Just about everything

Maybe you’re trying to reorganize your office desk. Maybe you’re trying to organize a new server room in your basement (I’m not the only one who wants one of those am I?). Whatever it may be, you’ll likely find what you need among the Thousands of products at! In fact, you might find a few things that you didn’t know existed. I know I did.

There are plenty of other things that should come in super handy if you’re organizing a new or old workspace. Take the Altinex Tabletop Outlet. It’s a nice little unit that clamps onto the edge of your desk and gives you full customization ability to add outlets for whatever you choose, be it network, power, audio/video or just about whatever you want.

By far, my favorite page on the site is the Racks and Enclosures page. Why you ask? Because I seriously want one of their computer desks in my basement. What better way to start up a new office space than with one of the desks. The 48″ model would fit quite nicely against one of the walls down there.

22 piece tool kitIf you’re looking for a great affordable tool set, you can’t beat the 22 piece Computer Tech Deluxe Tool Kit. It’s got the basics that you’ll need and is a fairly portable kit. Of course, it doesn’t have everything. It’s only 22 pieces so there are some obvious things missing. There are only the most common of everything. For instance, you only get T10 and T15 star bits. The most common, but not necessarily all the ones you will need. Another thing that I noticed is that the included soldering iron doesn’t look like it’s of the highest quality. By that I mean it looked cheap. I have only the slightest idea how to solder, so I didn’t test it, but it just doesn’t look like it would hold up to much use. Overall though, it would make a great travel kit for those trips when you really just can’t bear to take your full kit along with you.

PowerSquid 5 outlet power multiplierI also had the opportunity to test out a couple of power cord management power strips. The first of which was the legendary Power Squid. I’ve got to tell you that I have thought that this is the most ingenious thing for quite some time. So, it didn’t take a whole lot of time for me to decide that this is one of the coolest things for a home office. Heck, it’d work pretty darn well in a big corporate office too. It’s got a 4 foot cord that branches off from the “squid” into five grounded socket outlets. It’s got slots on the back for wall mounting (which looks pretty darn cool btw.) and the “tentacles” get shorter as they progress towards the outside of the “squid”. Not only does it allow for just about any configuration of those messy big electrical boxes, it also helps with the varying lengths of it’s “tentacles.”

SmartSockets tabletop surge suppressorThe other Power strip that I got to test out was the SmartSockets Tabletop surge suppressor by Kensington. I honestly couldn’t find a good usage for this in my house. It’s design is so pinpointed to being used in a roundtable like format that it makes a bit of a rats nest if it isn’t used for that purpose. That being said, this would be an excellent strip for anyone with a table where you would need power on two sides or in a 360 degree configuration. The design of the strip would allow for great access for impromptu meetings and study groups with laptops. As a tool for that purpose, I think it’s great. I just couldn’t find a good application for it in my household without making a bit of a rats nest out of the cables. I think I’ll stick to the PowerSquid. 😉

I was supplied with the Tool set, Power Squid, and Smart Sockets to review. That qualifies this post as a paid post and as always, I tried to keep it honest and sincere regardless of the fact that I was paid to do it. I really do want one of the 48″ Computer Benches, and the power squid really is the bomb!

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BizTech: Cutting edge IT Mag?

I have to admit that when I saw that a review had been purchased through the ReviewMe service for the BizTech website, I expected something completely different from what I saw. A majority of the reviews that I’ve been paid to do are somewhat spammy. Or rather, they hold little true value.

Suffice it to say that I was slightly surprised by BizTech. BizTech is a small business technology magazine that seems to be similar to magazines like eweek and informationweek and is owned and ran by technology vendor CDW. Like those other magazines, it is available in print form and shortly thereafter on the online side at their site.

It seems that just about anyone can put together a technology magazine these days (and most do) so what makes BizTech unique? Unfortunately for BizTech, there is very little that I could find that made it unique from other technology magazines. Don’t count that against it though, I don’t think The New York Times is all that unique either.

What BizTech does have going for it is some pretty good writers. They’ve got a good mix of actual IT pros and IT journalists that make the articles realistic and informative. Take for instance this article on blogging. It’s a comprehensive ( as much as you can in a magazine article anyways) article that takes from Robert Scoble and some other top tech bloggers and then adds some real world data and some great tips too. There are numerous other articles on topics that are on the forefront of just about every small business IT manager.

Overall, I can’t give them much points for their website design as it looks a lot like a host of other online magazine sites. But really, should we expect any different? What I can give them points on is some great coverage of the topics that IT managers want as well as making it easy to get a hold of with easy RSS subscriptions from a centralized page. Of course, you can also subscribe to the print version which would seem to be free to qualified IT professionals.

I’m glad that the folks at CDW and BizTech bought a review from me through the ReviewMe service. Why? Because I get paid for it, and it introduced me to a worthwhile website that is adding valuable content to the internet.

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Wirefly T-Mobile

What follows is a paid review of the Wirefly T-Mobile website through the ReviewMe service. As always, the content is honest and all such posts are clearly marked and placed in the Ad Content category.

Wirefly is a pretty well known cellular service and phone site. This particular site is dedicated to the T-Mobile cellular service and it’s phones. I can’t honestly say that this section of the site interests me much as the T-Mobile cellular service isn’t available in my area. What I can comment on is the web design, function and overall site quality.

Much like any other site created for e-commerce reasons, this one is flashy and easy to navigate. All of the search boxes are extremely available and multi-functioning. The people at Wirefly are pretty smart too. All of the most popular phones are dead center and ready for purchase. All you need to do is enter in your zip code and go from there. Never mind that you’re signing up for a cellular service. Not exactly bad. Especially if you’re in the market for a new cellular service.

I think the site would be better served to have a few of the more popular plans for the T-Mobile service here on the service main page. There is a search to go and Shop By Rate Plan minutes and features, but having the plans for the individual service on the services main page could possibly improve click through. I know that often when I’m searching for cellular plans I do so for carrier (because of limited availability way up north) but I do so by comparing their service plans and prices. Having the service plans and prices on the individual carrier pages would facilitate browsing in that manner.

Overall, the Wirefly T-Mobile site is everything you would expect from a wireless carrier merchant. All the flashy phones and services. Aside from the lack of readily visible plans, everything is at your fingertips (or is that mouse pointer?) to order up your new cellular service.

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Review Me launches

The review that follows is a paid review of the new Review Me service.  I have every intention of keeping any and all paid content honest.  If you have any question about that, you can see my previous posts about this and other services like it here, here, and here.

I like to try and sign up for new services and websites as they come out.  It gives me a chance to write about them and everyonce in a while, I find something I’ll use.  It’s entirely too early to tell whether Review Me will be one of those services/websites, but as new advertisers join and more opportunities present themselves it could become valuable.

Signing up for Review Me is extremely easy.  Just a little info and you’re in.  If you’re already a user of Text-Link-Ads, you’ve probably already gotten the email that said that your blog is pre-approved.  If not, adding your blog is pretty easy too.  All you’ve got to do is input the URL and add some tags and a short description and you’re off and running.  As yet, I haven’t heard of a blog being turned down.  I would imagine that if your blog is extremely spammy, you might have a little more trouble than I did.  Of course, you likely would expect that.

If you haven’t caught on yet, Review Me is a paid advertising service.  The folks behind it seem to have taken all the feedback from the release of PayPerPost, a similar service, and made the most important changes. Probably the two most important changes were the addition of a required disclosure and no requirement to be positive.  You absolutely must make it clear that you are being paid for the review.  I like that.  I don’t mind getting paid for my content, I already do via the adsense ads and TLA ads in the sidebars.  As long as the money doesn’t affect my review, and it won’t, why does it matter if I get paid to review a site.  Trade magazine writers get paid to review sites, why can’t I?

Another welcome change from the PayPerPost model is the actual payments.  Instead of being paid anywhere from $1 to $20 for a post, the Review Me model pays anywhere from $20 to $200 to it’s publishers.  Like TLA, the revenue share is 50%.  So an advertiser pays $40 for a review of it’s site and the publisher gets $20.  We’ll see how many advertisers sign up, but already the Review Me folks are claiming a great start.

So those are the pros of the service.  And for the most part, I think it’s easy and the model is a sound one that has a bright future.  There are plenty of detractors like TechCrunch’s Mike Arrington that can’t seem to get their heads around the paid content bit, but to me there is no difference between a fully disclosed paid post and advertisements in the sidebar.

One thing that I would change so far:

I almost missed the wordcount requirement for the review.  It’s 200 words by the way.  The requirement is added to the notes in what seems like almost an afterthought.  The requirements for the review should be very prominent.  I can understand the need for a minimum word count.  It keeps people from just adding a link and a short blurb to get counted for payment and actually makes a blogger think about the subject long enough to write 200 words.  Just make it obvious.

I think the danger in a service like this is the dilution of content.  If a blogger were to take advantage of every offer that comes his or her way, chances are some of the posts will be off topic.  As more on-topic advertisers come on board with Review Me, I will most likely take them up on the money.  I don’t believe the disclosed post dilutes my authority or the trust of my readers.

If you’re interested in the Review Me service, give them a test drive.  They’ve set aside $25,000 to pay for posts on Review Me like this one.  When the money’s gone, the money’s gone.  The price for this blog was set at $60, so I will receive $30 for this post.  Some have reported higher payouts, some less.  The payout seems to be based on a set of metrics that contains Alexa rank, feed rank, and technorati rank.  Not the best metrics in the world, but universally accepted until a better alternative surfaces.

P.S. Anyway we could get a fun little logo that we bloggers could include in our posts that would act as the disclaimer?  Perhaps Review Me Roy with the disclaimer directly underneath?  Maybe not. Just an idea.

P.P.S.  I’ve added an Ad Content category so that there is no confusion as to which posts have been paid for and which have not.  All paid posts will be included in the Ad Content category.

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