October 6th, 2016

Amazon Bans Outside Incentivized Reviews

Amazon Bans Outside Incentivized Reviews

Amazon has allowed people to receive free or discounted products in exchange for review for a long time. As of October 3, 2016, they have banned that practice, with the exception of their own Vine program. Simply put, they had concerns about the quality of reviews these giveaways were generating.

The exception here is books. Reviewers have long been able to receive free copies of books in exchange for a review, and Amazon will continue to allow that.

Paid reviews for anything have never been allowed, and of course this has not changed. Amazon has banned reviewers for posting paid reviews. This is another step Amazon is taking to try to keep the quality of posted reviews up.

What Does This Mean For Incentivized Reviewers

I know a number of people who have been doing incentivized reviews of products, and there are a number of websites that help reviewers find products they would be willing to try at a discount or free. These businesses have to change their rules – if a seller wants to offer a product free or cheap through them, they can no longer insist upon a review on Amazon.

This may change how easy it is to get such products through these websites – we’ll just have to wait and see who still takes a chance on offering their products in the hopes that a review will happen without requiring one.

The basic problem is that there was a feeling that incentivized reviews were biased – more likely to be positive than a regular review. Everyone knows that the businesses offering the discounted products want a positive review, and it’s easy for reviewers to feel that there’s some level of obligation to provide one. This was making product reviews on Amazon less trustworthy, a huge problem considering how many people use product reviews there to decide whether or not to buy an unfamiliar product.

Of course, if you can get chosen for the Vine program, you can still do reviews, but it’s not as easy to get into as those websites which all pretty much anyone to review products. Amazon has to pick you as a trusted reviewer.

It will be interesting to see if Amazon monitors reviews to watch for reviews posted by people who did receive the product at a discount, but no longer disclose because it’s against the rules. If the discounted purchase is done through Amazon, this would be very easy to track. It would be harder to determine if items were sent to reviewers through some other website. Of course, Amazon often labels verified purchases on reviews, so they can also tell if someone tends to review things they did not buy there.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

November 10th, 2014

Have You Installed a Carbon Monoxide Detector In Your Home?

Have You Installed a Carbon Monoxide Detector In Your Home?

A Facebook friend of mine recently had a big scare, one that could have killed her and her family. A carbon monoxide detector saved their lives. Their furnace and stove were both blamed for the problem, after they had the fire department, gas company and building inspector check things out. Especially this time of year, as people start to use heaters and generators more, it’s important to make sure you have a carbon monoxide detector installed in your home and that it’s working.

This doesn’t have to be a big deal. There are a variety of ways to get one. Some are combined with smoke detectors, but make sure you know for certain that your detector has both; don’t assume a smoke detector handles carbon monoxide as many do not. There are also models that simply plug into the wall.

On hearing my friend’s story, I took a look at my carbon monoxide detector. It was plugged into the wall upstairs, near the kids’ bedroom. Now, detectors are only good for a limited number of years, usually 5-7 years. Mine was almost 10 years old, so I am quite grateful for the reminder to replace it, as it probably wasn’t really working anymore.

I selected the Kidde KN-COPP-3 Nighthawk Plug-In Carbon Monoxide Alarm with Battery Backup and Digital Display, and bought two of them. Not in the two pack but individually, as the two pack at the time was not the better deal. One is for upstairs, the other for downstairs. I like that it has a display where you can see how much CO it’s detecting. It’s easy to mount up on the wall while still leaving it plugged in, or you can have it down at the outlet. There’s battery backup, so you can count on it even during an outage (so long as you replace the battery regularly) – vital if you ever need to use a generator during a power outage!

Placement is important for CO detectors. You don’t want to put it right by something that might make carbon monoxide – that can cause too many false alarms. It’s usually not advised to put one in your garage, especially if you park your car in there. Such places will sometimes have a bit of carbon monoxide buildup for a short time, but it should go away quickly.

You also don’t want to put one in a place where the air doesn’t circulate much. Don’t hide one away behind the furniture or near a vaulted ceiling if you can help it. You want it testing the air you breathe.

Make sure your kids don’t play with your detectors. They probably won’t damage it as such, but you don’t want it to come loose from where you’ve plugged it in, or have the battery come loose if it’s battery powered.

You should test your CO detectors the same times you test your smoke detectors – that is, when you change your clocks each year. It only takes a moment, but could be vital to your family.

Some states require homes to have carbon monoxide detectors. You can get more information at http://www.ncsl.org/research/environment-and-natural-resources/carbon-monoxide-detectors-state-statutes.aspx or from your state or local housing department.

Carbon Monoxide Facts

Carbon monoxide (CO) in the home can be created by anything that burns fuel such as hot water heaters, stoves, ovens, grills or furnaces. This includes anything that burns wood, charcoal, propane, natural gas, kerosene, etc. Visit http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Safety-Education/Safety-Education-Centers/Carbon-Monoxide-Information-Center/Carbon-Monoxide-Questions-and-Answers-/ for more information.

CO is colorless and odorless, that’s why you need a detector for it. The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are similar to the flu, and include headache, fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea and dizziness. Symptoms will be more severe if the levels of carbon monoxide get too high, and may also include mental confusion, vomiting, loss of muscular coordination, loss of consciousness and death. If you’re concerned about your symptoms but don’t have a CO detector or aren’t sure it’s working, get outside and seek medical attention. You will also want to have the gas company test your home for problems.

Portable generators are a major cause of carbon monoxide poisoning, which is why they should never be used indoors or in any enclosed space. If you use one, consider the information in this infographic, created by the CPSC:


Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

March 13th, 2013

Google Preparing to Drop Google Reader – What Are the Alternatives?

So long, Google Reader

I’m not pleased. Google is discontinuing Google Reader as of July 1, 2013.  I’ve happily used Reader for years now. Finding a replacement is not something I look forward to.

I’m looking at Feedly as an alternative, but I’m really not sure yet. They’re offering a nice import option, though. I suspect I’ll have to try a few alternatives before settling on one. The trick will be finding one with all the features I want, preferably free.

I prefer my feed reader to be web based rather than something I have to run on each machine. I mostly read from my laptop, but when I move to a desktop or iPad, I don’t want to get different results on each or have to keep individual things updated.

You can use Google Takeout to get all your data from Reader (or other Google products, but this is the relevant one now) if necessary. Download the ZIP file and import it into the new feed reader you’ve selected. Not all options will require you to export your data from Google Reader then import it; some allow you to sync your accounts or otherwise get the data for you.

This is of course the problem with any free service. Sometimes they vanish, even when backed by someone as big as Google. At least they’re giving warning so we can get away.

Google Reader Alternatives

I don’t have a favorite yet, as I’m still researching, but here are some alternatives to try before Google Reader shuts down.

Feedly – available for Firefox, Chrome, Safari, phones, tablets, etc. as an app or browser extension. I don’t think it supports IE at this time. They’re trying to make it easy for Google Reader users to come over. They also allow you to share items on social networks, Evernote and so forth.

Pulse – Available for web use or as an app. Pulse allows you to save favorites to Evernote and other services to read later.

The Old Reader – The Old Reader’s focus is on being like the old version of Google Reader.

NewsBlur – Free up to 64 sites, after that $1 a month to feed poor Shiloh, and you get more features when you pay.

Bloglines – They’re baaack! There was a time when people switched from Bloglines to Google Reader, now some are going back to Bloglines’ Reader. They have a new system that existing users need to migrate to, but they aren’t currently planning on going anywhere.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

November 7th, 2012

TED Talks – Louie Schwartzberg on Gratitude

Whether the election went the way you hoped or not, there’s a lot in your life to be grateful for. Today I thought I’d share a TED Talk video on that subject.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

July 13th, 2011

Welcome Readers From WTVM in Georgia

Just a quick hello and welcome to visitors who saw me on WTVM in Georgia. I hope you enjoy the resources, and join the forum or contact me if you have any questions.

Edited to add: I guess WXTX too!

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

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Disclosure: Home with the Kids is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. I also review or mention products for which I may receive compensation from other sources. All opinions are my own.