Category Archives: Business

Deciding on a Conference Keynote

I’m not so sure we’re going to have a keynote speaker at Gnomedex this year. It’s not for a lack of wanting or trying, but we simply do not take that label as lightly as some conference producers do (nor do we sell that title to any bidder). I feel that everybody attending Gnomedex is our keynote – whether they’re participating on stage or in the audience. These people ARE the conference. The tone is set by everybody, so long as the tuning fork is resonating at a harmonic frequency (so to speak).

I looked up the definition of “keynote” on Google, just to make sure I wasn’t too far off the mark with my beliefs:

Opening remarks of a meeting that set tone of the event and motivate attendees.

Hasn’t it always been the case that we share energy between one another throughout the course of the weekend? Wikipedia defines “keynote” in deeper terms:

A keynote in literature, music or public speaking is the principal underlying theme of a larger idea — a literary story, an individual musical piece or event. At political or industrial conventions and expositions and at academic conferences, the keynote address or keynote speech is delivered to set the underlying tone and summarize the core message or most important revelation of the event.

As a lifeform, Gnomedex continues to evolve. Its strength is found in empowering each participant with energy and ideas. Energy. Ideas. Technology. Traditionally, Gnomedex has been a zeitgeist-type event – which is a commodity concept, save the uniqueness of our community and event design and execution.

Should we keep pushing for a keynote, play something in its stead, or suspend the “need” for a keynote altogether?

What kind of Blog Geek Reader are you?

This blog has been hand-selected to be a part of Tech Dispenser, Computerworld’s technology blog network. They’re conducting a brief survey (just 3 questions!) of visitors to better understand the audience they’re delivering content to. I guess they believe that geeks read me? I keep trying to tell ’em that my audience is really underwater basket-weaving grandmothers from the Arctic…

As a member of the Tech Dispenser Network, we need your help to learn about your blog’s readers. This information is vital to our understanding of the Network’s audience and will dramatically help our sales team’s efforts in the field. We’ve included 2 linking methods below; a 125×125 image and a simple link to the survey to include in a blog post, however, feel free to promote the survey in whatever way you choose.

I almost chose to promote it on my chest, but it’s a well-known fact that Arctic elders run chest-blockers in their browsers. However, YOU can’t block this text! Well, you can – but if you blocked it, then you obviously couldn’t be reading it right now. My blockers are in beta, which would make them beta blockers?

Understanding The Golden Rule

Ever wanted to know how “the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer?”

The truth is out there if you care to look – plain as daylight, well-documented, and extremely important for you to see and understand the world around you. History is always written by those who are in power…

“I sincerely believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people to whom it properly belongs.” – Thomas Jefferson

“History records that the money changers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit, and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments by controlling money and its issuance.” – James Madison

“The inability of the colonists to get power to issue their own money permanently out of the hands of George III and the international bankers was the PRIME reason for the Revolutionary War.” – Benjamin Franklin

“If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and the corporations which grow up around them will deprive the people of all property until their children wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.” – Thomas Jefferson

“I wish it were possible to obtain a single amendment to our Constitution – taking from the federal government their power of borrowing.” – Thomas Jefferson

“The hand that gives is above the hand that takes. Money has no motherland; financiers are without patriotism and without decency: their sole object is gain.” – Napoleon Bonaparte.

“I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the states where it now exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.” – Abraham Lincoln (months after his election)

“My paramount objective is to save the Union, and it is not either to save or destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it.” – Abraham Lincoln (weeks after the first shot of the Civil War was fired at Fort Sumter)

“The division of the United States into federations of equal force was decided long before the Civil War by the high financial powers of Europe. These bankers were afraid that the United States, if they remained as one block, and as one nation, would attain economic and financial independence, which would upset their financial domination over the world.” – Otto von Bismarck

“The Government should create, issue, and circulate all the currency and credit needed to satisfy the spending power of the Government and the buying power of consumers. The privilege of creating and issuing money is not only the supreme prerogative of Government, but it is the Government’s greatest creative opportunity. By the adoption of these principles… the taxpayers will be saved immense sums of interest. Money will cease to be master and become the servant of humanity.” – Abraham Lincoln (upon the creation of ‘greenbacks’ as full legal tender in the United States, after refusing to take loans at 24% to 36% interest from New York money changers)

“The money power preys upon the nation in times of peace and conspires against it in times of adversity. It is more despotic than monarchy, more insolent than autocracy, more selfish than bureaucracy.” – Abraham Lincoln

“The death of Lincoln was a disaster for Christendom. There was no man in the Untied States great enough to wear his boots… I fear that foreign bankers with their craftiness and tortuous tricks will entirely control the exuberant riches of America, and use it systematically to corrupt modern civilization. They will not hesitate to plunge the whole of Christendom into wars and chaos in order that the earth should become their inheritance.” – Otto von Bismarck

“I went to America in the winter of 1872-73, authorized to secure, if I could, the passage of a bill demonetizing silver. It was in the interest of those I represented – the governors of the Bank of England – to have it done. By 1873, gold coins were the only form of coin money.” – Ernest Seyd (based upon the reason that silver was plentiful in the Americas, and thereby virtually uncontrollable by the established banking cartel in Europe)

“It is advisable to do all in your power to sustain such prominent daily and weekly newspapers, especially the Agricultural and Religious Press, as will oppose the greenback issue of paper money and that you will also withhold patronage from all applicants who are not willing to oppose the government issue of money… To repeal the Act creating bank notes, or to restore to circulation the government issue of money will be to provide the people with money and will therefore seriously affect our individual profits as bankers and lenders. See your Congressman at once and engage him to support our interest that we may control legislation.” – James Buel, American Bankers Association [1877]

“Whosoever controls the volume of money in any country is absolute master of all industry and commerce… And when you realize that the entire system is very easily controlled, one way or another, by a few powerful men at the top, you will not have to be told how periods of inflation and depression originate.” – James Garfield (weeks before his assassination)

“The Aldrich bill was condemned in the platform… when Woodrow Wilson was nominated… The men who ruled the Democratic party promised the people that if they were returned to power there would be no central bank established here while they held the reins of government. Thirteen months later that promise was broken, and the Wilson administration, under the tutelage of those sinister Wall Street figures who stood behind Colonel House, established here in our free country the worm-eaten monarchical institution of the ‘king’s bank’ to control us from the top downward, and to shackle us from the cradle to the grave.” – Rep. Louis McFadden (D-PA)

“The … bill grants just what Wall Street and the big banks for twenty-five years have been striving for – private instead of public control of currency. [The Glass-Owen bill] does this as completely as the Aldrich Bill. Both measures rob the government and the people of all effective control over the public’s money and vest in the banks exclusively the dangerous power to make money among the people scare or plenty.” – Alfred Crozier, Ohio attorney

“This [Federal Reserve] Act establishes the most gigantic trust on earth. When the President signs this bill, the invisible government by the Monetary Power will be legalized. The people may not know it immediately, but the day of reckoning is only a few years removed… The worst legislative crime of the ages is perpetrated by this banking bill.” – Rep. Charles Lindbergh (R-MN)

“To cause high prices, all the Federal Reserve Board will do will be to lower the rediscount rate… producing an expansion of credit and a rising stock market; then when… business men are adjusted to these conditions, it can check… prosperity in mid-career by arbitrarily raising the rate of interest. It can cause the pendulum of a rising and falling market to swing gently back and forth by slight changes in the discount rate, or cause violent fluctuations by a greater rate variation, and in either case it will possess inside information as to financial conditions and advance knowledge of the coming change, either up or down. This is the strangest, most dangerous advantage ever placed in the hands of a special privilege class by any Government that ever existed. The system is private, conducted for the sole purpose of obtaining the greatest possible profits from the use of other people’s money. They know in advance when to create panics to their advantage. They also know when to stop panic. Inflation and deflation work equally well for them when they control finance…” – Rep. Charles Lindbergh (R-MN)

“[The fed reserve act brought about…] A super-state controlled by international bankers and international industrialists acting together to enslave the world for their own pleasure.” – Rep. Louis McFadden (D-PA, Chairman of the House Banking and Currency from 1920 – 1931)

“In the United States today we have in effect two governments… We have the duly constituted Government… Then we have an independent, uncontrolled and uncoordinated government in the Federal Reserve System, operating the money powers which are reserved to Congress by the Constitution.” – Rep. Wright Patman (D-TX)

“If our nation can issue a dollar bond, it can issue a dollar bill. The element that makes the bond good, makes the bill good, also. The difference between the bond and the bill is the bond lets money brokers collect twice the amount of the bond and an additional 20%, whereas the currency pays nobody but those who contribute directly in some useful way. It is absurd to say that our country can issue $30 million in bonds and not $30 million in currency. Both are promises to pay, but one promise fattens the usurers and the other helps the people.” – Thomas Edison

“A great industrial nation is controlled by its system of credit. Our system of credit is privately concentrated. The growth of the nation, therefore, and all our activities are in the hands of a few men who, even if their action be honest and intended for the public interest, are necessarily concentrated upon the great undertakings in which their own money is involved and who necessarily, by very reason of their own limitations, chill and check and destroy genuine economic freedom.” – Woodrow Wilson

“Some of the biggest men in the United States, in the field of commerce and manufacture, are afraid of something. They know that there is a power somewhere so organized, so subtle, so watchful, so interlocked, so complete, so pervasive, that they had better not speak above their breath when they speak in condemnation of it.” – Woodrow Wilson

“We have restricted credit, we have restricted opportunity, we have controlled development, and we have come to be one of the worst ruled, one of the most completely controlled and dominated, governments in the civilized world–no longer a government by free opinion, no longer a government by conviction and the vote of the majority, but a government by the opinion and the duress of small groups of dominant men.” – Woodrow Wilson

“If one understands that socialism is not a share-the-wealth program, but is in reality a method to consolidate and control the wealth, then the seeming paradox of super-rich men promoting socialism becomes no paradox at all. Instead, it becomes logical, even the perfect tool of power-seeking megalomaniacs. Communism, or more accurately, socialism, is not a movement of the downtrodden masses, but of the economic elite.” – Gary Allen

“Power from any source tends to create an appetite for additional power… It was almost inevitable that the super-rich would one day aspire to control not only their own wealth, but the wealth of the whole world. To achieve this, they were perfectly willing to feed the ambitions of the power-hungry political conspirators who were committed to the overthrow of all existing governments and the establishments of a central world-wide dictatorship.” – W. Cleon Skousen

“The state does not function as we desired. The car does not obey. A man is at the wheel and seems to lead it, but the car does not drive in the desired direction. It moves as another force wishes.” – Vladamir Lenin

“The course of Russian history has, indeed, been greatly affected by the operations of international bankers… The Soviet Government has been given United States Treasure funds by the Federal Reserve Board… acting through the Chase Bank. England has drawn money from us through the Federal Reserve banks and has re-lent it at high rates of interest to the Soviet Government… The Dniepersotory Dam was built with funds unlawfully taken from the United States Treasury by the corrupt and dishonest Federal Reserve Board and the Federal Reserve banks.” – Rep. Louis T. McFadden (D-PA)

“These International bankers and Rockefeller-Standard Oil interests control the majority of newspapers and the columns of these papers to club into submission or drive out of public office officials who refuse to do the bidding of the powerful corrupt cliques which compose the invisible government.” – Theodore Roosevelt

“The warning of Theodore Roosevelt has much timeliness today, for the real menace of our republic is this invisible government which like a giant octopus sprawls its slimy length over city, state, and nation… It seizes in its long and powerful tentacles our executive officers, our legislative bodies, our schools, our courts, our newspapers, and every agency created for the public protection… To depart from mere generalizations, let me say that at the head of this octopus are the Rockefeller-Standard Oil interest and a small group of powerful banking houses generally referred to as the international bankers. The little coterie of powerful international bankers virtually run the United States government for their own selfish purposes. They practically control both parties, write political platforms, make catspaws of party leaders, use the leading men of private organizations, and resort to every device to place in nomination for high public office only such candidates as will be amenable to the dictates of corrupt big business… These international bankers and Rockefeller-Standard Oil interests control the majority of newspapers and magazines in this country.” – John Hylan (Mayor of New York, New York Times, March 26, 1922)

“It was not accidental. It was a carefully contrived occurrence… The international bankers sought to bring about a condition of despair here so that they might emerge as rulers of us all.” – Rep. Louis T. McFadden (D-PA)

“I think it can hardly be disputed that the statesman and financiers of Europe are ready to take almost any means to reacquire rapidly the gold stock which Europe lost to America as the result of World War I.” – Rep. Louis T. McFadden (D-PA)

“Actually, it was the calculated ‘shearing’ of the public by the World-Money powers triggered by the planned sudden shortage of call money in the New York Money Market.” – Curtis Dall, son-in-law of FDR

“The Federal Reserve definitely caused the Great depression by contracting the amount of currency in circulation by one-third from 1929 to 1933.” – Milton Freidman (Nobel Prize-winning economist)

“After WWI, Germany fell into the hands of the German international bankers. Those bankers brought her and they now own her, lock, stock, and barrel. They have purchased her industries, they have mortgages on her soil, they control her production, they control all her public utilities. The international German bankers have subsidized the present Government of Germany and they have also supplied every dollar of the money Adolph Hitler has used in his lavish campaign to build up a threat to the government of Bruening. When Bruening fails to obey the orders of the German International Bankers, Hitler is brought forth to scare the Germans into submission… Through the Federal Reserve Board… over $30 billions of American money… has been pumped into Germany… You have all heard of the spending that has taken place in Germany… Modernistic dwellings, her great planetariums, her gymnasiums, her swimming pools, her fine public highways, her perfect factories. All this was done on our money. All this was given to Germany through the Federal Reserve Board. The Federal Reserve Board… has pumped so many billions of dollars into Germany that they dare not name the total.” – Rep. Louis T. McFadden (D-PA)

“Practices of the unscrupulous money changers stand indicted in the court of public opinion, rejected by the hearts and minds of men… The money changes have fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilization.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt (during his inaugural speech to our nation)

“Allegations of missing gold from our Fort Knox vaults are being widely discussed in European financial circles. But what is puzzling is that the Administration is not hastening to demonstrate conclusively that there is no cause for concern over our gold treasure – if indeed it is in a position to do so.” – Edith Roosevelt

“The powers of financial capitalism had [a] far-reaching [plan], nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalistic fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent meetings and conferences. The apex of the system was to be the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland, a private bank owned and controlled by the world’s central banks which were themselves private corporations. Each central bank… Sought to dominate its government by its ability to control treasury loans, to manipulate foreign exchanges, to influence the level of economic activity in the country, and to influence cooperative politicians by subsequent economic rewards in the business world.” – Carroll Quigley (Professor, Georgetown University)

“The stock of money, prices, and output was decidedly more unstable after the establishment of the Reserve System than before. The most dramatic period of instability in output was, of course, the period between the two wars, which includes the severe [monetary] contractions of 1920-21, 1929-33, and 1937-38. No other 20-year period in American history contains as many as three such severe contractions. This evidence persuades me that at least a third of the price rise during and just after World War I is attributable to the establishment of the Federal Reserve System… and that the severity of each of the major contractions – 1920-21, 1929-33, and 1937-38 – is directly attributable to acts of commission and omission by the Reserve authorities… Any system which gives so much power and so much discretion to a few men, [so] that mistakes – excusable or not – can have such far reaching effects, is a bad system. It is a bad system to believers in freedom just because it gives a few men such power without any effective check by the body politic – this is the key political argument against an independent central bank… To paraphrase Clemenceau: money is much too serious a matter to be left to the central bankers.” – Milton Friedman

“I know of no severe depression, in any country or any time, that was not accompanied by a sharp decline in the stock of money, and equally of no sharp decline in the stock of money that was not accompanied by a severe depression.” – Milton Friedman

“Banking is conceived in iniquity and born in sin. Bankers own the earth. Take it away from them, but leave them the power to create money and control credit, and with the flick of a pen they will create enough money to buy it back again. Take this great power away from the bankers and all great fortunes like mine will disappear, and they ought to disappear, for this world would be a better and happier world to live in. But if you want to continue the slaves of bankers and pay the cost of your own slavery, let them continue to create money and to control credit.” – Sir Josiah Stamp

“On the one side there is the party which holds the power because it holds the wealth; which has in its grasp all labor and all trade, which manipulates for its own benefit and its own purposes all the sources of supply, and which is powerfully represented in the councils of State itself. On the other side there is the needy and powerless multitude, sore and suffering. Rapacious usury, which, although more than once condemned by the Church, is nevertheless under a different form but with the same guilt, still practiced by avaricious and grasping men… so that a small number of very rich men have been able to lay upon the masses of the poor a yoke little better than slavery itself.” – Pope Leo XIII

“In our days not alone is wealth accumulated, but immense power and despotic economic domination is concentrated in the hands of a few… This power becomes particularly irresistible when exercised by those who, because they hold and control money, are able also to govern credit and determine its allotment, for this reason supplying, so to speak, the life-blood to the entire economic body, and grasping, as it were, in their hands the very soul of the economy so that no one dare breathe against their will.” – Pope Pius XI

Doesn’t matter if you’re black or white, you’re a slave in America.

Most of us are sadly under the delusion that either a Democratic or Republican candidate would save us and the freedoms which are actively being stripped away from us. Both leading political parties are equally as corrupt, so [if you’ll pardon the all-too-familiar religious card] finding salvation with either devil will lead you nowhere but straight into hell.

We keep ourselves busy fighting over issues like abortion, gay rights, Medicare – and while these are VERY important issues to discuss, they serve to divide and disguise the real issue at hand: that America is no longer a country for the people and by the people, but an un-country that is ruled by corporations and private interests.

Let me put it to you another way: does foreign policy REALLY matter if a single group already controls both sides and wins, no matter the outcome? This is not a conspiracy theory. This is documented history. Our forefathers knew exactly what they were doing, and it’s about time you open your eyes and figure that out for yourself.

Money reform is the superlative issue for America and the rest of the world.

Under this illusion of a country, we all became, and remain, slaves. You have more power than you think you do, although it doesn’t begin and end with voting. Understand, too, that the tally infrastructure of the United States is already corrupted – and remains completely unchecked.

Vote for Hillary. Vote for Obama. Vote for Mitt. Vote for Guliani. They’re all the same. None of them are talking about the true issue at hand. They understand how the system works, and pray that you stay in the dark for the rest of your life – and never tell your children how and where they lost control of their country.

You will be kept in the dark, with radical assertions such as this very post swept aside as alarmist or conspiratorial in nature. People like me will be chastised, labeled unpatriotic, slandered, debunked, and dismissed. Why? Because I’m not telling you to vote…

…I’m telling you to THINK.

In the interest of transparency: I never quite understood how economics worked beyond supply and demand, I never did well with complex mathematical equations, and I once stood partially naked on the bough of a Holland America cruise ship while visiting the Hubbard Glacier in the summer 2006. Does that make me any less of an American? You don’t need to be a rocket scientist, nor a world-class intellectual, to put two and two together here!

I believe in capitalism – I believe in free markets, free enterprise. But we do not live in a society (or a world) that enables these markets to exist truly – so long as money is controlled and “governed” by a single source. It’s not just the purchased politicians; we are equally a part of the puppet show, just as easily swayed and controlled.

You should be outraged.

And if you’re still not following me, take three and a half hours out of your life and watch this very powerful documentary. The Money Masters should be viewed by every single American who gives a lick about our country and its future. Share this information, share this video, show your children, forcibly remove your head from the sand:

A solution is outlined near the end of the video (and still a subject for truly independent discussion).

This is what we should be demanding of our elected officials – this discussion – this, and nothing else that would keep us living under tyranny, blindly and boldy marching forward into a single world economy (read: currency) ruled by a single world government. At that point, you’ll only wish you could complain about Medicare, gay rights, or abortion – issues which pale by comparison.

How much more power are you willing to concede?

“We are on the verge of a global transformation. All we need is the right major crisis and the nation will accept the New World Order.” – David Rockefeller

Video is an Amazing Advertising Platform

Okay, so I’m not as crazy as you may have previously believed – with my various live and recorded video efforts (on YouTube and the like). I was thrilled to read that Neilsen has validated these new business strategies:

Nielsen // NetRatings, a global leader in Internet media and market research, announced today that it added both “Total Minutes” and “Total Sessions” metrics to NetView, its syndicated Internet audience measurement service. While NetView has always reported average time per person and average number of sessions, the new metrics deliver greater perspective on total engagement across sites.

It gets better:

“’Total Minutes’ is the best engagement metric in this initial stage of Web 2.0 development, not only because it ensures fair measurement of Web sites using RIA and streaming media, but also of Web environments that have never been well-served by the page view, such as online gaming and Internet applications,” said Scott Ross, director, product marketing for the NetView service.

Heh. Awesome. I’m already there. Some of us have been preaching this idea for months now. One of the Internet’s leading video pundits, Jerimiah Owyang, has amended this metric by asserting three specific key indicators. And I quote:

  • Interaction = How many messages were in chat room per minute on average.
  • Velocity = How fast did the embedded player go, did it get embedded on blogs?
  • Tone = What did people say about the show, in the chat room, in the blogs, or whatever. This can be qualitative.

It all boils down to branding, my friends. Video is an amazing platform for advertisers, if they truly understand its power (and few advertisers do).

An Easier Way to Upload Files

We’re producing up to five videos every weekday through our Live experience (less than ten minutes apiece) – but it’s not scalable to upload these recordings to more than two video networks. This limits our distribution potential, and a problem that the industry must move to solve before more video networks come online. From the beginning, I’ve needed a service to take a single video and (from there) upload it to an array of networks. Does such a service exist? I’m not so sure, but until then – our community has informed me about two separate products – neither of which I’ve registered.

There’s the $200 Video Post Robot, which has a lifetime license – and is available at 50% off if you use my link and the “bestvideotool” coupon code during checkout. It currently uploads to:

  • Youtube
  • Google Video
  • Bolt
  • Putfile
  • Metacafe
  • Yahoo Video
  • MSN Soapbox
  • Myspace Video
  • Revver
  • Livevideo
  • Stupidvideos
  • Break
  • Brightcove
  • Ebaumsworld

And the $150 Video Upload Pro, which will currently upload to:

  • AtomFilms
  • Blip.tv
  • BoFunk
  • Bolt
  • ClipShack
  • EvideoShare
  • Flurl
  • Google Video
  • Guba
  • JumpCut
  • LiveVideo
  • MySpace Video
  • PutFile
  • Sharkle
  • Veoh
  • Vimeo
  • Yahoo Video
  • YouTube

I’m inclined to go with the Video Post Robot, if only because it seems more feature-rich – but I’m really looking for anybody who has had practical experience with either of these video upload tools. Or, perhaps you know of another service that does a better job at a lower cost?

Microsoft Class Action Settlement

I just received the following notice…

“Iowa Consumers and Businesses That Bought Microsoft Software Can Get Benefits From a Proposed Class Action Settlement – Iowa State and Local Governments Are Included. Over $179 Million Available to Benefit the Class.”

A Proposed Settlement has been reached in a class action lawsuit against Microsoft on behalf of Iowa consumers and businesses. Microsoft will provide up to $179,950,000 in cash and vouchers. Class Members can request a claim form to get cash or vouchers.

The Class includes all consumers and businesses that purchased a license for certain Microsoft software for use in Iowa from someone other than Microsoft between May 18, 1994 and June 30, 2006. The Class also includes all Iowa state and local governments that purchased a license for certain Microsoft software for use in Iowa from someone other than Microsoft between July 1, 2002 and June 30, 2006. The federal government is not included in the Class.

If you obtained the license for resale you are not included in the Class.

The lawsuit claims that Microsoft violated Iowa antitrust and unfair competition laws. Plaintiffs say this means consumers were overcharged for software. Microsoft denies these claims. It also denies that it overcharged anyone for software. The Court did not decide in favor of the Plaintiffs or Microsoft. Instead, both sides agreed to this Proposed Settlement.

Consumers who purchased eligible software will get up to $29 cash per license. Volume licensees and/or Iowa state and local governments will get a voucher valued up to $29 per license. Vouchers can be used towards the purchase of a wide variety of software and hardware. The Proposed Settlement also requires Microsoft to provide half of any unclaimed funds to Iowa public schools. The program to divide these funds will be approved by the Court.

For more details on the types of licenses you must have and the benefits you can get, read the Detailed Notice.

To get benefits, you can apply online or fill out and send in a claim form. Claims must be postmarked no later than December 14, 2007. There are different forms based on the number and type of licenses you have. The Detailed Notice explains what you need to do. All the claim forms are available at www.IowaMicrosoftCase.com or by calling 1-877-477-0960 toll-free. Claims may be audited and penalties apply for false claims.

If you don’t want cash or vouchers, you may exclude yourself by July 30, 2007. If you do not exclude yourself, you are bound by this Proposed Settlement. This means you will release any claims you have against Microsoft that are covered by the Proposed Settlement.

If you don’t exclude yourself, you may object in writing no later than July 30, 2007, to any part of the Proposed Settlement.

Microsoft will pay attorneys’ fees and expenses and class representative awards separately. These costs will not reduce the settlement benefits you get. The lawyers representing you will request $75 million in attorneys’ fees and reasonable expenses. Class Counsel will also request that each of the Class Representatives be awarded $10,000 for their time and effort.

The Detailed Notice explains how to object or ask to be excluded.

The Iowa District Court, Fifth Judicial District, will hold a hearing in this case, on August 31, 2007. The case name is Comes v. Microsoft Corporation, Case No. CL82311. The Court will decide whether to give final approval to the Proposed Settlement. It may consider the lawyers’ request for fees and expenses and class representative awards. You or your lawyer may appear at the hearing, at your own cost. If the Proposed Settlement is approved, Microsoft will be released from liability for claims. This is explained in the Settlement Agreement.

Google Desktop Search vs Windows Vista Search

Via my friend Todd Bishop at the PI, Google raises Microsoft antitrust concern. I’m linking to his story since the original NYT post requires registration, which is absolutely l4m3.

According to the New York Times report, Google has complained that computers slow significantly when running both Windows Vista’s built-in desktop search program and Google Desktop Search. The behind-the-scenes indexing needed for desktop search programs can drag on computing resources.

There is no simple way for PC users to turn off Windows Vista’s built-in desktop search program. Google has asked the court overseeing Microsoft’s antitrust compliance to require the company to let users turn off the built-in search program, the New York Times reported.

If anything, Google should be thrilled that Windows Vista’s desktop search program is one of the worst out there (sorry, Brandon). I’ve never had near the level of satisfaction with Vista’s search experience – especailly compared to Copernic’s elegance. Mind you, I’m no fan of Google’s desktop software, either. Instead of complaining to the DOJ, Google should be working to improve their client – independent of Vista’s shortcomings.

Find a Good Lawyer

For Attorney research, my old friend Brett Trout wrote:

I would echo Kevin O’Keefe’s suggestion that you do a blog search. While all of the other methods might get you a great attorney, the attorney might not be great for you personally or for your particular situation.

A blog lets you see who the attorney is, what their area of expertise is and whether they might be a great fit for you. Blogs are about transparency, they let you see the real attorney. If your attorney does not have a blog, I would be thinking “Why don’t they want me to know more about them?”

And from Myles Alderman:

The yellow pages are NOT a good way to find a lawyer. You should look for a lawyer with the ability to handle your legal matters well and the time to give you the attention you deserve. Recommendations are a good place to start IF you know people who are in a position to provide meaningful evaluation of the lawyer. Profiles posted on a website may provide some useful information. When hiring attorneys that we do not have prior experience with, I prefer to see evidence of solid respect by the lawyers who know that person. One widely recognized peer review rating system is the one provided at www.martindale.com. Generally, we will not recommend lawyers who do not hold at least a BV rating. But remember, the best lawyer in the world may not be right for you, if either he/she can’t give you the time you need or if there is a “disconnect.” Interview the lawyer, ask questions and feel free to not hire a lawyer if it doesn’t feel right.

Tax Attorney Help

For a Tax Attorney, Sean Neill wrote:

Depends on what the attorney’s role is – planning or litigation?

If litigation, ask for references from local accountants. Based on my experience as a Canadian CA (think CPA but tougher and with more prestige), we generally only recommend tax lawyers who we’ve had some experience in the past and/or who’ve had some reasonable success in court or pre-settlement negotiations with the tax authority.

As far as understanding a strategy, I’ve never encounter any strategy appropriate to my clients (small business owners – sub 20 million in assets) that I couldn’t understand. If you are dealing with a large enough accounting firm to have pure tax specialists (that is all they do), then my own view is that if they can’t understand the strategy, it likely isn’t appropriate for you. My main caveat is that if you are truly in the very wealthy category (>50+ million), then some strategies might be so outre to be incomprehensible yet save you money even after all of the transaction costs and additional risk. This doesn’t represent my client base, so I go with if the seller can’t explain it to me and satisfy me that it works and fits the client’s risk tolerance, I recommend my client not proceed.

Eric Sidebotham wrote:

Chris, there are some really good answers here. The only thing I might add is that lawyers are really good at shopping other lawyers, since they are familar with qualifications, et cetera.

But it is ultimately a personal decision that the client must make. You should be confident in your lawyer’s ability to handle the specific legal issue. There is no guarantee, however, that any one lawyer will be able to win a case. Don’t forget to consider things like the fee–spending $1M to win a $1K case makes bad business sense.

I see that nobody has given you any recommendations. I have referred some very important clients of mine to some excellent tax attorneys (in Bay Area, CA), and also know some that are efficient on smaller matters. Contact me if you would like those referrals (note, if they are in the wrong area, they might be able to suggest some who is in your area). Good luck.

And here’s another cool Tax Attorney discovery resource from Johnson Hor:

Check them out:

  1. Martindale.com (they have a peer review system)
  2. State Bar Association to see if there were any complaints filed.
  3. Talk to lawyers you trust (if you trust any)
  4. Have they published articles – if so read them – do they make sense and are they in tune to what you seek.
  5. Try to never find out when it’s too late.

Finding a Tax Attorney

As I mentoined before, we’re searching for a tax attorney. But this situation begs the question: how do you know the tax attorney you find is any good? My friends responded with answers that should help everybody:

Douglas Lineberry:

Ask another attorney. The bar association or lawyer referral services can be problematic. I believe the majority of attorneys that agree to take referrals from bar referral services genuinely want to help the folks that typically turn to a referral service (many of the referral services require the attorneys taking the referral to work at a reduced or no fee basis, or at least to provide a free initial consultation). There are, however, some attorneys that use the referral services because they cannot get any other work (and there is usually a reason for that).

Asking a friend or family member is a good start, but they are probably only going to be familiar with an attorney they know (being a friend of an attorney is not necessarily a reflection of how good that attorney is) or someone that they have worked with. If you get a referral to an attorney that friend or family worked with, the problem is that friend or family only knows if they had a good or bad experience. That doesn’t tell you anything about the qualifications of that attorney relative to other attorneys doing similar work in that geographic area.

The advantage to asking for a referral from another attorney is that they know other attorneys. For example, I don’t do family law work. However, I do know 2 or 3 exceptional family law attorneys in my county – people that I would hire if I ever needed representation in that area. If a friend or client asks me about a family law matter, I can save them a lot of time and energy by simply telling them who I would use.

With tax law in particular, if it sounds too good to be true is usually is. If you are talking to an attorney (or other alleged tax expert) and you are getting the idea that they are trying to tell you that you’ll never have to pay taxes again, try finding someone else. The sham artists will also go to great lengths to debunk legitimate planners. For example, they might say “well, you could get another opinion on this strategy from an attorney or a CPA, but they probably won’t understand it or they’ll tell you it won’t work because they don’t understand it and don’t want to admit that to you.”

Rose Hainey:

Chris,
You have found a good tax attorney when s/he has proven to your satifaction her/his ability to substantiate his/her expertise with clear understanding of the tax issues you are facing or want to avoid, depending on your tax situation.
Cheers!
Rose

Marc Aniballi:

I haven’t used one in a while, but the last time I did, the firm guaranteed their results. The agreement basically stated that so long as I had given them full disclosure of all relevant materials and situations, that any issues that cropped up would be their responsibility – not mine. Obviously, if there was new evidence brought forth, then I was back on the hook. This was not in the US though

Sam Cheris:

There are a variety of ways to verify your tax attorney’s credentials and capabilities.

  1. Does (s)he listen to your questions and does (s)he explain in terms you are able to understand?
  2. Does (s)he stay away from trying to sell you product?
  3. Does (s)he have a Martindale AV rating?
  4. Has (s)he received any honors from his peers, e.g. Super Lawyers, Best attorneys in America?
  5. Have you gotten reference clients from him (her) that you know and respect?
  6. Is (s)he willing and anxious to work with your current advisers (CPA, financial planner, etc.) or does he bad mouth them and want to be your sole source or steers you immediately to ‘his (her)’ team?

None of these questions alone will assure you of finding a good tax attorney, but taken together, they should weed out the unethical and the mediocre.

Robert Geurden:

If I recall, you’re on the West Coast, so I can write this without being too self-serving. My approach to giving tax or legal advice is to try to let the client know about both the advantages and disadvantages (or, if you prefer, risks and rewards) of a particular option, and, where possible, give more than one option. At the end of the day, it is the client’s decision whether or not to go ahead with the plan. That is, after all, what the ethical rules promulgated by the state bar associations require we attorneys to do. Non-tax lawyers may not always understand all of the details of the tax issues we mention, but one of my touch-stones for judging both my own work and that of my peers is whether the attorney tried to explain the issues. Fully explaining a complex tax issue in easy-to-understand terms takes time, though, and that time translates quickly into legal fees. Still, you should be able to get a sense during your initial interview of whether your attorney is inclined to consider the advantages and disadvantages and explain them to you.

I also agree that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is – and the fact that the plan is promoted by a large firm does not necessarily mean that the plan will work. In fact, fraudulent tax plans promoted by large firms are more likely to draw the ire of the IRS since the settlement is likely to be large. There was a news article in Tax-News.com on May 25 about Sidley, Austin, Brown & Wood’s successor settling a civil claim with the I.R.S. for $39.4 million for allegedly promoting an abusive tax shelter. – Good luck