Digital Media Discounts

If you’re looking for some holiday savings that won’t have someone trying to beat you down in the aisles of a store, digital shopping might be your best alternative. There are a number of useful software apps offering discounts through the end of the holiday buying season, making it cheaper to either upgrade your existing applications or get the right tools for a given digital problem.
Top of the list in my book is Roxio’s Easy Media Creator 9. The new and improved version of Roxio’s all-in-one audio and video tool includes my favorite DVD authoring app, MyDVD, a video conversion tool for converting most videos for playback on iPod, Sony PSP, or other portable devices. The video editing app is among the easier solutions to use. The DVD burning app now supports HD formats like a champ and there are at least 500 other things you can do I haven’t mentioned here. Using the Coupon Code SAVE10C9 you can
save 10% on Easy Media Creator 9. If you owned a previous version of a Sonic or Roxio product there’s also a $20 rebate.
For a serious digital video editing suite, Pinnacle is offering discounts off any of their products, which includes $50 off the amazing
Avid Liquid. The software supports both standard definition and HDV video editing. For consumer editing, the
Pinnacle Studio is also discounted for the holidays. You can save on anything in the Pinnacle catalog using the coupon code PINN03. This one expires on November 30, so if you’re in the market for video editing software, don’t wait too long.
For converting your media files, Digital Media Converter remains a consistent solution. It converts most media formats with support for batch processing, including the ability to convert files like MOV. You can save $5 on Digital Media Converter with coupon code DMCOFFER.
You won’t get any bruises while shopping for any of these apps, but you might just make your digital audio and video editing a little easier.

HP Outsourcing Tech Support to Bloggers?

Google Analytics tells me over 80% of my traffic is from Google searches, with a smaller percentage from MSN and Yahoo. People click the Ask A Question link at the top of every page at the rate of 10-20 new questions every day. Yesterday morning I got a question from a guy named William who was referred to me by the HP support team:

I have a HP PAVILION 783c Desktop. I would like to make still photos from home video on a DVD+R disc. I contacted HP and they said to contact you.

I’d publish the full header of the email here as additinal “proof”, but that’s not fair to William since he’s looking for an answer to his question not a violation of his privacy.
I have no reason to believe HP didn’t recommend this course of action. There aren’t very many people offering tutorials on how to extract data from DVDs recorded with camcorders. The process is a pain because the disks aren’t really designed to be re-edited unless you buy Sony’s software.
The question is: how many other companies are off-loading their customer service load to blogs? AOL apparently just dumped 1400 customer service reps. Are bloggers going to pick up the slack for AOL too? (Their secret reason for buying Weblogs, Inc maybe?) HP cut 15,000 jobs in July.
These large companies aren’t reducing staff because computing is getting easier – I see questions ranging from the very basic to challenges that leave me scratching my head every day. Reducing staff is a balancing act to keep costs down for shareholders while providing “good-enough” support to keep customers from leaving. And in the case of a computer manufacturer, the customer is generally stuck for several years because Average Joe doesn’t have the budget to buy a new computer just because the company gave lousy service.
So now we know this is happening. How do we (the bloggers) capitalize on large corporations off-loading their tech support to those of us who are providing free information online? Is the traffic enough? I’d like the traffic better if I was getting link love from HP. A big link on their support pages that says, “Can’t find the answer here, try!” Maybe a Quad-Core machine to replace my aging P4 with HT?

RSS Feed Update and Traveling by Train in China

I made a couple of tweaks to the RSS feed in order to easily incorporate coverage of DEMO China in my main feed. Hopefully this won’t result in duplicate entries due to published item dates not matching.
The conference officially starts tomorrow and I’ll be there assuming my train ticket from Beijing to Taida is the correct location. There seems to be a disconnect between the English spelling of Tianjin TEDA (which is an acronym for Technologic and Economic Development Area) and the location of Taida, which I’m told is the same thing by the Beijing train station. If this is really the case, you’d think the Marriott Website would have enough sense to communicate transportation options to potential customers. Unlike smaller chains, Marriott doesn’t seem to recognize they need to provide a Chinese Hanzi version of the address on the site so that taxi drivers can get you to the hotel.
Note to all hotel chains with properties in China: Include a printable address in Hanzi on your Website so that your guests can easily communicate with taxi drivers to get to your hotel. I have not met a single taxi driver in China that reads English. They all read Chinese Hanzi characters. A card with an address to the hotel on the back is great once you get to the hotel (like NOVOTEL example below), but before I arrive I need a way to communicate easily.

MediaBlab Domains is Live

Jake Ludington’s MediaBlab now offers domain registration services, complete with free blog, free hosting, email, forwarding, a parking page and total DNS control. Domain registrations start as low as $4.75 depending on what you are registering. I registered the account primarily to help save myself a few dollars on the 50+ domains I’m registering every year, but I figured I might as well pass along some competitive prices to anyone who visits MediaBlab with any frequency. If you’re in the market for a domain (or hosting or a blog) registering here helps support the site.

Deceptive Toolbar Practices

For all the grief we’ve given companies who bundle third-party junk with their products over the years, I’m seeing a really disturbing trend in the software space. Yahoo and Google seem to be desperate to get their toolbar on my computer in a manner that borders on deceptive. I’m not talking about downloading the toolbar directly from Yahoo or Google. I’m not even talking about downloading the version of Firefox that clearly tells users it includes the Google Toolbar. I’m talking about instances where I download one application, only to find out it’s trying to get me to opt out of installing a toolbar from either Yahoo or Google. These are tactics learned from the spyware industry.

Talking with The Presidents of The United States of America

Or at least one of them…
At 9pm Pacific, in an extended version of The Chris Pirillo Show is Dave Dederer, former and current member of The Presidents of The United States of America. He’s the guy who plays the Guitbass and provides half of the vocals for everything from Lump, Kitty, Peaches and the more recently released single Jupiter. You might also recognize his talents in the song Cleveland Rocks from The Drew Carey Show. Dave will be speaking at the upcoming Podcast Hotel at The Triple Door in Seattle and is joining us tonight at 9pm. Tune in!