Saturday, November 15, 2008

Op-Ed Columnist - ‘Drop Dead’ Is Not an Option -

Op-Ed Columnist - ‘Drop Dead’ Is Not an Option -

"It’s not just General Motors or Chrysler or Ford. The U.S. auto industry is the cornerstone of American manufacturing. It supports millions of jobs, directly or indirectly, in a vast array of businesses.

Start with the thousands of parts in each vehicle. They are produced by suppliers across the country, from one coast to the other. Those supplies have to be manufactured, packaged and transported. Truck drivers, railway systems and shipping companies are involved.

And, of course, there are dealers everywhere. And the auto repair industry. And the insurance industry. And vast systems of advertising supporting every kind of job you can imagine, from messengers to accountants to filmmakers and beyond. All of that advertising funnels absolutely crucial revenues to television, magazines, newspapers — you name it.

If G.M., which is on life support, or Ford or Chrysler were to go bankrupt, the reverberations would kill the jobs of entire armies of American workers. It would undermine the standard of living of hundreds of thousands of families and shutter the entrances of untold numbers of small and intermediate businesses."

Monday, November 03, 2008

PC World - Sneaky Fees: 7 New Ways You're Paying More

PC World - Sneaky Fees: 7 New Ways You're Paying More:

JR Raphael, PC World

"It's no secret that the faltering economy is taking its toll on the tech world. You may not have noticed, though, how often your wallet has been hit with sneaky fees as a result. We've identified seven recently introduced surcharges on tech-related products--add-ons that vendors aren't exactly trumpeting. Ready to see where companies are hiding the new fees?

Sneaky Fee Philosophy

Sneaky fees are by no means new. A study two years ago found that American consumers, on average, pay almost $950 each in cloaked costs every year. Now, with the mangled state of the economy heralding hard times ahead, corporations are have even more reason to try to bump up the price of their goods by subtly tacking on a few cents here and there for various nominal services and extras.

'Companies are struggling with this new economic environment in the last 12 months,' says Bob Sullivan, author of Gotcha Capitalism and columnist of MSNBC’s Red Tape Chronicles. 'They'll really be willing to do anything to survive.'

Finding Your Fees

We've long heard about hidden fees in things like phone bills. 'Federal Subscriber Line Charge'? There's nothing federal about it--that one goes straight into the phone company's coffers, as does the 'Regulatory Cost Recovery Charge' on your cell phone service statement. But newer costs are popping up in technology right now, and they may be affecting you in ways you're unaware of.…"

Microsoft Warns Of Scams Exploiting Economic Fears - Security - IT Channel News by CRN and VARBusiness

Microsoft Warns Of Scams Exploiting Economic Fears - Security - IT Channel News by CRN and VARBusiness: "By Stefanie Hoffman, ChannelWeb

8:00 PM EDT Thu. Oct. 30, 2008 Cyber scammers are finding opportunity in the global financial crisis with e-mail scams and phishing attacks claiming to offer users new mortgages or loans from failed banks, Microsoft (NSDQ:MSFT) executives said.

Microsoft researchers warn that there are already indications that fraudsters are ramping up their tactics.

Tim Cranton, associate general counsel for Worldwide Internet Safety Programs at Microsoft, said in an e-mail interview that the trend was especially alarming in light of the current financial crisis. 'In troubled financial times, there is the potential for increased risk as promises of easy money may become more alluring to some victims,' he said.

In an attempt to capitalize on the credit crisis and people's growing financial insecurity, scammers have inundated users with fraudulent offers that range from mortgage refinancing and low interest loans to credit cards approvals.

That is—for a small fee.

Some of the most common attacks include variations on the age old 411 scams, such as requests to move money out of a developing country. Victims are offered a cut of the alleged fortune if they agree to pay a release fee.

Or they are told they are the winners of a lottery jackpot, or are bequeathed a fortune from a dying person, and need only to pay a shipping or administration fee.

'Approximately 109 million people in the United States have received a phishing e-mail, with an estimated 3.6 million adults losing money to phishing attacks in the 12 months ending August 2007,' Cranton said. 'In these same 12 months, financial losses stemming from phishing attacks reached $3.2 billion (U.S.) in the United States alone…"

con·cept: November 2008