How to Set up an Office 365 Exchange Email Catch-All

I’ve been using a Microsoft hosted Exchange email solution for myself and my wife for several years. Yes, it’s kind of geeky, but we both rely on Outlook as our main email/contact/calendar tool and it’s worked well for us. Years ago I set up a catch-all email forward for my domain, so anything sent to any email address at would get sent to me.

Why would I do such a thing? To give myself protection from companies abusing my email address. When I sign up with a new company, the email address I give them is [email protected] When I do this in person, it makes some people practically go cross-eyed because they can’t understand how I could have an email address like that. 😜 Quite often I’ll get asked if I work for the company and when I say no it confuses them further. I always explain if someone wants to understand.

Continue reading How to Set up an Office 365 Exchange Email Catch-All

Vinli’s Dead End: The Hidden Negative of Crowdfunding

I’ve been participating in crowdfunding campaigns since 2011 when I backed a documentary about MMA fighter Jens Pulver. I’ve enjoyed participating in the process of helping to bring products to market – 45 on Kickstarter, 40 Indiegogo – and other than the times I’ve been burned by backing a project that never came to market (which is another blog post) it’s been a fun way of purchasing items.

For this post, I want to focus on the other side of the story: what happens when you get the product, it meets your expectations, you utilize it fully, come to rely upon it…and the company goes out of business or EOLs (end-of-life’s) their product. Many technology products today have a service/app element and that means your hardware has dependencies upon the business model of the company you backed. They brought the item to market that you wanted, but if their business model changes or they go out of business, that thing you bought might just stop working.

Continue reading Vinli’s Dead End: The Hidden Negative of Crowdfunding

How Much Email Does a Presidential Campaign Send?

Email marketing is a persistent subject of curiosity for me; I’m always observing how companies use email as a communications medium with their customers/supporters. It’s the oldest form of electronic communication still in use, but it ubiquitous and effective.

Back in September 2019, I signed up to support Andrew Yang’s Presidential campaign because I like his vision for the USA, in particular universal basic income (even though I can’t vote here yet). I was surprised by the amount of email they sent in the first three days: seven messages. I’d never experienced such intense email saturation before. Usually reaching out even once a day would be considered borderline email harassment. 😆 The first week? 13 emails. 😲 I decided to keep every email he’d ever sent just out of sheer marketing curiosity.

How many emails did the campaign send in total? 334 over a period of 154 days. That’s 2.2 emails per day, every day, for almost half a year! I have no idea if this is typical or not for a campaign, but if I wasn’t someone who had donated to the campaign and hoped he’d make it all the way, I would have unsubscribed in the first week. I’m deeply curious about what the campaign’s weekly unsubscribe rates were. 🤔

Email can be a powerful tool to communicate with people who care about what you’re selling/saying, but if you overdo it you can alienate the very people you’re trying to build support with.

#IronSharpensIron: When Direct Mail Hurts Instead of Helps

We live in an era where environmental impact is on the minds of many people, and every brand should be aware of how their actions are going to be perceived. Companies can’t do things the same way they did them even five years ago; climate change is real, it’s happening around us, and every company needs to be mindful of their environmental impact – especially when it comes to sales materials and direct mail pieces.

The biggest catalog I’ve seen in years.

I thought most companies were aware of the need to not be seen as wasteful, so I was surprised and frankly a bit irked to get this massive 2 pound 3 oz, 787 page catalog from Uline recently (shown above). This wasn’t just any junk mail – it was huge! I didn’t request this catalog, have never purchased anything from them, never gave them my information, and am not part of their customer market. It was addressed to the “shipping department” of an LLC I spun up two years ago for working with one client as a small side gig. This is Uline’s “hello” to a potential new customer, but I don’t have a warehouse or ship anything. This is direct mail marketing without appropriate targeting, and it backfired.

Continue reading #IronSharpensIron: When Direct Mail Hurts Instead of Helps

#IronSharpensIron: How B&H Builds Customer Relationships Beyond the Sale

Selling consumer electronics at retail (or online) is a tough business; customers are price-sensitive because they know that the product they want is the same no matter where they buy it from. Businesses with retail storefronts can try to work in the service angle, but regular consumers generally just want the product. Online, it’s even harder: a lower price is just one click away (aided by price-sorting search engines), and if a buyer doesn’t have any particular loyalty to your company, they’re often going to go where they can get the best price and free shipping. So how do sellers stand out from each other and compete on more than just price?

Continue reading #IronSharpensIron: How B&H Builds Customer Relationships Beyond the Sale

Explorations of Winter

Given the surprisingly intense snowfall we’re currenting getting in the Seattle area, it seemed appropriate for me to share some pictures of an even colder place: High River, Alberta, Canada.

Sony’s 128GB CFexpress: No Real Improvements For Still Photographers, And Yet…

I purchased my Nikon Z-6 in November 2019, and in hindsight I wished I’d pulled the trigger sooner. It’s had a marked improvement on my photography, namely due to the in-body image stabilization. To be blunt, it was a technology I needed for quite some time* as I usually shoot with prime lenses that lack stabilization. I was exceedingly grumpy with Nikon for not following Sony, Panasonic, and every other camera OEM’s lead (other than Canon) but I bought the non-stabilized D750 anyway. I swore though my next camera would have it. <shakes fist at sky>

This isn’t a review of the Nikon Z-6 though. What’s that? You want my review of the Z-6? It’s great, though I wish it had two memory cards slots instead of one QXD card slot. Buy it if you have an investment in Nikon lenses. If you don’t, look really hard at the Sony Alpha a7 III. I’d have probably gone with the Sony if I didn’t have my Nikkor f/2.8 lenses; I just can’t justify replacing them with equivalent Sony lenses. 💸

Continue reading Sony’s 128GB CFexpress: No Real Improvements For Still Photographers, And Yet…

How Did a Moko Case Ruin the Aluminium Finish on my iPad Pro?

Anyone knows me understands that I try to take care of my things, especially my gadgets. I keep the original packaging for many items, because unless I plan on keeping it for my technology archive/graveyard, I like to sell items to recoup some of my costs.

Some items, such as iPads, are re-used within my household. Each kid has their own iPad, a hand-me-down from the previous generation; my daughter is using my son’s old iPad Mini, and my son is using my old iPad Pro. When I bought my iPad Pro 11 last year, I took my previous iPad Pro out of the case I had it in – a red Moko case. I was shocked to see the back of the iPad had become discoloured and blotchy. It’s difficult to photograph but in person it looks simply awful.

It had a glass screen protector on the front, and was never used outside this case, so it’s frustrating to have it marred by a case. I contacted Moko and asked them if this was a known issue with their cases. Their response was not to admit fault or explain anything, but instead to give me a $25 refund. 🤔It’s better than telling me to pound sand, but it doesn’t change how this iPad Pro looks. I will never purchase another Moko case again – which is a shame because they are really quite good. ☹️

5 Reasons Why I Bought An Electric Vehicle

Five years ago, in 2014 when I was looking for a new vehicle, I actively researched electric vehicles (EVs) and test drove a Chevy Volt. I was keenly interested in EVs. The Volt drove how it looked – which is to say, uninspiring – and for the price I thought the interior was cheap. It just wasn’t compelling.

There were really no other viable options for me at my price point (Tesla’s were a far off $80K+ dream), so I instead purchased a fun little zippy car: a Mazda 3 Touring in red. When I bought it I loudly proclaimed (mostly to myself) that it would be the last gas vehicle I’d ever buy. How much did I believe this? Well, when we moved into our new house in 2012 I had the garage pre-wired for EV charging on both sides – I knew the future that was coming even if I couldn’t get the EV I wanted…yet.

Zippy, fun, and small: this is “Little Red”.

The Mazda 3 didn’t get driven much until 2019 since I worked from home much of the time – it still had that new car smell even after a few years. Most of the miles were put on our Canadian 2009 GMC Acadia (fondly known as “Big Red”) as my wife drove our kids to and from school (30 minutes each way). We also drove Big Red on at least one big road trip back to Canada each year – it had 123,000+ miles on it and was a solid vehicle for our needs…but it was time for a change.

Continue reading 5 Reasons Why I Bought An Electric Vehicle

Lifehack: Cleaning Car Mats/Fabric Using the Sticky Tape Method

Certain types of materials/fabrics are extremely difficult to get clean. A lint roller works well for most types of clothes, but what if you’re cleaning your car and the vacuum cleaner can’t pick up bits of debris embedded in the fibers? I’ve found this type of material the hardest to clean, so I came up with a solution that works incredibly well, is easy to do, and extremely cheap:

  1. Take a roll of basic packing tape (I prefer the clear, ultra-sticky kind vs. the brown, thinner, less sticky kind)
  2. Cut off a six inch piece
  3. Loop it around so that it attaches back to itself
  4. Put the loop around three or four fingers (this varies depending on your hand size)
  5. Use the tape to press down on the fabric you are trying to clean, using a rolling motion to pick up debris
  6. When one side loses its stickiness, rotate the tape to the fresh side

I find you can usually get at least 8-10 rolling motions per side before you have to replace the tape. The type of packing tape I use is much stickier than a lint roller, so it picks up better, and this is also much cheaper.

Got any of your own cool lifehacks for cleaning? Share ’em!