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Michael: This interview is absolutely incredible. It’s volume two with Luis Aralles, where Luis takes us through the most incredible time-saving, money-saving, valuable websites in the world.
Michael: Hey, Luis, Michael Senoff from www.HardToFindSeminars.com .
Luis: Hi Michael, how are you doing?
Michael: I’m doing well, how about yourself?
Michael: All right, let’s do it. That last talk we had blew me away. I wish I had more time to go through all these sites. I will be getting that time over the Thanksgiving weekend a little bit. Those sites were incredible. Let’s go. You sent me another ten or twelve of your all-time favorite bookmarks.
Luis: These are powerful.
Michael: These are powerful? Are these specifically related to any type of topic?
Luis: They are for basically everything that can deal with computers. From somebody who wants to buy a computer or just buy some parts, they cover things you need to do with a computer when you first get it and some of the best security systems to put into your computer to make sure you’re protected from any outside vulnerability. There are also sites on how to just check up on your computer, and how not to get scammed by some of the e-mails that people send you. There’s a lot of good stuff in these, including how to get some freeware.
Michael: Okay, so would you say that this is still applicable for beginners in computers?
Luis: Oh yes, this is all applicable for beginners.
Michael: Okay, let’s do it.
Luis: The first one is www.salescircular.com .
Michael: What is www.salescircular.com ?
Luis: Do you get the Sunday newspaper, and you get all those little sales circulars in there from Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Comp USA, all those different companies? There are some great deals in there. Sometimes you think it’s a great deal, but another place has the same product at a different price, but they also have really bad service. Which one is the better deal? This site here takes all those sales circulars, and puts them together on one website for you to search and compare.
Michael: That’s incredible.
Luis: Right here you see a list of all the states...
Michael: I’m going to interrupt, because I have a specific use for this right now. I’m looking for a new digital video camera. I went to a place called Tweeters, and they have the new Sony digital video camera that records on digital tape. They have a guarantee of the lowest price. So what I wanted to do was shop price for this camera.
Luis: This would be perfect for that. So choose “California.”
Luis: Now here we go... “Computer.” What you want is “Computer” – “Electronics and Video.” It’s the second column.
Michael: So I’m looking for digital camcorder. I’m looking for a Sony. Here it is. Wow. DCRTRV240, I think that’s exactly what I’m looking for.
Luis: How much were you paying?
Michael: They had prices up to 800 bucks. There are a couple of different models. So, is it telling me the best price out of all of them?
Luis: Yes, this is the price after a hundred dollar mail-in rebate. So you can walk out of the store with it for $599.00. But once you mail in the rebate, you’ll get a hundred bucks back.
Michael: So has this website compared this product with all those circulars and given me the cheapest one?
Luis: This lists all the prices for this week that are in all those sales circulars. Here’s one from Circuit City, with the Sharp model for $499. The one above it is another Sharp also for $499.
Michael: There’s the Sony I’m interested in.
Luis: Which one?
Michael: The DCRTRV240.
Luis: Okay, so that one doesn’t have the mail in rebate, so that’s $599 straight out.
Michael: That’s the advertised price?
Luis: The advertised price. Circuit City has it down below that for $699 and then Best Buy has it for $799.
Michael: That’s right. Wow!
Luis: The prices you see at the top of the page are the cheapest ones. All the way at the bottom is the same Sony at Best Buy, but for more money.
Michael: I was quoted like $899 or $999 at a place called Tweeters. I can get this same camera now for $599. That’s incredible. You just saved me 200 bucks.
Luis: I’ll take that in a credit card or...
Michael: That’s incredible. That’s wonderful.
Luis: You can do that for any product.
Michael: Whenever you’re shopping, for any product, you can do this. Use this if you’re buying retail from a store.
Luis: They have computers, software, electronics, video, audio, major appliances, small appliances, cellular phones and service. Just about every category.
Michael: I would tell anyone listening to compare this to another site, and that’s eBay. I would search on eBay for these similar items, because I would guarantee you could find them at maybe the same prices or even better. So you’re not buying from a retail store. That’s the down side. You’re buying from a person. In some cases, you might be buying from a retail store, so it could be a safe transaction also.
Luis: And also many times you have to be careful, because you don’t what you’re getting, and you don’t know if they have any kind of return policy. You don’t know what you’re getting on eBay.
Michael: That’s true.
Luis: What you buy is what you get.
Michael: Okay, anything else on this site that’s pretty exciting?
Luis: The computer stuff is a lot of fun, but everything here you can find on your computer with a little work. These are just the major, major stores that are out there. Many times people think they want computer parts, but you always get a ranging of prices on computer parts. If you have an Apple, their prices are pretty much the same. But PC parts range in prices like crazy. So these are the major, major sellers out there.
Michael: This www.salescircular.com is?
Luis: Yes, the ones that we all know about. The next one is really interesting. It’s called www.pricewatch.com .
Michael: What is it?
Luis: www.pricewatch.com , you might say, is like the stock market of computer parts. That’s what I consider it. Any computer part that you’re out there looking for, it tells you the up to the moment prices on that part, whether the prices have gone up, or have shot down. Do you have any part you’re looking for?
Michael: Yes. Well, these are computer parts. How about a DVD burner for my computer?
Luis: Okay, then let’s go into the fourth column, where it says “Storage.” Go down to “DVD drive.” You’re looking for a DVD ram.
Michael: Is that what I’m looking for?
Luis: Yes, random access memory, instead of DVD rom, which is read-only. You want a DVD ram, so it can read and write on it.
Luis: You want the one that says “4.7 gigabytes.” See it down there below?
Michael: 4.7 gigabytes. The $177.00 one?
Luis: It’s on that link. This right here tells you all those other places, www.justdeals.com and others, and they give you the best price on that product.
Michael: Are these websites or retail stores?
Luis: Both retail stores and websites, and they have their own stores, but in other states. So, with this one here, you can get a DVD burner for $176.90 including shipping.
Michael: It’s Similar to the other site. It’s giving them to me in order of the lowest price to the highest.
Michael: So www.justdeals.com looks like the place to go.
Luis: One little tip: with this site, whenever you click on one of the links for the info, the information pops up on top. Click on “Info,” and “Justdeals,” and the top banner...
Michael: I see it.
Luis: When I first started, I thought, “Where’s my information?”
Michael: I see it. It’s like a little ticker.
Luis: That’s where you can find out the website or the phone numbers.
Michael: Wow, that’s great. If anyone is shopping for computer parts, and they know what they’re looking for, they should go here. Before going to Best Buy or a retail outlet where they sell computer parts, go on this site, and you can save yourself big money.
Michael: How long has this site been around?
Luis: I don’t know, but at least three or four years.
Michael: Do you think it’s that it’s not just a consumer site, but a site that people in the parts business use to buy and resell?
Luis: I know that resellers us it. Someone from my favorite TV show, they’re always referring to this site.
Michael: Which show?
Luis: Screen Savers. It’s a show on the Tech TV network. They always are going here for parts. You can always find better part prices here than you can in other places.
Michael: Why do you think parts prices are all across the board? We’re looking at one part here that’s ranging from $300 to $176.
Luis: Many times it’s what the manufacturer’s charge, the deals that people can cut with the manufacturer, if they get them during certain times. They may have older models that aren’t exactly brand new to the market. Many times, you can get a refurbished product. I don’t know if you know this, but when you go to a store, like Micro Sense, somebody buys a product, and they open it up - and even if they just look in it, close it up say they don’t want it, and they take it back - the store still has to sell it at a lower price. It can be totally, perfectly just fine, but they have to sell it at a lower price because it’s been opened. So that’s another reason why some places are able to give that lower price.
Michael: Okay, wonderful. That’s a great site. Thanks for that, Luis.
Luis: Okay, next one is www.windowsupdate.com . The majority of the people out there with computers use Windows. Windows is not the most secure operating system out there. You have to keep up to date with the newest security patches they come up with, and updates for your operating system. You use windows, right?
Michael: Yes, I do.
Luis: How many times have you updated it since you met me?
Michael: Since I’ve met you, I think we had this talk, and I’d never updated it. But I had my computer guy in here, and we updated it.
Luis: So you’re pretty much up to date. On this site here, you have access to Windows 2000, Windows NT, Windows 98, and Windows 95. There’s also a site for Windows XP, but most of the Windows XP people, are already taken care of automatically.
Michael: Tell someone who’s sitting here listening to us, who is looking at their computer thinking, “What the hell’s an update?” Why they should update their Windows system.
Luis: The operating system, Windows, was released with many security holes. They didn’t get everything totally sealed, signed and delivered when they sent it out. Many people out there on the Internet are malicious, and they are able to exploit certain vulnerabilities in the operating system without you knowing it. They can come in and attack your system, or pull information off your computer straight through the Internet.
Michael: So we’re talking about hackers, right?
Luis: No, we’re talking about crackers.
Michael: Crackers? What’s the difference between a hacker and a cracker?
Luis: The definition of a hacker is someone who enjoys discovering and testing the limitations of a system, whatever type of system, and trying to remove the limitations of what the system.
Michael: Mainly for fun and challenge.
Luis: Fun, challenge, and intellectual discovery. When you were a kid, you took an alarm clock apart to find out how it works, how to make different things out of it. That was me. A cracker, however, is a malicious person. They can even just pull software off an internet site, and just use it. They didn’t write it, they didn’t create it, and they didn’t discover anything. They just want to use it to break into systems to steal credit cards and other personal information. Those are people called crackers.
Michael: Does this go on a lot?
Luis: It goes on a lot. It’s not as bad as how the media wants to portray it, that’s for sure. But it does go on, and you do need to protect yourself and know about it.
Michael: So for anyone who may not believe this is possible, give us an idea of what a guy who is skilled at cracking can do to, let’s say a small business, with their entire customer list and credit card accounts. What could they do?
Luis: I’m sure you’ve seen it many times: You get an e-mail, and someone says, “Hi, I’ve got this message for you, and here’s the attachment to look at.” It just comes in your e-mail - you don’t know who the guy is. It has a little attachment, so you click on it. It opens a little screen that says one of two things. Either “You’ve been hacked,” or something totally benign, and you say, “Oh that was nice.” And you shut it off. But what happened in the background that you didn’t notice is that a Trojan horse virus has just come into your computer. I’m sure you’ve heard of the Iliad and Ulysses. They put in a Trojan horse and brought it into the castle and all the military men were inside there, and they came out and attacked. That’s exactly what a Trojan is. It’s a little program that hides the virus inside that opens up the ports in your computer, like little doors. Anybody from the outside, once they know the Trojan is on your computer, can gain access and go in and out. They can create the attacks to make it look like it’s coming from your computer. They can attack somebody else’s computer through your computer, and make it look like you did it. And you have no idea it’s going on. Or they can use it to just grab information out, erase your hard drive, take your credit card numbers off of there, whatever it is they want to do.
Michael: They can have total, 100% control of the computer, as if they were sitting in front of it with your password and everything.
Luis: Exactly. Windows 99 has the vulnerability. 2000, XP, all of these have a vulnerability.
Michael: Now, these updates will protect you from this happening?
Luis: Exactly. They’ll protect you a little more, because there are always new ones coming up. This year alone, Microsoft came out with 32 new patches for their operating system. You need to do this.
Michael: I have Windows 2000, so I’m going to go to Windows 2000, and it says “This page contains all critical updates, service packs and other beneficial system updates for Windows 2000. Check this page for ways to keep your computer current and tuned.” I’m going to just download the updates.
Luis: Exactly. You go to “Critical Updates,” and then it will walk you through all these that you need to download.
Michael: Do I do them all individually?
Luis: You do them all individually. No, here’s what you do. You click on the link next to the lock, where it says “Safe and Secure.” Click on that.
Luis: This gives you all the ones that you need to do.
Michael: Okay, so it says “Security Headlines,” “Security Resources,” “Security to Print.” Basically, this is going to cover you in protecting your Windows operating system. Great advice, Luis.
Luis: Actually, I have just one button.
Luis: Let’s go to the next one. Next, we’re going to is www.pcpitstop.com .
Luis: Right. This is a fantastic site. Now you’ve got your whole computer system, you’ve got the operating system put in, you’ve bought your computer from one of those websites we saw before, Windows is installed on your computer, and now you can check your whole computer to see how it’s running. This site runs through a whole gambit of tests to see how your hard drive is configured and how your hard drive is running, if you have enough memory in your computer. Everything. You click on this one button here, where it says “New Members,” and it will run your entire system through a check. It takes a little time to do it, so I wouldn’t do it right now while we’re on the phone, but it’s a very powerful battery of tests it goes through. Actually, if you click on the link above, where it says “Battery of Tests, it will give you a list of what it will actually tests.
Michael: Then it gives you a report?
Luis: Exactly. It gives you a little report at the end, and sometimes it even has instant fixes. So you click on that link, and it will fix the problem for you, or it will show you how to do it on your own.
Michael: So it’s like taking your car to a mechanic and tuning it up, all automatically. Is this free?
Luis: It’s free. If you don’t want to sign up or anything, just make sure you click on the “New Members” portion.
Michael: Okay. That’s great to know.
Luis: Okay, let’s go to the next one. This is annoyances.org. I don’t know about you, but many things that Windows puts into the system, I just don’t even care about, or I wish you could get rid of.
Michael: Like what?
Luis: If you have Microsoft Office, you have this little paper clip guy that comes up and gives you ideas. He’s always popping up if you have trouble.
Michael: He is a pain in the butt.
Luis: This thing here shows you how to get rid of it. That’s just one. There are also different ways to customize your Windows system. I have it set on mine to get rid of all the links that I go to when I’m web-browsing. It gets rid of it from my temporary memory. Or I get rid of certain temporary files that I don’t want in my system. These are more registry hacks, a little more advanced, but they walk you through it pretty well. Let’s see, let’s go through some of the annoyances. Click on the left hand side, where it says “Articles,” the fifth selection down.
Michael: Annoyances. Okay, will this do it automatically, right here?
Luis: No, this will walk you through and show you how. You have to learn a little about your computer, and what’s going on. You will learn many things, like how to disable the automatic display of thumbnails in folders and how to stop popup spam messages.
Michael: That would be nice.
Luis: That would be very nice. You can learn how to enable and disable the automatic Windows update, so that way your Windows operating system does the update by itself, as well as how to turn off the Windows picture and fax viewer as the default viewer. Many times people have another program they want to use. This allows you to be able to control all of the Windows operating system, and make it do exactly what you want it to do.
Michael: It gives step by step instructions?
Luis: Exactly. It’s very powerful. Okay, the next one.
Michael: www.softwarepatch.com . What is that?
Luis: Whenever you have a program that many times things need to be upgraded, not just your operating system, but a software company will come out with a different program, new ideas, new fixes for certain things, or sometimes new applications you can use. This allows you to upgrade your software, especially if you play games. Any of you out there with kids who want to play games, know that many times your hardware isn’t good enough. You need the latest drivers. This allows you to go through them and pick out your drivers and download them.
Michael: It has all these driver stored on this website for almost anything you can think of that will allow you to use programs that you ordinarily wouldn’t have.
Luis: Exactly. Programs and hardware, it allows us to be updated to the most current version.
Michael: Okay, great. The next one?
Luis: Okay, you’ve gotten your Windows system in place. Now you need to know how secure it is. This is www.grc.com .
Michael: What is www.grc.com ?
Luis: It’s Gibson Research Corporation. This is a guy that does this all for free. It’s one of the most amazing sites I’ve ever seen. He has a program on there to let you test your computer to see how vulnerable it is to outside computers.
Michael: This is Shields Up?
Luis: This is Shields Up. You want to go to www.grc.com .
Michael: Wow, this is incredible. www.grc.com .
Luis: Go to the main page, and click on where it says “Shields Up.” Scroll down. They’ve got a lot of great stuff, but you want to go to where it says “Hot Spots” and click where it says “Shields Up.” It says “Without your knowledge or explicit permission, the Windows networking technology which connects your computer to the Internet may be offering some or all of your computer's data to the entire world at this very moment. Shields Up quickly checks the security of your computer’s connection to the Internet.” So now scroll down farther to where it says “Test My Shields.” You click that, and it does a quick test to see how vulnerable you are. Do you have a firewall on your computer?
Michael: I don’t think so.
Luis: Let’s find out.
Michael: Before you break out the champagne...
Luis: Okay, here’s the cure. You have Windows NT, and it has a firewall built in, or other security measures. I think last time when we spoke I helped you set one up.
Michael: What a wonderful site.
Luis: Now, if you didn’t have it set up, this would tell you everything, I would tell you all the problems with your computer, and how your system was able to connect with your computer, and the problems that you would have otherwise.
Michael: Will it offer you solutions?
Luis: I’ll give you solutions later. Then another test here is “Probe My Ports.”
Michael: Does this one go pretty quick?
Luis: This one goes pretty quick as well.
Michael: Okay, “Probe My Ports.” Wow, it tested as “STEALTH.” I’m all protected.
Luis: How many of your listeners are stealth as well? They need to be protected as well.
Michael: This is pretty quick. It will tell you the vulnerability of your system.
Luis: This guy is always updating. This started because someone hacked his system, and he said, “Okay, that’s it. I’m going to find out how the hell this stuff works, and I’m going to fix it.” And he created this, and put it on the web for other people to use.
Michael: Does he make money off this site?
Luis: He has other things he does as well.
Michael: This is just a guy giving back?
Luis: Yes, he has other freeware and stuff.
Michael: That’s great.
Luis: Next one. Okay, let’s say that you weren’t as stealthy as Michael and I, and you need something to protect you. Here’s one you can definitely use, and it’s free. It’s called “zonealarm” from www.zonelabs.com . It’s a software firewall to protect you from the vulnerabilities of people coming in and attacking your computer.
Michael: In layman’s terms, explain what a firewall is, and why they call it a firewall.
Luis: A firewall is just like a firewall inside a real building - where you have one of those walls that is impenetrable to fire, so you’re secure inside. If your house is burning down, it’s a safe room. A firewall is the same thing with software. It puts a wall up between you and the outside world, and only you can decide which windows or doors you want open to let information go in and out. So www.zonealarm.com has two types, a probe you have to pay for, and a free version. Like many places, they try to hide it. You scroll all the way to the bottom, and on the right hand side, under the picture, it says “also available- zone alarm free download.”
Michael: What does it say?
Luis: On the right hand side, see where it has the gray picture?
Michael: Oh, “also available,” I see it.
Luis: There’s a tiny text link.
Michael: Yes, “click here for details.”
Luis: So you click there, go through all the different things, and click “submit.”
Michael: I don’t think I’ll do this now.
Luis: It’ll take you to the download page.
Michael: Should I click the red submit button?
Luis: It’s more of a sales thing. You want the option all the way over to the right, where it says download now. You just download that, and it shows you how to set up the whole system. It’s one of the best ones around to protect you from any outside hacks.
Michael: If you were to pay for this software, comparable software, what would you pay?
Luis: 50 or 60 bucks. But in reality, you don’t need to. Their pro version costs 49 dollars. But the free one is more than enough.
Michael: Okay, great. Let’s move on.
Luis: Lavasoft’s Ad-Aware. I’m sure you may have downloaded some software off the ‘net. Someone said, “Hey, this is cool free-ware, check it out,” or “this is cool share ware, check it out,” and you just downloaded it. However, there’s something called “spy ware” that’s also included in that download as a free little gift, but you didn’t want this gift. Spy ware tracks where you go online, what you do with your computer, what software you download, and sends it back to the home computer without your knowledge.
Michael: How do they benefit from that?
Luis: Because they either track you for marketing, and know what you like, or they have your computer ID and your whole personality somewhere on a computer, hidden there for them to use however they want. Plus, there’s the fact that they put a program on your computer that you didn’t want.
Michael: How many of these free downloads do that?
Luis: I’d say a good 60 or 70 percent. There’s enough out there that do it in one form or another.
Michael: What’s this ad-aware going to do?
Luis: What Ad-aware does, once you download and install it, is it goes through your computer and finds where the spy ware is, and automatically eradicates it.
Michael: Is this free?
Luis: It’s free.
Michael: Once I download this to my system, it’ll automatically open up, and go through my entire system and locate and delete this spyware?
Luis: Right. The only thing I suggest is that you read through the options there where it says “What spyware is for and what’s not.” Sometimes there will be some program that needs that little bit of information in order to connect to the outside world.
Luis: There aren’t many, but there are some. Know what you’re downloading, and definitely do backup.
Michael: You don’t want to erase valuable stuff that will screw up your computer.
Luis: Yes, definitely do backup. All in all it’s very safe.
Michael: Okay, great.
Luis: Next one is quick. I’m sure you’ve had many thing sent to you through a zip file, or a gzip, or any of these kinds of systems.
Luis: Now, the big program used on the Internet is called WinZip.
Michael: That’s what I use.
Luis: WinZip has that annoying nag screen telling you that you’ve got to buy it, you’ve got to buy it, you’ve got to buy it. It’s annoying. This here, UltimateZip, is totally free ware. You can download this, and it does everything WinZip does, but for free. It’s a fantastic program. It will help you zip files. So if you have a bunch of files you want to zip together, you can. Also, if you want to create an executable, so let’s say you have a bunch of files, and you want the person to not have to think, just click on it, and it automatically installs something to a folder you choose from them.
Michael: You mean that if I sent you a file with all 61 hours of my transcripts from www.hardtofindseminars.com , and I zipped it and made it an executable file, when you download it, it will automatically open the PDF file?
Luis: It’ll open it up and put it into whatever folders you choose.
Michael: That’s great. You cannot operate a computer without taking time to understand what a zip file is, how to open it, how to zip a file. It’s really confusing at first, and I remember when I was introduced to it. I thought, “WinZip? What the hell is that?” But if you’re sending and receiving files and photos and data over the Internet, you have to understand this, and it’s not hard, once you get it down.
Michael: That’s great. Okay, let’s move on. Next one?
Luis: This one is a free anti-virus program. Let’s go to the website. It’s www.grisoft.com . It’s an AVG, a free anti-virus program. You can buy Norton Anti-Virus or McAfee’s Anti-Virus program. They’re great, but say you don’t have the money, or want a back-up. Whatever your reason, this one here is totally free. You go to the download page, they just ask for a little information from you, and it’s simple stuff, nothing all that major, and they send you an e-mail with your pass code for it. You download the program, install it, and bang, you have a new anti-virus program.
Michael: Remember, I called you, and I had a Trojan virus on my system? I paid for McAfee, which I had on my system, and it didn’t pick it up, but this AVG did.
Luis: Oh really?
Luis: Wow, look at that.
Michael: I think I talked to you about it once, but actually my computer guy figured out how to get rid of it. But this AVG picked it up, and it was free. I think I paid sixty or seventy bucks for the McAfee.
Luis: Exactly. This is a good one to have, even if you already have an anti-virus system that you paid for.
Michael: Once it’s on your system, you can set it so that automatically at 2 or 3 in the morning, it’ll scan your entire system for these viruses.
Luis: Right, and it will even check your e-mail as it’s being downloaded to see if there’s any viruses on them.
Michael: And it’ll even automatically remove it for you.
Luis: The next one is Symantec Security Response. This one, and the next one we’ll get to, is fantastic maybe you get a virus, and you don’t know what to do, or a hoax is sent to you, and you don’t know if it’s really a virus. This is a fantastic system that you can go through, and it’s an encyclopedia of all the different kinds of viruses. So if you get a virus that’s detected by your anti-virus program, you can come here, and find out exactly what’s attacking your system. You can learn and how to get rid of it, and if you need more information on it, what it’s doing to your system.
Michael: If I get a virus and it gives me a name, I can search the type of virus, right?
Luis: Right, you can search here. The website is www.securityresponse.Symantec.com .
Michael: If anyone is listening to this on www.hardtofindseminars.com , on the CD, you can go to the website, to the hard to find seminar audio clips, you will see links to all of these websites that we’ve put under the description of this audio interview with Luis.
Luis: This is another powerful website. It also has the updates for other anti-viruses: www.vmyths.com . On the other web page are viruses. On this page are hoaxes. I think you had it one time… no, it was a friend, but someone sent an e-mail telling her to get rid of this little teddy bear icon.
Michael: No, it was me.
Luis: It was you?
Michael: Yes, it was me.
Luis: Another friend of mine also called me about it.
Michael: There really was a teddy bear icon on my system.
Luis: Yes, you got scared. You got in a panic, and didn’t know what the hell it was. I told you that it was a part of Windows.
Michael: Did I erase it?
Luis: Yes, and I showed you how to get it back. If you went right here, it’ll tell you. If you get an e-mail that says there’s a file you have to delete from your system, or something that you need to change or whatever, here you just type it in, or browse through it, and it will tell you what the hysteria is, and if it’s not a virus, or it’s not something you need to do, that it’s not a security measure, it’s just someone trying to mess with you.
Michael: All these hoaxes are really powerful hoaxes that make their way around the world, right?
Luis: Oh, yes.
Michael: I’ll tell you, I’m thinking of another idea. There’s something within these hoaxes that make them so successful, wouldn’t you agree?
Michael: You could take these hoaxes and turn them into legitimate ways to promote a product or a service, too.
Luis: That is possible.
Michael: If you think about it. What they call viral marketing. Have you studied stuff on viral marketing?
Luis: Seth Godin.
Michael: Seth Godin?
Luis: Yes, that’s the guy that originally coined the term. He put out a couple of books on it as well, called “Viral Marketing.”
Michael: Okay, give us an example. Tell us about viral marketing and tell us how he got into it.
Luis: I don’t know how he got into it, but the basics of viral marketing - it’s actually like the actual virus of a cold. You have the virus, the equivalent of your product, the information that you want to get out there, and you have people who are sneezers. One person gets it, and they find it so fascinating that they have to spread it to everyone else. The one key thing that makes it work well is either a program put in with it or just a really great back story that everyone else needs to share. The way he came up with it was this: he wanted to get an e-book out to as many people as possible, so his book was able to be spread throughout the entire world virally. Just people sending it to other people. One person sent it to two, and those sent it to three, and so on.
Michael: Do you know what the e-book was about?
Luis: It was about viral marketing.
Michael: And what technique did he use to get it out there virally?
Luis: Through his website, through people talking about it, and it said in the e-book itself that you’re able to spread it around for free, to send it to as many people as you want, and to just get it out there. It was great for him, because he had his contact information in there, and everybody that was interested would come to his website for more information. Either, you can do it that way, or you can bribe people, ethically, by creating some sort of affiliate program.
Michael: I’ll give an example. Remember the September 11th, did you see the picture of the guy standing in the building, and you see the background of the plane and it looks like it’s coming right in to the building. That’s an example. Everyone and their brother saw that photo. It was so believable and compelling, something you just automatically wanted to share with your family and friends on your e-mail list. You just sent it off.
Luis: You have to really be careful, because many times there are hoaxes that are not even related to computers.
Michael: Did you ever see the one, and this is a little x-rated, but it was a picture of a woman, and she was in Denmark. She was on the streets of Denmark walking, and she had painted these hot pants shorts on her, and painted a bra on her, and the paint job looked so good that it really looked like she was wearing clothes, but she was naked. Did you see that one?
Luis: I’ve seen many other forms of that. I haven’t seen that picture, but that’s pretty much a respected art form, basically. A lot of people are doing that these days. Well, not here in Chicago, especially not today.
Michael: Well, this is an exciting site. I’m going to explore this to see what common denominator these hoaxes have that we could possibly twist into a marketing promotion.
Luis: You can definitely get it out there, because people are always hooked by something, and here’s a chance to find out what it is. Just make sure you’re using it ethically, and that it’s a right use. Okay, this is the next one, and it’s another hoax site. Actually, I think I got rid of it.
Michael: Is it www.hoaxbusters.com ?
Luis: Yes, that’s it.
Luis: This is another one. It’s hoaxbusters.ciac.org. Go in there, and this has some code for computers, urban myths, giveaways, and others. I’m sure you’ve gotten some of them. I’ve gotten a lot of them. Have you gotten “The Nigerian Scam?”
Michael: All the time! These are compelling headlines, because I’m always opening them up.
Luis: Exactly. The Nigerian scam isn’t necessarily a virus. Let me explain that scam, in case you don’t know. Someone e-mails you from Nigeria, Nairobi, somewhere in Africa or the Middle East, claiming that they are either fleeing political persecution or that they have a lot of money because of their business, and they have it locked away in a bank .In order for them to get it, they have to move it out of their country. They want to put it into your bank to have it for safekeeping. Then they’ll come to you and take the money away, and will give you a 10% fee for your assistance. In order to release the money to you, you have to send them a thousand or five hundred dollars for all the transaction fees. The funny thing is that once you send your first set of fees, other little fees start to pile on. “Oh, we need one more paper signed. Please send another thousand dollars. We’re almost there, we’re so close.” The person would have grief to try to go get it.
Michael: It’s a total scam. But from a marketing standpoint, even though it’s a scam, the headlines in these letters are very compelling. I just got one yesterday, and I always seem to open them. That headline at least got me to open the mail. So any kind of letter like that, you just want to delete off your system?
Luis: You’ll also get sometimes scams that are not even necessarily malicious, but people playing around. I had some thing that Microsoft was giving away, because they’d made so much money, that they were going to give it away. They were testing some new e-mail system, and all you have to do is send that e-mail to everyone on your list, and they can track it, and whoever has the most people, they’ll give you a hundred dollars per person for everyone you send it to.
Michael: Did you get the one for TJ Applebee’s restaurant?
Luis: Which one was that?
Michael: It was a hoax, that Applebee’s was giving away free dinners.
Luis: I didn’t get that, but I heard of it.
Michael: And then you go to the website, and it’s a hoax.
Luis: One of the worst things is where you send the e-mail to someone else, and it’s a hoax. You don’t know it’s a hoax, you think it’s true. You send it to someone else, and then you don’t know if you infected them with a virus, and you wasted their time, and wasted the broadband. And also, you’re going to educate your other friends from them sending you stuff. That’s where it gets annoying. You’re wasting your time, where you should be doing other stuff.
Michael: So hoaxbusters will help us identify hoaxes out there.
Luis: Urban myths, threats, scares, giveaways, legends, and a bunch of other stuff.
Michael: Thanks, Luis, that’s good.
Luis: Let’s talk about freeware.
Michael: Okay, what is freeware?
Luis: Freeware is just that. Many people believe that information, knowledge, software that people create, should be free and spread out through the world for people to use. One of the sites that do that is www.nonags.com . There are two different types of freeware, actually. Some have screens that pop up reminding you to pay or donate, or that you only have 30 days left or whatever. Nonags, though, goes through and finds the software that’s really great, a lot of them, but they don’t offer ones have that nagging information popping up at you.
Michael: So it’s really free? They’re not heavily trying to sell you their pay version.
Luis: Exactly. On the main screen, click where it says “Software Free Access.” Their main site is in Florida, but they have other servers, so click the one closest to you. Yours is probably Chicago. Here it has a list of all of them, the list of most popular and the list of new apps that just came out. But scroll down to where it says “Download Categories.” Here is the fun stuff. We were talking before, and you said you had a new audio editor. “Audio Editors,” right there, first column, first selection. Click on that, and look at all the audio programs in there.
Michael: And these are totally free?
Luis: Yes. There’s a dot that rates it as good or bad.
Michael: What if someone didn’t know about this site, and they’re out there buying from Egghead Software, if they’re still around, or Best Buy? They’re buying all this stuff, paying retail, and this is thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars worth of software.
Luis: And this software, the free stuff, is just as good, and sometimes better, than the stuff you pay for.
Michael: Why do you think that is?
Luis: Because people want a lot of tech support, or stuff that’s advertised out there. Some of these people don’t have the advertising dollars, but they have the knowledge to be able to create the software.
Michael: In other words, they can give it away free, but don't have the marketing behind it to be a big name.
Luis: Exactly. Many times some people don’t want to sell their programs, because they believe in open source. There’s something called the New Project, and it creates all the software out there. It’s open source, and anyone can access the code for it, make it their own, improve it, change things around, bring new additions to it, and share the knowledge and information that’s out there.
Michael: Okay, great. This is wonderful, thank you.
Luis: This has a whole bunch of stuff. There’s another called www.webattack.com .
Michael: Okay, I’m there.
Luis: Webattack is another free software program site. Some of them do have the nag screens, but most do not. They’ll generally tell you whether it does or doesn’t. This one has everything in it, browser tools, communication tools, multimedia stuff.
Michael: This is great.
Luis: If you want to create your own website, you would think “Should I get Dream Weaver, or Microsoft Front Page?” Just check right here, under “Web Authoring,” in the third column. All that stuff there is everything you want for your web page. If you want search tools, more security stuff, it’s great. When you get your DVD burner, there are even CD burning tools here. It’s an amazing amount of information here, and it’s free.
Michael: That’s great.
Luis: Now, www.belarc.com . How many times have you gone to your computer guy, and he’ll say, especially when you first meet him, “What configuration do you have on your computer? How much memory do you have in your video card?” Uh, I didn’t know my video card had memory.
Michael: I had no idea. So this will do that for you?
Luis: This will do it for you. It’s a small little download that you put on your computer, and once you click on it, it creates a web page that has everything about your computer on it.
Michael: I want to thank you for listening. This is Michael Senoff, with www.hardtofindseminars.com . If you want to get in touch with any of the people we interviewed, please get in touch with me by e-mail at my email address.