The Amazon Tax

ByCharles Bunn

The Amazon Tax

Recently the web, news channels, blog sphere and just about every other media outlet has been abuzz about proposals and amendments now making their way through the house and senate of the US. In a nutshell congress is proposing to eliminate the so called exemption that has existed through court tests and legislation, that has eliminated sales tax, when purchases are made online unless the company has a physical presence in your state. Most ecommerce sites do not have to collect sales tax from purchases outside the states where they have operations. Just as long as the laws have existed that prevent the websites from collecting sales taxes, many brick and mortar sites have been complaining of the unfair advantage that ecommerce sites enjoy. The advent of mobile devices that can search the web for products based on a photo of a product bar code have increased the advantage even more, as brick and mortar establishments have become the showroom for ecommerce. Smart competitors are fighting back by investing in such companies as ‘Sensewhere’ and ‘Point Inside’ that can provide customers with coupons for items that are near their in store position. Many stores, such as Best Buy and Sears, are using slightly different product models that make comparison shopping difficult, and many other methods are being used to entice customers to buy now. That being said, some establishments are still bankrolling the legislation to, as they call it, level the playing field.

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ByCharles Bunn

The Timing is Odd for the NSA

The recent disclosure of data snooping by Verizon and now several Internet Companies from articles published by the Guardian in the United Kingdom show that there is probably someone or some entity that is leaking highly classified information about the inner workings of the NSA. What is odd is the timing of the three releases; think about it, the releases are happening right at the start of talks with the Chinese about cyber security. Obama is now in a defensive posture going into these high level meetings and has been put in a difficult position. So one has to wonder about the timing, could these disclosures have been leaked by the Chinese government to soften the approach taken by the US? As they say in security circles, true coincidences are rare.

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ByCharles Bunn

Yelp That Hurts

As a small company with limited advertising resources, I try to leverage everything I can to make myself visible on the Internet. One of the most important tools a small business can use besides Blogging is getting positive reviews from major sites. One of the bigger sites with a large influence is Yelp.com. If you are new to a town or just visiting Yelp is a great way to find out if that service you are planning to use is well thought of. Well the Web being what it is, people soon realized the importance of reviews on Yelp, and before long people were gaming the system. So Yelp fought back and came up with algorithms to fight fraudulent reviews, the arms race has begun.

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ByCharles Bunn

Collaboration for Clients

Over the many years I have been running a consulting business (going on 16 years) I have found that I needed to store all kinds of data from clients including, passwords, licenses files, images, etc. Often a client would lose or forget important information, so I started saving information in a secure file in QuickBooks. Over time I have also found that clients loose statements and invoices all the time, so having a place to store such information that a client could access anytime would be a real time saver. A recent project also showed the real need for an easy to use collaboration method that would be a free or low cost for the client to use. I also needed a way for a client to mark up documents, images or whatever I shared with them to communicate changes.

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ByCharles Bunn

Bernanke Must Go

I don’t normally comment on political issues but after seeing several articles in the Washington Post I had to say something. What’s even odder is the Washington Post had two articles that basically said the same thing, that the Feds quantitative easing (Learn what Quantitative Easing is: QE3 Explained) was a good thing for the economy and small business. What’s even more amusing is that after a few dozen comments appeared from small business owners, who overwhelming disagree that lower borrowing cost were important, the Washington Post buried the articles on Bernanke’s quantitative easing. Here are the articles:

Washington Post: Fed action a welcome move for small business?

Washington Post: Small business owner QE3 is a good start but hardly enough.

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ByCharles Bunn

My Experience with SEO – Chasing Bugs

Search the web for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and you will find a plethora of web sites and people ready to sell you advice. Visit the many blogs and user groups and you find references to snake oil salesman and superman, there seems to be no end to the promises made and broken by some so called experts and web sites. Getting your web site to the first page of a search is an accomplishment worthy of praise. There are many things you can do on your own to improve your chances and I am by no means an SEO expert. My intent here is to relay my own experiences in getting SEO working on my web site. SEO is at best a black art and a project that is never finished.

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ByCharles Bunn

My Experience with SEO – Squashing Bugs

Now that we have Google and Bing crawling all over our site, we need to make sure they behave the way we want, in other words making sure we are SEO compliant. Now we get to see how well (or how poor if you’re a half glass full kind of person) our site will play in the big bad web. This requires some validation against known successful sites and for this we turn to a site called ‘SEOSiteCheckup’. Entering or web site URL rewards us with a grade and the details to back it up. Now I am normally an ‘A’ student so getting a ‘C’ my first time was a bit of a shocker. I thought I had covered all of the bases but that’s where I was surprised, I had missed several key areas and had several incomplete tasks. Time to smash some bugs.

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ByCharles Bunn

Quicktime

Learn how to install and setup the QuickTime Player with this tutorial. The player is a free multimedia player. You can use it to view many kinds of files, including video, audio, still images, graphics, and virtual reality (VR) movies. QuickTime supports the most popular formats on the Internet for news, sports, education, movie trailers, and other entertainment. QuickTime is also a multimedia architecture that other applications can leverage. Some of the most popular software—such as iTunes, iMovie, and Final Cut Pro from Apple, as well as many third-party programs—uses the QuickTime architecture for important multimedia functions. These applications require QuickTime to be installed in order to function properly.

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ByCharles Bunn

ZoneAlarm

Watch this important tutorial to learn how to increase the firewall protection that comes with Windows. ZoneAlarm is a two-Way Firewall that makes your PC invisible to hackers and stops spyware from sending your data out to the Internet. ZoneAlarm replaces the default Windows firewall to provide true two way protection. Unlike the standard Windows firewall it does not assume that all outgoing traffic is harmless.

ZoneAlarm Free Firewall blocks viruses that antivirus alone misses, stops hackers attempting to break into your computer, and unlike the default Windows firewall, provides outbound firewall protection to stop spyware from phoning home and botnets from taking over your PC. ZoneAlarm Free Firewall is easy for anyone to use. It operates automatically, due to its powerful DefenseNet cloud service, so users are not interrupted with unnecessary alerts.

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ByCharles Bunn

WinSCP

Watch this tutorial to learn where to get this great free program, how to install and set up WinSCP. WinSCP is a small, free, open-source file transfer client for Windows that uses Secure Shell (SSH) technology to enable the safe copying of files between a local and a remote PC using the File Transfer Protocol (FTP), SSH FTP, or SCP (Secure Copy) protocols, as well as offering some basic file management features.

This small tool’s full-featured installer includes additional, optional software called Jing, but you have to select it; the default installation omits Jing. The installer also presents a choice between two different main interface styles, a full-featured Commander interface with panels for local and remote directories and a scaled-down Explorer interface that only accesses remote directories. The Commander interface is a small dialog with a navigation pane and places to enter host and user names, a password, and a private key file. An About button links to an extensive Web-based Help site. You can select between SFTP, SCP, and FTP transfers and several languages, but not much more, though, in this case, less is more since the program’s goal is simplicity.

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