Tag Archives: research

Where Do You Find Reviews?

I have told you that you need to research before buying anything so many times that I have had nightmares about it. I dream that you go out and grab any old product off of the shelf, simply because it is shiny and new. You didn’t do your homework. You just took whatever caught your eye, took the toy home and then proceeded to become disillusioned. I warned you, didn’t I? The problem is, no one seems to be listening. The Pew Research Center says that only 58% of you are researching purchases online before you buy.

This Pew study doesn’t distinguish how the “online research” happens. This can include doing simple searches, heading to a product website or asking for opinions via a social networking service. Any of these methods of obtaining information will work. It doesn’t matter how you do your research, it simply matters that you do. That which sounds too good to be true usually is, young grasshopper.

If you are in the market for a new product – ANY product – don’t just read the specs listed by the manufacturer. Don’t make a decision based on how good something looks, or even how shiny it is. Read reviews. Talk to people who have bought or tested the same item. Do a few online searches. Heck, check with the Better Business Bureau to make sure there aren’t complaints lodged against the company you want to purchase from.

Do your research.

Aardvark Bought by Google

Just a few moments ago, Aardvark co-founder Max Ventilla confirmed that a deal has been signed with Google. While the details haven’t yet been released, I can only think positive things will come of this merger. If you haven’t heard of Aardvark yet – or are not using it – shame on you! I have a feeling that this little service is going to become very huge, very quickly… thanks to the backing Google will bring.

Aardvark is a new tool that lets you tap into the knowledge and experience of friends, and friends of theirs. Simply send the service a question – via the web, IM, email, Twitter or iPhone – and you’ll get a quick response. Your answers will come from people who have the right experience and know-how to help you, and who have friends in common (or similar tastes).

If you need information but don’t know where to start, that’s when you turn to Aardvark. You can ask anything, from general research, to tips and advice, and even get second opinions on products and services you find! You don’t have time to sift through a ton of pages looking for the right thing, nor to spend hours in a conversation with someone. Aardvark cuts all of that unnecessary legwork out for you, usually in under ten minutes!

Check it out for yourself, and let me know your thoughts. Did Google make a smart move in grabbing up this nifty start-up before any competition could?

What are the Economics of Internet Business?


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I’ve been in the Internet business for many years now. Some of what I’ve done has been very successful. Some of it has been – not so much so. I’d like to think I’ve managed to do fairly well for myself, though. Chris B. emailed me recently, commending me on the things I’ve been able to accomplish. He is working on a paper for his Economics class, and wanted to approach his from a different angle than other students – that of the Internet business. He asked me to answer some questions to help him with his research, and I was more than happy to oblige!

  • Owning and operating a website is something that many people take for granted. They all claim it’s easy to do. Being successful, though, is something else entirely. I know you started Lockergnome many years ago. What brought you into this sort of business? Lockergnome started back in 1996. There was no such thing as blogging, so I used email as a means of communicating. The email newsletter still goes out several days a week, to more than 100,000 people. No one else was distributing information this way back then. I was finding awesome tips and tricks for Windows and other software, and wanted to be able to share the info with others. This is what is behind the beginning of Lockergnome. I have plans to be adjusting things about the site soon, though!
  • Many people who are not tech savvy wonder how Internet businesses make money – especially if there’s only content and not products to buy. How have you managed to make money with your content, including things like AdSense? You have to find a way to do what you’re doing better than anyone else. Leverage your assets! The relationships I generate on Twitter are just as important as those on Lockergnome or my blog. You have to think that your brand is distributed. Lockergnome is still around, and will be for the long haul. I am making money through sponsorships and such, or even through consulting. It’s about spinning plates – having more than one financial leg to stand on.
  • The Internet is always changing – there are new services and technologies popping up daily. This means that existing ones must grow and change in order to keep up. Do you find that you have to constantly grow and change yourself in order to stay fresh, and at the front? Once Wicket stopped arguing with me over which social sites are more important, I was able to clear my thoughts enough to answer this. Wicket is right about one thing, though. You have to think outside of your box. The Internet is your box – but you have to think beyond it. Go where the conversations are at. Engage conversations of your own. Don’t confine yourself inside your little box (your own website). Ultimately, you have to adapt.
  • Do you really feel that any competition exists between you and other bloggers? Or do you feel that all the different bloggers and sites kind of flow together? This is a very astute observation. When information goes out, it doesn’t matter where it came from. The information is what is important. It’s all about staying relevant, and realizing you don’t really have “competition”. It’s about your value add. What are you doing that’s different? What are you bringing to the global conversation? I know I’m giving rise to voice for people via Lockergnome and Geeks. If people use my tools, there’s a greater chance they’ll be seen and heard. It’s all about having a balance. I’d rather get along and share things with my colleagues, rather than view them as “competition”.
  • Running a business on the Internet is drastically different than running any other types of business. What kinds of costs are associated with running your business? Do you have employees? It’s a business, bottom line. We have things set up so that we have contract employees, and regular ones. We try to keep our costs extremely low. We work right out of our home, as do our employees. Therefore, we don’t have office overhead costs. We file taxes, just like with any other business. The major costs of course, are the people we pay for the work we do. And a note to add – they are some of the best!
  • It could be argued that you’re now famous for live streaming your life. What did live streaming change for you, if anything? I honestly don’t think I’m famous at all, and especially not for live streaming. If anything, I’m “famous” (or INfamous) for those stupid TechTV bloopers that will apparently never die!! Live streaming has made me more aware that there are so many people out there who are interested in what we’re doing, and where we’re heading. I’ve also learned to be aware of the things I say and do.

Live streaming isn’t recommended for everyone, that’s for sure. I wish people would remember I’m not a monkey. I don’t just sit and entertain everyone all day long. I work! And I just happen to keep the live stream running so you can work along with me. Good luck on your paper, Chris B. Let me know how it turns out.

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RIP: Microsoft Encarta

Looks as though Microsoft is killing Encarta (both the Web site and disc series). Over the years, I can count on one hand how many times I used the service – despite having owned several editions (and, certainly, being online since its inception). Luckily, I think I received those DVDs as gifts, so I was never out anything. I’m sure Wikipedia marginalized Encarta, much like Google Maps marginalized Microsoft Streets & Trips (on my desktop, at least).

Does this come to any surprise to you? I asked on Twitter:

chrispirillo: Microsoft is killing Encarta. Despite owning several copies in the past, I never used it. You?

about an hour ago

LionelatDell: Ditto. Agree with that assessment.

about an hour ago

Skyy: Enwhatta?

about an hour ago

Riyanweb: it works for me 🙂

about an hour ago

musosdan: yeah i used to. want a set of brittanica tho 🙂

about an hour ago

Tad: I remember perusing it back in the day, but haven&#39t even THOUGHT about it in years. *feeling sentimental now*

about an hour ago

odaynasser: only their thesuarus

about an hour ago

allen099: Me? Nah, I wouldn&#39t mind killing it either.

about an hour ago

evantravers: It had a jeopardy meets labyrinth puzzle maze game. That and the articles on weapons/airplanes.

about an hour ago

cinebo: never touched it but also had it way back when

about an hour ago

christophertran: nevar used it. ever.

about an hour ago

lucdupuy: I did for about 15 min. then found out wikipedia potential and other university ressources. then why pay?

about an hour ago

DennisWhite: I never used it either…

about an hour ago

Christyxcore: I only used encarta when I was at school.

about an hour ago

Inundated: Fascinated with Encarta for about a day then it became shelfware. Then I&#39d buy the next version

about an hour ago

mnrmg: I plagiarized an article from them in like 6th or 7th grade. Feels good to get that off your chest! LOL

about an hour ago

stkxppro: never used Encarta. They should kill it.

about an hour ago

gattaca: Funny you say that. I had a copy once. Never used it either.

about an hour ago

TURBOHOSTUSA: Enwho? hahaha!

about an hour ago

Bowler4Ever: Encarta was never useful. Good riddance.

about an hour ago

Nfan12: I still have Encarta 1999 and 2000 but i don&#39t use it.

about an hour ago

weirdFishes: Haven&#39t used Encarta since 1997 or so.

about an hour ago

blackysky: encarta was good back then but wikepedia kill it ….

about an hour ago

mikedsjr: encarta still exists?

about an hour ago

CobraRob: Ahh I remember convincing my parents to buy a CD rom drive using Encarta as the excuse to need it. Dont think I even used it.

about an hour ago

CPWestergaard: never, but I also refuse to use wikipedia either. Probably a case of ppl not being willing to pay for content.

about an hour ago

ChrisWiegman: I used it in the mid 90s, but I haven&#39t in at least 10 years.

about an hour ago

Commodore256: Nah, I never liked that piece of junk.

about an hour ago

garrett_w: finally! i wondered how long it would take for them to realize that its day is past.

about an hour ago

Arkitan: Not once.

about an hour ago

onekopaka: I have used it but now Wikipedia will dominate.

about an hour ago

MikeyVB: i owned 2 versions used 1 of them once

about an hour ago

nerwin: I used it once On Windows 95 long long time ago. The first PC we ever owned. We use to own a Mac.

about an hour ago

cbrowne25: in 1994 on our 33Mhz IBM before we got the Internets.

about an hour ago

davidson2009: Used Encarta once, Its too general, but nice for kids and for school work.

about an hour ago

benjamingeiger: I used it until I got Internet access. I wish they&#39d have kept Flight Simulator though.

about an hour ago

mikebrowne: Encarta came with several PC&#39s. Never used it. Microsoft doesn&#39t need to kill something that was already dead.

about an hour ago

gsphotobeetle: I never used Encarta for six years. Never seem to know why.

about an hour ago

harrysaxon23: Used it in the early CD-ROM days, up to about &#3993, then the WWW happened. Lot of CD-ROM databases in the early 90s.

about an hour ago

alisonatintuit: nope – I use Wikipedia…

about an hour ago

NightRPStar: negatory, hardly ever did, i preferred the Britannica really

about an hour ago

flashdrive: never used it once. i did have it on my msn before lol

about an hour ago

jamedina88: wow I totally forgot about Encarta after Windows 95

about an hour ago

bluedepth: Long live Wikipedia! 🙂

about an hour ago

jnassi: I think I used Encarta once, in the mid-to-late 90s.

about an hour ago

thirddesign: used it for that weird puzzle/adventure/trivia game in the 2000 version (i think)

about an hour ago

dremin: It&#39s a good resource where Wikipedia fails.

about an hour ago

ZenTigerpaw: I haven&#39t used half of Microsoft&#39s product line. Sept for Office, and even I stopped using that for free alternatives.

about an hour ago

craigalberino: not unless it came with a new machine

about an hour ago

DavidGranado: Encarta is still around?? I thought that died in the 90&#39s with Pogs and Pauly Shore. I guess you learn something every day.

about an hour ago

spacks: I played the crap out of MindMaze in Encarta 97… http://bit.ly/15Cs totally worth it when it came /w my first PC.

about an hour ago

david_ing: Yep, more or less the same. The one good place is probably the kids computer, as it&#39s off the net plus has that &#39encarta kids&#39

about an hour ago

kooldudeben: love u bro… id rather shit on my hand than use mac or windows or anything lke that, but they are the only 1s out…

about an hour ago

garrett_w: the last version i used was 98, i think. that or 97 had an awesome educational game my sis & i loved (only thing we used btw).

about an hour ago

Ninesvnsicks: I haven&#39t&#39 used Encarta since elementary school on an old mac.

about an hour ago

egsa: Kind of remember Encarta as a demo that came with Multimedia PC a billion years ago. Didn&#39t know it still existed.

about an hour ago

tomacintosh: Man I completely forgot about Encarta! What a blast from the past! I guess Wikipedia + faster Net connections have taken over!

about an hour ago

ianleon8: I only used Encarta when i got it, then i just forgot about it.

about an hour ago

mrmseawa: Used Encarta ages ago when it first came out & the www was smaller.The internet now serves as my primary research tool!

about an hour ago

morgan_johnson: I never used Encarta. I always used the copy of Britannica I had. I liked it better, ha.

about an hour ago

atav: Me neither.

about an hour ago

samuraigurl: I&#39ve used my Encarta a couple of times but not lately.

about an hour ago

willcormier: never … Not even in 1996 … When it always came free

about an hour ago

Cboardkid: you are slow !! @mobilephone2003 posted a tweet about this a while ago lol

about an hour ago

robby1051: once in 2000 to see what it was all about

about an hour ago

eliasisrael: The Internet killed Encarta. Microsoft is just getting around to holding the funeral.

about an hour ago

pure23: I remember Encarta coming bundled back in the day with pc&#39s. I honestly didn&#39t know it wasn&#39t dead already.

about an hour ago

brknseals: The versions that I had on my earlier compaq&#39s kept me entertained when I was younger. Might be kinda sad to see it go…

about an hour ago

ronnyfugmann: Funny, I didn&#39t even know this MSN encarta thingy existed.

about an hour ago

TheDataDoc: Encarta was about as useful as screens on a submarine; like calling AOL the Internet, it just didn&#39t cut it as an info source

about an hour ago

Mofobro: Thats funny you would say that. Me too.. Never used it! Isn&#39t that strange, or maybe it says something?

about an hour ago

kevincastillo: bundled w/ computer in the mid 90s and a couple of upgrades after that. Not since. The included videos were cool then.

about an hour ago

mcuban: i have an encarta cd collection from every PC i bought the last what, 15 years ?

about an hour ago

tsells: I used it for a paper “once” in college.

about an hour ago

michellegamboa: Used the client version a couple of times, but mostly used the web version.

about an hour ago

hzleyedgrl: -Encarta&#39s still around? Nope never used it.

about an hour ago

jdhunter: I have used every version I have ever owned. Strung together they make a great mobile to keep the birds out of my plants!

about an hour ago

TheHenry: Instead of Encarta, just use google.com Works great! And is Free! Coming soon!

about an hour ago

redhead1904: Encarta never suited my fancy much

about an hour ago

darmerk: installed a few Encarta CDs waaay back in the 90s. Don&#39t remember using them.

about an hour ago

Abiu: I remember having it for most of my life I still got student edition 07 installed. But now with wikipedia and google its #done

about an hour ago

Alvin_N: I think I still have Encarta 95 in its original box unopened LoLs…I remember using it at a friends house.

about an hour ago

trenchard: Encarta: Largest SW market penetration in history w/lowest usage rate in history

about an hour ago

PeterOA: Wow that&#39s still around? I thought it was called Wikipedia now 😉

about an hour ago

pcasey44: – owned it – never used it – I heard high school kids used it for research papers, but I can&#39t imagine why.

about 59 minutes ago

DarkHelmet46: Used it way back in highschool. Fairly useless as an encyclopedia. Better off hitting the library.

about 57 minutes ago

uberick: I would always install it, marvel at how cool it was, and then never use it again, after paying over $100 for it. :-O

about 57 minutes ago

BayouBengal56: I last used Encarta roughly around 1995 when I got my first PC with a CD-ROM drive.

about 56 minutes ago

jg_rat: I used Encarta. Twice, I think.

about 42 minutes ago

mrtomahawk: I had no idea that thing was still around… I used like six years ago

about 33 minutes ago

kpslover007: i used to use it way back in &#3903 till about &#3906. Now that Wikipedia is dominating research, Encarta is useless!

about 31 minutes ago

sbattan: in grade school i found it useful. (im talking 10 years ago)

about 13 minutes ago

PoopsTech: I have used in the past and I know of many that they do too, in conjunction with the Internet servers.

about 8 minutes ago

The Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything

There are times when you need to ask someone a question:

  1. When the question is personal in nature.
  2. When only one person knows the answer.
  3. When the answer is trivial.
  4. When the answer is temporal.
  5. When nobody else would understand the question.
  6. When crowdsourcing would work most effectively.

Then, there are questions that have readily-available answers. For those, it’s best to:

  1. Open up your “Web browser” and go to Google.com.
  2. Try a few keyword searches on a “Web site” called Google.com.
  3. Use something called a “search engine” at Google.com.
  4. Flip open your Internet-enabled phone and visit Google.com.
  5. Rely on your own research skills to navigate results on Google.com
  6. Think about trying Google.com.

Watch this video for a quick tutorial:

Is the Future of Science Research Open?

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What was the last magazine you read? Every once in awhile, a magazine floats through my house with an article that catches my attention. The May, 2008 issue of Scientific American has on the cover “Science 2.0: The Risks and Rewards of Web-Based Research”. Whoa… I thought that maybe this would be an interesting article, but I wasn’t sure how it would turn out. I wasn’t sure if Scientists are embracing the Collaborative Web, or if they’re pushing it away. One quote in the article said: “Although Wiki’s are gaining, Scientists have been strikingly slow to embrace one of the most popular Web 2.0 applications: Weblogging (Blogging)”.


The four key concepts of the article are:

  • Science 2.0 generally refers to new practices of scientists who post raw experimental results, nascent theories, claims of discovery and draft papers on the Web for others to see and comment on.
  • Proponents say these “open access” practices make scientific progress more collaborative and therefore more productive.
  • Critics say scientists who put preliminary findings online risk having others copy or exploit the work to gain credit or even patents.
  • Despite pros and cons, Science 2.0 sites are beginning to proliferate; one notable example is the OpenWetWare project started by biological engi­neers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.



The first generation of World Wide Web capabilities rapidly transformed retailing and information search. More recent attributes such as blogging, tagging and social networking, dubbed Web 2.0, have just as quickly expanded people’s ability not just to consume online information but to publish it, edit it and collaborate about it—forcing such old-line institutions as journalism, marketing and even politicking to adopt whole new ways of thinking and operating.


Science could be next. A small but growing number of researchers (and not just the younger ones) have begun to carry out their work via the wide-open tools of Web 2.0. And although their efforts are still too scattered to be called a movement—yet—their experiences to date suggest that this kind of Web-based “Science 2.0” is not only more collegial than traditional science but considerably more productive.


I don’t think Science could be hurt by more collaboration. By mixing more Macro with more Micro may produce more interesting conversations within the Scientific community. The potential for collaboration to exist is Infinity… in both directions.

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The Truth about Wikipedia Credit

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Imagine my surprise when a few friends of mine from the Netherlands emailed to let me know that I was featured in a video about Wikipedia! There was a link in the beginning of their video to a video I had done about Wikipedia, discussing how we can use them as a source to find out truth and information. I’ve often talked about Wikipedia in the past, listing it as a resource that should always be fact-checked. However, it’s the future of information distribution. I feel it falls short in some areas, yes. However, it’s strength far outweighs their weaknesses.

So I went on a search, and came across the video in question on YouTube. The first thing you hear and see after their logo flashes through is the video that we recorded! What the producers decided to do is clip about the bottom half, which eliminates chat and my sponsor logos. Most concerning to me, is they also eliminated credit. We produced this video… and did not get credit. The Truth According to Wikipedia is an amazingly well-produced video.

While I think it’s great that they used and edited my work, I’m very upset that they did not give me credit. It’s quite well done, so on the one hand I’m proud to have been a part of what they’ve come up with. But of course… the other hand is my disappointment in not being asked to use my content, or even so much as giving me credit for my original work. As traditional journalists, they should have given credit where credit is due.

I’m not asking that they take the video down, since it was so well done. But I do think I should get proper credit. If you’re going to use something that another person has produced… give them credit for the work. Ask them if it’s ok to use! Most of the time, I will give you permission, and ask for a copy of what you put together. Is it really the truth, and the right way of doing things by leaving out where you got the information you used?

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Have you Ever Heard of Google?

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James writes: “Recently doing a project for school, I have decided to compose a Top 5 List of ways to find information. I feel that these may help anyone who’s looking for information, and the community at large.”

  • Google It. Google has become, undoubtedly, the world’s largest and most comprehensive search engine. Although Yahoo may have that really cool voice when you click the exclamation point, that is not a reason to use that particular search engine. However, if for any reason, you find any search engine better than Google, use it! All in all, you should make your primary way of searching for information in a search engine. Also, you may wish to type in “Pirillo *what you’re searching for* to receive results about anything Chris has blogged (or vlogged?) about. For example, typing in “Pirillo Garlic Recipes” will bring you to the blog where Chris talked about all the things you can do with garlic in food.
  • Sign up for an internet question-answer site like Answerbag (recommended) or Yahoo Answers. These are sites in which you post questions and other people in the community answer your question based on their own personal knowledge and/or research that they have done especially for you. These sites can have your question answered in less than 30 seconds. But be warned, these sites can become very addicting when asking and answering questions.
  • Ask the community in Chris’ chat room. People are always around 24/7/366 (in this year’s case) talking and asking questions. Don’t be afraid to dive in and ask any one of us any question at all. Who knows, that one person in the chat room may have the answer that you have been looking for for a while but could never find out. Asking our community and joining in on our conversations is always fun and just you just might be able to find an answer. However, don’t just ask questions, answer them too! Give back to the community and make ours a more pleasurable one with your input.
  • Don’t be afraid to use Wikipedia! Just because the community at large is able to edit all entries does not automatically make all the data inside its articles false. Across my researches, I have never found one problem with the information available on Wikipedia and neither have any of my teachers. If your looking for quick information, go to Wikipedia and search for the topic. You’ll be surprised by the amount of data that will be available to you (and most likely correct). Use your common sense in determining whether the information you find is correct or incorrect (for example, “The violin is a stringed instrument with no strings,” would obviously be an incorrect statement. If you must, back up the data you find on Wikipedia with another source. Also, just don’t blame Wikipedia for all your woes. Any person can put up a web site and just because it’s not Wikipedia doesn’t make the information automatically correct.
  • If all else fails (or even if all else succeeds), go to your local library. Libraries have a vast amount of information available for free that you could use for research. Also, if it is a formal project (either school or occupational), many people prefer published documentation to the unpublished information. Librarians are kind people who are willing to direct you in the direction of the information you are looking for. Theoretically, they are your human, alive version of Google. Books have been around for centuries, even before Johannes Gutenberg, and will never fail to be a good source of information.
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What is Wikipedia?

http://live.pirillo.com/ – Back in ancient times there was a thing called an "encyclopedia" – it was a disgusting piece of technology that used tree pulp and ink to store information. The so-called "paper" was bound in volumes – about 26 or 27 of them – which contained information on every word, noun, and proper noun known to exist at that time.

Using this technology was slow, painful, and often outdated – the volumes needed to be updated in bulk since they did not have the ability to be updated dynamically. You also needed to buy this information! Costing upwards of $2000 for the entire set, salesmen would actually encourage people to purchase an encyclopedia set once a year!

Thankfully, we live in modern times where we have Wikipedia. Wikipedia is, essentially, the anti-encyclopedia. It contains most of the same information of encyclopedias plus information you generally would not be able to find. Plus, it’s updated on-demand.

Some professors don’t approve of Wikipedia – they claim it’s not a reliable resource. To that point, they may be right: anyone can edit Wikipedia, which can lead to inaccuracies; however, Wikipedia can be a great resource for starting any research project and pointing you in a good direction.

Should you use Wikipedia as your only resource? No, you need multiple resources to try and come close to understanding what the truth is behind a situation.

Should you ignore Wikipedia? Absolutely not! It’s a great resource that provides a ton of value – free of charge – for anyone who is researching any topic.

What do you think?

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