Domains, Traffic & the Corporatization of Search Results.

Domains, Traffic & the Corporatization of Search Results.

Before the “beginning,” there were corporations. Ads on TV, full page ads in the Yellow Pages, newspapers and magazines. Everyone knew the big guys – ATT, State Farm, Bank of America…
Then the internet came into being. So in this “new beginning” (umm, about 1997-1999), there was net… It was fair to one and all. Little guys went toe-to-toe with the big guys and won.

It was a time when someone like could create a site and then rank first for car insurance. All was good for the little guys who toiled in obscurity. The playing field was level allowing the little guy to compete against the big guys. Little guys everywhere rejoiced.

Then Google figured out what people were searching for and what the users wanted in their results – i.e., the bigger players. So now GEICO, Progressive and maybe a single keyword rich url, assuming it is active with great content, rank at the top of the heap. Now, the little guys have faded back into obscurity again.

While not apparent at the time, this corporatization of search results would soon become the model for all keyword searches.

The Google Mayday update seems to have caused a few major changes, especially impacting PPC landing pages for domain owners:

1) Most PPC landing companies (and the domainers who use them) have seen their revenue go down, some report by as much as 50%+. It was pretty easy for Google to look at the DNS and determine if it was a parking page.

2) Matt Cutts indicating that the searches for long tail traffic keywords, will now favor sites that have greater value (high content, high inbound links, high recognition, visitor utility, quality off site links). You don’t need a secret-agent decoder ring to understand that this generally means results from bigger companies. They have bigger sites, tend to get links, etc.

So, the Mayday update means the corporatization of search results will now pervade into almost every search.

Furthermore, this will impact domain holders in two ways:

1) They will be willing to pay less for dropped domains at auctions, since it will be much harder to recover the investment via PPC revenues.

2) The overall portfolio valuation have decreased due to less revenue being generated.

So, the internet is going into its first cycle, much like short, short skirts, then long skirts, then short, short skirts. As you know, everything old, becomes new.

So here is what is new. We are going back to, before the beginning – big companies will again outrank little companies.

This corporatization of search results will continue with the other major search engines and continue to decrease the revenue and valuation of domain holders (Of course, quality domains will hold their values).

There are some strategies to fight this, but that is for another post…

Backup That PC or Mac with Mozy online back up software

Backup That PC or Mac with Mozy online back up software

Finding Cheap Airline Fares Online

Deals await frugal fliers
By JOSHUA FREED and HARRY R. WEBER • Associated Press • March 9, 2009

Like buying the first cheap ticket you see or waiting until the last minute to book a fare.

As the economic slump continues and both business and leisure travel declines, fares are getting cheaper as airlines try to fill seats. A roundtrip ticket from San Francisco to Boston, for instance, was selling on Feb. 4 for $238, down from $400 on Nov. 1. Even with such bargains, however, travelers need to know a few tricks to get the very best prices.

First, don’t hurry.

Matthew D. Weyer sometimes spends hours researching fares online. Knowing what a ticket usually sells for allows him to spot cheap fares almost immediately.

Weyer sets up e-mail alerts for prices on the route he’s shopping for at fare-watching sites like or He finds out whether discount-carrier Southwest Airlines Co. flies a route. He also checks the ticket on booking sites like Travelocity or Orbitz.

Weyer recently shopped for a flight from Greenville, N.C., to Chicago, a ticket he said commonly runs around $410. He was tempted at $280. He eventually paid $180 on Weyer figures he spent about two hours spread over a couple of days searching for the ticket.

Weyer starts shopping as far in advance as he can, but doesn’t book right away. He considers it safe to book between one and three months ahead of time. Legacy carriers generally show their schedules for about 11 months out. The window is shorter for discount carriers. Southwest’s window is currently six months, and AirTran’s is nine months.

The 24-year-old Chicago college student and software programmer once flew for only $9 on Spirit Airlines from Chicago to Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., and says the most he has ever paid for a ticket is $240.

Having a price in mind is good advice. A sense of timing helps, too.

If you tend to make travel plans during weekend downtime, reconsider. The best time to shop is late Monday or early Tuesday, some fare experts say. Airlines often start fare sales on Sunday night or Monday morning, said Rick Seaney of Those sales alone are fine if they include the flight you want. But other carriers generally match the fare sale by Monday evening or Tuesday morning, giving you more choices.

Seaney said Wednesdays are generally the cheapest day to fly. Tuesdays and Saturdays are also good days to fly because demand is low and the airlines are trying to fill seats.

It’s natural for travelers to book their flight when the workday is done or the kids are asleep. But the airlines are posting fares on their own schedule. They file fares to the computer system that shares them among Web sites and travel agents three times each weekday — 10 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. Eastern time. It’s 5 p.m. Eastern on Saturdays and Sundays. That means fares can change at those times, so when you do see a fare at the price you’re looking for, grab it.

Former New Yorker Jill Gott of Providence, R.I., spent two and a half weeks checking American Airlines’ Web site several times a day before snagging a $109 round-trip ticket from New York-LaGuardia to Atlanta. She said it was only available for about three hours before jumping back up to $250.

“I just decide what I want to pay for something, and I just keep clicking away until I get it,” she said.

But shopper beware. Fares start to rise again 7 to 10 days before a flight — sometimes as long as 14 days or more, depending on the airline and sale offer. Airlines raise fares closer to the departure date because last-minute seats tend to be bought by business travelers and others who must fly at certain times.

Roger Johnson, director of revenue management at New York-based JetBlue Airways Corp., notes that it can be risky for a flier to delay buying a ticket in hopes it will be even cheaper. He says there’s no good way for customers to know whether a fare sale will show up in their market.

“They would be gambling that this would happen and would probably lose out more than they would win,” he said.

AirTran Airways spokesman Tad Hutcheson said his advice is simple: “I would follow the Moscow rule of shopping — you see it, you like it, you buy it.”

Where to buy also matters. For an airline ticket only, your best bet is an individual airline’s Web site, because you’ll skip the extra fees some travel Web sites charge. Also, while Orbitz will show you a handful of roundtrip flights from Baltimore to Austin, Texas, for instance, a key option is missing. Southwest doesn’t sell on those sites. That means checking its Web site is a must if you’re flying near a city they serve. For instance, on Feb. 24, Southwest was offering tickets on the Baltimore-Austin route for as low as $99, while Orbitz’s cheapest offering was $193.

If you’re packaging airfare, hotel and a rental car, however, consider Orbitz and Travelocity, which often discount such bundles.

Like Weyer, you can also try Priceline, where users can bid for tickets. A customer may end up with an undesirable itinerary, like flying in the wrong direction to make a connection, but the fare can sometimes be cheaper. Not all airlines, however, participate in Priceline’s “name your own price” offer.

Another piece of advice — learn to love St. Louis, Detroit, Chicago O’Hare, and other hub airports where you can connect to your final destination. Nonstops are convenient, desirable — and sometimes more expensive, said George Hobica, who runs That’s not always the case, though, so always compare.

If travel isn’t possible or desirable in the near term, don’t worry. Tom Parsons, chief executive of travel Web site, said great fare sales are possible in the coming months for travel during the peak summer period.

“I would keep watching and watching and watching,” Parsons said. “This is a very fragile airfare system out there.”

How To Fix The Home Bailout / Mortgage Crisis Mess In 30 Days

I have a real simple solution to mortgage crisis…

Most of the owners want to stay in their homes, but can’t afford the monthly – they will have to rent anyways

Simply change all the terms of the loan to 40 years

It lowers the monthly costs, allows the owners to stay

They can always refinance later if they have to or when they can

Sequim, WA

Sequim, WA
Sequim, WA
Pros: Water, mountains, culture and a small town all at once.
Cons: The Pacific is a tad nippy for a swim.
Located two hours north of Seattle, Sequim (pronounced skwim) offers a lower cost of living and an easier pace than its burgeoning neighbor to the south. For about $300,000, you can get a three-bedroom house there.
Seafarers can head to the marina, a jumping-off point to explore the Puget Sound and the nearby San Juan Islands. Those who don’t own a boat can ride the 30-minute ferry to Canada’s historic city of Victoria or explore the coast by car, bike or foot. The Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge, a few minutes from downtown Sequim, boasts the longest natural sand spit in the U.S., a historic lighthouse, hiking trails and hundreds of species of birds. And the snow-capped Olympic Mountains loom just to the south – meaning Sequim residents can have lunch on the beach and dinner on the slopes in the same day.
What about that less appealing kind of H2O – the kind that falls from the sky? 
Sequim is an anomaly in the Pacific Northwest: The town averages just 16 inches of precipitation a year, thanks to its location in the “rain shadow” of the Olympics. Sequim also has a whole lot of culture nearby, from plays at Olympic Theatre Arts to rotating exhibits at the Museum and Arts Center to live music at the Port Angeles Symphony Orchestra.
Don and Lois Smaltz, 71 and 66
Don and Lois Smaltz, 71 and 66
Moved to: Sequim, WA, from Rancho Palos Verdes, CA, in 2007.
Their jobs: She was a judge; he was a lawyer.
Their house: A $900,000 three-bedroom house with views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, which leads to the Pacific.
The water: They frequently dine by the marina and watch sunsets over the ocean.
After they raised six kids in the Los Angeles area, the Smaltzes began to tire of the frenetic pace and crowds of the big city. “We knew if we didn’t move away, we’d never quit working,” says Lois.
Last year, when she became eligible for full retirement benefits from her employer, the couple finally pulled the plug both on their jobs and on L.A. From colleagues, they’d heard about a small town two hours north of Seattle where “the cost of living was less and the pace of living was better,” says Don. That would be Sequim. The Smaltzes bought a 3,200-square-foot, $900,000 house there with gorgeous views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, which leads to the Pacific.
Sequim also has a whole lot of culture nearby, from plays at Olympic Theatre Arts to rotating exhibits at the Museum and Arts Center to live music at the Port Angeles Symphony Orchestra. Don, who paid his way through college and law school working as a musician, plays jazz trombone in local bands four or five times a week.
“There’s an intelligent culture here, whether you want live music or a decent restaurant or ingredients for an exotic meal,” says Lois. “We’re living in a place where we both can do all the things we love.”
For starters, it’s pronounced “squim.” And for weather, it cannot be beat. Sequim is directly in the middle of a topographical anomaly, a so-called rain shadow produced by the nearby Olympic Mountains. The town gets a mere 16 inches of precipitation annually, about the same as L.A. So residents enjoy a moderate climate here (average: 71 degrees in July, 46 degrees in January) without the Northwest’s typical dampness. 
Sequim is also a recreational wonderland. Nearby Olympic National Park features 600 miles of hiking trails, some through lush rain forests. John Wayne loved boating in the region and willed a tract of land to Sequim that has been developed into a marina. Dungeness Bay, just five minutes from town, offers a popular pastime: gathering world-famous Dungeness crabs. “When the tide is out, the table is set,” goes a saying of the local S’Kallam Indians. If you don’t want to work that hard, just grab a fresh-caught meal at the renowned 3 Crabs Restaurant. 
There’s plenty to do indoors as well. Several area halls owned by local agricultural cooperatives offer up space to be used for everything from square dances to painting classes to flea markets. Sequim is also one of the most club-crazed places on earth, with a computer club, gemology club, and a quilting club, just to name a few. The reason: Sequim has long been known regionally as a retirement haven, particularly for workers from Boeing and other Seattle companies. About half the 24,000 people in the town and surrounding area are retirees. 
There are still, however, plenty of deals to be had. The average price for a three-bedroom is $150,000. With 50 square miles of developable land surrounding Sequim, an abundance of lots is also available, typically for about $40,000 an acre. Building a new home is the way many retirees choose to go here. 
Of course, the area’s natural beauty also means it is somewhat isolated. Getting to Victoria, B.C., the nearest big city, requires a 10-minute drive, followed by a 45-minute ferry ride. Making it all manageable, however, is the fact that the town of Port Angeles, just 15 miles from Sequim, has a full-service hospital and a tiny “international” airport. From there, it’s possible to board a puddle-jumper for a quick flight to Seattle’s airport and points beyond.

How To Do A Session Saver of all Open URL’s in Internet Explorer – IE, or Mozilla Firefox

How To Do A Session Saver of all Open URL’s in Internet Explorer – IE, or Mozilla Firefox

Here is the problem I had – I would have both IE and Firefox open and sometimes get low on resources and then my Windows would crash (surprise). Even with session saver add-ons for both, I could lose all open URL’s especially when I had multiple windows of Firefox or Internet Explorer open, each with numerous tabs open.

With so many windows and so many tabs, this URL capture  tip could be a life-saver – no software needed.

In Firefox, go to
Tools | Options
Under the
tab, select use
Current Pages.
All the open URL’s will appear there. Just copy the line. Firefox will list them all URL’s separated with a |, so just hard return after each pipe as you save to file.

In IE, go to
Tools | Internet Options
Under the
tab, select use
USe Current
All the open URL’s will appear there. Just highlight all rows, and copy the lines. IE will list them all URL’s in a column for you.

Next, open a text file and and paste once a week or when low on resources. Be sure do enter the date and keep a running file of date, followed by all open URL file names.

TiVo Short Cut Codes Remote Control Tricks


Tapping Your TiVo’s Hidden Talents
A Brief User Guide To Codes, Shortcuts You May Not Know
Wall Street Journal March 5, 2008; Page D8

TiVo is well-known as a high-end DVR with a great user interface. Its bubble-popping sound effects and grinning, animated mascot help users forget how much it costs to use. (TiVo boxes range from $100 to $600, and TiVo service costs $129 for one year when prepaid.)

A fondness for TiVo has encouraged users to refer to it with designated nicknames and/or genders. A teacher friend of mine was recently asked by a student if her husband’s name was TiVo after the child heard her say she would have to tell TiVo about a new TV show. But like any old friend — or spouse — who has been around for a while, TiVo has a few tricks up its sleeve that might surprise longtime users and new owners alike. This column includes just a handful of those tricks and highlights some features that may make TiVo more useful. These tips are for everyday users, not serious hackers, and many others exist.

Remote-Control Codes

Each of these codes is entered one time to enable an otherwise-hidden function, and three chimes signal the code is set. These functions can be disabled by entering the code a second time, or if TiVo is rebooted.

Clock: If you miss having a VCR nearby to tell you the time while you watch TV, TiVo can help. A digital clock can be programmed to show up in the lower right-hand corner of your television screen by pressing “SELECT-PLAY-SELECT-9-SELECT.”

While playing recorded shows, this clock displays the current time and the elapsed time of the program you’re watching. Personally, I check a show’s progress by pressing the remote’s Play button to see the progress bar, and the Info button shows the current time. But the on-screen clock might come in handy when you’re watching TV on a terrible date and you don’t want to get caught glancing at your watch.

30-second skip: One of the glorious functions of TiVo and other DVRs is their ability to fast-forward through commercials. But it takes practice to know when to press Play so as to completely miss commercials.

If you’re unsure about your fast-forwarding technique, TiVo can be permanently set to skip ahead in 30-second increments, by entering “SELECT-PLAY-SELECT-3-0-SELECT.” This code must be set while watching a recorded show. After that, the 30-second skipping works whenever you press the “Skip To Tick” button, which looks like an arrow pointing right to a straight line.

TiVo says this code won’t work for longer time increments, like 90 seconds, and I tried using various increments, to no avail. Still, pressing this button about five or seven times in a row (depending on the show) gets you through commercials with less guesswork.

Disappearing progress bar: TiVo’s progress bar, which shows how far along a program has progressed in terms of the entire show’s duration, appears at various moments, such as when you first play a recorded show or unpause. This indicator lingers on the screen for just about three seconds, but if this seems too long, you can enter “SELECT-PLAY-SELECT-PAUSE-SELECT” to set the progress bar to disappear after less than a second.

I tried this setting on my TiVo, but one second showed only a quick blink of the progress bar, not enough time to see anything.

Number Shortcuts

From the TiVo Central menu, pressing each number on the remote control’s numeric keypad skips directly to a different tool. Some of the more useful shortcuts include pressing “1″ to go to Season Pass Manager (a list of programs that are set to automatically record every episode), “4″ to go to Search Title and “8″ to go to TiVo Suggestions.

Viewing Tips

TiVo can display a programming guide in a TV-Guide-like grid, or as a two-columned TiVo Live Guide that can list future shows for hours or days out. The top of Live Guide gives a detailed description of each selected program, along with its duration and TV rating.

The Now Playing list shows content stored on a TiVo. By default, this list is organized in time sequential order with same-series TV shows grouped into folders. Remote-control shortcuts re-sort this list: pressing “1″ switches from sequential to alphabetical order and vice versa; pressing “2″ ungroups shows to display each title; shows are regrouped into folders when “2″ is pressed again.

Lesser-Known Features

Universal Swivel Search is a way of seeing how TiVo’s various shows and movies are related to one another. It lists details about each program, including actors, directors, tags associated with a show (like love, dating and addiction) and suggestions of similar content. Swivel Search is accessed through the Find Programs menu or More Options while looking at a recorded show.

By selecting a Swivel Search detail about a particular show, such as one of its actors, you can see what else he or she starred in and whether or not that show or movie is available through TiVo or’s Unbox. Unbox downloads movies directly to your TiVo ranging from $2 to $15 each depending on whether you rent or buy a movie.

Plenty of free Internet content can be downloaded from the Web to your TiVo. But TiVo confusingly places this content in two menus: Find Programs and Music, Photos, Products & More. Under Find Programs, a Download TV & Movies section offers Amazon Unbox movies and free TiVoCast content. The latter can be set to automatically download with Season Pass settings, such as The Onion’s weekly video or ExerciseTV’s twice weekly videos.

The Music, Photos, Products & More menu holds content like photos and unprotected MP3s from a nearby computer, podcasts, Rhapsody music, Yahoo! Weather and Traffic and on-screen games. You can even buy movie tickets through Fandango.

TiVo takes up valuable space in a home entertainment center, so it’s important for the company to make sure its content is varied and useful. The codes and shortcuts mentioned can change the way you use this valuable device every day.

–Edited by Walter S. Mossberg

SugarSync File Replicating Online Backup System

SugarSync Offers The Best Method Yet For Replicating Files
Wall Street Journal April 3, 2008; Page B1

It’s a real problem keeping all the files you need available and up-to-date on multiple computers in multiple locations, whether they are key business documents or just favorite photos or songs. Adding to the problem is the increasingly common use of smart phones as little laptops, and the growing mixed use of Windows machines and Apple Macintoshes, which use different programs.

Now, there’s a new service called SugarSync that keeps your files replicated and synchronized across all your computers, whether they are Windows PCs or Macs. It even offers limited file synchronization on certain smart phones. The service is from a Silicon Valley company called Sharpcast and is available at

Walt Mossberg says with the exception of a few limitations, SugarSync is a terrific product for keeping your files synchronized across multiple computers — PCs and Macs — and even on certain smart phones.

Not only does SugarSync place the latest version of every file you designate for syncing on all your chosen computers, but it also creates an archive of these files on a special, password-protected Web page. That way, you can access the latest version of any file even when you are at a public or borrowed computer that lacks the SugarSync software.

I have been testing SugarSync on five different computers — three Windows PCs and two Macs — as well as on a Treo smart phone. I tried syncing everything from Excel spreadsheets to Word documents, from photos to songs to PDF documents.

My verdict: While SugarSync isn’t free and has a few rough edges, it is by far the best solution I have tested to replicating and synchronizing your files across multiple computers. It really works.

Every time you change a file — say, by editing a Microsoft Word document or rotating a photo — the changes are replicated within seconds on every computer to which it has been synced and in the Web archive as well, as long as the computers are connected to the Internet.

For example, I set up SugarSync to synchronize a folder containing some Word documents. Then, I opened one of the documents on a Dell and added a sentence to it. A minute later, I opened the same file on a Mac, which was also connected to my SugarSync network. The file already had been updated on the Mac to include the change I had made on the Dell.

While SugarSync is primarily about file replication across computers, it also helps solve another nagging problem: backups. Because the files you care about most are now replicated on multiple machines in multiple places, and are stored as well in a Web archive, they are also backed up. So if one of your machines dies, you don’t lose your files. And, if you find yourself in need of a file that doesn’t exist on the computer in front of you, it can be downloaded.

SugarSync works by uploading your synchronized files to its servers, in encrypted form, and then sending them down to your computers when they change. There is a 45-day free trial that gives you 10 gigabytes of file storage. After that, you can keep the 10 gigabytes for $25 a year. There are five other storage plans, ranging from $50 a year for 30 gigabytes to $250 a year for 250 gigabytes.

The software that makes it all possible, called SugarSync Manager, is free and comes in Windows and Mac versions, as well as versions for Windows Mobile phones and certain BlackBerry models. An iPhone version is in the works, but for now, you can scan your online archive using a special SugarSync page available through the iPhone’s Web browser.

You install the manager software on any computer you wish to be part of the synchronized network. You can select different folders on different computers for syncing. All get uploaded to the Web archive, where they can be accessed at will.

You can choose which folders you wish to replicate fully on each machine. For instance, you might want your main documents folder to be replicated on every hard disk, available even when you’re offline. But, with a folder of lesser importance, you might be content to just fetch a file when you need it from the Web archive.

SugarSync creates two special folders. One, called Magic Briefcase, is always replicated on every machine’s hard disk, so you can quickly add a file to it even if you didn’t select the file’s original folder for synchronization. The other, called Web Archive, retains files in their original versions, never updating or changing them.

So, what are the rough edges I spoke about?

Well, the Mac version of SugarSync manager is still in beta, crashes occasionally and has various bugs. A final Mac version is promised later this spring. The cellphone versions can only view photos and whatever documents the phones allow, but changes you make on the phones in documents other than photos aren’t synced back to the computers or to the Web site.

In addition, SugarSync can’t synchronize Microsoft Outlook files and it can’t, say, replicate a new calendar entry or contact change across your computers. The company has shown off this capacity in public demonstrations and says it is working on adding it.

Still, SugarSync solves a real problem and does so well.

Recumbent Bicycles Bikes

Easy Riders
Recumbent bicycles are easy on the joints — and good for the heart. Here’s what to look for.
March 22, 2008; Page R5

Looking to break a sweat without damaging a limb, more people are pedaling their way to fitness on recumbent stationary bikes.

Recumbent exercise bikes — where users sit Big Wheel-style, with legs stretched out ahead, rather than extended downward — were ridden by 11 million Americans last year, according to the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association. The biggest and fastest-growing group of users: individuals age 55 and older.


We answer readers’ questions about Social Security, 401(k)s and trusts. Plus, thinking about taking several generations on the same trip? These companies can help.
• See the complete Encore report.With larger seats than upright models and cushioned backrests, recumbent bikes reduce pressure on the lower spine, as well as strain on the knees, without sacrificing a good cardiovascular workout.

“The older we get, the more we may need to address aches and pains in joints and limbs,” says Mike May, a spokesman for the sporting goods association.

That comfort can be purchased at some stores for as little as $200. But the best bikes, at about $1,500 or more, rival those at health clubs.

We decided to survey what’s available in the recumbent-bike market, and find out what would-be buyers should look for. Experts suggest testing machines in the store (so dress comfortably). At a minimum, a recumbent bike should be easy to mount and dismount, and the pedals should turn smoothly.

The ride should be quiet and comfortable, and you should be able to adjust the seat and handlebars. Be aware that some machines have weight limits as low as 250 pounds.

Manufacturers include some nifty, and sometimes unnecessary, accessories, such as fans or the television screens that are available on two of the models we tested. Most bikes come with computerized consoles that display heart rate, calories burned, speed and distance pedaled.

“Don’t get sidetracked by bells and whistles,” says Behzad Amiri, marketing director for Gym Source, a home-gym consulting firm and fitness-equipment retailer in New York. “Buy the best model you can afford.”

Here’s a look at some high-end models we recently tested. For all four models, the rider’s pedaling generates the power needed for the digital displays and other functions, so the bikes don’t need to be placed near an electrical outlet. All have numerous programmed workouts.

SIT BACK … and have a spin: Star Trac’s S-RBx model
Two of the bikes allow a rider to get on the machine without swinging one leg over an obstruction between the seat and the pedals. That can be a big plus for arthritis sufferers.

Star Trac S-RBx

If you want to pedal away the pounds while reading the new James Patterson novel, this is the bike for you.

Manufactured by Star Trac, based in Irvine, Calif., the S-RBx is one of the most comfortable bikes we tested, and the largest, weighing 185 pounds and sitting 52 inches high. A small set of wheels makes the machine portable, but many may find it too heavy to move every day.

The comfort of the S-RBx makes it suitable for the novice or others who might be turned off by a less inviting machine. It was the only bike we tested with armrests like those on an office chair.

The contoured seat felt well-padded. And the pedals are a bit wider than on other bikes, making them more comfortable.

The S-RBx costs $2,899 in the store, and a television screen can be added for $1,500. The bike comes with a lifetime warranty on the frame and a three-year warranty on parts and labor.

Cybex Cyclone

Smaller and sportier, the Cybex Cyclone, as the name suggests, is designed for riders who want to push themselves during their workout.

Made by Cybex International Inc., based in Medway, Mass., this bike is the industry’s most durable, some experts say. It’s able to handle up to 400 pounds. The warranty covers the frame for 10 years, parts for two years and labor for one year.

One drawback is that the Cyclone can’t be mounted without stepping over the machine with one leg. And the seat felt small. Rather than allowing us to sit back and relax, the bike was angled so it felt like we were coming up out of the seat. A price tag of $3,195 (not including a television screen that can be added for $1,445) makes the Cyclone the most expensive bike on our list.

It does have some interesting features, including cruise control, which allows the pace of the rider’s pedaling to be controlled to achieve a target heart rate. “Athletes have a hard time elevating their pulse on an exercise bike, but this bike gets the heart rate up,” says Gym Source’s Mr. Amiri.

Lifecore 1000RB

Lifecore Fitness Inc., based in San Marcos, Calif., touts the Lifecore 1000RB as the industry’s smallest recumbent exercise bike. At 120 pounds and measuring 44 inches in length and two feet wide, the bike can fit in many closets.

Still, a 5-foot-8-inch rider fit the bike without any fuss. And despite its size, the Lifecore 1000RB felt very sturdy and surprisingly comfortable. It can bear 300 pounds. And at $1,499, it’s a good choice for beginners, says Mr. Amiri.

There are some drawbacks. The Lifecore’s console is much smaller than those on other bikes and might prove hard to read. The controls, meanwhile, may confuse some people. Rather than pressing buttons to select one of the 12 exercise programs or adjust the resistance when pedaling, we had to scroll through the choices by toggling a dial similar to the one on an iPod.

While the bike is easier to mount than the Cybex Cyclone, there isn’t as much clearance between the seat and pedals as there is in the other two models we tested.

The bike’s warranty covers the frame for life, parts for seven years and labor for one year.

True PS100

Like the Cybex Cyclone, the True PS100, made by St. Louis-based True Fitness Technology, provides cruise control, automatically adjusting resistance to help a rider reach a target heart rate. The PS100 costs $1,899.

The seat was the most comfortable one we sat in all day. The bike can handle up to 350 pounds. The warranty covers the frame for life, parts for three years and labor for one year.

A noteworthy feature: The seat back reclines as much as 45 degrees, a boon for overweight riders who have trouble pedaling a recumbent bike.

“This is a company that really thought about the bike seat,” says Mr. Amiri.

Expresso Recumbent Bike

Expresso Fitness Corp., based in Sunnyvale, Calif., turned exercise into a videogame when it launched the Spark — now called the Expresso Upright Bike — a few years ago. The bike has a flat-screen display that allows riders to simulate chasing opponents through various outdoor courses.

A recumbent version will be available in May for $5,295. Expresso is taking orders for the bike now.

Reasons To Blog – Blogging

Managing Technology
Attention, Bloggers
For small businesses that can’t afford a lot of marketing, the blogosphere offers a cheaper alternative
March 17, 2008; Page R5

Andrew Milligan was stuck. He had spent $60,000 on trade-show exhibitions and magazine advertising for the bean-bag chairs made by his company, Los Angeles-based Sumo Lounge International, and sales were still languishing at a couple of bean bags a day.

So Mr. Milligan, like many small businesses looking to gain exposure and boost sales, turned to the blogosphere. He sent an email to the popular technology blog, asking the editors to review his product. While they declined that request, they agreed to trade three months of advertising on their site for 20 Sumo bean bags to outfit their new office.


Reaching out to bloggers and social-media sites can help small companies build buzz even when marketing budgets are small. These blogs and books can get you started, says Scott Monty, relationship director in Boston at Crayon, a marketing company.

Read how one company got outside money — and still kept control. Plus, small companies have a host of opportunities to cut travel costs, as hotels, airlines, car-rental companies and others try to win their business.
• See the complete Small Business report.Within 48 hours of the Sumo ad’s appearance on, an editor from Playboy magazine clicked on the ad and liked what he saw. He featured the bean bags in the magazine, and within about a week, Sumo had sold 500 bean bags.

Pleased with the results of that effort, Mr. Milligan began to pitch his bean bags to bloggers on a daily basis, sending them emails with links to Sumo’s Web site and offers to send bean bags to review. Two years later, after more than 250 blogger endorsements or posts about Sumo’s bean bags, the company’s annual profit had tripled. “This approach saved my business,” says Mr. Milligan. “It took Sumo from nothing to a fairly large and profitable company.”

Businesses of all types and sizes are focusing on the power of bloggers as opinion shapers. But harnessing that power is particularly important for small-business owners who don’t have the money to create name recognition with big marketing campaigns. By connecting with the right blogs, small businesses can generate buzz around their products and services and increase sales dramatically.

The first step for any business that wants to use the blogosphere as a marketing tool is to identify blogs read by members of its target market.

Watercolor artist and bluegrass player Robert Yonke.
When 65-year-old watercolor artist Robert Yonke wanted to promote his paintings of bluegrass musicians, he and his daughter, Becky Sciullo, sent pitches to three online bluegrass hubs, the Bluegrass Blog, the Mandolin Cafe and the Cybergrass Bluegrass Music News Network, asking them to review or post photos of his art.

“My father regularly read these [sites] and knew the readership,” Ms. Sciullo says. “If anyone would be interested, they would.”

All three sites wrote about Mr. Yonke’s work, and he began receiving orders overnight. But the big payoff came when the International Bluegrass Music Association commissioned Mr. Yonke to provide a painting for the central graphic element on marketing materials for the 2008 International Bluegrass Music Awards.

“The executive director of the IBMA saw the artwork on the Bluegrass Blog and called us right away to see if we would be interested,” Ms. Sciullo says.

The blog exposure has brought in buyers from as far away as England and New Zealand, Ms. Sciullo says. “How else could I have reached people all over the world while I am sitting in the middle of a snowstorm in Pittsburgh?”

It’s easy for any business to find relevant blogs using searches on sites like or, says Dave Taylor, author of a technology-help forum and blog, Other resources include social-bookmarking sites like and

Joining the Conversation

Another way small-business owners can get noticed is to contribute to the conversation on relevant blogs.

“If you become an active participant on my blog by commenting on a post or writing something on your blog and linking to mine, I am going to notice,” says David Meerman Scott, an author and speaker who writes a blog on online marketing at The blog’s readers will notice, too. “Participating and adding to the conversation establishes your name and company as an industry leader,” says Mr. Scott.

When Kate Peterson, owner of baby-gifts retailer Baby Bella in Fish Creek, Wis., opened her online store, she started her own blog at and began monitoring and posting comments on other baby-related blogs. One result was free exposure on, the site of the online network Christian Work at Home Moms.

Outside the box: To get bloggers to review their clients’ printers, a marketing team sent the bloggers customized comic strips—featuring photos of the bloggers found online.
When Jill Hart, the founder of, took a writing hiatus for the Christmas holiday, she posted an announcement on her blog seeking guest bloggers. Ms. Peterson jumped at the chance to reach out to mothers who might be interested in Baby Bella’s products. “We approached her and asked to write a guest post on unique Christian-themed gifts, a topic her particular readers would be interested in,” Ms. Peterson says.

Baby Bella couldn’t measure the sales resulting from that one blog post, but “sales have definitely increased since we began pursuing this strategy,” Ms. Peterson says.

Ms. Hart, meanwhile, says she keeps an eye on the Baby Bella blog, and she recently mentioned Baby Bella in a posting on about baby leggings — an invaluable referral.

“Customers will listen to an unbiased opinion from friends, family or trusted bloggers before believing the company’s word,” Ms. Peterson says.

Some online-marketing gurus say that, in many cases, posting comments on blogs like Ms. Peterson did is crucial to earning a mention from their authors.

“Getting a blogger to write about your company before you participate on their blog is like asking a person to marry you without a first date,” says Denise Wakeman, co-founder of the Blog Squad, a Los Angeles-based consulting firm that advises businesses on how to use blogs as part of an online marketing strategy.

Others say personalizing a pitch can sometimes win a mention without participation in blog discussions. Darren Barefoot and Julie Szabo recently co-authored an online book called “Getting to First Base: A Social Media Marketing Playbook.” To promote the book, they played to the romantic angle of the title by sending personal, hand-written letters asking 10 influential bloggers to review the book.

They enclosed each letter in a sticker-studded, perfume-scented pink envelope. In each letter, they included the address of a Web site set up just for the recipient, where the blogger would find a two-minute video message from the authors welcoming him or her to read the book. The idea was a hit: Almost every blogger wrote about the experience.

Mr. Barefoot and Ms. Szabo took another creative approach to promote a new line of printers for Brother International Corp. (Canada) Ltd., one of their clients. To ask bloggers to review the printers, they created pitches in the form of comic strips customized for each blogger. The duo found pictures of the bloggers online and pasted the images into the strip.

“You want to be creative, but play to your strengths,” says Mr. Barefoot. “If you are a T-shirt vendor, for example, create personalized T-shirts for each blogger.”

Showing Them the Goods

Short of such a personalized approach, businesses should at least be sure to send their product to bloggers whenever possible, rather than simply sending a press release that describes the product, online-marketing experts say.

A company called ooVoo LLC took that principle a step further in promoting new videoconferencing software, offering the software as a way for bloggers to connect with their readers. “The last thing the blogosphere needed was another software-release announcement,” says Scott Monty of Crayon, a marketing company that helped plan ooVoo’s promotion.

New York-based ooVoo invited more than 20 prominent bloggers to each host a live, 15-to-30-minute video chat with readers on topics of their choice, using the ooVoo software. Each blogger could chat with five people at the same time.

A number of the bloggers posted entries announcing their participation in the event and then wrote about their reactions to the chats. In addition, participating readers wrote reactions on their own blogs, and comments quickly spread across the blogosphere.

The event created “a viral effect with momentum,” says ooVoo’s chief executive, Philippe Schwartz. “The ripple effects were huge.”