Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Boy, the Sacramento river sure is getting high...

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Your health is important; and so are our sales.

Every now and then, I stumble across articles from Dr. Joseph Mercola, D.O. He's an Osteopathic Physician who has combined his medical expertise with his passion for technology (and apparently marketing) to create, a site containing articles on health topics, most of which push products that he sells. Talk about a conflict of interest.

For the critical thinker, his goals are clear: write health articles of interest to a wide variety of people, add in a little (okay, many) scare tactics to hype you up, and then offer the relief of a cool-down by way of the myriad products he sells that cure problems you didn't know you had.

I like to do public service things every now and then, so here is my public service attempt for the day. Note: I am not in the medical field. I'm just your average Joe, a concerned citizen. Only my name's Mike.

I took an email "newsletter" of his--that he sends three times weekly--and analyzed it. What I found was that 90+ percent of the newsletter was just advertisements, basically, that led to products he sells. They masquerade as health articles, but they're really just well crafted, long-winded ads with half-truths, non sequiturs, with a sprinkle of value.

The other 10% of the content? A cartoon about doctors and patients, which is actually kind of funny, except when you realize it's just there as a filler because there are too many ads and not enough quality content.

Articles abound of reasons to question Dr. Mercola, including this one from Joseph Albietz, M.D., a professor of pediatrics at the University of Colorado, Denver, and The Children's Hospital, where he spends time in the pediatric intensive care unit.

Then there was the order by the FDA for Dr. Mercola to stop claiming that his products prevented and fought cancer (seriously).

Most of his articles invoke fear tactics, such as this one, where it only took two comments before someone said "I'm scared."
"My god it's scares me to think I have been drinking Diet Coke for over 25 years and I am a full-blown addict. I can't stop . . . Anway, I would advise to never try or get used to it because it is impossible to quit! I hate Coke corp."

But you liked them for 25 years up until today?

And then there's the less scientific Google Suggest, which after you type in the query [ Joseph Mercola ] comes up with the following suggestions:
  • [ Joseph Mercola quack ]
  • [ Joseph Mercola quackwatch ]
  • [ Joseph Mercola md ]
  • [ Joseph Mercola d.o ] <---interesting that he's actually an Osteopathic Physician, and not a Medical Doctor (MD), though the two are very similar in many regards.

I guess the moral of the story here is that it's important to exercise your critical thinking skills; this guy purports to be a medical expert, but he's really more of a marketing expert in my eyes. He knows his target audience, he knows how to scare them into submission, and has mastered the art of relating medical products to every day issues (for example: see the 60 Minutes video in his newsletter; he links this to Pfizer, a drug company, which is his competition as he is a 'natural medicine' guy.)

By the way, this isn't to say that I don't believe in the benefits of vitamins, minerals, and other natural ways of taking care of your body. I do believe in them. What I take exception to is this man's attack on everything that doesn't relate to his cause. Let me give you a perfect example of how I use both in my life: I recently injured my while moving my mom into her new place. The injury was muscular, and I needed an anti-inflammatory to lessen the swelling and pain (i.e., to treat the SYMPTOM) so that I could (a) get through my day without concentrating on the pain, and (b) start working on back strengthening exercises (i.e., a natural healing method to treat the ROOT CAUSE.)

See how there's room for both? Dr. Mercola seems to disagree, based on everything of his that I have read.

Click on the image for the full analysis. WARNING: You may be SHOCKED at what you find! ;)

Posted via email from michael paul's posterous

Friday, December 17, 2010

Free Shipping Day -- ends tonight. Lots of huge stores.

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Ship Shape
A Day Of Free Shipping For Your Online Holiday Purchases
The downside to the convenience of e-commerce has always been the shipping costs.

To lighten your holiday burden, take advantage of Free Shipping Day, a one-day event where more than a thousand merchants are offering free shipping (with delivery by Christmas Eve), taking place today.

The event runs through the rest of today (Friday, December 17) and ends at 12 a.m. EST tonight.

Some 1,100 merchants participate, including Barnes & Noble, Apple and L.L. Bean, which means you should be able to find something for everyone on your list.

And the guaranteed delivery before Christmas means you can rest assured that your gifts will arrive in time to make it under the tree.

Use it as an excuse to stay home and perfect your spiked egg nog recipe.

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Posted via email from michael paul's posterous

Friday, November 26, 2010

simplehuman's black-cyber fri-monday "game" is not left to chance

Dear simplehuman,

I love your products. In fact, every room in my apartment has at least one item of yours in it except our living room. However, you don't get marketing. Every email you send me is basically a "buy our product" email--no special deals that make me even want to consider leaving my email and browsing the site.

But today you sent me an email worth checking out: a game where I can win a simplehuman product worth up to $200. So, I clicked the link.

At the page, I'm asked to fill in my email address and you wish me good luck as I watch a grid light up with all the different prizes. Some of which are indeed up to $200. The grid flashes the same way each time. It cycles through all the products, then does a one-trick pony move where it highlights the middle, bottom, the middle right, and finally the far middle right square, revealing that I've won an odor absorbing kit for $5.99, one of your cheapest products.

This seemed strange to me, so I tried to play the game again, and got the same exact sequence ending in the same exact prize. So then I tried clearing my cookies. Same thing. Tried a different browser. Same thing. Wife tried. Same thing. I finally asked someone on twitter, who tweeted about the awesome "game" (a tweet which was retweeted by you) and she, too, got the same thing: a $5.99 odor absorbing kit.

@mpaul I just played the simplehuman game and got the odor absorbing kit as well.

Seems that the cool "deal" is nothing more than a free odor absorbing kit which I can only get if I add something else to my shopping cart. Translation: a lame way to spur holiday sales. 

To the simplehuman marketing director and all other marketing directors who live in the internet age: please offer the public some serious deals if you want to spur sales. Be genuine, and honest. Give the consumer a fair shake, not some rigged deal where they're forced to buy something in order to get $5.99 taken off their order for something they probably never wanted in the first place.

I'm happy to tell people about you guys, but when you rig the game like this, nobody wins.

Your customer,


Posted via email from michael paul's posterous

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wow, first and now this! Pay someone via SMS (text message)

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Pay, Pal
A Mobile App That Allows You To Pay (And Be Paid) By Text Message
Money, they say, makes world go around.  But cash can be elusive.
For those moments when you’re light on paper, there’s Venmo, a mobile service that allows you to charge items or pay your friends securely via SMS.
Start by setting up a free account and adding your cell phone number (Venmo requires that you link your account with Facebook, for security purposes).
From there, you can either top off your account with funds from a bank account or link a credit card for payments (and received funds). Venmo allows you to select “trusted friends” with verified identities that will link to your account.
This means the next time you’re out on the town and owe some money, simply text VENMO “pay mike 50 for drinks,” and the funds will be transferred to the specified account. You can also charge and invite people to the service over SMS.
The service is completely free, and all transactions can be cancelled within 24 hours, if need be.
At this rate your ATM card is going to start feeling very unloved.
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Posted via email from michael paul's posterous

How to hang pots and pans from a kitchen cart in 3 easy steps

After looking a while for the best approach to this challenge and coming up empty, I decided to document my own attempt. Besides, then I could actually take credit for my handiwork, which was actually quite minimal.

So here's what I did to hang the pots and pans from my kitchen cart.

Step 1: You'll need to find a cart that's got an overhanging edge. I purchased a cart from the VARDE collection at IKEA. Say what you will about IKEA, but the nice thing about this cart is that it provides rails with sliding S hooks -- so half my job was already done for me.

Step 2: Position the (cup hooks for) the outside pots. Again, my setup was pretty simple, but it did require one extra cup hook for the side that didn't have a rail/S hook combo. I chose to put the pots on the outside because this setup offers the most space for the pots to stretch out and enjoy themselves; it'd be too cramped to try to fit them all on the inside, and we don't want any fights.

So here are the outside pots. Two in the back, one on the left side...

 ...and one on the right, complete with my own cup hook. The one on the right is actually a deep dish frying pan, but just looked better if I hung it there. So, I did.


Positioning them was little more than taking a cup hook, putting a pot/pan on it, and just holding it somewhere to see if it fit. Can't really measure this kind of thing. You just have to play and feel out where you've got room and where you don't. It quickly becomes apparent what you can and can't do.

Once you think you've found the sweet spot for a pot or pan, just put a hook on it, and place it in the area once more. This time, press up on the end of that cup hook screw to make a little dent in the bottom of the table top. This is where you'll drill your 3/16" pilot hole for a standard 1 1/4" cup hook.


If your cup hooks are different size, the rule of thumb is to use a drill bit that's just slightly smaller than the shaft of the cup hook's screw. Just imagine you want a drill bit that's the same diameter as the shaft of the screw without the threads hanging off the shaft.

How deep do you drill the hole? I'd just take a piece of tape and mark a spot on the drill bit where you do NOT want to drill past. Take care to ensure that the depth you're drilling at does not go through the table. Never seen a cart with a table top that thin, but it always pays off to be extra careful.

With the pilot hole drilled, all you have to do is hand-tighten the cup hook. If needed, you can use pliers. Just point them vertically at the hook (the same direction the pots hang) and twist to finish off and get the hook to point the direction of your choosing.
Once you get those outer pots and pans situated, you'll likely have a few left over. So the next step is to hang them.
This is the setup that we've been using for quite some time now, and I've always thought that not only was it a waste of all that interior space, but it was also scuffing up our frying pans. And that's no good.


 ...another view from the side of the old setup. Not that pretty.


Step 3: Hang dem pans! The frying pan set we own actually has some nice curb appeal when they're all together in a row. I chose to line them up diagonally for the greatest visual effect. Doesn't seem to interfere with getting them in and out, which is a plus.

You begin by taking the largest frying pan and seeing just how tight you can fit it into a corner without it clanking up against the other pots/pans when you put it in. In this case, I chose the middle-left corner. From there, you just do the same thing with the remaining pans--stick a pan in there, eyeball it, and give it your best shot to make it look nice and neat. No rulers here, just eyeballs and a steady hand.



And there you have it! How to hang pots and pans from a kitchen cart in 3 easy steps.


The finished product. The additional S hooks on the rails provide space to hang trivets, mits, towels, or whatever else you want.

Questions? Comments? Show the world your awesome hanging pots and pans setup so we can inspire others!

Posted via email from michaelpaul's posterous