Monthly Archives: June 2010

10 Alternative Uses for a World Cup Vuvuzela

Written by Mad Dog and Glory

The noise making machine that has multi purpose powers.

A fan blows the vuvuzela while  waiting for the start of the 2010 World Cup Group B soccer match between  Argentina and South Korea at Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg June  17, 2010.      REUTERS/Jerry Lampen (SOUTH AFRICA - Tags: SPORT SOCCER  WORLD CUP)

The vexed subject of the Vuvuzela has been the subject of a great deal of debate and it seems that whilst some can’t get enough of the ‘instrument’ and the wasp like noise it emits there are others who have just about had enough of the damn thing, and would probably resort to criminal acts on those who opt to use them for entire matches.

This led us to come to some sort of compromise on the whole issue and that was to come up with ten other ways to use the Vuvuzela that would perhaps me amenable to all concerned. Oh yes, and we also thought it would be a good chance to try and be amusing (have we failed, probably).


Thats right, in many ways the shape of the stadium horn would make it an idea potting device. Ideal for long stemmed plants such as tulips or even roses it could well be a secondary use that would help everyone in the garden.

Fake leg for a Long John Silver Fancy Dress Party

We’ve all been there. Arrived at an impromptu fancy dress party only to find that you’ve not got a fake leg for the Pirate themed celebration. Worry no more, that Vuvuzela you have in your possession can simply be upturned and placed below your knee and hey presto, job done. You’ll be the toast of the party and you’ll probably be very popular with the opposite sex.

Spare Table Leg

Socialite Paris  Hilton made her way into an office building in Beverly Hills, California  on April 13, 2010. Paris sported an al green outfit and seemed to be in  a hurry. Fame Pictures, Inc

The next time you arrange an important dinner party but realise that your entertaining table is missing a table leg, you need not worry because you already have a ready made implement perfect for the job. Alternatively if you have an important dinner party and you have no table at all then all you need is four vuvuzelas and something with a smooth flat surface to place on top, perhaps Paris Hilton?

Baseball Bat

A good way to help spread the love of the Vuvuzela to other sports. Though made chiefly of plastic there are bound to be metal or wooden versions of the instrument available which could then handily be used as a baseball bat. Alternatively they can be used to attack those who play the damned things in a manner one might use a baseball bat to exert violence on one and other.

Drinking Implement

Surely this has already been in operation in bars and pubs across the world. The Vuvuzela is an ideal way to put the instrument to good use. Simply ask a friend to poor copious amounts of alcoholic liquid (Tequila perhaps) in the funnel end and you just position yourself below the thin (blowing) end and enjoy!

An Old Fashioned Hearing Aid

How ironic that a device that blares out at 130 decibels can actually be used by those deafened by its use to help restore their hearing?

An Extra Arm Extension

There are so many occasions when things are just slightly out of reach either due to one’s own height or laziness. The next time you can’t quite reach the remote control but wish to change channels or perhaps you simply want to turn off the television all together due to irritating din, then you have the handy tool to do so right there in your hand!


Yes admittedly it would be the worst ever telescope ever invented but that no one else needs to know its not working. All you need to do is aim the Vuvuzela into the night sky and make intelligent references to seeing “Saturn’s third ring resplendent with inert gases” and hope that no one realises you are in fact pointing a plastic instrument skywards that has no magnifying capabilities whatsoever.

Blow Dart for use in Political Assassinations

Imagine it if you will. You have been employed by the Soviet Secret Services in the late 1970s and you’ve been employed to deal with a potential defector. You’ve brought you blow darts but you realise at the last moment you’ve left your blow dart apparatus on the train from Vladivostok but that’s not problem because you’ve got your trusty Vuvuzela. One word of warning do not accidentally blow to hard as the noise that follows may well alert said defector and then he may make a run for it.

Deafening Machine

Why not use the Vuvuzela for its seemingly most natural function? It makes a noise that is known to result in the melting of the brain and hearing passages around it so why doesn’t a major nation design a military capability for its horrifying abilities? What is needed is a ’super-vuvuzela’ that is approximately the size of an Elephant which can then be marched onto the battle field and then played whilst the enemy advances. The results will render your opposition powerless.

Bonus: You Will Never Experience Happiness Like This

6 Reasons Why People Are Afraid to Start a Business

Written by Gary Gon

Starting a new business can be a turbulent undertaking. For one thing, there are no guarantees of success. Businesses fail every single day, and plenty of entrepreneurs come away with nothing to show for months or years of hard-fought effort. The idea of sacrificing a steady salary for an uncertain, hoped-for payday also tends to provoke anxiety.

While some are undeterred by these obstacles, others opt to play it safe and scrap their business plans altogether. Below are six of the most prevailing reasons why people are afraid to start businesses (and whether they make sense.)

1. The Economy

Some of the most common fears about starting businesses relate to how “the economy” is doing. If the economy is in a lull, many would be entrepreneurs assume that now must necessarily be the wrong time to get started. This belief is reinforced by nay-saying politicians and journalists who exaggerate even the very worst economic news.

Remember, though, that there is no single entity called “the economy.” What is loosely referred to as the economy is really just the vast, interconnected web of buyers and sellers accommodating each other through the market and price system. Moreover, there are two sides to every transaction. While some sectors of the economy may be hurting (such as finance and housing today), those on the other side of the affected transaction (like foreclosure specialists and storage facilities) could be thriving.

2. Uncertainty

Another fear that stops entrepreneurs from getting started is the uncertainty inherent in owning a business. Unlike a salaried job, business ownership provides no immediate or guaranteed pay. Income, if any, is commensurate with the company’s sales or profits. If you have grown accustomed to being paid on a regular schedule regardless of outcome, trading that in for the uncertainty of business ownership can feel like a leap of faith. It is entirely legitimate to wonder if your business will be capable of providing for you or your family.

That said, there is a flip side to the uncertainty. If and when your business does produce an income, no boss or employer can take it away. Never again will you have to plead for a raise or demonstrate why you “deserve” more. In business, your income is entirely determined by what you produce and/or sell.

3. Indecision

Others have reservations because they are undecided about what type of business to start. More often than not, these are people who know they want to be self-employed, but not in what capacity. This, too, can be a legitimate fear to have. If you currently work in a steady career, it is not enough to simply “go into business.” In order to credibly go off on your own, you must be confident about what kind of business you will open. You must also have the skills and expertise to succeed in that business.

Current or previous jobs are a good reference point. If you currently work for an accounting firm, starting your own is perfectly reasonable. Deciding to abruptly change course and buy an Alaskan crab fishing boat might warrant more scrutiny.

4. Debt

Debt can constitute a serious obstacle to entrepreneurship. If you are saddled with student loans or credit card bills, it will be difficult to obtain any start-up financing you might need. In severe instances (such as if your wages are being garnished), any income your business produces will go directly to your creditors anyway.

Needless to say, concern about your pre-existing debt is a completely defensible reason to fear starting a business. Rather than trying to juggle both at once, focus squarely on repaying all of your debts first. Once your financial slate is wiped clean, you can move on to business ownership with a clear mind.

5. Family Obligations

Financial concerns are not the only reason people fear starting businesses. The early years of a new company can be incredibly taxing, and some fear having little time to spend with their families. After all, everyone gets the same 24 hours in a day. There is only so much of yourself to go around, and if you’re putting in ten or twelve hour days at work, there is no way to also spend that time at home. (Unless you have a home office, that is.)

It may truthfully be that family time is a deal-breaker for you. On the other hand, don’t be too quick to relinquish your ambitions. Discuss with your spouse whether arrangements or sacrifices can be made for the early days of your company.

6. No Benefits

Finally, other would-be entrepreneurs worry about what losing benefits, such as employer-provided health insurance or 401(k) contributions, will do to their overall finances. This, too, is a serious concern worth addressing. Perhaps you or a family member has a long-standing health condition. In such a scenario, a sudden lack of coverage could prove devastating.

Not every situation is so dire, however. Retirement accounts (including IRAs, Solo 401(k)s and self-employed pensions) can be opened and funded on your own without the help of any employer. It may also be possible to form a pool with other entrepreneurs and buy health insurance at lower group rates, which is essentially how large employers buy it.

Bonus: WTF? Adorable Kitten Adorably Attacks Himself

6 Ridiculous Arguments That Actually Happened on Wikipedia

Written by Adam Tod Brown

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Over the years, Wikipedia has actually morphed into a somewhat useful source of information.  Sure, anyone can edit it, but the people who do usually go to great lengths to make sure the information provided is as accurate and neutral as possible.

But every once in awhile, some random maniac swoops in and tries to bring all of that thoughtful discussion and hard work crashing down in a big heaping wreck of crazy.  You would think that when it happens, people would just dismiss it as the ravings of an internet lunatic.  But you would be wrong.

Why Does Everyone In The Matrix Wear Black Clothes and Sunglasses?

matrix ab061410 6 Ridiculous Arguments That Actually Happened on  Wikipedia

It should come as no surprise that the Wikipedia entry for The Matrix is a hotbed for heated discussions.  Nerds do love to bicker.  The discussions on the Matrix page veer wildly between valid (no, The Matrix isn’t a retelling of the story of Jesus) and shit nobody in their right mind should ever care about (why does “There is no spoon” redirect here?).

That’s to be expected.  Those aren’t the kind of discussions that are ever going to finally free you from the shackles of virginity, but as they relate to the movie, why not bring it up?  But in March of 2007, a Wikipedia user named Ratso dropped this bomb on the discussion.

“Why do all the characters wear black clothes and sunglasses? That seems to be the stereotype but there doesn’t seem to be much of an explanation why.”

Rather than shut this down with a swift and logical “because that shit looks awesome” the editorial community jumped into action, offering up various theories and fiercely debating whether actually unlocking this treasure chest of wisdom would benefit the research community.  (Hint – it would not.)

The Debate Begins

“Please do not use Wikipedia as a forum for subjects other than improving the article.”

If we could sign our John Hancock somewhere to show our wholehearted support for this position, we damn sure would.  Actually, we probably can, but it would undoubtedly be deemed Wikipedia vandalism or something, like that time we edited our own Wikipedia page to suggest that the entire editorial and writing staff have gigantic cocks.  Even the chicks.  Sometimes the internet just can’t handle the truth.

huge rooster ab061410 6 Ridiculous Arguments That Actually  Happened on Wikipedia

Assistant fashion editor Rico O’Shaugnessy and his gigantic cock

At any rate, in a perfect world, the discussion would have ended here.

The Debate Continues

“Actually, if we could find out the answer to Ratso’s question, it could be added into the article – thus improving the article. Sometimes discussion helps, you know.”

If ever there is an award given for the internet community with the most free time on its hands, Wikipedia will win it hands down.  While those among us who aren’t physically chained to our keyboards would blow a question like this off without a second thought, apparently, someone is going to try and tackle it.  What will they find?

The Debate Gets Ridiculous

“All the characters wear sunnies and black leather trenchcoats because while in the Matrix they appear as they want to appear/see themselves ideally; alot cooler/suaver than in the real world. It just so happens that these revolutionaries Neo, Trinity, Morpheus could really identify with the psycho kids from Colombine.”

Yeah?  They could relate to the Columbine shooters?  Could they also see into the future?  Because the Columbine shootings happened in April of 1999.  The Matrix, on the other hand, was released in March of 1999.

The Verdict

Edit not allowed.  As of today, the world is still in the dark as to why the characters in the Matrix wear black.  Someday, some brave Wikipedia editor may come along with the information we need.  And we shall call him…The One.

How Many Pictures of Oprah Winfrey Are Too Many?

oprah ab061410 6 Ridiculous Arguments That Actually Happened on  Wikipedia

There is something to be said for stubbornness.  Where would we be as a society if Rosa Parks just went ahead and gave up her seat or if that guy in Tiananmen Square just moved out of the way of those tanks?  Similarly, where would we be if Wikipedia user Cardriver didn’t leave everything on the floor during the fierce battle to defend her right to upload seven pictures of Oprah Winfrey to Wikipedia?

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Probably a bad analogy

The shit hit the fan on July 4th, 2006 when the Oprah Winfrey page’s nomination for Good Article status failed.  We have no idea what that means.  But we do know the reason it failed was because there were too many images included on the page.  Eight pictures, to be exact.  The user who uploaded those pictures, Cardriver, did not take this news well.

“I couldn’t disagree more. Any good encyclopedia should include as many relevant photographs as possible because photos communicate information far more efficiently than language can. Haven’t you heard the expression “a picture’s worth a thousand words?”

Really?  Photos communicate information far more efficiently than language can?  Then riddle us this, after seeing this picture, would you feel comfortable hopping into a van with this man, or would you need a little more information first, perhaps of the spoken kind?

cat lover ab061410 6 Ridiculous Arguments That Actually Happened  on Wikipedia

The Debate Begins

“Actually, any good encyclopedia should strive to describe a topic in brilliant prose rather than relying on copyright violations. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but that doesn’t give us the right to use pictures that don’t belong to us.”

You would think this would have ended things.  Basically, the photos in question are copyrighted and therefore can’t be used no matter how relevant they may be.  No matter.  Cardriver is just getting warmed up.

The Debate Continues

“Comparing the edits made by you to those of Vexel and Zorklift, it’s a little obvious you’re just another sock puppet (duplicate account) of Cardriver. Please stop wasting everyone’s (and your own) time.”

At this point, Cardriver has fought her way through copyright infringement claims and is now being outed as having set up duplicate accounts to make it appear as if there were people arguing on her behalf.  She can’t possibly top that, can she?

The Debate Gets Ridiculous

Yes, she can.  First, how about suggesting that those who would conspire to keep photos of Oprah off of Wikipedia are engaging in age discrimination?

“A bunch of us are very elderly so we’re new to this whole wikipedia thing. I really feel as though we’re being picked on by more experienced users of the technological age. I would really hate to think that any administrators of such a wonderful place as wikipedia would be abusing their power. When I first arrived at Wikipedia I loved it and found everyone welcoming, but once I incorrectly uploaded some beautiful Oprah photos people have been not at all helpful. I’ve really never felt so bullied in my life. Please show some compassion.”

If that doesn’t work, there’s always the time tested racism argument.

“Why is it okay for a white male like Bill Clinton to have 18 photos but a black female like Oprah is having trouble getting only 8?”

public enemy ab061410 6 Ridiculous Arguments That Actually  Happened on Wikipedia

Fight the Power, Cardriver!

The Verdict

Shockingly, all of that campaigning eventually paid off.  A compromise was reached and four of the eight contentious images were included in the article.  Let this be a lesson, never give up on your dreams, kids.

What Does “Gay Icon” Mean Again?

eminem elton ab061410 6 Ridiculous Arguments That Actually  Happened on Wikipedia

Obviously, Wikipedia vandalism is nothing new.  You leave an entire repository of information open to be edited by the public and inevitably someone is going to use it to imply that the lead singer of Nickelback enjoys dong.

wikipedia2 ab 061410 6 Ridiculous Arguments That Actually Happened  on Wikipedia

Or do this

But when this happens, it’s mandatory that the Wikipedia community pauses for a second before haphazardly tossing the vandalism label around.  Because it could just be that the person editing the page is a dumbass.

Take what happened when an anonymous user tried to edit Eminem’s Wikipedia page to add him to the “gay icon” category.  That seems like some pretty blatant vandalism, but when you listen to the explanation behind it, you quickly realize that it’s not vandalism at all.  It’s just that this guy has no idea what “gay icon” means.

The Debate Begins

“The “gay icon” category isn’t exclusive to public figures who ARE gay. It’s for anyone who has had any kind of notoriety with gay audiences.”

Wow, by those standards, the guy who runs the Westboro Baptist Church is a gay icon.

westboro ab061410 6 Ridiculous Arguments That Actually Happened on  Wikipedia

The Debate Continues

“So gays don’t like him and that makes him a gay icon? Look up icon first.”

The Debate Gets Ridiculous

“Would it be too much trouble to ask you to get an account so we know what to call you?”

Really?  You really want to go down this path, Wikipedia?  In situations like this, it’s best to just call them stupid and move on.

The Verdict

Do we really need to tell you?  Edit not allowed.

Argument about Whether the Gremlins Are Racist Seems Kind of Racist

gremlins ab061410 6 Ridiculous Arguments That Actually Happened on  Wikipedia

When discussing matters of race, it’s important that you not somehow come off as a racist yourself.  You know, unless you’re discussing how you totally believe that your race is superior to another, in which case, by all means, get your bigot on.  But otherwise, you have to tread carefully.

Take the case of Wikipedia user Deeceevoice, for example.  In September of 2006 they took to the discussion page for the movie Gremlins to question why the information they added about the Gremlins being racist was removed.  Keep in mind, they weren’t referring to the Asian shopkeeper who initially sold Gizmo.  That was the most racist shit ever and everyone knows it.  But instead, this was Deeceevoice’s beef…

The Debate Begins

“The creatures exhibit some of the worst sterotypical behavior attributed to blacks. They are wild, drunken, carousing, violent, murderous, seductive, lascivious, crude and rowdy. The females are depicted with big, red lips.”

Jamie Foxx Wanda ab061410 6 Ridiculous Arguments That Actually  Happened on Wikipedia

Like this?

Yep, that sounds just like the kind of vitriol our racist uncle Smiley used to spout at family gatherings back in the day.  “Stay away from black people, they’re seductive!”  Roger that, crazy uncle Smiley.

After another user wisely points out that this is a retarded argument, Deeceevoice digs in even deeper by pointing out that the Gremlins were also breakdancing and acted “cool” so, obviously, they were intended to be black.  Duh!

The Debate Continues

“You can claim that small green rubber toys with inhuman features represent an attack on black people if you want, just because they wear sunglasses and breakdance, but in order to do this you’d have to believe that no one else wears sunglasses or breakdances.”

The Debate Gets Ridiculous

After someone makes an almost equally ridiculous claim that the bar scene in question was meant to highlight the “corrupt elite,” you know, as opposed to just showing a bunch of fucking Gremlins acting up, Deeceevoice comes back with this…

“The “corrupt elite” would not be in what amounted to a sleazy jukejoint atmosphere with gangsta types and low lifes. Next time (if there is a next time) you happen to see the film check it out. Then ask yourself, “If the creators of the scene wanted to depict some redneck hick gremlins, would they have done the drinking and carousing scenes in the same way, with the same music, the same clothes, the same physical characterstics — or, would they have done it differfently?”

There is but one obvious answer to this question.  That answer, of course, is “shut the fuck up.”

The Verdict

Edit allowed!  Turns out, one person did actually make a claim that the Gremlins were racist in a book called Ceramic Uncles & Celluloid Mammies.  Well, shit, they must be racist then!  For the record, if anyone is currently in the Wikipedia editing business, we’ve always kind of thought Maxim magazine was pretty racist.  Feel free to cite this article if you need to back up that claim.

Michael Jackson: The King of…Ghana?

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During his long, illustrious career, Michael Jackson accomplished a lot of things.  Grammy Awards, American Music Awards, Billboard Awards, Lifetime Achievement Awards, Honorary King of Ghana.

Wait, what?  Is that last one real?  If Wikipedia user Street Walker is to be believed, not only is it real, but, like, everybody knows about it.  Well, color us ignorant, Street Walker!  Please, do explain!

The Debate Begins

“Michael Jackson is the honorary King of Ghana and member of the Bafokeng Ka Bakwena tribe in Phokeng. This is common knowledge, but because wiki requires sources for all its info (except for anything that makes Michael Jackson look bad, that doesn’t need citing apparently) I did a Google search and found this page that contains the info.”

In case you didn’t bother clicking on the link that leads to the source of the eye opening information, let’s just say it’s not the kind of authoritative source you would turn to when putting together your college thesis.

In fact, we showed that website to a Geocities website and the Geocities site said “hey, asshole, 1997 called and said they want their HTML back!”  Oh Geocities, lame jokes like that are the reason you got shut down.

The Debate Continues

After the information was removed, Street Walker ups the absurdity levels to new heights with this head scratching argument.

“If you go to Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom you’ll see that after her naem and DOB is says “Queen regnant of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland” and the long list of countries she rules. So why should Michael Jackson be any different? It’s part of his official title, Michael Joseph Jackson honorary King of Ghana.”

We have absolutely no words for this argument.  None.  But another Wikipedia user summed it up better than we ever could have.

“Err, Elizabeth isn’t the honorary Queen of England, she is the Queen of England.”

The Debate Gets Ridiculous

After finally giving up on the King of Ghana angle, Street Walker talks a hard left down Insanity Avenue by instead asking that the nickname “Wacko Jacko” be removed from the Wikipedia page entirely.

“Wacko Jacko is a derogatory term used to insult Michael Jackson. It is just as insulting as the ‘n’ word is to black people.”

Also insulting – implying that Wacko Jacko is as insulting as the ‘n’ word.

The Verdict

King of Ghana is out, Wacko Jacko stays.  And the world is again as it should be.

Is Adopting a Black Sheep on Farmville Stereotyping?

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In the annals of backwards thinking, this argument could go down as the most heinous example of all time.  First, get it from the horse’s mouth, Wikipedia user Psilocyberite:

The Debate Begins

“In farmville, one can only adopt a “black sheep”, which is lost and lonely, as opposed to purchase it from the market. While the idiom “black sheep” has lost some of its negative connotation in modern usage, the idea of adopting it and giving it a shelter could qualify as an example of stereotyping, and a discussion could be initiated about the same.”

In case you’re too busy tending to your head which is quite likely spinning uncontrollably from the inherent stupidity you’ve just read to really comprehend what is happening here, basically, someone is suggesting that because you can only adopt a black sheep on Farmville and not outright buy it, that is somehow stereotyping.  Makes sense, provided this is some kind of backhanded endorsement of slavery or something.  Honestly, coming from Facebook, nothing would surprise us.

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The Debate Continues

“Sterotyping? That is totally idiotic. If someone thinks the term “black sheep” is racial sterotyping, then they are just entirely too sensitive and probably need to get out of the house more often.”

The Debate Gets Ridiculous

Before we get to the responses that actually pertain to this argument, can anyone tell us what the hell this is supposed to mean?

“Why lost&lonely animals are rated so? Me and my friends are founding often ducklings, black sheeps and brown cows are both rare.”

Right, we didn’t think so.  At any rate, proving that no point is too absurd for the Wikipedia crowd to debate, there was this…

“Stereotyping” is not automatically “racial sterotyping”. Spare us this hyper-PC nonsense, and stick to actual pro- and contra-arguments, e.g. that there is no obvious reason why an article on FarmVille should deal with either stereotyping or black sheeps.”

We’d like to point out that all spellings of the word “stereotyping” in italics are the work of their respective authors.

The Verdict

Further proving that Facebook is a full on haven of evil and corruption, to this day, no mention of the abhorrent treatment of black sheep on Farmville can be found on the Wikipedia page.  No justice, no peace, Facebook.  We shall overcome.

Going on Dates Without Breaking the Bank

Written by Susan Johnston

photo: vm2827

When we began researching ways to go on a date without burning a hole in your wallet, we uncovered so many creative, low-cost ideas that we could cram them all into a single article.

Here are several more suggestions to round out our last piece. Be still, bargain-loving hearts!

1. Volunteer together.

Show your date your altruistic side and contribute to the greater good by signing up for a volunteer project together. Catey Hill, author of SHOO, Jimmy Choo! The Modern Girl’s Guide to Spending Less and Saving More, says that you can feed the homeless, donate your time to a clothing drive, or do something to help those less fortunate than you.” is a good resource for finding volunteer programs in your area.

2. Watch a (minor) ball game.

Dating a sports buff? Tickets to a major league baseball or other sporting event will cost you major bucks. But minor league games are much cheaper and often just as fun. “A minor league game is $10 for a great seat and the concessions are cheap, too,” says 41-year-old Richard O’Malley of Ridgefield Park, NJ. “Plus, there are always fun and interesting contests that go on during the breaks in the action.”

3. Explore your area.

Booth Vance, 32, of Scranton, Penn., suggests a fun, spontaneous date where you and your date drive where the wind blows. “Casual clothing and comfortable walking shoes, a few sandwiches, some water and a full tank of gas is all you need,” he says. After picking up your date, drive to the freeway and make a game time decision when you come to each fork in the road. This way you’ll get to explore new places and see if your date can handle a little uncertainty.

4. Play board games or pub trivia.

Challenging your date to trivia or a board game can be a fun way to see how they respond to friendly competition. Show off your inner mogul with a game of Monopoly. Bring back your childhood favorites like Candy Land or Yahtzee. Or if you’re trying to get closer to someone, try Twister. I’ve had several memorable dates that unfolded over games of Scrabble. After all, what’s sexier than a guy with a big vocabulary?

5. Skip straight to dessert.

Consider eating dinner at home (or separately), then going to a nice restaurant for coffee and dessert. “I doubt there’s a woman alive who would be able to resist the lure of late night chocolate treats, snuggled into a booth at the back of a softly lit restaurant.” says Emma Merkas, owner of $30 Date Night.

6. Hit the beach.

A visit to the beach is inexpensive, and it has the added advantage that you’ll get to see your date in swimwear. While there, you could go rollerblading, swimming, surfing or simply sunbathing, says Los Angeles dating coach Ofer Batt. Depending on where you go, you might also be able to explore the boardwalk, play beach volleyball, and build sand castles together.

7. Attend a student play or concert.

If you’re craving some culture but can’t afford full-price tickets, check the events calendar at one of your local colleges or arts conservatories and look for dance performances, recitals, plays, or concerts. College music and arts programs often schedule inexpensive performances that are open to the public. If you’re an alumnus, you can usually score a discount, too.

Susan Johnston is a Boston-based freelance writer who covers business and lifestyle topics.

Saw this last night in Hollywood. It made me smile.


Written by Scotty Trigg

Well at least Jack had the decency to leave a note and the honesty to mention his true actions. Those darned Aussies with their frankness. I’d be pretty hard heated if not only did I come back to wrecked car but also to this piece of paper. Thanks a lot Jack…you’re an asshole! (oh and you spell like one too).

Update: World isn’t full of dishonest People

How To Permanently Delete Your Account on Popular Websites

Written by Cameron Chapman

We all have an increasing number of sites and online services we’re members of, and sometimes it all gets a little overwhelming. At times, we just need to delete our memberships to some sites, either in an effort to simplify our lives or just because we’ve grown tired of a particular site or service.

What we often don’t realize when signing up for all these accounts, though, is how difficult it can be to permanently delete our accounts when we’ve had enough. Some require complicated, multi-step processes that can stretch over the course of days (or weeks). Others take less time, but still require multiple steps by the user.

Below we’ll take a look at the account deletion processes of popular websites and services, and how easy or difficult they make it. Then we’ll discuss why sites make things so complicated, and some things to consider when designing your own deletion policies.

[Offtopic: by the way, did you know that there is a Smashing eBook Series? Book #2 is Successful Freelancing for Web Designers, 260 pages for just $9,90.]


Facebook in How To Permanently Delete Your Account on Popular  Websites

Difficulty (on a scale of 1-5, 5 being hardest): 5

Deleting a Facebook account is a bit more complicated than many other services. There are two options for getting rid of your FB account, one that’s permanent and complete, and one that lets you change your mind later.

If you just want to shut down your account for a little while, with the option to reactivate it later, you can deactivate your account. This is simple: just go into your account settings and click on the “deactivate account” link. This immediately makes your account invisible to everyone else on Facebook. If you decide at a later date that you want to reactivate your account, it’s as simple as reactivating.

If you’re looking for something a little more permanent, though, you’ll need to submit a request to Facebook. The tricky thing here, though, is that they don’t immediately delete your account, and if at any time before it’s permanently deleted you log in or otherwise interact with Facebook, your deletion request will be canceled. For that reason, it’s a good idea to go around to any computers or devices (like your mobile phone) that you access your account through and log out (deleting saved passwords is also a good idea to prevent an accidental login).

Then you can use the form found here to request deletion. Remember not to log into your account at any point after that. There doesn’t seem to be any official notice on how long it takes, but unofficial reports say 14 days. To be on the safe side, you may want to wait a month or more before attempting to login to confirm your account has been deleted.

More information on deleting your Facebook account can be found in their FAQs.


Twitter in How To Permanently Delete Your Account on Popular  Websites

Difficulty: 2

In contrast to deleting a Facebook account, deleting a Twitter account is relatively easy. All you need to do is go into your account settings and click on the “Deactivate my account” link at the bottom of the page. This is a permanent deactivation, though it can take up to a month for your account and information to disappear entirely from their system.

One word of warning, though: if you think you might want to use your email address, username or phone number on Twitter in the future, make sure that you change them prior to deactivating your account. Whether these things are permanently blocked from Twitter in the future or only temporarily isn’t specified, but it’s a good idea to change them anyway.

You can find more information on deleting your Twitter account here.


Myspace in How To Permanently Delete Your Account on Popular  Websites

Difficulty: 4

Deleting a MySpace account is a bit convoluted, but doable. You’ll need to login to your account and then go to the “My Account” link, and then select “Account”. Scroll until you see the “Account Cancellation” section and click on “Cancel Account”. This is where it gets a little bit complicated. MySpace will then send you an email with instructions for completing your account cancellation. Except the email doesn’t come right away, and can take a couple of days to show up. Once you get the email, it asks you for confirmation again that you want to delete your account, but then deletes it immediately.

All of the above works just fine, as long as you still have access to the email address you signed up with. But as so often happens when we finally decide to clean up our online accounts, some of them may be associated with outdated email or other accounts. In that case, there are a few alternatives listed by MySpace. The first one is to edit your profile and replace everything in your “About Me” box with “REMOVE PROFILE” and then contact MySpace and tell them to delete your profile (including your friend ID or URL). If that doesn’t work (say, if you can’t login to your account at all), you can just contact MySpace and ask them to delete the profile. How quickly they actually do so isn’t specified.

Official instructions for deleting your account can be found here.


Linkedin in How To Permanently Delete Your Account on Popular  Websites

Difficulty: 3

LinkedIn makes it quite easy to delete your account, once you know where to look. Click on “Settings” in the upper-right of the screen once you’re logged into your account, and then select “Close Your Account” under “Personal Information”. You’ll then be prompted for the reason you’re closing your account, and once confirmed, your account will be deleted.

As far as social networking sites go, LinkedIn probably has the most straight-forward account closure process. More details can be found here.


Google in How To Permanently Delete Your Account on Popular  Websites

Difficulty: 3

Considering how pervasive Google is in our digital existence, you’d think deleting your Google account might be incredibly complicated. After all, many of us use dozens of Google services, and you’d think each one would require separate deletion.

For the most part, deleting your entire Google account is easy. There are only a few services that require special consideration. Of course, with the exception of a couple of services, there’s no way to delete individual services completely from your Google account. For example, with Analytics, you can delete each individual site you’re tracking, but not the Analytics account itself.

To delete your main Google account, login through the Google Accounts homepage. Then click on “Edit” next to “My Products”. From that page, you can delete certain services (Orkut and Web History), as well as delete your entire account by clicking on “Clear account and delete all services and info associated with it”. This will take you to a form where you’ll need to confirm each of the services you’ll be deleting. If you linked your Google account to an existing YouTube account, you’ll need to delete that account separately.

Then you’ll need to confirm your password, and check that you do, indeed, want to close your account, and that you know you’re still responsible for any pending financial transactions associated with your account. Then confirm, and your account will be deleted.

Certain services, including Google Alerts, Groups, and Docs, aren’t automatically deleted in this way. To unsubscribe from alerts, you’ll need to refer back to your original Alerts email (or from any Alerts email you’ve since received) and click the ‘unsubscribe’-link there. For Groups, you’ll also need to unsubscribe from each group.

Google Docs leaves shared documents and presentations available to collaborators and viewers. Spreadsheets, on the other hand, aren’t available to collaborators or viewers once you’ve deleted your account (so have a collaborator create a copy of the spreadsheet prior to deleting your account). With shared documents and presentations, you’ll want to reassign ownership to another user before deleting your account.

Full details on deleting your Google account can be found on the Google’s Help page “Deleting: Your Google Account”.


Ebay in How To Permanently Delete Your Account on Popular  Websites

Difficulty: 3

Ebay makes it fairly easy to close your account, though they do impose a waiting period. All you need to do is make sure your account has a zero balance, and then click the link to request your account be closed on this page.

One caveat: if you think you might want to use your email address for another Ebay account in the future, make sure that you change it prior to deleting your account. Email addresses and user IDs cannot be reused in the future. Once the waiting period has ended, your account will be deleted and your feedback ratings and other information will no longer be visible. Whether that information is permanently deleted or stored on a server somewhere ad infinitum isn’t specified.


Wikipedia in How To Permanently Delete Your Account on Popular  Websites

Difficulty: Impossible

Wikipedia is one of the few websites out there that doesn’t allow you to delete your account. That’s right, once you have a Wikipedia account, you have it forever. There is some hope, though, if you really don’t want to be associated with it any longer.

In most cases, accounts can be renamed and your user page can be deleted, along with (in some cases) your user talk pages. While this doesn’t erase your tracks entirely, it does effectively let you vanish from the site.

Wikipedia’s reasoning behind this is that all contributions have to be assigned to someone. They can’t have anonymous or orphaned contributions, or it would potentially ruin the crowdsourced and open nature of the site.


Flickr in How To Permanently Delete Your Account on Popular  Websites

Difficulty: 2

Deleting your account on Flickr is relatively easy. Once you’ve logged into your account, go to your account settings and click on the “Personal Information” tab. From there, click the link “Delete your Flickr account”. A warning screen will come up that informs you that the deletion is permanent, and that all of your photos and videos will be deleted.

Deleting your entire Yahoo! account is a separate step. Log into your account and then go to the account deletion page. This page explains what happens when you delete your account. User information is kept on Yahoo!’s active servers for 90 days after the deletion has been requested, and may persist in backups beyond that. Once you’ve read the information on the page, you have to enter your password, a captcha code and then confirm that you want to delete your account. One thing to remember: if you’ve signed up for any Yahoo! premium services, you may still be billed for those after your account has been terminated, so make sure you cancel those premium services before you delete your account.

Windows Live

Windowslive in How To Permanently Delete Your Account on Popular  Websites

Difficulty: 2

Closing your Windows Live account is actually surprisingly easy. There’s only a problem if you’re using that account to access other websites. If so, you’ll need to go to each website where you’re using your Windows Live login credentials and delete your accounts there prior to deleting the Live account itself. If you don’t, you won’t be able to delete those accounts (or do anything with them) once your Live ID is deactivated.

Now, once you’ve verified that all your accounts linked to your Live ID have been closed, all you need to do is go to your Windows Live account and click on the “Close your account” link at the bottom under “Other Options”. This will bring up a page that tells you what happens when your account is closed. This includes that your registered information will be permanently deleted, that some information might not be deleted (refer to their privacy statement for details on that), and that if you have associated children’s accounts with that Live ID, they will also be deactivated. To finish the deletion process, you have to type in your password and click “Yes”.

There are reports that at this point you may be told there is a Microsoft email account associated with your account, and that your account cannot be closed. From there, you just need to click on “Close your Microsoft account” and then “Close my account”.


Stumbleupon in How To Permanently Delete Your Account on Popular  Websites

Difficulty: 1

Stumbleupon is one of the easiest web services to delete your account from. Just go to their delete account page, enter your user ID/nickname and password, and click on “Delete Account”. That’s it! Account deletions are permanent, so make sure you really want to delete your account before clicking that “Delete Account” button.

Wordpress in How To Permanently Delete Your Account on Popular  Websites

Difficulty: Impossible doesn’t allow you to delete your account. Instead, they recommend you simply leave the account inactive. If you’re worried about the information you’ve uploaded to your account, remember you can always delete the information contained in the account (or replace it with false information).

Start by deleting your blogs. To do that, go to Tools and then “Delete Site”. There’s an email confirmation step required. You may want to run an export of your site’s content first, just so you have a backup in case you ever want to repost or reuse any of it (or just for posterity). After that, you can replace your email address and other identifying information with alternative information. More information can be found on this page and this one.


Amazon in How To Permanently Delete Your Account on Popular  Websites

Difficulty: 3

Closing your Amazon account requires you to contact their customer service department to request the account to be closed. This can only be done if you have no pending transactions, so make sure you’ve either received or cancelled all recent orders.

The email to customer service has to be sent from the email-address associated with your account. Other than that, they don’t give any indication of either how long it might take to delete the account or if there are additional confirmation steps involved.


Youtube in How To Permanently Delete Your Account on Popular  Websites

Difficulty: 3

If your YouTube account was set up with your Google account login credentials (as in, you used your Google account to sign up for your YouTube account), it’s automatically deleted when you delete your Google account. But if you set it up separately from your Google account (or linked the accounts together after they were both set up, or if you want to keep your Google account), you’ll need to delete it separately. One thing to note is that deleting your account does not delete your videos or channel, just your profile information. You’ll need to delete those prior to deleting your account.

The deletion process is pretty straightforward, though it does have a few more steps than are really necessary. Log in to your account and then go to “Manage” from the drop-down menu under your user name. Then click on “Manage Account” and then “Delete Account”. It will then ask you why you want to delete your account. Fill that in and then click the “Delete Account” button. YouTube then brings up a window that reminds you that your videos will not be deleted, only your profile. If you’ve deleted your videos and channel (or opted not to), then click on “Delete Account” one more time. You then have to confirm one more time. After that, try logging into your account again to make sure it’s been deleted.


Paypal in How To Permanently Delete Your Account on Popular  Websites

Difficulty: 1

Closing a PayPal account is pretty simple. Just log in to your account, and then click on your “Profile” link. From there, click on the “Close Account” link in the “Account Information” column. You’ll be prompted to continue from there and then you’ll need to click the “Close Account” button.

You’ll want to make sure your account is current and that there are no pending transactions, and of course you’ll want to transfer the positive balance to your bank account. There are reports that if you delete your PayPal account, it’s more difficult to get another one in the future (as in, they require more information of you). Whether this is true or not is unconfirmed.

Why’s It So Complicated?

In the case of every service mentioned above, properly deleting your account is a multi-step process. Some sites are even more difficult. It’s not a technical issue, obviously, as programming a functionality to let users delete their own accounts is something most competent developers could do before breakfast.

So why do some sites make it so complicated? The answer is user retention. They don’t want you to delete your account. The hope is that if you have the account, you’ll use it at least occasionally, if for no other reason than curiosity about things you might have missed when you weren’t logged in. As soon as you delete that account, though, it’s an out-of-site-out-of-mind kind of thing. You’re less likely to sign up for another account if you decided you could live without it once.

Account Deletion Remorse

This is one very valid reason to make it more complicated to delete an account: deletion remorse. It’s not uncommon for a user to have a bad day, get angry about something going on within a social network, and decide they’ve had enough and are getting rid of their account.

Of course, what often happens is that a day or two later they realize how much they loved using that social network, and they wish they could get their account back. With account deletion policies like those of Facebook (on which I’ve witnessed such account deletion remorse first-hand), users can just reactivate their account, and have all of their old friends and information right there. On sites with more immediate deletion policies, that user would likely have to start over entirely.

Should You Use Complicated Account Deletion Processes?

Considering how many major sites out there have complex methods for deleting accounts, should this be industry standard? Should all sites employ these methods to help retain users who can’t be bothered to follow a multi-step process? Probably not.

There are a few things to consider when deciding whether you want to make it complicated for a user to delete their account. First of all, if your deletion process is going to be handled by customer service representatives, do you have the manpower to do so? If you suddenly have a thousand members who want to delete their accounts, do you have the resources to handle that?

Do you expect users to regularly delete their accounts just to sign up for a new one a week later? If it’s complicated to delete their account, they may never sign up for another one, not wanting to go through the process again.

Inactive accounts can also eat up your system resources. Server space can become an issue, especially on very popular sites (or sites with very low budgets). Plus, it makes maintenance and backups more intensive, since there’s more data to deal with. Making it easier for people to delete their accounts if they’re not using your service can help relieve that load.

The level of complexity for the account deletion process is something that needs to be considered on a site-by-site basis. In general, the easier the process is, the better; however, it is important to make sure that users may be having a bad day and make a mistake by closing an account and so they will be happy about getting the account back a couple of days after it was closed.

Making the process way too difficult and time-consuming will turn annoyed customers in angry ones, the ones who will be very likely to spread negative word out there, while annoyed users would probably just close the account and move on, and even maybe come back to the service later. In either case, one way to minimize your worries about it, though, is to keep your users happy and conduct your site’s business in a transparent and open way.

5 Things Old Media Still Doesn’t Get About The Web

Written by Navneet Alang

Earlier this week, the New York Times company forced the iPad Pulse News Reader app to be pulled from the App Store. The reason? It took the Times’ RSS feed and put it inside its own app.

To be clear, the RSS feed in question was a headline, a one-sentence introduction and a link to the full story on the NYT site. That’s it. Worse? Steve Jobs highlighted the app earlier during his WWDC keynote – and the NYT itself wrote a glowing review of the app just a few days before.

As mystifying as the move seems from the outside, it’s yet another sign that established old media entities are still really struggling to understand the web. Time and time again, it feels as if old media companies, rather than embracing the massive potential of the web, seem to shoot themselves in the foot.

So consider this a public service. For all those people out there working in established media, here are five things you still don’t seem to get about the web:

1. People Never Wanted to Pay for the News

To an old media company, the concept of paying for news makes total sense. People used to pay for newspapers – and they still pay for cable or satellite – so they should pay for the same content online, right?

Here’s why they’re wrong. People used to buy newspapers because they aggregated information they needed. Sure, they would read the news, but you also had the weather, the sports scores, classifieds – and in a pinch, you could hold it over your head when it rained.

But now, web users can get all that information from a variety of places. Craigslist is way better than paper for classifieds, weather is everywhere, the web updates stock prices instantly, you can check sports scores on your phone – I could go on. To ask people to even pay a dollar a day to get that information seems like too much because, suddenly, a truth has been revealed: most people never wanted to pay to read the news. They just wanted all their daily information needs in one place.

With the web, no-one needs all that information in one place because that’s what their browser is for.

2. Paywalls Break the Web and Annoy Your Customers

Similarly, many news organizations seem to feel that paywalls are the way forward. But they’re not.

Picture this. A columnist for a newspaper writes a brilliant article explaining, oh I dunno, a forthcoming economic crisis, or an expose of the BP oil spill. A small, but influential group of people excitedly link to it. Tens of thousands of people click on it… only to be greeted by a message asking them to pay $5 a week to read articles such as these. A tiny fraction sign up – but the bulk of people who have spent years freely exchanging information simply click away.

This is the issue with paywalls: they break the fundamental way that the web operates. People can’t link to your stories, blog about them, tweet them or share them on Facebook when they are behind a paywall because, to put it bluntly, there’s no point. It’s like sitting at a bar and trying to start a discussion about a movie no-one there has seen.

It’s certainly true that business models for news are extremely hard to come by. No-one quite knows what to do. But breaking the fundamental nature of the web with a paywall is definitely not the way forward.

3. The Web Needs New Solutions, Not Digital Replicas of Print

So forget paywalls and other things – lets make people pay for fancy, shiny digital versions of newspapers, right? Nope. Here’s an example of why not.

Prominent Canadian newspaper the Globe and Mail offers an iPad-friendly version of its paper for 2o bucks a month. Know what 20 bucks gets you? An exact digital replica of the print edition. It’s utterly mystifying as to why anyone would pay 20 bucks to read than on an iPad when they can simply open the browser and read the newspaper’s website for free.

This is what old media companies don’t seem to get: if you want people to pay for content, you have to offer something new and compelling, not simply a glorified PDF. Take the Wired iPad app. While it’s not ideal, it at least does things that print cannot. That is where media companies must go. It isn’t about ‘how to make the newspaper or the magazine digital’. It’s about what new forms can be invented that take advantage of the massive potential of today’s technology.

4. People Pirate Because They Get a Better Experience

Of course, it isn’t just print that’s struggling. The movie, TV and recording industries are also scrambling to deal with the web. And their primary flaw so far – other than, ya’ know, suing their customers – is that they can’t seem to recognize that customers who pirate get a better experience. Why?

Well first, there is no clunky DRM getting in the way. Download an MKV or AVI of your favorite show and you can take it anywhere and do anything with it. Stream it to your TV with standard equipment, quickly and easy copy it from computer to computer – easy peasy.

Similarly, while you can buy an ‘HD’ episode of Mad Men on iTunes for a few bucks, you can get a far higher quality version from BitTorrent. It’s wrong to pirate copyrighted material, sure – but why are the paid options lower quality than the illicit ones? Isn’t that just the tiniest bit crazy?

I’m not advocating piracy. But the fundamental principle of the market is that the better product wins. When you’re being outclassed by people in their basements, it’s clear you’re focusing on the wrong things – i.e. protecting content instead of making it compelling. If you want to compete in the web age, the old adage still applies: give people what they want.

5. Filesharing and Piracy Do Not Always Represent Lost Sales

Finally, old media folk love to talk about how piracy is eating into their business. But while the numbers are still fuzzy, one thing that’s clear is that a pirated copy of a file does not automatically equal “a lost sale”. Because someone downloads a copy of a film or TV show or album, it doesn’t mean they were ever going to buy or rent it later.

In fact, many albums and films get a boost from their widespread dispersal of file-sharing networks, such as X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

While not all piracy has such positive effects, what’s clear is that all the money poured into lawsuits trying to stamp out piracy might be better spent finding ways to market and distribute content.

“New Media” Needs the New

Overall, what old media companies are struggling with is that the web is not simply another medium like print or TV – it is an entirely new one, and with it comes a whole new series of cultural assumptions. It’s not just that things are faster or more convenient – it’s that the web is fundamentally changing how cultures think about information, media and their exchange.

To simply rest on your laurels and try and replicate the models of the past will get you nowhere. It’s like trying to peddle radio dramas after TV – you won’t appeal to the masses doing it. And that right there is key – stop trying to change how people have already learned to behave online (linking,sharing etc.) and start adapting to what your customers want.

Have your say: what other principles does old media have to change or abandon in order to appeal to the web generation?