Sunday, July 13, 2008

This Colgate Toothpaste Packaging Is Awfully Deceptive

Logan thought this bonus pack of Colgate contained two equally-sized tubes of toothpaste. After all, the boxes are exactly the same size. Yet when he opened the bonus box, he found a smaller box containing a mini tube of toothpaste.

Logan writes:

I bought some toothpaste last night as my wife an I had been surviving on tiny, dentist-issued travel tubes for the past couple weeks. We're lazy, so to save ourselves the trip after the next big tube was gone, I decided to buy a double pack of toothpaste. Thinking that the marginal savings of bundled toothpaste was the way to go, I grabbed a healthy sounding combo and was one may way. When I got home though, I was in for a big surprise. When I pulled the "Bonus" tube out of its box, it was actually in another, smaller box. Whaaaaat? Why the double boxing? Was it for packaging reasons? Or was it to hide the widespread reach and effectiveness of the the product shrink ray?

This isn't the feared Grocery Shrink Ray. This is deception, pure and simple. The weasels running Colgate's marketing team stuck to the law by printing the net weight on both boxes, but they clearly want consumers to assume that the boxes are the same size.

Way to waste an extra box, Colgate!

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The Post Office Will Pay Out Your Insurance Claim... If Their Employees Admits To Abuse

The post office won't pay Alauna's insurance claim for a damaged Hewlett-Packard laptop unless one of their employees admits to intentionally abusing her package.

Alauna paid $26 to insure the laptop on its cross-country visit to a virus-hunting friend. When the laptop arrived, a menacing broken hinge threatened to scratch the screen.

She writes:

The United States Postal Service is falling apart. About 7 months ago, my father gave me a brand new, HP Pavilion dv9700z series (Retailed at over a thousand bucks, but it was a gift, so I don't know exactly how much it cost him). In the 7 months that I've owned it, I got a nasty bug (virus) on it, and it no longer allowed me to log onto the internet. Either way, my best friend is an expert with computers and lives in LA, so I decided to send it to him to take a look at it.

By this being such a high line item, I wrapped it in bubble wrap, placed in a laptop case, and wrapped it AGAIN in a ton of bubble wrap before placing it in a post office issue box that the clerk told me, "most people send their laptops in THIS box)". I made sure to put at least $500.00 dollars worth of insurance on the shipment (just in case).

Silly me for believing this woman as approximately a week later, I got a call from my buddy in LA explaining that the hinge of the unit was broken and it was threatening to cause further damage to the computer. He explained that if I close the laptop, the screen may scratch and cause about 800 bucks worth of damage. So I'm irritated because this company screwed me over, and some idiot ignored the FRAGILE that was placed on the box, but I'm somewhat relieved that I got insurance on the purchase.

I send my LA buddy the insurance information along with the required receipt and figure the money would be distributed in a respectable amount of time. NOT! My buddy calls me later after he recieved the insurance information and explains that the post office clerk in LA tells him that "without a receipt, they probably won't honor your insurance claim)". Are you serious? They were't saying such nonsense when they sucked 26 bucks out of my pockets for the original shipment and insurance. Either way, I'm stuck with a brand new computer damaged by USPS, and the unfortunate truth that I may not receive any retribution for their mistakes. To all who read this, NEVER use the USPS to ship anything of importance. I live in a rural area (Cleveland, MS) so this was my only option, but I refuse to use this awful place again.

She later sent us an update:

So we file a claim with the Post office in April, and today I find out that they are denying my claim unless someone at the POST OFFICE admits to causing the damage! Are you serious?

I officially hate the USPS and this is what I get for using snail mail.

P.S. I don't know whether to be mad at the post office for breaking the computer or HP for making crappy hardware as I have a Compaq X1000 that wont charge (crappy HP).

We always thought the point of insurance was to protect a package in the event something happens. It doesn't need to be an abuse. If an employee admits to abusing an uninsured package, would the Post Office refuse to reimburse the owner?

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Rolls Royce and British Airways Announce Joint Research Venture

Looks that work

Amy Gonzalez is in the midst of a most challenging process: interviewing for a job. A member of the Boston Teacher Residency program, the 30-year-old has spent several long weeks trying to land a position as a high school English teacher. So far, nothing. And though a recent job interview left her feeling confident, later that week she learned she'd been rejected.


Current job: Accountant

Career plan: Plans to stay in finance, but wants a position with more client contact.

Makeover goals: Wanted a less preppy, more sophisticated look.


Current job: Boston teacher resident

Career plan: Plans to teach high school English.

Makeover goals: Wanted to regain her sense of style, look more polished.


Current job: Payroll specialist

Career plan: Hopes to land a job in the legal field before tackling law school.

Makeover goals: Needed to look more pulled together for interviews.


On Nixon: Fabiola black dress, $350; blue Eden belt, $135; Troca shoes, $300. All at Reiss, 132 Newbury St. Also, silver hoop earrings, $4.90, at H&M. On Gonzalez: Coco skirt, $215; Tiber belt, $165; Mirabelle yellow shirt, $215; black and white snakeskin shoes by Maine Shoe, $270. All at Reiss. Also: crystal earrings, $6.90, at H&M. On Restivo: Jack Victor wool navy suit, $795; Ike Behar checkered shirt, $155; Frank Stella tie, $85; Donald Pliner leather shoes, $265. All at Frank Stella, 220 Clarendon St. Styling by Erica Corsano. Makeup by Sue Kohnle, hair by Derek Yuen and Shelli-Rose McNamara, at James Joseph Salon.

"The principal informed me that it was just a matter of being one of many strong candidates," Gonzalez says.

Not long after, a friend gently suggested that, despite her work experience, maybe Gonzalez didn't look as professional as some of the other candidates. That conversation made the would-be teacher stop, think, and finally agree.

"I still wear clothes from Forever 21, which is embarrassing to admit," Gonzalez says, referring to the trendy clothing retailer favored by teens and college students. "I know I have to present myself as a teacher and not like one of the students."

With the economy weak and more people hunting for work every day, job candidates are thinking beyond the usual resume and references and looking for any competitive edge they can get. And that includes updating how they look. But getting the right hairstyle, choosing the right interview outfit, even deciding whether to wear cologne on the big day can be a surprisingly tricky business.

Kelly McDermott, founder of Kelly, Etc., a local wardrobe and style consulting company, says the makeover business is booming right now with recent college grads and mid-career adults intent on rethinking their wardrobes and creating a clean, polished look.

"This economy has actually been a good problem for my company, because people realize that first impressions really do matter," McDermott says.

It shouldn't take sartorial genius to find suitable interview outfit, yet countless job seekers need guidance. Beth Gilfeather, president and CEO of locally based Stride & Associates, is a tech field recruiter and maintains a blog where she dishes out advice for job seekers. On the site,, one entry provides helpful tips on dressing for success as well as the dos and don'ts of selecting appropriate interview attire.

"It's amazing to me what some candidates will choose to wear to an interview," explains Gilfeather. "We have a lot of people that are brilliant at what they do, but they just don't know any better when it comes to style."

Increasingly, they need to. With people changing jobs frequently (a 2006 Bureau of Labor Statistics survey said the youngest baby boomers held an average of 10.5 jobs from ages 18-40), not only do they have to keep their business skills honed, but they need to keep their look and style current as well. Image consultants say job seekers must consider the type of industry they're interviewing for and follow what is often an unspoken code for how to dress.

"The idea is to try to mirror and match your prospective company," McDermott says. "So, for more conservative professions such as banking or law firms, keep it classic, well-tailored, and conservative. For advertising or high-tech companies, you can look a little bit more creative, but still keep it appropriate."

And don't let a "summer casual" dress code fool you. Just because company employees wear slacks and polo shirts during the summer doesn't mean job candidates should adopt that look when interviewing.

"A lot of companies - financial, legal, construction - go business casual during the summer, and it's important to go a step beyond that when you're interviewing," said Ben Hux, director of legal recruiting for Management Recruiters - The Boston Group. "Dressing more conservative is always your best bet."

Just as important? Skipping the fragrance. The scent might not bother you, but it may annoy your prospective employer - or worse.

"We've had interviews stopped because the interviewer had an allergic reaction" to a candidate's perfume, Hex says. "You never know."

When considering what to wear for an interview, sometimes the best idea is to ditch an old look entirely and start fresh. James Restivo, 28, a occupational payroll specialist living in Boston, is thinking about law school. But before he makes the leap, he'd like to try and land a job at a firm, to get a feel for the profession. He thinks a new look might help him reinvent himself.

"I've been getting by at my current job with the same general outfit and have fallen into a rut with what I wear," concedes Restivo, who typically favors casual pants and a button down. "I need newer clothes."

Just as some candidates may have to spice it up or clean it up, others have to tone it down to land the job they want. Holly Wolk, director of recruiting and training for development and alumni relations at Boston University, is definitely not looking for potential hires to translate their personal style into their work wardrobe.

Fashionistas beware: If you want a job in higher education, she says, leave the pink Dior pumps at home.

"I'm not looking for the cute Carrie Bradshaw look," explains Wolk, "that doesn't work here. The term I use is always buttoned up. It's not about fashion, or personal style. When you're too fashionable, it distracts from your professionalism. When people come in a simple suit I remember and connect more with what they said, which is the important part."

While job changers who've been in one industry for years may face their own fashion challenges, Wolk finds that recent college grads often fall prey to the biggest faux pas when it comes to their appearance in job interviews.

"The Y generation, you see a lot of casual, sloppy dressers, or they wear clothes that they would wear to the club," she says. "Because of shows like 'Sex and the City,' they think that it's appropriate to wear these things to interview and have no sense of professionalism."

Wolk explains that her team often works with potential donors to the university, and anything that is "too fashion-y," can distract from the job. "Higher education is not a fashion runway - it's a professional atmosphere."

That's good advice for Emily Nixon, 24, who works in the financial industry. Nixon, an accountant, is looking to transition into a job that allows for more client interaction and thinks that toning down her trendy, too youthful look will help her make the move.

"I consider myself to be rather preppy and thought my look could be updated to be more sleek and sophisticated," says Nixon. "Fashion plays such a large role in how we conduct ourselves and how others perceive us in life, not only in the workplace. Having a look that matches your personality while remaining professional is extremely important."

The take away message? Don't wear anything that could compromise your chance of landing the job you want.

"The last thing you want is your appearance to keep you from getting a job," Hux said. "You want it to be a non-issue."

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Heaviest users of Web face limits on 'unlimited'

For as long as consumers have had high-speed Internet at home, they have surfed the Web as much as they wanted, downloading any content while paying their service provider a flat monthly fee.

Those days may be ending.

Internet service providers, especially cable companies, are eyeing new pricing models to address the rapidly growing popularity of such applications as streaming online video and the sharing of large files. These programs can eat up bandwidth and cause bottlenecks, slowing service across networks. Companies such as Comcast and Time Warner also fear becoming a "dumb pipe"—providing the conduit for data-intensive Internet activity but not managing the flow or making any money from it.

The service providers emphasize that a small number of Internet users are responsible for the heaviest consumption and that average customers don't have to fear monthly usage caps or sudden spikes in rates. Time Warner spokesman Alex Dudley said 5 percent of the company's 8 million Internet subscribers use 50 percent of the bandwidth.

But as AT&T noted in a statement, "broadband use is surging." The company said average bandwidth usage rose about 35 percent per year between 2001 and 2007.

Much of the heightened activity comes from watching videos, downloading media and sharing music and movies. These activities require investment in more robust networks, especially as consumers seek more Web-based entertainment options, such as watching TV shows online.

The question of who will pay for that investment and how the costs will be shared has sparked a fierce debate.

"What people have to understand is that the concept that there's unlimited capacity on the Internet or on anyone's network is not true," Dudley said. "And as the bandwidth-intensive uses of the Internet increase, investment has to be made."

On Friday, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin publicly criticized Comcast for interfering with subscribers' Internet access. Martin said the company's restriction of certain applications, such as peer-to-peer file-sharing programs, violated the FCC's principles for "Net neutrality," or ensuring open access to any lawful content on broadband networks.

"This is an important precedent to make sure that operators do understand that they can't artificially or arbitrarily limit consumers' access to the Internet," Martin told the Tribune in an interview. But he also indicated that service providers will have the freedom to set pricing the way they want.

Comcast says it temporarily delays "a relatively small number" of peer-to-peer uploads but denies allegations it blocks any Internet content outright and says it is evaluating alternative models.

Internet service providers have long offered different service plans based on network speed. But the new models under consideration focus on how much content is being consumed.

Time Warner is testing a model for Internet pricing that takes its cues from tiered cable TV pricing. The lowest tier is $29.95 a month for 5 gigabytes and the highest is $54.90 for 40 gigabytes. Users pay overage charges when they exceed those caps. Five gigabytes equals about 15 hours of standard-definition digital video.

In another possible scenario, a user downloading a particularly large file could pay a one-time charge for a temporary increase in bandwidth, said Michael Manzo of Virginia-based Openet, a technology provider.

"I can guarantee that behind the scenes, [companies] are buying the technology to allow these things to occur," Manzo said. "True flat-rate pricing may exist for basic access, but you'll have a bunch of up-sell capabilities."

Some proponents of Net neutrality say they worry new pricing models could set a dangerous precedent.

"Where is the primary control over choice of content on the Internet?" said Ben Scott, policy director at Free Press, which has filed a complaint against Comcast with the FCC. Scott worries that a cable company could set Internet pricing higher to make cable TV more appealing.

Cable firms say the issue is bandwidth investment. If Internet usage requires bigger pipes, it makes sense to charge more for customers who use more.

"Pick your poison," said Time-Warner's Dudley. "It just isn't free. It's servers, it's air conditioning, it's fiber-optic cables, it's rolling trucks. It's expensive and labor intensive."

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Long Beach man sentenced in deputy's freeway death

Glenn Koenig, Los Angeles Times
Officers salute the casket of Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy David S. Piquette at Crossroads Christian Church in Corona.
Cole Allen Wilkins receives 26 years to life in prison in the death of a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy killed while swerving to avoid a stove that had fallen from his pickup.
By Christine Hanley, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
July 12, 2008
A Long Beach man was sentenced today to 26 years to life in prison in the death of a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy who was crushed by a cement truck on the 91 Freeway after he swerved to avoid a stove that had fallen from the man's pickup.

Cole Allen Wilkins, 32, was convicted in May in the death of David Piquette, a 10-year veteran of the Sheriff's Department who was driving to work from Corona when the accident happened.

Prosecutors maintain that a murder charge was appropriate in the case because Wilkins was in the process of committing a felony -- he had stolen the stove -- when Piquette was killed.

Wilkins' attorney, Joseph Vodney, argued at trial that the case against his client was highly unfair, saying Wilkins didn't intend to harm Piquette.

The case dates to the early morning hours of July 7, 2006, when Wilkins was driving a Ford pickup loaded with appliances that were stolen from a home construction site in Riverside County. Piquette, a 34-year-old father of twins, was at the wheel of his county-issued Crown Victoria, on his way to work.

According to motorists who witnessed the incident, the tailgate on Wilkins' truck was down when the stove fell out as he drove west in the fast lane of the 91 Freeway in Anaheim.

At least two drivers traveling ahead of Piquette hit the stove but were unhurt. As other drivers including Piquette swerved to avoid the appliance, a cement truck landed on top of the deputy's car, crushing him.

According to prosecutors, Wilkins did not stop until a motorist who was driving behind him when the stove fell flashed his lights and honked his horn.

Wilkins gave the man a fake name and two fake telephone numbers and did not produce a driver's license or registration for the truck, prosecutors said. Wilkins also threatened the man and later gave a false name to California Highway Patrol officers trying to reconstruct the accident, authorities said.

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Tony Snow, Former White House Press Secretary and FOX News Anchor, Dies at 53

Tony Snow, the former White House press secretary and conservative pundit who bedeviled the press corps and charmed millions as a FOX News television and radio host, died Saturday after a long bout with cancer. He was 53.

A syndicated columnist, editor, TV anchor, radio show host and musician, Snow worked in nearly every medium in a career that spanned more than 30 years.

"Laura and I are deeply saddened by the death of our dear friend Tony Snow," President Bush said in a written statement. "The Snow family has lost a beloved husband and father. And America has lost a devoted public servant and a man of character."

Snow died at 2 a.m. Saturday at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C.

Snow joined FOX in 1996 as the original anchor of "FOX News Sunday" and hosted "Weekend Live" and a radio program, "The Tony Snow Show," before departing in 2006.

"It's a tremendous loss for us who knew him, but it's also a loss for the country," Roger Ailes, chairman of FOX News, said Saturday morning about Snow, calling him a "renaissance man."

As a TV pundit and commentator for FOX News, Snow often was critical of Bush before he became the president's third press secretary, following Ari Fleischer and Scott McClellan. He was an instant study in the job, mastering the position — and the White House press corps — with apparent ease.

"One of the reasons I took this job is not only to work with the president, but, believe it or not, to work with all of you," Snow told reporters when he stepped into the post in 2006. "These are times that are going to be very challenging."

During a tenure marked by friendly jousting with journalists, Snow often danced around the press corps, occasionally correcting their grammar and speech even as he responded to their questions.

"Tony did his job with more flair than almost any press secretary before him," said William McGurn, Bush's former chief speechwriter. "He loved the give-and-take. But that was possible only because Tony was a man of substance who had real beliefs and principles that he was more than able to defend."

As he announced Snow as his new press secretary in May 2006, Bush praised him as "a man of courage [and] a man of integrity." Snow presided over some of the toughest fights of Bush's presidency, defending the administration during the Iraq war and the CIA leak investigation.

"I felt comfortable enough to interrupt him when he was BSing, and he kind of knew it, and he'd shut up and move on," Snow said.

His tenure at the White House lasted 17 months and was interrupted by his second bout with cancer.

FOX Facts: Tony Snow's Battle With Cancer

Snow had his colon removed and underwent six months of chemotherapy after he was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2005. In 2007 he announced his cancer had recurred and spread to his liver, and he had a malignant growth removed from his abdominal area.

He resigned from the White House six months later, in September 2007, citing not his health but a need to earn more than the $168,000 a year he was paid in the government post. He was replaced by his deputy, Dana Perino, Bush's current press secretary.

After taking time off to recuperate, Snow joined CNN as a political commentator early this year.

At the White House, Snow brought partisan zeal and the skills of a seasoned performer to the task of explaining and defending the president's policies. During daily briefings he challenged reporters, scolded them and questioned their motives as if he were starring in a TV show broadcast live from the West Wing.

"The White House has lost a great friend and a great colleague," said Perino in a statement released to the media. "We all loved watching him at the podium, but most of all we learned how to love our families and treat each other."

Critics suggested Snow was turning the traditionally informational daily briefing into a personality-driven media event short on facts and long on confrontation. He was the first press secretary, by his own accounting, to travel the country raising money for Republican candidates.

As a commentator, he had not always been on the president's side. He once called Bush "something of an embarrassment" in conservative circles and criticized what he called Bush's "lackluster" domestic policy.

A sometime fill-in host for Rush Limbaugh, Snow said he loved the intimacy of his radio audience.

"I don't think you ever arrive," he said. "I think anybody who thinks they've arrived or made it, anywhere in the media — they're nuts."

Robert Anthony Snow was born June 1, 1955, in Berea, Ky., the son of a teacher and nurse. He graduated from Davidson College in 1977 with a bachelor's degree in philosophy, and he taught briefly in Kenya before embarking on his journalism career.

Because of his love for writing, Snow took a job as an editorial writer for the Greensboro Record in North Carolina and went on to run the editorial pages at the Newport News (Virginia) Daily Press, Detroit News and Washington Times. He became a nationally syndicated columnist, and in 1991 he became director of speechwriting for President George H.W. Bush.

"He served people, and we can learn from that. He was kind, and we can learn from that. He was just a good person," the senior Bush told FOX News.

Snow played six instruments — saxophone, trombone, flute, piccolo, accordion and guitar — and was in a D.C. cover band called Beats Workin'. He also was a film buff.

"He was a great musician," Ailes said. "And he loved movies."

More than anything, said Snow's colleagues, he was a joy to work with.

"He was a lot of fun," his former FOX News producer Griff Jenkins said. "This is a loss of a family member."

FOX News Chief Washington Correspondent Jim Angle called Snow a "gentleman."

Snow is survived by his wife, Jill Ellen Walker, whom he married in 1987; their son, Robbie; and daughters, Kendall and Kristi.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Sex, lies and emails: The assassin, the partner and a plot to poison a millionaire

It is a bizarre tale of a would-be assassin who turned out to be an Egyptian poker dealer in Las Vegas, a woman in an unhappy relationship with a tycoon and revelations of a fake marriage, sex clubs in Spain and a Jacobean-style poison plot.

They were the ingredients of one of the most unusual murder trials ever heard by Ireland's central criminal court. The case reached its climax this week after a 45-year-old mother-of-two, Sharon Collins, was found guilty of conspiring to hire a hitman through a website to kill her partner and his two sons.

PJ Howard was worth €12m (£9.6m) through property rentals. He owned homes in the west of Ireland and Spain as well as a boat called Heartbeat, named after his quadruple heart-bypass in 2000.

Five years after his heart surgery Howard was dating blonde divorcee Collins who, like him, had two sons from a previous marriage. But the match was not made in heaven, the court was told. Collins admitted that in April 2005 she wrote to Gerry Ryan, a popular Irish radio DJ, accusing Howard of frequenting prostitutes, transvestites and swingers' clubs near Malaga on the Costa del Sol.

Yet despite this, she was so obsessed with marrying Howard that she turned to the internet, paying $1, 000 to for a Mexican marriage certificate in the name of Sharon Howard.

In August 2006, Collins contacted the website The jury was told that correspondence began between her and a man from the site who called himself Tony Luciano. Luciano was in fact an Egyptian poker dealer in Las Vegas, Essam Eid. Collins allegedly suggested arranging an accident for Howard and his sons, and supplied him with details of where the family lived and socialised. The would-be assassin offered an alternative - poison that would induce heart attacks.

The plot unravelled in September 2006 after Eid flew to Ireland and burgled the Howard family's business, taking computers. He then arranged to meet Robert Howard, one of PJ's sons, claiming to be able to identify the whereabouts of the equipment. He also warned the son that there was a contract out on him, his brother and their father, demanding €100,000 to have the contract terminated.

Howard contacted the Irish police and thus began a transatlantic investigation which included the FBI. Collins was arrested in February 2007 after examination of one of the stolen computers, which had been dumped in a Limerick hotel. It contained emails between her and the hitman, which included complaints from Collins that PJ Howard wanted to control her life, even down to asking her to have "stranger sex".

In one email, Collins wrote: "His boys are going to suffer. I wish it didn't have to be like this, but I know that if my husband was dead and they were still here, they'd screw me."

Collins and Eid, who was found guilty of demanding €100,000 from Howard and handling stolen property, will be sentenced on October 8. Collins has secured the help of a Los Angeles-based literary agent, after she told Ireland's director of public prosecutions: "I'll write a book yet."

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