which voters in Massachusetts have on their ballot his year. The first is the decriminalization of marijuana. Now I don't sit around and watch news on TV all day, but one would think this would get a little attention. The question on the ballot if approved would remove all criminal penalties for possession of less than 1 ounce of weed. If someone got caught with less than an ounce they would have the marijuana confiscated and face a $100 fine. That's it! No jail time, no court, no nothing. Also the fact that you got caught with a little weed couldn't be used against you in custody hearings, or other matters where this would normally cause a problem. I'm not a pot head, but I have nothing against those who do use it for recreational use. I think the police have much more important things to do than chasing around pot heads if they don't resort to violence in this pursuit.
Read the full text of the question here.

The 2nd question pertains to dog racing. The question if approved would ban dog racing in Massachusetts. I'm sure that the dogs aren't treated very well, and once they are done with the dogs you know what happens. Plenty of horror stories are out there. But should the voters be allowed to shut down a whole industry, and put a lot of people out of work? I think I would rather have the voters decide rather than the lawmakers.
Read the full text of the question here.

The 3rd is a question to reduce the state income tax to a rate of 2.65%. Now what voter won't vote for this one? Lower taxes are a no brainer. But in these difficult economic times states are facing decreases in income already as everyone has reduced spending. So if tax revenue is reduced even further what services will have to be cut? California has gone this route where voters have passed all kind of crazy laws without regard as to how it will be paid for. The results can cause many troubles. Should the voters have the right to put these strains on the governement?
Read the full text of the question here.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Dow Down $678! When Will it Stop?

The Dow ended up being down $678 today a 7.33% decline, and went under $9000. I thought the "bailout bill" was going to save us? We've always been told the stock market is the place for you to put your retirement money into and over time you'll come out ahead. Even still today the "experts" say oh just stick it out it will come back up. Could you imagine if one of these "experts" said to sell everything and put it under your mattress until things get better? People would really go wild. There would probably be riots in the streets. So of course the "experts" are going to say stick it out, otherwise they would be out of work because we wouldn't need them anymore.

Well I'm sure it will come back up eventually, but how long will it take us to get back to just where we were before it all went to hell? I don't think we've seen the worst of it yet. More banks will fail, more businesses will go bankrupt, and our 401K's will continue to go down the drain.

So what caused all this? Our wonderful government did of course. They pressured the banks to loan to people who couldn't afford it because they wanted more low income people to enjoy the American dream of owning a house. Well owning a house isn't all it's cracked up to be. It is a very expensive thing to keep up with, and a huge responsibility. But for the long term seems to be a better investment than the stock market. When people started to question whether this excessive lending was going to be a problem they were shot down and accused of being racist. We have gotten so PC and so sensitive nowadays that they had to back of quick. Well now look at what we got.

So they same government that started this mess is going to save us? Sounds like a great idea.

This "expert" says don't sell your stocks because selling at a loss is stupid. It does create a nice buying opportunity as many companies are dirt cheap. But which one will be the next to fall? The worst isn't over. Put any new money in your mattress until we hit the bottom. Then buy on the way back up.

This election gives us a great opportunity to send a message. No matter who becomes the President, we need to concentrate on the Congress. Every seat in the House is up for election. Throw all these jerks out and vote for somebody new. If we do this then maybe they will start to listen to us. Now is the time we must do this. Do your research before you go and find out who the current person is, then vote the other way.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Want to Save a Buck or Two?

In these tough times we need to save as much money on purchases as we can. A new site has sprung up to help us with that. This site is different from other bargain shopping sites because they have live humans comb the Web for deals rather than auto search bots. This allows them to have more accurate results. You don't buy from them, but are directed to the retailers site. Not sure how they're going to make money off this. They must have a commission paid back to them or something.

The site offers discounts and deals on households, electronics, and much more. I even saw a coupon code for Pizza and other restaurant discounts. From my quick look around I didn't see much that interested me, but you may have different tastes. Several of the items said they were "Updated" or "Sold Out". It's good that they update things, but not sure why they would leave things up that are sold out.

The site just launched today so I'm sure they will get better as time goes on. They also offer an email newsletter so you don't have to dig through the site constantly.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Did you get your Stimulus Check?

The meltdown in the economy may be overshadowing a long forgotten effort to prop up the economy, the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008. There are still an estimated 4.3 Million people who qualify for the payment, but haven't filed yet. It's not too late, Oct 15 is the deadline to file a tax return in order to receive your stimulus payment. Many retirees who typically don't file tax returns are eligible for this payment. To get your payment you must file an IRS form 1040 or 1040A. You may also file electronically online for free.
There is much confusion as to who does qualify. Here are the rules from the Web site:
  • You or your family has at least $3,000 in qualifying income from, or in combination with, Social Security benefits, Veterans Affairs benefits, Railroad Retirement benefits and earned income. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) does not count as qualifying income for the stimulus payment.
  • You and any family members listed on your tax return have valid Social Security numbers.
  • You are not a dependent or eligible to be a dependent on someone else’s federal tax return. (The same must be true of any family members claimed on your return.)
Others have filed a return but either haven't received their check yet or did not receive the expected amount. If you have questions you should contact the IRS now in case you need to file additional documentation before the deadline. If you have questions call the special IRS rebate hotline 866-234-2942 or visit

Business owners did you know benefits were included in the Stimulus Act for you? There are 2 little known benefits included. According to the IRS publication FS-2008-21 "The first provision increases the limit up to which a business can expense property purchased and placed in service during its 2008 tax year. The second provision provides an additional 50% special depreciation allowance for property acquired and placed in service during calendar year 2008. ... The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that businesses stand to lower their 2008 tax bills by roughly $45 billion as a result of the two business provisions in the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008; these provisions accelerate into 2008 the tax benefits that otherwise would not have been available until future years." The rules are complex so consult with your tax professional for details. In these difficult times it is important to not let these benefits slip by.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Natural Gas, Electric, and Ait Cars

Honda has been quietly making a couple thousand natural gas cars for a while now. Toyota is now thinking about getting back into it reports USA Today. (Read Story) This is an obvious response to consumers demanding more fuel efficient vehicles. This is a difficult proposition since there are very few places you can fill up a natural gas car. You can search for alternative fuel stations here. With a little consumer education this might catch on.

If you have natural gas at home you can have a home fueling station installed in you garage or driveway for $2000-$4000. Read more here and here. Natural gas vehicles burn much cleaner, and cost the equivalent of a little over $2 a gallon when compared to gasoline cars. Many municipalities are switching their garbage and other fleet vehicles to natural gas to save money and cut emissions.

Just imagine not having to fill up at the gas station anymore. Just fill it up at home when you return from work. You'll probably want to keep the gas guzzler for longer trips as the natural gas cars can only go about 200 miles on a tank. This is a great solution for that daily commute to work, and running local errands.

USA Today also reports that Chrysler will soon have plug in electric cars. (Read Story) Now if they would just add solar panels to the roof of these so that they could recharge while you drive or while it is parked in the hot sun all day then they might have something. Most parking lots don't have electric outlets to recharge your car with, although they are starting to appear.

Tata Motors, the car manufacturer in India, is soon to have a car that runs solely on compressed air. (Read Story) That mains zero pollutants. Just fill it up with the air hose at the gas station, or with a compressor at home. I imagine it will cost a lot more for air at the gas station if this happens.

Alternatives are coming whether the oil companies like it or not. They finally pushed the consumer over the line with $4 and $5 a gallon gas. They won't be able to keep these alternatives out of the consumers hands any longer.

5 Stocks Under a Buck

The troubled economy has caused many problems in several different ways. One positive result of this is that stock prices have decreased sharply. This is bad if you owned stock in one of these companies. But it creates an opportunity to cash in and buy up some of these bargain stocks. Rick Aristotle Munarriz writes on The Motley Fool about 5 stocks which are under a buck currently and might be a steal at the price and have potential to swing back up allowing you to cash in big. (Read Story)

The Motley Fool has a great reputation for providing sound advice. I agree with all of their recommendations except for Vonage. When Vonage announced their IPO I was a customer of theirs and was offered a chance to invest. The Motley Fool saved me a lot of money because they recommended against the buy. The stock opened at $17 a share at the IPO and has dropped ever since. The competition for Voip services has greatly increased with the phone and cable companies offering bundled services for a cheap price. Also, many people are dropping home phone service all together and just use their cell phones. I don't think Vonage will be able to survive the battle with their debt burden.

I do agree with their recommendation of Sirius XM Radio. I have been buying this stock off and on ever since they announced the merger. It was around $3 when I started buying and now is under a buck. The merger was held up by regulators for a long time. Now that they are one company they can quit fighting each other and combine their efforts. The cost savings and continued subscriber growth will allow them to start making a profit eventually.

I am also intrigued by their look at Rite Aid. I think they could be bought out by one of the other chains. Whether that will result in a benefit to stock holders is questionable. Citadel Broadcasting and Six Flags are also potential bargains.

Just do the simple math. If you buy 1000 shares at $1 that equals a $1000 investment. If the stock goes up to $5 a share your value is now $5000, or $10 a share is now $10,000. To get the same return from owning a stock like Google would take a long time. Happy bargain hunting.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

First Android Phone Unveiled by T-Mobile, Google, and HTC

The waiting, rumors, and anticipation are finally over. In a 45 minute press conference streamed online and now available on demand the heads of the 3 companies unveiled the great G!. With a lot of hype and many flashy videos they did a nice job. Now that the details are out some may feel a little let down.

This is a great first step to having an open operating system be successful on a phone. I am sure Android will be around for a long time and many great apps will be built as a result of the open source development. This phone will not be a major competitor to the iPhone though.
The portion of T-Mobile's Web site for current customers to upgrade or to find out more about the G1 was down for hours after the press conference due to overwhelming requests. Obviously, other companies have had trouble like this during new product launches. Don't you think they would have been ready for this?

How could they screw this up? T-Mobile forgot about the "Open" part.
  • Current T-Mobile customers who are under a current contract do not get the phone for the $179 price. It is $299 in most cases. Even if you have been a customer for over 5 years and your current contract expires in 3-4 months, then you don't qualify for the "Special" price. How about rewarding the customers who have been loyal and suffered through the spotty coverage for all these years?
  • Data plan required. You can't get the phone without a $25 or $35 "Unlimited" Data plan. (400 messages included with the $25 plan, unlimited messages with the $35) Some people might want to use the G1 only in WiFi hot spots, and don't need internet everywhere. Give people the choice.
  • Speaking of WiFi, the phone has it, but does not take advantage of the T-Mobile @Home WiFi service where you can make calls over your broadband internet network when you can't get a signal in your own basement.
  • Data Plan is not Unlimited. If you read the fine print it says that if you use over 1 GB of usage in one month then they can slow your speed down to Dial up rates, suspend, or terminate your Data service. (Read fine print here)
  • Earphones don't use standard plug. It uses a weird USB combo jack for that. Apple learned their lesson on that one.
  • No Video recording or Stereo Bluetooth. Not a big deal, but would have been nice.
  • No FM Radio. Would be a nice feature to set the phone apart from others.
  • Web browsing is reported to be slow and choppy.
  • No Tethering. They want this to be an "all in one" device so you can chuck you laptop right? Some people still like the big screen and keyboard sometimes. Would have been nice to use some of the pricey data plan to share with my laptop while on the go.
Just a few points that may have gotten lost in the hype. This is a great first step in the evolution of Android. Other handsets are already in development from the other cartriers. Competition will force them to make this a truly "Open" experience.
This T-Mobile customer will wait for the G2.

Resources: Visit: AndroidGuys for more on Android and the G!.