Category Archives: Personal 2

Why the Top 3 Software Download Sites Now SUCK!

Nothing related to internet marketing - I can tell you that! Also, it is just a rant, okay? :D

So, all I wanted is: to INSTANTLY turn a 2D image into 3D. This can be done with Photoshop™ too but I did not want to go through all the long and complicated process. I just wanted a 'point-and-click' solution. I did not have much time in my hands. The purpose of this article is to warn you against stuff that could get added into your browsers if you don't keep your eyes open all the times – and I mean that in a figurative sense! ;)

Cnet, Softonic, and Tucows: tree of the top download sites (might I as well add "authority") that a regular, non-techy user would usually visit to download his favorite software. I have never tried Softonic before but CNET and Tucows used to be good (if I remember correctly) until the great recession hit the US (and gradually, even the world) economy hard enough to make them change their policies.  

Introducing: TOOLBARS!

The one thing that is common to all these 3 sites is that: none of them would directly give you the actual installer that would install the software on your system. Instead, all you would get is an "installer-within-an-installer"; in other words, a 'proprietary' installer that would install cr*pware and bloatware on your system.

Cnet received some flak after they made this big change and as a result, it now adds a "direct download link" to the softwares hosted on their system - so that users can have the option to choose between downloading the CNET installer and the actual software installer. However, as you can see, the "direct download link" is like a small print (underneath a big download button) that is easy to miss, and that these types of sneaky things can happen even when you are downloading softwares that are not totally free (that is, free trial versions of sharewares):


Click on the image for a larger screenshot

 


Click on the image for a larger screenshot

Some Cnet users usually end up badmouthing the product creator for adding adware on their system, little knowing that this is actually CNET's doing! Of course, you can argue that the developer could have opted-out of the program; however, as a software author (well, truth to be told, 'branded' plr softwares – I am not a programmer, lol) with two separate accounts on CNET, I can tell you that I received NO notification when CNET made this big change! It was not until I logged into my accounts much later that I realized what they had done to my stuff! I immediately opted out of the CNET program from both of my accounts; however, as of now, while the proprietary installer has been instantly removed from one account, the process is still pending for the other one! I have no idea why!

Back to the original issue. This particular software only had a direct download link. Good for me!

On a whim, I decided to download the same software from the other two sites too, to see what they are up to (Tucows used to be my favorite, until my present experience).

Tucows:

My experience with Tucows was the worst! Here is the first screen of the installer of the Free 3D Photo Maker software that I was trying to install:


Click on the image for a larger screenshot

On the next screen, as you can see, the default settings would install AVG toolbar and also set my browser homepage to the AVG's website. Not a big deal for you? Fine, go ahead and install all that extra cr*p. For me, it WAS a big deal because I don't give a sh*t about AVG:


Click on the image for a larger screenshot

But…oh, what is this? Did not I opt out of installing the AVG extras? Why is then the AVG toolbar downloading in spite of that?


Click on the image for a larger screenshot

Is the "opt-out" option a joke then? Needless to say, I immediately headed for the "exit" button!

My Softonic experience:

Softonic is a bit better, as of this writing. While it too has its own version of 'proprietary installer', its opt-out program is not a joke like that of Tucows. Here is the first screen of the installation of the same software, downloaded from Softonic:


Click on the image for a larger screenshot

Funny. If I needed Adobe Flash at all would not I just browse to the official site of Adobe and download it from there? Also, what has an image editing software got to do with Adobe™ Flash player? I decided to opt out!

Here is the second screen of the installer:


Click on the image for a larger screenshot

WTF is this? I have never heard of this site before. OPT OUT…again! I hope these guys get a bit more creative with their ads ha ha!

Here is the third screen of the installer. A bit more stealth than the previous one IMO, but as you can see, you can always OPT OUT!


Click on the image for a larger screenshot

Once you got rid of these roadblocks, only then does your actual software download begin!


Click on the image for a larger screenshot

Anyway, I selected to exit from the installer, upon which it popped out this message:


Click on the image for a larger screenshot

I selected the 3rd option, though I don't think my feedback would really 'affect' them in any way.

So, why do these download sites do things such as this that would only serve to hurt their online reputation (IF they care, that is)? If you accept their argument, they would say that their smaller installer is much easier to download without any break, compared to the original installer, whose file size is much bigger. In other words, they are doing it only for dial-up users??!! Hello, how many dial-up users are still there in US in 2011 anyway? But let us just accept their logic, in which case, should not they have provided two types of downloads: one for the dial-up users and other for the broadband users?

Now in reality, they do this to make money by installing garbage on your system. Most of these toolbar makers pay them on a "per-install" basis. These toolbars come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but almost all of them infect your system with sh*tty adware, malware and what not! Eek, even thinking of stuff like that makes me throw up! I too used to be a fool and unwittingly ended up installing the Babylon toolbar once due to being careless about a CNET installer and God, I had to use Revo uninstaller to get rid of that crap completely! Luckily I was using a portable version of Firefox so that toolbar could not do much harm!

Next time you download something from these sites, don't be too surprised if a toolbar you know nothing about/don't need ends up being added in your favorite browser! In a very old article I discussed how toolbars can be major ram-hogging demons! Often, these toolbars also intrude upon your privacy (another reason why I hate them) by sending reports about your internet browsing habits back to the toolbar creator, so that s/he could use that information to create more 'personalized' ads.

Lesson for you: the next time you install a software, ALWAYS choose the option of CUSTOM installation (of course, it would not do you much good if you don't know whether it is OK to opt out of something; usually, the answer is YES), and pay very CLOSE attention to EACH and EVERY step you go through during the entire installation process!

I used to recommend CNET and Tucows to my friends, but now I am not so sure! If you had even an iota of doubt about whether the economy is still reeling under recession or not, let these big software download sites offer you the much-needed 'proof' (kidding)! :P

Is there still any download site which has managed to stay "clean" in this age of recession? Filehippo.com and Majorgeeks.com come to mind. Someone else recommended Softwarepatch.com but I have not tried it yet. Any other good download sites you know of? Would you mind sharing your feedback in the comments section? Thanks for reading and getting bored. :D





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Introducing…ADS!

I know I have repeatedly said that I don't like putting ads on this blog. So, I thought to let my readers know that from today onwards you will be seeing some adsense ads here. Hope you don't mind. Thanks for being a loyal reader! :D

STOP Harassing Me With Browser Upgrade Notices!

Okay just a plain rant and nothing more, so feel free to ignore it; I just hate being dictated to...esp. since I don't consider myself to be a complete a**hole.

So what happened? Well it is a fact that I have been using FF 3.5.17 which I have been extremely happy with. It is fast, freezes much less, and is more reliable overall than its successors. Yes I know perhaps a LOT of FF fans won't agree with me but these threads (not to mention my own personal experience) do not lie, I am sure:

http://support.mozilla.com/en-US/questions/842113

http://lorelle.wordpress.com/2011/07/12/firefox-5-crashes-what-is-causing-them-and-how-to-fix-it/

http://support.mozilla.com/en-US/questions/863023

http://support.mozilla.com/en-US/questions/862538

http://www.firefoxforum.com/showthread.php?t=4213

I don't know why, but recently a certain trend has started: lot of big shot companies have started to bug their users by asking them to upgrade their browsers. If I am correct, it all started with Google making its "plus" service available only those who have a 'hi-fi' browser like say, FF 5.

Okay, I can live without Google plus. Next youtube started it by asking people to upgrade their browsers because it would no longer support browsers below the 'xxx' level. However, since I could still browse videos fine with my browser I ignored that too. I can no longer see that notice on youtube; I guess it was sort of a 'flop' so they took it down! ;)

Of late Gmail has started displaying a similar notice every time I would log in to my account, which in turn has made Gmail slower than it was already. Every time I click the "Dismiss" link it vanishes but comes back if I log out and log in again:

Then, it was the turn of PayPal: a big red, in-your face notice in your account's homepage, once again asking users to upgrade their browsers because of 'security' reasons.

http://support.mozilla.com/en-US/questions/878740
http://www.dslreports.com/forum/r25961092-qUpdate-Your-Browserq-Not-a-PayPal-Phishing-Email

Hmm, as a sidenote, almost every new update of software has one or the other security hole, which is solved in yet another future update; yet companies continue to use the same 'security' hook over and over to induce people to upgrade their softwares and such other stuff.

I do upgrade what I feel is necessary: like my Windows, anti virus, etc. But if something is working well for me then why would I upgrade it anyway? Besides I did use FF 4 at one point of time and it was so slow I had to revert back to the current 3.5.17 version. I sure as hell ain't going to upgrade my browser unless I am literally kicked out either by PayPal or Google! Why? I do believe that I know quite well what is good for me and what is not. I am not a 6-year old kid, and I don't think it is anyone's business to tell me what browser I should use and what I should not.

I have been using this Firefox version for years without even a silly Trojan affecting my system, and now someone comes up and advises me that...it should have made me chuckle but I really got pissed off - enough to force to me to let off some steam, and I just wrote exactly what I feel.  
 
Am I egoistic? Obstinate? Haughty? Maybe! Feel free to let me know your thoughts on this. Just click here to post your thoughts. :)

BTW, I am actually eager to read what the conspiracy theorists might have to say on this! :D :P

Tale of a Twitter Imposter!

Okay, here is my Twitter profile: http://twitter.com/arindamc

Below is the screenshot of my profile (my profile is distinguishable by its "AC" logo btw):


Click the image to enlarge it!

And here is the "fake" profile: http://twitter.com/arindamc1

And screenshot of the same (notice the identical spelling of the proper name as well as almost 99% similarity of the username with mine):


Click the image to enlarge it!

I label him as an imposter for some pretty obvious reasons. I will explain them a bit:

a) Reason#1: I certainly don’t claim to be the only "Arindam Chakraborty" from India (heck, a simple Google search would tell you that). But, how come the spelling of his name is exactly same as mine? Okay, maybe a strange coincidence.

b) Reason#2: His profile id is same as mine, except that it is followed by the integer "1" (I bet this has to do with the fact the ID "arindamc" is reserved by me, thus he simply could not get an identical ID without adding a number or alphabet to it; had I been not on Twitter, he would have certainly taken on my identity completely; this in turn prompts me know to setup accounts in almost all the major social networking sites out there, whether I use them or no)!

c) Reason #3: He has 0 followers, although he is following 17 people (yep, including me; his guts are simply amazing). That kinda looks suspicious to me. When I opened my first twitter account I had very few followers compared to the number of people I were following; yet, within a couple of days of opening an account, I had around 2-3 followers (as far as I can tell)!

d) Reason#4: His tweets are protected: Okay, he may have personal reasons for hiding himself from public (after all, he is a criminal of sorts)!

e) Reason#5: He neither offers a link to his website nor any description of the type of person he is. Now, do imposters really have any unique identity or website of their own? Why would they have? After all, their main job is to benefit from someone else's identity and reputation!

f) Reason#6: He does not even offer a description of his profession. Oh well, perhaps "cyber squatting" is his only (illegal) profession! ;)

The problems of impersonation, identity theft and cyber-squatting are faced by celebrities all the time. Naturally your first thought on reading this article would be: "Why the hell would someone bother to impersonate a Nuttie Guru?" Exactly, that is the first thought I had too the moment I noticed his profile, and I am yet to find an answer to that question!

Now, the "impersonation" thing would have made sense if I were a Ashton Kutcher, Barrack Obama, Matt Cutts or John Reese (hey, they are paying the price of being a famous personality); however, I am neither! I am just a commoner. So how could anyone benefit from "cloning" a "Nut-Headed Nuttie Guru" is something that is as vague and mysterious to me as the reason behind customers turning so benevolent as to giveaway valuable products (they paid big cash for) to their friends and strangers alike!

Twitter impersonation is nothing new or uncommon, and while they have a loud and clear policy against impersonation, I am not sure how active they are in enforcing the same. I am still waiting for a reply to a support ticket I logged around October 20th. Twitter is notorious for a "minimum 1-week support delay", so I will wait and watch! Granted it is a "free" service, but keeping in mind its ever-increasing size and popularity, I suppose that it needs to charge clients for offering "priority" support (which is a MUST for kicking out the ever-growing number of imposters on the social networking site)!

Cyber squatting is something even Indian celebs are facing, and most of them, not being very "active" online (unlike their Western counterparts), are finding it a real and unexpected pain in the rum.

When John Reese was impersonated by another Twitter user I told about it to my friend Angela and joked that no one would ever bother to do it to me as I am a nondescript guy. That was just a few months ago I think! And here we go…

Generally, people impersonate high-profiles celebs all the time, as I said earlier. The reasons behind such impersonation may vary, including but not limited to:

a) Getting a strange high (people with an inferiority complex may get a "high" by impersonating the rich and famous)!

b) Malicious intent (of harming the reputation of a celebrity or close personal/professional competitor, the reason being JEALOUSY; again, people with an inferiority complex or a similar psychological problem usually indulge in such practices).

c) Monetary benefit (by blackmailing the person he is impersonating, he can squeeze out a lot of money; in fact, "domain name squatting" is just a way of blackmailing the high profile people).

Now, do any of the above reasons apply to me?

As for (a), I am a commoner, as I already said. Think about it, compared to Mike F or John R, how many people on the web know me-really? :D

b) Malicious intent could be a possibility, but again, I don’t have that much reputation yet. I am still building my online reputation, so am not exactly sure about it. Umm, btw someone else in my shoes finds herself at the receiving end of Twitter imposters! So I guess I am not the only "commoner" to have this problem! :D

Reason (c) Blackmailing: Hmm?

If you feel that I am right in concluding that this Twitter user is an impersonator, would you please be so kind as to report this profile as spam?
http://twitter.com/arindamc1

I would really appreciate it! :)

Not only he is spamming the web, impersonation in itself is a big crime in almost all countries (per my knowledge); he is pretty much trying to steal my identity and hoping to carve a niche for himself this way (even though I know he won’t be successful). I have already reported his profile to Twitter, but the more people report his profile the faster Twitter would take action against the imposter. Again, I thank you in advance for your help and cooperation in this!

Things I can/could do:

a) Ask for a verified account at twitter: In fact I have already sent a support request regarding it some months ago; however they have not responded yet! I am left to guess the reason behind their license: maybe they don’t think I am famous enough to be impersonated. Twitter says that account verification service is not available to businessmen, yet I see a few big time IM gurus flaunting the "verified" badge from Twitter; this tells me something! This article gives a hint that Twitter may start charging a fee for "verifying" business accounts sooner or later!

b) Signup at validzie.com: However, as of now they are available only to US citizens! :(

c) Sue the imposter: This is what I might have to do as a last resort, in case the situation gets out of hand!

d) Change my twitter account password: I have already done that. In fact, as soon as I noticed the "fake" profile, the first thought that ran on my mind is that the next he might try to do is to hack into my Twitter account and access my "private info" - thereby making himself the "ULTIMATE" Nuttie Guru. ;)

My aim behind making this post is two-fold:

a) I want to let you know who is real (and who is not), so that the next time you notice more than 1 Nuttie Guru hovering on the WWW, you don’t get confused, lol :D

b) I hope someone from Twitter management stumbles upon this post and removes the impersonator's account.

Note to the Imposter: If you are reading this article, I have got only one thing to tell you - you are just a "retarded idiot"!

a) "Retarded" because you lack enough brains to pick the "right" person for impersonating. If you really want to benefit by stealing others' identity, at least have some sense and impersonate some big time guru; that might make you a few dimes at Clickbank, if at all; however, impersonating me would take you NOWHERE!

b) "Idiot" because if you had brains (which you obviously don’t have as proved above), you would have spent your time in building your own unique identity and brand (rather than taking on someone else's identity), as that is what would help you long term!

c) Not to mention that I can, if I want, sue you (impersonation is a big crime in India, so don’t think you can "hide" behind the curtain of anonymity and do whatever you like!)

An Update Regarding My Clickbank Account

This is an update on my post regarding my Clickbank account. Soon after I made that post, I was contacted by Clickbank's Vice President (Sales and Business Development unit). He asked me about the specifics regarding the whole thing, which I gave him. Few days later, he replied me back with the following clarification:

"As promised, I was able to look into the matter of your account being scheduled for de-activation. There appears to have been some miscommunication: You are just being blocked from promoting any of XXX Company's products based on a request from them.
 
Your ClickBank account however will not be affected. You may continue to promote other products in the ClickBank marketplace and earn money as you have done in the past. No action will be taken to seize any of the money in any of your ClickBank accounts as a result of this issue! "

The XXX Company is the one against whose product I wrote the disparaging review, and whose staff contacted Clickbank to 'deactivate' my account.

Well, so I am relieved. It is not all dark and bleak in the Clickbank world, it seems. :) Even though I have already pointed all my hoplinks to my other Clickbank account, I will at least get my pending checks! ;)

Clickbank Shuts Down My Account

Please read the update here

Well, almost. My affiliate account is scheduled for deactivation. When? I don’t have an idea! :(

It so happened that I wrote a disparaging review for a junk product in a niche. The product is so bad that there are hundreds of complaints against it on consumer boards and forums. So I used that information as a basis for my product review.

A staff of the product company saw the review and asked Clickbank to deactivate my account because it violates their terms.

You know ClickBank well: they shoot first and ask questions later. Out of the blue, I got an email from ClickBank one day which said: 'Hello, because of the following complaint, your account is scheduled for deactivation!'

I don’t understand this. Even if I have violated the affiliate terms of the product vendor (if you call honest reviews to be a violation of terms, that is), the most they could do is to terminate my affiliate relationship with them. They have no right to ask Clickbank to deactivate my CB account.

Am I right? Or wrong?

More than that, it seems that CB doesn't care a damn for its affiliates, the force that makes them millions of dollars. They don’t make their affiliates signup, they don't scrutinize anything, and their affiliate policy is almost as nonchalant as their refund policy. :(

Anyways, thankfully I had a second Clickbank account (a vendor account). My job was to quickly change the old hop ID of all affiliate links to the new.

Since I use an ad tracker script to store my affiliate links, I basically downloaded that SQL database, replaced the old hop ID with the new one (using a search and replace software), and re-uploaded the database back.

Lessons:

1. Never direct link to an affiliate link. If an ad tracker script is out of your budget, at least use a redirect file to redirect the visitor to your affiliate link, and keep the redirect file on YOUR server. That way, if an unfortunate incident like mine happens, you can change your affiliate links on the fly. Otherwise you will lose sales.

Here is an example:

If your affiliate link is:

http://xxxxx.vendorid.hop.clickbank.net

Just open a Notepad file, put the following code into it, and save it with a .html extension (make sure you choose 'All Files' in the 'Save as Type' dialog box)!

----------------------------------------

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd">
<html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml">
<head>
<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=iso-8859-1" />
<title>Untitled Document</title>
<META HTTP-EQUIV="REFRESH" CONTENT="1;URL=http://xxxxx.vendorid.hop.clickbank.net">
</head>

<body>
</body>
</html>
------------------------------------

Other things that can happen: the vendor might change his affiliate software and ask all affiliates to change their old affiliate links to the new. Those who fail to do so would lose cash.

2. Use an ad tracker script like Adtrackz or Affiliate Commando Pro to track your stats

3. Never trust Clickbank, and have multiple Clickbank accounts!

4. Be prepared for the worst! :D

5. Have multiple streams of income! :)

Anyway, to continue the story, I replied back to the ClickBank staff with all the links to the complaints against the software. So far I haven’t got a reply either from ClickBank or the merchant.  

Have you ever been slighted and belittled by Clickbank? Post your story below:

Is Selling Bad?

I wish I could say 'Why do you hate selling when you do it yourself to make money?' But truth is, probably I am one of those hypocrites myself: I sell stuff but sometimes I hate it when someone sells to me. Of course it was not always like that but I feel like this after being in the internet marketing niche for close to 3 years. :)

Maybe I am just tired and fed up of it all? :)

Don’t get me wrong: selling is probably one of the best skills you can learn. If you cannot sell, you cannot make money in any business, online or offline. Not too long ago I read a thread at Warrior Forum where a member was asking if he should outsource selling and marketing, because he cannot do it well himself. My personal opinion is that even if you outsource everything else, you shouldn’t outsource marketing. If you learn nothing else, at least learn how to market your product.

Having said that, there are things I like and then there are also things I dislike about salesmen.

I hate the-

1. The pushy pitcher: I will give you one offline, everyday example:

One day I saw a man peddling a brand new toothpaste to my neighbor. Now mom happens to hate those peddlers very much, mainly because they happen to be pretty pushy and tenacious. Usually, whenever she spots one, she instructs me not to venture close to the window, lest the peddler sees me and comes to our house (she believes that a peddler won’t visit an 'empty' house). And we are not the only ones of a kind. Several of our neighbors vanish into thin air as soon as they notice one of these peddlers.

Anyway, the trick didn’t help us that day, as the peddler came knocking at our door. Mom said that she didn’t need any of that as she purchases her stuff from a so-and-so shop, on credit. However when the peddler refused to budge, we started ignoring him. He kept knocking at our door for sometime and then left! We made a little fun of the man and then it was all over.

Now here is some food for thought:

It was certainly possible that the toothpaste he brought us could have been better (or worse) than the one we used. The only way to know for sure was by 'tasting' a sample. Instead of badgering and hamming us about how great his product was, if this salesman would have offered us a small sample of his toothpaste, no strings attached, he would have been able to make a sale.

Think about this: let’s say his product is really good, but he just offers us a free sample of it, and then returns a few days later asking about our experience with the toothpaste. If the sample was really good, we would have been ready to buy it!

Sometimes I think I should give a tip or two to these folks, but then I think that most people prefer to be doing what they are doing instead of learning from their mistakes and analyzing the results! So let them keep doing what they do! ;)

Still these peddlers can be excused on the pretext that most of them have little or no formal training in the art of selling! But I am even more surprised when the top internet marketers, who probably have all the world's marketing knowledge at their fingertips, rarely, if ever, offer free samples of their products. They are more interested in making their salesletters as 'hypey' as possible. I know very very few internet marketers who offer free chapters of their ebooks!

2. The copycat: Whenever a new product is launched by one of the top internet marketing gurus, it seems like there is a race for bonuses, and all the super affiliates are interested in outdoing each other in this race. He who offers the best bonus wins the race :) I am truly fed up of these emails. The bonus offers seem to be copies of each other; there is little ingenuity in them.

I can understand if the bonus products themselves are some crappy Master Resell Rights stuff, but at least show a little originality in the way you position your offer!

3. The liars: It is obvious: the one who blatantly lies about a product simply because he happens to be an affiliate. The unsubscribes don’t bother him, because he gets more suckers into this list than the ones who get off his list!

4. The pretender: Umm, the affiliates who pretend to have used and benefited from their affiliate products even when they haven't ;)

5. The long winder: Ever seen those emails which are so long winded (running to more than 3 pages) where you feel utterly lost about halfway down? The seller doesn't even get to the real point (read the 'pitch') until at the end! I wonder if it hurts to be a little precise!

6. And of course, the spammers! ;) I don’t mean just the conventional spammers. There are 'reputed' marketers from whose lists I have unsubscribed a dozen times, each time only to be added back again! It looks like these marketers import even their 'unsubscribers' into their followup cycle. Thanks to email filters, I can now breathe easy! :D

I love the-

Relationship builders: Don't know about you, but I would any day prefer 'relationship marketing' to 'business to business' marketing. :)

A person who encourages my dreams and aspirations, explains to me (in a clear and concise manner) how his product can help me achieve my dreams, doesn’t mind giving away some free tips now and then, doesn't hide behind a 'no-reply' email address, replies to emails in a timely manner, and of course, last but not the least, overdelivers at every step…

… Is someone I would like to do business with!

I prefer folks who can subtly use persuasion to convince me, but I don’t like the ones who use 'deceptive seduction' techniques - you know what I mean! :D

Tell me which kinds of sellers do you absolutely love/hate? You can post your comments below! :)

As for whether selling is bad or not, let me just say that selling isn’t always about monetary exchange. If anyone asks you to do anything for them, he is a salesman. If I ask you to do me a favor, then I am 'selling' myself to you, even if I don’t ask for cash! Now, is that bad?

Of the Retirement Formula and Broken Shortcuts

The Retirement Tactic: A Cool Viral Marketing Tool?
===================================
[Your Name here], I am going to Retire from IM
===================================

Time and again, you have perhaps received emails from ‘gurus’ with a subject line similar to the above. When I was new to internet marketing, I used to wonder why any successful marketer would want to retire from the lucrative world of internet marketing! Later I realized that it is a way to create buzz. Sure, some upright marketers walk the talk, but most use it as a ‘viral marketing’ tool.

If all of your marketing efforts are dying, you may create a ‘retirement buzz’ like the above and then offer your subscribers a high ticket item as a way of ‘celebrating’ your retirement. ;)

Hmm, since when did people start to ‘celebrate’ retirement? :D

You know, some things never change. I don’t know of your feelings for these kinds of marketing tactics but I hated them before and do so even today! When I was first exposed to this ‘retirement tactic’, I thought that the guru was really retiring. Days passed, so did months. The next email I got from him was about a ‘HOT’ product he was launching. And I thought he ‘retired’! :(

When I received that email, the very first thing I did was to hit the unsubscribe link. And till today, I continue to do the same thing! A few days ago, another marketer used this ‘retirement tactic’ to sell his $200 item. Once again, I unsubscribed from his list.

I am sure there are others too who feel this way. The reason I hate this marketing method is because these marketers think that their subscribers are naive folks who would believe just about anything. It directly conflicts with my email marketing ethics. My motto is:

Never Treat Your Subscriber Like A Fool

End of rant.

If You Use Alex Goodall’s IM Index 2.2.0 - How To Fix Missing Shortcuts

You know, I really like Alex Goodall’s IM Index Map software very much!. I have purchased several Desktop organization softwares but this is one tool which I continue to use even today. It has helped me not only with organizing my internet marketing stuff, but also in clearing out junk and garbage from my hard drives. I purchased it from a WSO which is sadly no longer available, but you can find it here.

The only thing I don’t like about Alex is that he sometimes makes some ‘drastic’ changes to his software. Sure, these changes are for the long term benefit of his customers, but they can also land you in ‘short-term’ trouble. Like it happened when I upgraded to version 2.2.0 recently. Alex changed some folder names in the map which made my remote shortcuts useless. With several broken shortcuts, I didn’t know what to do so I emailed Alex but he didn’t have a clue as to how to fix them. Neither was I in the mood of fixing dozens of broken shortcuts manually. So I hit the omnipotent Google. :)

I searched for a ‘broken shortcut fixer’ for hours; finally landed at the Iolo.com website. Their System Mechanic software claims to fix broken shortcuts automatically.

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IMPORTANT: READ This Before Continuing!

Update as of January 27, 2009.

My latter experiences with this software don't permit me to recommend it to anyone anymore. I am still keeping the links and the old article intact for reference, but as you can see they are NOT 'affiliate links' so I don’t make money off them. The problem was not with the core product itself; I believe that either it had a few bugs or it was not fully compatible with my PC (I was and still am on Windows XP Pro, by the way)!

Before installing System Mechanic Pro, I used to have Norton and Spyware doctor, both running side by side without any kind of conflicts. Then I removed Norton using Symantec's™ remover tool and installed System Mechanic Pro 7 on my machine. Installation went quite well and I achieved my aim: that of fixing my broken shortcuts as well as replacing the Norton antivirus with an alternative which would be less of a resource hog.

It all went quite well until they released System Mechanic Pro 8. The software version I had was System Mechanic Pro 7, and every time it loaded on Windows startup, it would nag me to upgrade. I eventually downloaded the upgrade, which took quite a long time. Anyways, per their Upgrade instructions, I uninstalled version 7 from my machine, which was just a matter of removing it from the programs list and then deleting its folders. Then I installed version 8, and it is from there that my trouble starts.

Usually, Iolo's™ products are not compatible with Spyware doctor, for some reason known best either to them or PC Tools™, the manufacturer of Spyware Doctor. When I was installing version 7, it asked me to uninstall Spyware doctor because it was a 'conflicting' program. So I uninstalled it, and then when the program installed fine, I reinstalled Spyware doctor again.

I was not prepared to part with SD (Spyware Doctor) not only because I had just then renewed my subscription but also because Iolo™ offers only an anti virus software with their package which cannot be a replacement for an anti spyware software. It all went well until version 8 came. With version 8, the software won’t load at all unless I am prepared to remove SD fully from my PC. I tried uninstalling and reinstalling SD again and again but to no avail. Fed up, I had to remove SD altogether. :(

I don’t remember all the details clearly well, since by the time I am writing this update, almost a year has passed. Still from whatever I can recollect, System Mechanic Pro 8 gave me no peace even after I had removed SD fully from the system. One particular trouble was that of Iolo antivirus not getting enabled every time it loaded on Windows startup; it would often show me a red icon (instead of a white one) which meant that it is disabled, and no amount of tweaking on my part would enable it! Add to that the fact that I am pretty dumb regarding the technical side of a PC. :P

For your information, a disabled antivirus software is as good as a broken lock hanging on your door! Finally I had no option but to uninstall it from my PC, as it was proving to be even more of a nuisance than Norton. But unlike version 7, uninstalling version 8 from your PC is NOT easy. 

I followed their instructions as usual but for some reason I was unable to delete the software's folders completely from my PC. I did everything I could from rebooting my system several times to clearing all my Temporary files and folders and even deleting Iolo's registry keys, but the folders refused to let go of my computer, and unless they go, I could have no peace! The 'disabled' antivirus software would load as usual, and I was too paranoid to connect to the internet with it!

Fortunately around that time my computer had a little problem with the motherboard. I took it to my mechanic whose office is about 30 miles away from my house. They had to reformat the C: drive (where System Mechanic's folders were located) in an effort to fix the problem and consequently all data on it was deleted and along with that the folders of System Mechanic Pro too!

I had of course backed up all important stuff on my external hard drives as I knew from my past experiences that they would format that drive anyways. Boy, it was like getting rid of an annoying pest, once and for all!

So that was it! Once the PC returned from the mechanic's office, I decided not to touch Iolo's products anymore, cancelled their subscription, and reinstalled Norton Antivirus as before. From that time until now I have been sticking only to Norton.

Recently I downloaded another shortcut fixer software from a giveaway; the giveaway is unfortunately over but the software can still be downloaded from here. I hope it helps! I haven’t been able to give it a run yet but if I find anything wrong with it I would post an update here. But from the reviews I saw, it seems to be a good piece of software, though everyone seems to be complaining about the price! :D

I hope no one takes this update in the wrong sense. It was my personal experience, but a much needed update nonetheless!

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Well, this was exactly what I wanted, but I was not sure if it would really work. So I downloaded the trial version of the software and gave it a free run. The tool took hours in finding the broken shortcuts but after that fixing them was like a piece of cake! What impressed me more was that the software has more tools than what I wanted: registry repair tool, duplicate file remover, memory optimizer, and lots more that I cannot even list here.

Ok, so I was happy and clicked the upgrade button. Actually I upgraded to the pro version (it costs only $10 extra) which has anti-virus and spyware protection built-in.

If you are an old subscriber, you perhaps know that I have been using Norton for about 4 years now. While Norton is good for what it does, it is major system hog. I knew this all along, but couldn’t find anything better. When I finally found System Mechanic Pro I thought: ‘Well, it is time to get rid of Norton ;-).’ So I uninstalled Norton and am using System Mechanic Pro in its place.

Long story short: if you have broken shortcuts on your PC, System Mechanic is a good tool for fixing them. Note that I don’t gain anything by recommending it to you, but I know it is a tool worth keeping in your arsenal. Here are the links to the free trial version downloads:

System Mechanic=> http://iolo.com/sm/7/std/download.aspx

System Mechanic Pro => http://iolo.com/sm/7/pro/download.aspx (if you want anti-virus and spyware protection too).

You don’t need to provide your personal contact information in order to download the softwares!

Oh yeah, two more things. When using the broken shortcut remover tool, make sure that you choose to move the invalid shortcuts to the Recycle Bin (instead of deleting them permanently) by clicking on the ‘Options’ button; this way you can retrieve the broken shortcuts at a later date should you need them. And if you are using the registry repair tool, make sure to keep a backup copy of your registry on your hard drive!

I wish you the best with them, and let me know how you fare with these tools!

As always, feel free to leave your comments as I appreciate them a lot!