Sunday, November 22, 2009

Kudos to HP

After months of informal searching for a new laptop to replace my dying desktop, I finally came across a great price on a laptop, courtesy of Office Depot. Spending a few hundred bucks on anything will almost certainly cause sticker shock, but I must say, I'm quite pleased with my HP G60-530US laptop.

But there's another reason I'm quite happy with HP: packaging.

Yes, packaging. When I opened up my laptop from the cardboard box, I expected to find the laptop surrounded by foam packaging. Instead, I was treated to rigid cardboard. Recyclable cardboard. As a "treehugger" at heart, this really made my day!

Typically, when a product needs to be kept secure in a box, foam is, unfortunately, the go-to packaging protection. So seeing cardboard surrounding my new laptop was a pleasant surprise.

Otherwise, there was only a small amount of plastic used to protect the charging cord. Not bad.

Thank you HP, not only for a great laptop but for your determination in using recyclable cardboard for your packaging. This subtle distinction did not go unnoticed by this consumer.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Attention College Grads: Ignore the Job Reports!

I remember back when I was in college (give or take, oh, about 10 years ago), I would read reports that projected which occupations would be the fastest growing over the next few years. These reports still pop up regularly today, with predictions and statistics and dialogue about which jobs will be most highly in demand. Problem is, with the nature of a dynamic economy that we have, I can't see how it's possible to predict which jobs will be hot even just a couple of years out.

Take, for instance, this story by the Associated Press that was published in the Philadelphia Inquirer. The gist of the article is that there is now a glut of teachers looking to get jobs in schools across the country, when just a few years ago a shortage of teachers was predicted. Whoops.

In my mind, all of the demographic predictions, economic analyses, and expert opinions can't give a definite answer as to which careers will be in most need in a few years. I think college students and recent grads, heck, even seasoned workers, need to determine what they want to do and go out and do it and do it the best they can, rather than trying to follow these ever-changing predictions and simply trying to ride the next wave of hot jobs.

Think about how many people wanted to be a real estate agent just a few years ago. Now it's one of the most challenging fields to get started in due to the housing crunch. Jobs in "green technology" were pretty much unheard of just a few years ago, now there seems to be a strong growth in these positions. And consider how many law school students are graduating and can't get jobs since law firms are suffering as spending on legal matters has dropped precipitously.

In a nutshell, the folks producing these job-prediction outlooks should get new jobs...

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Internet Annoy-vertising on

I have been a long time reader of the Philadelphia Inquirer to keep in touch with Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey news. For a couple of years I read the hard copy of the paper, but gradually grew weary of using all of that paper day in and day out. So I have since become a daily peruser of thenewspaper's online portal,, which is much more environmentally friendly, and free for anybody to read, which is also nice.

It's a widely known fact that newspapers are bleeding subscribers due to the ease and efficiency of the Internet and its virtually infinite number of news sources. And it's also widely known that newspapers are having a difficult time making a profit in this changing world of news production.

So I empathize with the fact that newspapers are looking for new, creative ways to make money. But two of the Inquirer's latest undertakings on, are quite annoying.

First off, when you click on to, you don't realize it, but a pop-under ad often sneaks behind your browser. This in and of itself is annoying, though a fairly common practice across the internet, unfortunately. I frequently get ads from Netflix, for example, in this manner, and promptly ignore them. But the more annoying fact about these pop-unders are that they consist of a list of low rate ads, the likes of which you might see on Facebook's platform. Here's an example of one recent ad (out of six) that popped up:

'See How a Mom Drops 53Lbs!'

See how a mom of 3 drops 53lbs by obeying this 1 old rule... Learn more [link]

[ad accompanied by a cropped photo of a thin woman's belly exposed between tight white shirt and tight jeans]

My suggestion: at least provide some ads of value if you're going to sneak them in there. Perhaps post ads for local houses for sale, sporting event tickets, or other specialized deals, rather than ads trying to appeal to the lowest common denominator of internet surfers.

The other flustering thing that does revolves around their sports articles. Click on a link to an article about, say, the Philadelphia Eagles' next game, and a video automatically starts playing when the page opens up. Most of these videos start with a commercial and then contain generic clips or photos of recent games. The main business page also does something similar when clicking on that page. I think it's a sensible idea to have videos incorporated into the site, but I would prefer them to start only when I click on them, and also make the commercials less intrusive.

I do hope that the Inquirer and are able to find a way to earn a profit off of their news production, I just hope that they can find a more user-friendly way of appealing to loyal readers by avoiding intrusive ads and videos. Just my 2 cents.