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Archive for December, 2009

Responsible Corporate Citizenship

I read a piece of “good news” today, about a corporate decision made in the interest and spirit of the season as opposed to the usual one of short term profits and outright greed. Well, O.K. I’ll concede that in addition to being the right thing to do in this circumstance, it will be of benefit to ALL parties concerned.  So, perhaps it’s nothing to get too gleeful about.  Besides, as I write this it’s pretty early in the morning.

When good things happen, it’s beneficial to call them to the attention of others.  Anyway, the decision reverses an earlier stance which would have put several hundred people out of work just in time for Christmas. A real Baah Humbugger if you ask me. It’s bad to lose your job – but just before Christmas is insult to injury.

What am I talking about?   You can read the full story here.  But, I’ll summarize by saying that I tip my hat to the management and CEO of GE Capital and U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. for working together to bring about this welcomed turn of events.

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Posted by Steve Maziarz - December 22, 2009 at 9:41 am

Categories: Observations   Tags: , ,

Protecting Your Idea

So, let’s say you’ve got a great idea for a Facebook Application, Online Game, WordPress Widget, iPhone App, etc.  that you think has a lot of potential to make money.  But, you are not a programmer or software developer. What do you do?  How do you realize any money from just your idea since you personally do not have the skills to pull it off?

STEP 1 – Establish Ownership

Back when I was a young pup facing a similar circumstance, I had the good fortune to run into an old and wise attorney in my town who suggested that I do something fairly simple to prove that my idea was in fact mine.  He had me go home and write my idea down on paper and then come back to his office.  He added a small paragraph to the bottom of the document where I swore that it was my original idea.  He made three copies.  He had his secretary notarize all three copies. I kept one copy, he kept one copy and the other was mailed to me via certified mail with return receipt requested. The return receipt went to his office.

When I inquired as to what all this was about, he explained that this would clearly establish that it was my idea and when I had it.  He and his legal assistant were both witnesses to the whole thing and could also testify in court as to the authenticity of the documents should the need ever arise.   Plus, having the sealed certified letter containing an exact copy of the document would be “icing on the cake.”

Ever since that time, if I have an idea that I think has the potential to generate revenue and I elect to pursue it, these are the first steps I take to establish my idea and ownership of it.

Now, you can go even further and pursue a patent on your idea and concept. But this is costly and time consuming and is, in my opinion, only worth doing if there are millions at stake and you have some investors that can foot the bill for the patents.

STEP 2 – A Confidentiality Agreement

Once you have established your idea as yours, you’ll want to have a Confidentiality Agreement at your disposal.  This is a legal document which protects your idea even further.  In your search for a partner to help develop your idea for you, you are going to have to tell them what you want them to do.  But, BEFORE you tell them your idea, you have them sign a Confidentiality Agreement.  In essence,  it states that they will not use your idea for their benefit and will not tell anyone else about your idea.

Any competent developer with ethics and morals will have no problem signing such an agreement.  Especially if it has a few key clauses in it that protect their interests as well.  Remember that you may NOT be the only one who had such an idea.  What happens if, after you tell the person or company your idea they say, “We are already working on that.”  With the right clause in the Confidentiality Agreement, they are protected.

However, it’s been known to happen that they lied when they said, “We are already working on that.” They saw the huge potential and they wanted to claim the idea as their own. It’s happened more than once.  That’s where what you did in Step One really comes in handy.  Can they PROVE when they had the idea and started working on it?  Maybe not.  But YOU sure can!

In another post, I’ll give you some tips on finding the right developer to help bring your idea to reality.

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Posted by Steve Maziarz - December 16, 2009 at 8:09 am

Categories: Business, Start Up   Tags: ,

Outstanding Affiliate Manager

About a year ago, I needed to find some Affiliate Management Software for a client. They didn’t have a huge budget and wanted a fair amount of features.  So, as usual, I began my search with the various Open Source offerings that were out there.  I was not impressed. Then I moved on to the commercial offerings. While there were several out there, they either had a monthly fee, charged by the affiliate or were prohibitively expensive.

I easily looked at 25 different packages between the Open Source and Commercial offerings and was about to toss in the towel in frustration when I found iDevAffiliate.  It had everything I was looking for and more:

  • Affordable (Starts at $99.99)
  • No recurring fees (You buy it ONCE. You host it. You own it.)
  • Multiple ways to pay
    • Per Sale -Flat Rate
    • Per Sale -Percentage
    • Per Click
    • Per Lead
  • Multiple Payout Levels (up to 100 Per Payment Style)
  • Fully Configurable (lots of options)
  • Robust Marketing Support For Affiliates
    • Add unlimited text ads for Affiliates to use
    • Add unlimited banner ads for Affiliates to use
    • Add unlimited Flash banners for Affiliates to use
    • Add unlimited HTML ads for Affiliates to use
    • Add video training
    • Add PDF advertising materials
    • Page Peel Ads (this is really neat)
    • Sample Ad templates in PSD format
  • Multiple Language Support
  • Outstanding Affiliate Interface
    • Create and Track Campaigns
    • Create and Track Keywords
    • Traffic Logs and Statistics
    • Conversion Ratios
    • Export Tracking Data
  • Interfaces to and works with a HUGE number of shopping carts and payment gateways
  • Pay Affiliates via a Built-In interface to PayPal or via Hard Checks
  • Optional Module to Export Payment Data to QuickBooks

Needless to say, I was very impressed. When I had a look at the online demos, I was sold. I recommended that we go with it and the client agreed.

PLUS – Outstanding Support

Setup was easy and went without a hitch.  Shortly after we began using the program, we noticed something amiss. I e-mailed support and was expecting the typical two day delay.  I got a response later the same day.  They pointed out that it was a configuration issue and told me exactly what I did wrong and how to fix it. One the very first try.

About a month later, I found something else that looked amiss. It was a relatively trivial item about the way the graphic charts were displayed to the Affiliates.  Again I e-mailed support and they confirmed it was an issue. Within two days, they had developed a patch and sent it to me and all was well.

I don’t know about you, but my feeling is that there is a LOT of software out there.  To me, what separates the good from the bad is how they handle support.  I’m happy to say that the folks at iDevDirect do an OUTSTANDING JOB!

Oh, and one other thing I discovered is that this software has built-in fraud detection and other outstanding tracking  features to insure accuracy.

Find Out More. See The Demos. Click on the Banner Below.

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Posted by Steve Maziarz - December 15, 2009 at 9:42 am

Categories: Software, Tech Tips   Tags: , ,

Convert Any Document To A PDF For FREE

There are actually a COUPLE of ways to do this and I have been using these methods for YEARS with no complication and great success. These methods just work.

Plain. Simple. Easy. (and FREE) – Just the way I like it! Just the way it SHOULD be.

METHOD 1 – Open Office ->  Just use the Convert To PDF Feature found in Open Office.  It’s as simple as you can get: Just Press the PDF button toward the top of your screen!

If you’re not familiar with Open Office, I have another post here which describes it. For those of you who want the abridged version – it’ll do just about anything that Microsoft Office will. It even reads and writes in Microsoft compatible formats.

METHOD 2 – Cute PDF -> Once installed, Cute PDF makes your computer think that you have attached another printer to it.  But, when you “print” to THIS printer, the end result is a PDF file instead of a printed page.  Pretty neat, huh?   Also, FREE!  Just check it out here: You’ll want to look for and download the CutePDF Writer.

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Posted by Steve Maziarz - December 14, 2009 at 9:20 am

Categories: Software, Tech Tips   Tags: , ,

Fraudulent VISA Card Transaction


I received the following e-mail today. I thought that with the holidays, some of you (as I almost did) would be tempted to immediately click on such an e-mail because you have likely been using your cards so much – especially for online shopping.

If you receive a similar e-mail – JUST DELETE IT.  If you are in any way concerned, please call your credit card company – they’ll be happy to let you know if your account has any suspect transactions.

If there is a phone number in the e-mail you receive *** DO NOT CALL THAT PHONE NUMBER *** CALL THE NUMBER ON THE BACK OF YOUR CARD ***

SUBJECT:  possible fraudulent transaction with your VISA card

Dear VISA card holder,

A recent review of your transaction history determined that your card was used at an ATM located in Latvia, but for security reasons the requested transaction was refused.Please carefully review electronic report for your VISA card at:


VISA Cards Support


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Posted by Steve Maziarz - December 11, 2009 at 5:42 pm

Categories: ALERTS   Tags: , ,

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