Warning! Avoid Everquote.com

We’d all like a deal, right? Most especially a better deal on something that you have to buy anyway, like car insurance. So it was that a couple of weeks ago I succumb to an online ad for EverQuote, a company that purports itself as disrupting the insurance business. I regret the decision to try the service. It was a moment of weakness that haunts me still.

We’ve been with the same company for auto insurance for a long time. They are not the company that has our household insurance. I had thought that it would be worth the time, on a Saturday morning, to see if this disruptive young startup could provide me with a couple of quotes. My hope was that, with just a few minutes at the keyboard (actually my phone in this case) I’d have some insight as to whether we were paying too much.

It didn’t work out that way.

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You wanna put stuff here? Well, to start with, who are you?

The Who - Who Are You AlbumOver the past few weeks I’ve received another few offers from PR folks. They periodically seek to place content for their clients on this site. They see what’s here, find some similarity to their clients product or service, and make some nondescript offer of collaboration.

While I remain open to offers of collaboration, even sponsorship, to date I’ve rejected every such advance. This is largely because the approaches have been poorly conceived.

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Recommended Listening: Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History

Revisionist History Podcast Nexus5Media consumption is a very personal thing. Our favorite music, movies, whatever. It’s all very personal. I don’t usually share opinions about such material.

However, in this case I must make an exception. Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History podcast is outstanding. If you aren’t aware of it, and I didn’t share it with you, I’d be doing you an injustice. It’s literally breathtaking. The way podcasts should be done.

The series touches on a number of important topics. It’s extremely well-conceived, written and produced. It harnesses the medium, where most others trivialize it.

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Signal-to-Noise: Some Thoughts About Unboxing

unboxThe internet is for cat videos. It’s true. Well, it’s largely true. I’d say that unboxing videos rank right up there with cats. YouTube reports that it has 41.5 million unboxing videos! I admit that I simply don’t understand the phenomenon of unboxing videos.

You’ve never seen an unboxing video hereabouts. I could certainly do them, we have the tools, but I don’t think they deliver any value. I can see no reason to share what is actually a pretty commonplace activity.

If you wanted to know what was in the box, being a thinking person, you’d research the manufacturer’s web site, or perhaps check with a reseller. What’s in the box is usually easily determined. It yields little insight into the product.

I suppose it’s easy to do, and garners some attention for those who make the effort. What do you think? Are unboxing videos useful? Or below the noise floor?

Cats like boxes. I suppose that might be why there are so many unboxing videos online. There are even videos of cats in boxes. Ours would not pose for me.

Opinion: The FTC Loves Robocalls

robocalls_0Recently NPR’s Marketplace featured an interview with Edith Ramirez, Chairwoman of the FTC. The interview can only be described as softball. Host Kai Ryssdal didn’t press her on any of the real issues facing the organization. He most specifically didn’t ask her about the number #1  consumer complaint – Robocalls.

Their own reporting in 2013 indicated that they receive 200,000 complains/month about robocalls. This reality inspired a one day summit in 2012, then the first Robocall Challenge in 2012-2013.

Several other events have since been held in an attempt to engage the technical community with respect to this problem, including:

While they’ve handed out cash prizes, neat T-Shirts and other goodies, they’ve haven’t made any measurable progress in combatting the scourge of robocalls.

Oh, they’re no doubt busy…having a nice time…and engaging the dev community, which are a younger group of people that could have a transformational effect on the organization. According to the recent NPR interview their staff are mostly lawyers ands economists at present, though they intend to add more technologists in the future.

We might not expect much on the matter in 2016. After all, it’s an election year. Elections breed robocalls like mosquitos in a swamp.

I suspect that the FTC is so engaged in their current activities that finding a real, deployable solution isn’t even a consideration anymore. All of the contests and PR exercises have become their M.O.

Hereabouts the robocalls continue unabated, despite being on both state and national do not call registries. Excuse me, the phone is ringing. Again.

Incidentally, it happens that this is National Consumer Protection Week. #NCPW2016