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Posts Tagged ‘wall street journal’

Internet Explorer 9 “Do Not Track” Security Feature…Will it Really Work?

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

I was reading this article in the Wall Street Journal yesterday when I realized that Microsoft released their new version of their uber popular Internet Explorer web browser which included the highly touted “Do Not Track” feature. The new feature is news-worthy for a few reasons in my opinion.  First of all, Internet Explorer is now the first major browser to include this type of feature in a major release of their we browser although Mozilla’s Firefox browser is said to include a similar feature in an upcoming release.

I think that this new “do not track” feature is also an interesting advancement because of how quickly Microsoft developed and included this functionality in a major release of their web browser.  This type of new feature only started making news a few months ago when a number of consumer privacy advocates started complaining about how so many websites, like Facebook and others, are now collecting personal information about people and their web browsing habits when they visit their websites.  Microsoft and Mozilla took these requests so seriously that they decided to include this feature in their next browser releases only a quarter later.  In my opinion these web browser companies decided to include this feature so quickly because they knew it was relatively easy to implement (in the way they have) and they also knew that this new feature would make big news and would therefore help market their new releases.

Finally, I think this new web browser feature is of note because of the way it has been implemented technically may not be very effective at doing exactly what it is meant for.  Basically, now when a person using Internet Explorer 9 browses to a web page that is trying to collect information about the person or their computer or their web browsing history it sends a series of “header” records to the requesting website indicating that the person requests that the information not be shared with anyone else or used for marketing purposes.  The only problem here is that there are no set standards around these “header” records and no major websites or eCommerce associations have acknowledged that they will accept or abide by these requests to not share the user’s data.  Inevitably, what will happen here is that Microsoft will start pointing the figure at the eCommerce sites that do not recognize these header records until they cave in and recognize them because Internet Explorer is the most used web browser in the world and nobody wants to fine themselves on the wrong side of this argument because their sites will be bad mouthed in the press and seen as non-consumer friendly.

In conclusion, I think this is definitely a step in the right direction by Microsoft but I am not sure that this is really the best or most effective way to go about it.  I guess if this is just the first step in the direction of better security for shopper’s personal information on the web then it is probably worth it and will probably get us where we want to go. 

What do you think about this new feature that Microsoft started offering yesterday in their new Internet Explorer 9?

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Posts Tagged ‘wall street journal’

Always feel like you are short on time? Maybe you should take a pay cut!

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

I was reading this post on the Wall Street Journal blog yesterday and it really made me think about how some people I know always seem to be stressed out.  After reading this blog and thinking about it a little bit, I really agreed that more often than not it seems like people that make more money in their day jobs seem more stressed out and are always saying they wish they had more time for their personal lives.  While there are likely multiple factors at play in these situations that are making these people feel like this, it seems like there are now a few different studies that are starting to link higher rates of pay to a perceived lack of time in their work and personal lives.

According to this post, there are now multiple studies that have compared a group of people that are paid very little for a day’s work and then another group of people that are paid a much higher hourly rate for the exact same work.  The results of these studies showed that the people that were paid a higher hourly wage felt much more time pressure than the group that was paid less.

I thought that these studies were interesting because they really seemed to show a tangible link between a person’s perception of their value relative to the amount they are paid to complete a task.  Sometimes people put this time pressure on themselves only because of their pay and not because the pressure to complete the task really exists.

Looking back on it now, have you ever felt like you put too much pressure on yourself to complete a task for your business when this pressure may have never really existed?

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Posts Tagged ‘wall street journal’

Try Shopkick on Your Smartphone, Almost 1 Million Others Have!

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

I have been using the Shopkick application on my smartphone for the past few months and then I saw this article in the Wall Street Journal the other day and realized that 750,000 people have also downloaded and used the application since it was released in August.

Basically, the idea behind the Shopkick application is that users can login and see which local retailers are closest to their current location.  Users then also have the option on clicking on each of the retailers near them to see what specials the merchant is currently offering to Shopkick customers.  It seems like some of the larger retailers that have close relationships with Shopkick include Best Buy, Macy’s, and Sports Authority.

The other idea behind the Shopkick application that is used to encourage users to access the application daily is driven by rewarding users with Shopkick points just for viewing the retailer’s specials by using the Shopkick application on their smartphone.  Users can obtain additional points by physically visiting the retailers and checking in and also by scanning the barcodes of various products in the stores that the retailers are advertising.  Shopkick users can then redeem these Shopkick points for products and gifts cards from the various retailers.

I found the Shopkick application to be interesting and useful but after attempting unsuccessfully to scan the bar codes of a few advertised products at a local Best Buy I was a little frustrated by the application as well.  I can definitely see a lot of good uses for the Shopkick application and I hope that they expand the functionality included in it to possibly included automatic price comparisons and possibly an easier way to scan the barcodes of advertised products.

Have you ever used the Shopkick application in a store or any other smartphone application while shopping?

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Posts Tagged ‘wall street journal’

More People are Using Smartphone Applications to Shop and Merchants are Taking Note!

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

With only 1 shopping day left before Christmas, I hope you have all of your shopping done with by now but if you haven’t you should really go to the stores with your smartphone and a few trusty applications loaded so that you can make the most informed decision possible.

As the Wall Street Journal indicated in this article, only 5.6% of all shoppers on Black Friday used a smartphone to compare prices while in the store but this number represents a 50 fold increase from a year ago. I have actually used a couple different applications while in stores to compare prices and on more than one occasion have actually left the store to purchase the product online because it was considerably cheaper.

Some of the most popular smartphone applications that will allow Shoppers to scan barcodes in the store and instantly show them the cheapest price available online or in a bricks and mortar location are theFind and Google Shopper.  Consumers can download these applications for free and within seconds can search for lowest price for any given product.

Stores are quickly becoming aware that shoppers have this new found ability to instantly compare prices and are trying to adapt in order to take advantage of or at least cope with the results but I don’t think that they are changing quickly enough in my opinion.  I am still waiting for the day when I can show the Best Buy store manager a price I found online on my smartphone and have him or her match that price in their store.  Today they will not even consider doing that unless the store I am comparing their price to also has a bricks and mortar location.  I find this policy to be outdated and ridiculous and hopefully the coming widespread use of comparison shopping using smartphone applications will open these company’s eyes and make them change these archaic policies.

Have you ever tried to get a bricks and mortar store to match a price you found online for the same product?  What were your results?

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Posts Tagged ‘wall street journal’

Happy Holiday? Do You Take Time Off From Your Business?

Thursday, December 24th, 2009

This week, my parents are doing something that they never do…travel to my house for the holidays. As far as I can recall, I have always traveled back home (balmy Minnesota) to see them. This has been true for the past 15 years. This year, we convinced them to come out.

Why the drought of visits. Is it because they don’t like me? Of course not. Why? Did you hear something? No the real reason is because 25 years ago, my Dad quit his corporate job to start his own business. He doesn’t have a lot of help running the business, so almost every holiday season, he didn’t have time to get away. As he would say, “the longer I’m away, the more work I have waiting for me when I return.”  The Wall Street Journal just touched on the same issue, giving a guide to small business owners on “How to Take a Vacation“. The advice is solid (the best has to be “Accept the Fact that You’ll Lose Money”).

Since we all have day jobs, and our nights and weekends are dedicated to KikScore, I’m getting a sense that it may be quite sometime before I start doing a lot of personal travel during the holiday season.  Just as sure as I’m going bald like my Dad, I’m inheriting his work schedule.  And I’m not alone (with regard to the work schedule…I mean I’m also not alone on being bald).  Simply searching “Small Business Vacation 2009” reveals a wide variety of blog postings about small business owners talking about the difficulty in taking time off.  Here’s a good one from Newsweek.

So, are you taking time off this holiday?  Any plans for a 2010 get-away?  Can I go with you?

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Posts Tagged ‘wall street journal’

Is Cyber Monday the New Black Friday? And Will My Brother Get a New Coat?

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

80s coat

An interesting phen0menon occurred during the kickoff of the holiday shopping season (two phenomenons, actually, if you count the fact that I found a sweater that doesn’t make me look fat).  With most of the focus on the bricks-and-mortar retail sales, which appear to be up very modestly, online sales on both “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” were very strong.  So there is a big question hanging out there (besides the question if 40 is really the new 30 — man, I hope so) — Is Cyber Monday the new Black Friday?

In terms of raw numbers, of course Cyber Monday hasn’t yet replaced the mall.  But in terms of predictiveness, which is more predictive?  Year over Year, offline sales for Black Friday were up 1.6%, with YOY online sales on Black Friday being up approximately 11%.  Then big event, Cyber Monday, showed a 5% increase from 2008 and is the biggest day of sales since tracking of this hallowed day began five years ago. 

So what gives? Are we going to have a flat or booming holiday season?  While the numbers cited above are interesting, there is only one way to handle this type of question in the blog world…anecdotal information!  My brother was in town and, according to my wife, his winter coat was from the 1980s.  While retro is good, you actually have to buy new clothes that look old…it just doesn’t work holding onto your old stuff. 

We hit the malls and it was busy, but according to the Nordstrom and Macy’s sales staff, the Black Friday crowd was similar to a normal Saturday crowd.  There’s not a lot of inventory for winter wear, so we head to REI.  We find the coat, but Dang! it’s pricey.  Being good shoppers, we use the time to find a jacket type my brother likes and my wife barely approves (he’s now moved up to the late 1990s). 

We then go home and hit the online sites for deals.  We find the coat on a great site, BackCountry.com, get 25% off with free shipping (you should check out their blog).  So the offline retail stores acted as a very expensive closet that then benefited the online site.  So, according to my exhaustive research, I think the initial numbers are misleading, and we will have a surprisingly good holiday season.

What are you seeing out there?  Also, is it time for you to update your winter wear?

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