The ONLY diet book I recommend

What I'm reading
  • In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day: How to Survive and Thrive When Opportunity Roars
    In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day: How to Survive and Thrive When Opportunity Roars
    by Mark Batterson
  • Bossypants
    Bossypants
    by Tina Fey
What I've just read
  • Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen (Vintage)
    Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen (Vintage)
    by Christopher McDougall
  • Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back
    Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back
    by Todd Burpo, Lynn Vincent
  • Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It
    Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It
    by Gary Taubes
Monday
Jan312011

Josh vs. Kabletown 

I hope some of you caught the 30 Rock reference from the title! If not, you need to watch it - great show. (and you can still get it after you cut the cord)

So your thinking about cutting the cord or satellite link, in our case. Well, here's how it went down for me. It was much easier than I expected.

We had been toying with the idea for over a year, but when we got the DirecTV bill and noticed they bumped up the price another $10, it was the last straw. I had worked my bill down pretty low over the years - to about $50, so a $10 increase was huge. At first, I tried to argue them back down, but then I realized this was just what I needed. I was in the middle of finishing my basement and rerunning wires, so I figured there couldn't be a better time.

First I mapped out everything I needed and had. I already had a giant attic filling antenna capable of receiving HD (courtesy VHT Consulting - great A/V installer). I also have a system called channel plus which allows me to run my Tivo signal throughout my house as well as the IR repeater (a real bonus but not necessary). We also already have Netflix, and we get it streaming on our Tivo.

Here is what we needed -

 

  • Tivo Premier - my old tivo would not convert HD signal or take an antenna input. This one takes two at once and since the antenna signal can handle two feeds it all just happens. This was kind of our treat for making the switch. We spent a little money on it, but it quickly paid for itself from savings from canceling DirecTV. You might wonder why we pay for Tivo - you couldn't pry it from our cold lifeless bodies. Always on demand TV - only what we want - no commercials - means we always have more TV than we need or can watch. If we have a Tivo full of TV we like we don't need more channels! You don't have to have a Tivo, you can just use a digital converter box ~$50.
  • Rerun a couple wires to get the Antenna wire to the new Tivo in the basement - luckily my next door neighbor is a wiz at this. He also works for Saturn Security Systems :)
  • Last we got hooked up with the free version of Hulu to watch a couple shows - mainly psych. I tried the paid version. It wasn't worth it.

 

Believe it or not - thats it.  We get all the local affiliates NBC, CBS, Fox...in full HD. It hardly ever goes out, if ever - less than our satellite did. Honestly, I can't hardly tell we don't have it anymore. I can't watch Mythbusters or Deadliest Catch - at least until they come out on Netflix. The process was so easy and painless, I wish I had done it sooner. Any questions? Ask away!

Tuesday
Dec212010

Josh vs. The Book

You may already know that I am not a big fan of reading. Terrible, I know. I just never seem to get around to it. What really does work for me though is reading books while driving. Well, listening to books while driving to be exact. I'm already bored and can't do anything in the car, I might as well learn something useful! I'm not much for fiction though. I love movies - pictures and words, why should I have to think to be entertained? I do believe whole heartedly that continued learning is a big key to success, and audio books are a great way to do it. Podcasts are actually getting more relevant too, but finding professional content is still difficult.

Anyway moving on to my point. For someone like me, audio books work great. I've tried CD's and iTunes, but they tend to be more expensive and of course with iTunes your locked down with Apple. About a year ago I moved on to Audible and I've been pretty happy with them. The prices seem much better than I was getting elsewhere, and they have some great apps for a bunch of phones. If you are interested you can get a free book here. Full disclosure, I get a smidgen of profit if you download your free book from the audible link... enough to get a really tiny cup of coffee from Starbucks.

There are a few things you have to be aware of when listening to audio books - 

 

  • Abridged versions - most of the time I actually prefer this, because you waste less time with fluff, but sometimes if it is a really good topic, it forces me to buy the book and skim some of the missed parts. Recent case - The 4-Hour Body (great book about how to apply Pareto's 80/20 rule to body redesign)
  • Who reads it - Two recent books I've read Crazy Love and The 80/20 Principal, were both great books, but the reader almost ruined them for me. Crazy Love was read by the author, and what turned out to be intense passion sounded at first read like intense boredom. BUT if you check out the youtube videos that go along with the book, you get a much better idea of who Francis Chan is and it makes the listening much better. The 80/20 rule, is also a great book. Be careful though, it is a lllooonnngggg book. Plus, the attempt for the narrator to rap the 80/20 rule at the beginning will screw with your head throughout the book. He reads the rap very much like the book and some of those phrases are repeated for hours throughout the book. Thus, you keep hearing a really weird rap ever few minutes and totally lose focus.

 

Happy Hunting!

1 FREE Audiobook RISK-FREE from Audible

 

Wednesday
Dec152010

Josh vs. the Search Engines - How to get your small business ranked and listed

First I want to say, if you are a competitor of mine, please skip to the final paragraph. That is where all the important information is hidden. The next couple paragraphs are just the basics.

Search engine optimization (SEO) and rankings seriously make my head hurt. Not only do I have to worry about running my business and what people say about my business online, I also have to fight with some automated computer system that decides the fate of how my websites are ranked and therefore, how much traffic my websites get. We all know how important this is and how much more important it is becoming. It used to be all about the yellow pages. The good thing about the yellow pages was it is easy to understand. The more you pay the better the rank and size of your ad on the yellow pages. Of course, that just means the biggest wallet usually wins.

As a small business owner, it is hard to figure out where and how to get your website listed. What really matters and what is the best bang for your buck. So I've put together a personal cheat sheet that I give my friends when they need help listing their site. Of course, this is not all encompassing, but it is a good start and FREE! Most of the listings you pay for are a waste anyway. For the purposes of this post, I'm not going to go into all the mechanics of SEO, but basically it is like networking. The more people you know and the more important they are the higher your status (or ranking).

 

Here is my top 10 for getting listed. Even if these listings don't count for SEO in the future they are good places to be.

 

  1. Google Site Submit - Click Here - this gets your website on the list to be crawled by Google
  2. Google Local - Click Here - List all your locations so they show up as local search results. This submission takes a little more leg work with a phone number or address verification, but it is worth it. Even if you don't have a Brick and Mortar location, you can use your home address and have it hide the street address. Here is an example for Saturn. Notice the address is just listed as the city.
  3. Bing Site Submit - Click Here - this gets your website on the list to be searched by Bing
  4. Bing Local - Click Here - similar to Google Local, just the Microsoft version
  5. Facebook - Click Here - Listen, it's your business - pimp it! Create your own Facebook page and ask your friends to like it. Note - act like everything you do on Facebook is public, don't do anything that would hurt your brand even if you think it is private.
  6. LinkedIn - Click Here - Create a personal profile and make sure to list your business information and website. It's good not only for your business, but also your personal brand.
  7. Google Account - Click Here - We know Google is The Man in search, at least right now. Make sure you have a google profile and it lists your website. Again, good for your business and personal brand.
  8. Professional Organization - I don't have a link for you, because it depends on your organization. Some examples would be the American Rental Association or the Electronic Security Associations. Most associations will allow you to post your information and website, as long as you are a member.
  9. Merchant Circle - Click Here - Don't pay, unless you feel like it will really benefit your business. You can get a free listing for each of your locations.
  10. Your other sites - It's probably a no brainer, but if you have more than one site, for example a business site and a blog, make sure you have a link to your other sites on each site.

That is by no means an all encompassing list, but it is a great start for a bootstrapping small business without an IT guy on staff. They are the ones I've personally had the most success with. If you use Google Analytics you can track how people get to your site and decide where to invest more time and money. Good luck! If you have any other great sites or tips post them in the comments. Remember - ignore the paragraph below!

LAST PARAGRAPH COMPETITORS START HERE

Bottom line - Don't waste your time on the internet. It's just a fad! If you do want to do anything online, the only places that are worth listing are the ones you pay for. Remember the more you pay the better your results, just like the yellow pages! In most cases, it is best to stay in your comfort zone and stay off the internet though.

 If this post helped you get your business listed, all I ask is that you start your next amazon purchase by coming back to this website and clicking the amazon banner at the bottom of the page. I get an extremely small percentage of your purchases, when you go through my site, and it helps provide the time to post articles like these at no charge.

Saturday
Dec112010

Josh vs. The Nigerian Scammers

I was already annoyed when I received the quote request for some John Deere parts. We seem to get these a lot in the equipment rental industry. I probably get 1-2 requests a month. For some reason, I decided to play along that day. I've done it in the past to get the credit card numbers and report them stolen, but this time I got a little carried away. They always start with the same request.

"We need a quote on ____ part numbers and need to know your availability on them.

Regards,

John Smith (or some other super common name)"

I responded to the request and gave him some random pricing that kinda matched the product he was requesting. Of course, we don't have any of it in stock, but I informed him it was here and ready to go. Following the normal pattern he sends me a credit card and wants a crazy number of those parts ~100 of each. He instructs me to charge the card immediately and pesters me every 5 minutes wanting to know if it goes through. This is the point when the order took an unusual turn. I spoke to a friend of mine who works as a detective. He said that some of these scammers use US re-shippers who are ignorant enough to believe that UPS or Fedex does a bad enough job that they deserve $1,000 a week to take in shipments and then turn right around and ship them again. He had actually busted a couple of these guys. He wanted me to try and get a shipping address. I was onboard. I've known people who have been scammed by these punks!

So, I emailed "John" that the charge went through. He insisted on a confirmation receipt, so I made one up and faxed it to him. Then he said he was going to come pick them up himself. I called the detective. Maybe I was going to get to be part of a bust! But alas, he emailed me back shortly after to let me know that he was going to have FedEx pickup instead. Our plan was to still try and get a GA address if I could. Maybe we could still send someone after them.

I realized I needed something to ship him... Surely I wasn't going to ship him parts! He ordered a bunch. I figured they would be pretty heavy. I thought, what's really heavy and cheap that I could ship them. Looking out my office window I noticed some stone blocks :) 

 

96lbs of overpriced rock! What's even better is they shipped it overnight to California. I can't imagine what that costs, but hopefully a lot. We included a letter that thanked them for the order. Originally I was going to sign it, but didn't really want my email or website hacked, so I decided the box of rocks and thank you were a good enough statement of my contempt.

So how can you catch a scam?

 

  1. 99% of the time they sign their e-mail "Regards, _____"
  2. The order is for stuff you don't sell a lot of and they want a bunch of it.
  3. There is an extreme sense of urgency.
  4. It is usually a fax or email order, but we have received a couple over the phone.
  5. They want to pay with multiple credit cards or a certified check (don't be fooled a certified bank check deposits into your account immediately, but will usually bounce in a couple days - ALWAYS wait for it to clear)
  6. The name in the email address johnsmith@yahoo.com is not the name they sign with.

 

I don't understand why we can't catch these guys. I mean, I know we don't have jurisdiction in the countries they operate and we have bigger problems for our military, CIA, and FBI to worry about. Just throwing this out there as an idea. What if we all band together and pitch in a couple hundred bucks and hire a "protection" firm like you see in the movies. You know something like Executive Security International to go in there and handle some business. Now, I'm not advocating going in there and hurting anyone, but I wouldn't mind disrupting some operations, destroying some computers, cutting some phone lines etc. Something to let these guys know they can't just get away with it.

Friday
Dec102010

Fodder

So why did I choose to call my ramblings fodder? Well, mostly I just like the word and didn't want to use something boring like Journal. I like the idea of the word too. I did look it up just to make sure I wasn't using it incorrectly. According to Webster fodder is inferior material used to supply heavy demand. Well, I"m not sure there will be heavy demand, but maybe some inferior material. Plus, there will be plenty of supply to get some good keywords for my businesses and those of my friends. Like - Saturn Security Systems and Nickell Rental. Hey, I warned you there would be plenty of shameless self promotion on this blog! Hey, at least I'm not throwing in random keywords representing those businesses like alarm, security, monitoring, equipment rental - oh wait, I just did... ;)