Being Mean Is OK, I Guess, According To AT&T

My least favorite ad on TV these days is an ad for AT&T advertising free mobile-to-mobile minutes with the purchase of a messaging and data plan.  Or something like that.

The commercial is basically a guy bursting in to tell his wife that he just signed up the entire family for unlimited minutes.

She replies, sarcastically, saying “Great, and how are we supposed to pay for that?” and proceeds to berate him for making such a costly decision without consulting her, ending her rant by basically saying that she never should have married him.

And this is supposed to make me want to buy AT&T products?!?

The rest of the commercial is the guy trying to defend himself by telling her that they were free, but at that point I don’t even remember the rest, because it’s so irritating and off-putting to me.

I don’t think every commercial should be filled with images of boats and friends and noodle salad, but do we really need to be shown the idea of spouses being spiteful and mean to one another as a message for selling cell phones?

Count me out.

What commercials get on your nerves?  

Footnote: My second least favorite these days is the Master Card ‘Stand Up To Cancer’ commercial where Ray Romano ‘surprises’ a customer using her Master Card, who is making a behind-the-scenes donation to cancer research with each card swipe.  I’m all about donating to cancer and trying to knock it out, so in their case, the message is perfect.   I just don’t like Ray Romano!  *lol*

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How Can 62 Students Fit In A Classroom?

The Detroit Public School system is one of the worst in the country.  It has horrible dropout rates, low test scores, and has been plagued with corruption for years and years.  The poor school system is one of the many things that gives the city of Detroit (and the surrounding region) a terrible reputation.

For years, many leaders have pledged to turn things around and improve the system.  Instead, it’s never happened.  There is optimism in the leadership trio of Robert Bobb (the emergency financial manager for the district), Dave Bing (the recently elected mayor of Detroit) and Rick Snyder (the newly elected governor of Michigan, who has said that a healthy Michigan *has* to include a healthy Detroit, including schools).

Bobb recently presented a fact that if the current projections of enrollment and funding hold true, the school district will be forced to close half of it’s schools in the next four years.  This would result in high school classrooms with as many as 62 student.

My wife brought up a good point that most classrooms, as built, would be ill equipped to handle that large number of students.

Now, Bobb went on to say that there’s no way this should ever be allowed to happen, and was using it as a ‘doomsday’ example to try to get additional funding, more favorable financing of existing debt, better cooperation from the state and local governments, etc.  He’s throwing the numbers out there, but as a scare tactic.  What’s even more scary is that they are based on actual numbers, not pie in the sky projections.

I think everybody knows that the school system can’t turn around with class sizes that large.  No high school can handle that, let alone high schools with some of the most troubled kids in the country.  Everybody knows that this can’t happen.  I think Bobb was throwing the message out there as a first step to ensure that it doesn’t happen.

The poor school system is one reason that millions have fled Detroit for the suburbs or have left Michigan altogether.  Without a good school system, many continue and will continue to avoid Detroit and the metro area.  The trio I mentioned above seem to be cooperating and on the same page in ways that I haven’t seen in my lifetime.

I just hope it translates into results.

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Looking For Some Additional Side Income

Our neighborhood recently launched a new web site for the neighborhood, to inform residents about neighborhood happenings, improvements, news, and anything else worthy.

They have a couple of cool features.  One is an area where you recommend (or warn about) contractors that have performed work that you’d like to spread the word about.  Since so many of these places depend on word of mouth for their business, I like the idea.  It’s like a mini (and free) version of Angie’s List.

The other area that they have is for classifieds.  You can post things for sale or services offered.  One neighbor on the next street over is fairly handy, and has posted a couple of ads about things he can do.  It got me to thinking and I decided to post an ad of my own.

I’ve always been somewhat of a techie.  For a number of years, my job was hands on setting up computers, networks, printers, desktops, servers, and the like and I’ve always been known by my friends as someone they can turn to for advice or help.  While I’ve gotten more into the project and strategic management in my career, and while my own computers aren’t by any means new, I still consider myself fairly adept at being able to handle some of the basics.

So, I put a short ad out there offering basic computer services, things like virus removal, upgrades, wireless network setup, and the like.  We’ll see how it goes, but I found it encouraging that the person that manages the website wrote back and said that, in addition to acknowledging the ad, she needed some work done. So, I already have my first ‘customer’ lined up!

Even a few hours a month would be nice to have a couple of extra bucks come our way.  My wife asked ‘What would you do with the money?’ Honestly, I didn’t have an answer, because I wanted to first see if anybody would even be interested, so I didn’t want to spend money I wasn’t sure would even be earned.

Stay tuned!

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Surveying Things With Opinion Outpost

I saw a few bloggers mention that they earn some money taking surveys through Opinion Outpost, so I thought I would give them a try.

I have been a member of the Pinecone Research Study group for awhile.  They’re pretty cool, though the survey opportunities seem pretty limited.  I think with Pinecone, I average about one paid survey a month, maybe a little higher.  At $3 a pop, it’s nice, but it doesn’t add up to much.  It’s pretty much covered the renewal costs for my blog.

Opinion Outpost was easy to sign up for.  You need to fill out a bunch of informational surveys, the results of which you use to provide information on your demographics, interests, and habits.  This is used to filter out surveys which may not apply.

There seem to be quite a few surveys.  The process is fairly straightforward.  I receive an e-mail anytime there’s a potential opportunity for a survey.  I can either click on the link in the e-mail or logon to the site, and it will list all active surveys that I haven’t responded to yet.  This is useful in the event that you need to do some catching up.

When you get a survey, you are not guaranteed to be a fit for it.  Typically, clicking into the survey will bring up a page where it asks you some basic questions.  Usually within a couple of minutes, it will notify you if you’re not a fit for the survey or if you can take the actual survey.  The ‘approval’ percentage probably varies, but I’d say that so far, I’ve qualified for about 25% of the surveys that I get e-mails about.  That may not sound like a lot, but you will probably find that it’s a pretty good number since I’ve been averaging at least 5-8 surveys per week.

Once the survey starts, they’re pretty straightforward.  The only knock that some might have is that once you qualify for a survey, you typically get directed to a third-party research study website.  This is in contrast to Pinecone, where all of the surveys are operated and run from their own site.  Opinion Outpost ensures that the sites are safe.  So far I haven’t had any problems, and quite honestly, it’s nice to see a different look and feel of a survey.

The surveys take differing amounts of time to complete.  Once you’re done, you are awarded ‘Opinion Points’ that correspond with the complexity of the survey.  The basic formula is that each Opinion Point is worth ten cents.  Of the surveys, I’ve completed, they’ve all fallen in the 20 to 50 Opinion Point range, meaning that the surveys have been worth between $2 – $5.

You can cash in your Opinion Points once you’ve accumulated at least fifty (or the equivalent of $5).  At that point, they will issue a check.  Right now I’ve got 113 Opinion Points.  I like that they give you a choice of when to cash out.  You can choose whether to get little chunks of money or save it up for a bigger reward.  Pinecone issues you payment at the completion of every survey.

Another difference is the payment method.  Pinecone offers to send checks via snail mail, but will also pay you via PayPal.  Since they pay automatically after each survey, the PayPal option is a no-brainer as having to deal with a $3 check each time they send you one is a hassle.  PayPal lets you accumulate your money or transfer it back to your bank account, saving you a trip to the bank.  Opinion Outpost only allows for a snail mail check.  It’d be nice if they hopped on the PayPal bandwagon at some point.  It’s for that reason that I have let my balance accumulate, as I’d rather make a trip to the bank less often with a bigger check than increase my trips to the bank.

All in all, I love Opinion Outpost so far.  You’re not going to get rich from it, but you can make a few bucks here and there, and get exposed to some pretty interesting product concepts at the time.  If you’ve got a few spare minutes here and there, Opinion Outpost is definitely worth a look see.

Click here to sign up (disclosure: if you use this link, I will get 20 Opinion Points once you complete your first survey, for which I would be extremely grateful!) and see for yourself if you like it.  I think you’ll be pleased.  I know I am!

Note: This post was not solicited nor did I receive any compensation for it.

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