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Member since April 2007

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About Me

I am interested in the development of new technologies and how they can benefit society.

How I Can Help

I have a background in computer science, business, and internet technologies.

Interests

museums, music, movies (in no particular order)

66 Reviews by Michael

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California Wine Tours

California Wine Tours

7/10/08
Great way to tour around Napa Valley without having to drive - I used this company a few months ago and the service was spectacular. The chauffeur was fun to talk with and extremely accommodating. We rented a 16-person limo bus, which was great because it doesn't feel as cramped and the bench seating allows you to face your friends the whole time. They let you to put in your own CDs into the speaker system and also provide unlimited bottles of water (which comes in handy when you are doing a lot of drinking, or if it's really hot outside). They also gave us three FREE bottles of very nice champagne, which we drank throughout the day between wineries. Overall, a great service that truly makes you feel special while you're using them.

California Wine Tours charges by the hour, so if you want, they'll pick you up from San Francisco, but remember that you'll be paying for the commute. We got a discounted rate at $125/hour and maximized our time by having the limo meet us in the morning at the V. Sattui winery. Then we spent the rest of the day doing our own tour by having the limo simply drive us around to the wineries we had mapped out for ourselves.

I highly recommend this service for birthdays, bachelorette parties, or just something different to do with your friends. And for the environmentally-conscious, they just rolled out their new hybrid fleet, so you can feel responsible while getting your wine fix.
CrackBerry.com

CrackBerry.com

7/11/08
If you're addicted to your blackberry... - This is my favorite site dedicated to all things blackberry. It was started by one of my best friend's childhood schoolmates and has grown into the premiere destination for blackberry users. The site publishes the latest news and updates in the smartphone market, and supports a vibrant forum community. I particularly like their reviews.

Kevin, the community manager, was one of the first people to get his hands on the highly anticipated Blackberry Bold, which should be coming out later this year. Apparently, he paid an arm and a leg on eBay to purchase one of the three that were available. You can read the review here:

http://crackberry.com/blackberry9000

This phone looks incredible and in my opinion will be hands down the best phone out in the market! I'm not sure when it will be released to the public, but in the meantime, I'll just have to keep getting my crackberry fix by reading about it on this site.
Going

Going

6/10/10
I find this site fairly useful for discovering activities in your local area. It has a nice mix of nightlife, outdoor activities, and cultural events, so there is always something interesting, no matter what you're in the mood for. I like the way the site is organized, the social features, and the ranking of events by popularity. But I mostly interact with the site through the weekly email, which seems to show more interesting and less mainstream events that I otherwise would never find out about.
1-800-Flowers

1-800-Flowers

5/11/10
Customer service is top notch -- I found out that my mother was out of town for Mother's Day and called them up the day before to see if I could switch the order. I was able to switch the delivery date to the following week for no extra charge (even though I was using a discounted delivery rate for the holiday). Customer service representative was very friendly and accommodating.

One caveat -- prices are a bit hefty, especially when compared to going direct to local florists. But they do deliver on what they promise and the flowers have always turned out great in my experience.
Free-tv-video-online.info

Free-tv-video-online.info

8/1/10
Project Free TV is a site which links to user uploaded movies and television shows. The site does not actually host any content and acts more like a directory for user submitted online media. However, it does provide a player to stream the videos without having to leave the site. While the quality of the videos can be a bit unpredictable, it's hard to complain about a service which allows you to watch the latest shows and movies that all your friends are talking about.
WikiLeaks

WikiLeaks

4/17/10
Wikileaks is a really unique site which enables anybody to anonymously submit sensitive documents and publishes them for the world to see. Examples include the 2004 U.S. Army manual of operating procedures at Guantanamo Bay and the 2007 Apache helicopter attack in which two Reuters reporters were killed in Baghdad.

Run by former hacker and now internet activist Julian Assange, the site strives to increase transparency among governments and hold them accountable for their actions. Wikileaks dedicates most of its technology to create an uncensorable and untraceable submission process, going to extraordinary lengths to protect the identities of its sources.

While a great idea, the biggest concern I have about Wikileaks is that all of the documents and stories it publishes on the site are hand-picked by an editorial committee, thus greatly influencing what the public actually sees. This puts a lot of power into the hands of those running the site and results in an inevitably biased transparency based solely upon which documents the Wikileaks team deems important enough for us to see.

Conversely, allowing anybody to upload virtually any type of information and disclosing too many of those documents raises serious privacy and security concerns. What is stopping someone from hacking into an innocent's personal email or bank account and posting its contents online? Although the editorial policy at Wikileaks states that they only publish documents that have political or ethical implications, I still worry about where that line is drawn.

Lastly, because its purpose is to generate public awareness and maximize social impact, many of the documents are given sensationalized titles like "Collateral Murder", shortened for more convenient mainstream consumption, and edited to include captions written by the editorial team. If this is a site that truly supports transparency, shouldn't it remain completely objective, simply present the documents as they are uploaded, and let the public form its own opinion?
Autocompleteme

Autocompleteme

5/3/10
Most people are already aware of Google's auto complete feature, which tries to guess what someone is searching for based on aggregate data from previous searches. But what most people don't realize is how useful the feature is for conducting societal research.

For example, to see what guys most want from their girlfriends, just type in "how do i get my girlfriend to" and see what pops up. Change "girlfriend" to "boyfriend" to compare the results -- the differences are both hilarious and slightly depressing.

AutoCompleteMe is a site dedicated entirely to the auto complete feature, based mostly on what interesting suggestions ordinary people stumble upon while performing their own searches. What turns up is an entertaining and sometimes insightful look into the zeitgeist and eccentricities of today's society.
BadassJewelry

BadassJewelry

6/7/10
I was hanging out with a good friend of mine the other day and noticed some really bad ass rings on her hands. They were silver and black, very large, in a really exotic design. I asked her where she got them and she said three words: Bad Ass Jewelry. Enough said -- check it out. They sell everything including necklaces, pendants, bracelets, and earrings for both guys and girls. Really neat, edgy stuff!
TaskRabbit

TaskRabbit

8/4/10
If you have errands to run, but your time is valuable, try hiring a Runner to do it for you. On TaskRabbit you can name your price and the Runners will do anything from moving items, shopping for you, to taking your clothes to the cleaners. All the Runners are immediately reviewed after completing the task, so you can easily tell who is reliable and trustworthy.

On the flip side, signing up to be a Runner is a great way to generate some extra cash if you are unemployed, self-employed, or just happen to have a lot of free time. A lot of the Runners today happen to be stay-at-home parents looking for part-time work.

Currently the service is only available in Boston and San Francisco, but the site is relatively new and will add cities as it continues to grow.
David Michael Bruno

David Michael Bruno

8/9/10
This is Dave Bruno's blog -- you may know him as the guy who created the 100 Thing Challenge, which basically challenges you to strip yourself of all but 100 of your personal possessions. In an attempt to curb our current obsession with material goods, he endorses living a simpler life in order to achieve lasting happiness. This blog is simple and straightforward -- not that insightful, but a good reminder not to get lost in a world of over-consumption. At the very least, it's a way to participate vicariously in the 100 Thing Challenge by reading about how Dave simplified his life and the resulting inventory of his remaining items.
CoupRecoup

CoupRecoup

4/7/11
As companies like Groupon and LivingSocial continue to explode in popularity, I see many of my friends purchasing hundreds of unnecessary coupons that they never end up using. For those experiencing buyer's remorse from the latest local deals craze, CoupRecoup offers a very valuable service -- it provides a public marketplace for those groupons you can't or don't intend to use anymore. The site basically acts like a craigslist for online coupons, simply connecting buyers and sellers who are then responsible for completing the transaction off the site.

I find the service particularly useful when shopping or browsing for discounted discounts. CoupRecoup makes it very easy to see what the best deals are (after being marked down again in the secondary market), by providing basic sorting and filtering options. Just sort by discount percentage and you'll see things like a month of yoga classes for $10 or one-hour acupuncture sessions for $20. Still completely unnecessary? Yes, but at least I won't feel so bad when I find out I no longer have time to go indoor skydiving.
Vwho.net

Vwho.net

3/27/11
Neat new site that allows users to search for videos of any television show on the internet and plays them back (but in no particular order). The interface is minimalist and mimics that of an old-school television set. This may be insufficient for those looking for a particular video or used to more controls during video playback. But if you don't mind not knowing what you're watching, how long the clip is, and what's coming next, you may find the simplicity refreshing.

The main problem is that the site runs really slow, presumably because it is pulling the videos from computers all over the world. Hopefully over time the search, loading, and playback will improve so the site can attract a more widespread following.
Meme Generatorr

Meme Generatorr

8/24/11
Very cool site that allows you to create meme-based photos or posters with customized text. All the popular memes are on there and the interface is extremely easy to use. It's also a cool place to go to see which memes are trending these days. But at the end of the day, your generated image will only be as funny as your captions are creative...
Pttrns

Pttrns

3/17/14
Simple website showcasing great mobile application design patterns. All screenshots are taken from popular mobile applications and arranged in a very browseable grid format. You can also filter the types of screenshots by selecting one of the UI elements from the left column (e.g. comments, search, etc.) If you're interested in UI design or thinking of building a mobile app, make sure to check out this site.
HappiestBaby

HappiestBaby

2/8/17
First off, let me start by saying the the SNOO is a beautiful piece of furniture. Even if all it does is sit in the corner looking pretty, you might be able to justify its hefty price. I was a bit skeptical at first, but I must say the SNOO does do everything it claims to do. It combines a white noise machine with a swing with a swaddle with a bassinet. It can literally replace all of those things and save some space in your house.

It's actually quite simple -- the SNOO pipes in white noise and rocks at different levels of intensity that you can control with your phone. And it automatically adjusts the intensity based on how much your baby is crying. It even has a weaning feature that helps the baby adjust to life without the SNOO as it grows older.

So far so good, but verdict is still out on whether it can help sleep train a baby to sleep through the night by 2 months! Now that would be something...

Tip for consumers: The SNOO comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee. And that includes shipping, so it's hard not to give it a shot if you're desperate for sleep.

FlightCar

FlightCar

6/26/13
This is a neat new service which offers travelers free airport parking in exchange for renting their cars out at much lower prices than traditional rental car companies. In addition to providing free parking, they will wash your car and also compensate you if you car is rented while you're gone. For someone who is always debating the best way to get to the airport (and in need of a car wash), I decided to try them out before going out of town for the weekend.

I was able to schedule a drop off just six hours in advance by calling the service -- the FlightCar website doesn't allow you to make appointments online less than 24 hours in advance. Everything went smoothly in the morning. I was especially impressed by the professionalism of the staff, uniforms and branding given how new the service was. When I got back from my trip, I was pleasantly surprised that they washed my car even though it wasn't rented out. However, the shuttle back from the airport didn't show up for 25 min, which was a little longer than expected.

My experience is pretty limited so far, but I will definitely use them again and see how the experience is when someone actually rents my car. I have also not rented from them yet, but hope to try them out after they expand their locations beyond just San Francisco and Boston.
AllClearID

AllClearID

3/17/14
A few years ago, one of my credit cards had a security breach and some members had their personal information stolen. As compensation, my credit card company offered one year of free identity-theft protection from a company called Debix. I really enjoyed the service, which monitored my transactions as well as my credit from the three major credit bureaus and alerted me whenever anything suspicious came up. Fortunately, I never received an alert and therefore never needed to use their extended services of identity repair or identity-theft insurance.

I'm not sure if I would actually pay for the service since I can easily monitor my credit on my own. However, since I used the service, they have rebranded themselves as AllClearID and switched their focus to providing data-protection services to businesses. Because of this, their identity monitoring services are now subsidized by their business customers and completely free to regular users, so I would recommend checking it out if this is something you are worried about.
Peloton

Peloton

9/18/18
I tried the Peloton for the first time at a friend's place and was skeptical at first. I'm not a big cyclist, so I had a hard time understanding why anybody would pay thousands for a bike + a monthly subscription fee. But I actually enjoyed the experience.

The bike is much more compact than I expected it to be. The screen is fairly immersive and the trainers in the videos are all very attractive and motivating. The workout my friend chose for me was very difficult, but went by quickly. I liked getting the immediate feedback on my heart rate, speed, and output. At the end of the workout, I was able to see how I performed relative to others, review all my summary stats, and could barely walk. I'll need to try it again when I'm in better shape!
GoFraudMe

GoFraudMe

2/15/18
This is a neat site that reports on fake and fraudulent campaigns on GoFundMe. With the rising popularity of crowdfunding, charitable sites like GoFundMe have become the easiest place to contribute to a cause. But scammers have also taken advantage of these platforms to steal money from good samaritans through fake campaigns. GoFraudMe monitors reports of fraudulent campaigns from social media, local sources and direct donor reports, and then publishes them for everyone to see. It's a great way to double check a campaign before making a donation.
Facebook

Facebook

5/7/10
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Should-Use-A- D. thanked you for your review of WikiLeaks

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