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Richard"Richard" J.

5 Level 5 Contributor
  • 60 Reviews
  • 243 Helpful Votes
  • 0 Thank Yous

Experience: Computers & Technology, Reference, Business

Member since August 2011

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About Me

A resident of Glendale, California, I founded and ran for over 30 years NotBarter.com The Los Angeles Skills Pool, which enabled folks to obtain quality services from each other at no charge beyond the membership fee.

How I Can Help

I've been giving advice and help on consumer matters for many years. A good part of each of my member newsletters was always devoted to these concerns.


consumer issues, ethics, single-payer healthcare, peace

60 Reviews by Richard

First of all, I need to take issue with previous reviewer Ian's panning of this site on the basis of its privacy policy. I invite readers to review that policy, at https://privnote.com/privacy/. I see no problem with it whatsoever, and I've written Ian repeatedly in the hope he would share with me his concerns, but I've received no response.

I recommend Privnote as a free alternative to paid by-subscription email tracking services, which I've found to be worthless or worse (worse because of misplaced reliance the user may place on them). Instead of tracking your email, Privnote tracks when the recipient reads a note to which she's referred by a special link you include in the message.

Privnote promotes itself as a means to send notes that "self-destruct," and that's true enough. In my view, though, its value lies, as mentioned, in its tracking capability. A secondary benefit is the air of importance assumed by a private note that can be seen only via the link.

The self-destruct feature can be marginally useful if you want to be sure nobody else has read your note. And before the note's been read you can use that feature to cancel the note, should you have second thoughts.
This review is of www.objectgraph.com/dictionary. If you type the Web address as displayed here by SiteJabber (ending with ".com"), you'll be directed elsewhere.

Even though you get to this site by ending the URL with "/dictionary," I don't really recommend this as a dictionary. Believe it or not, the source dictionary is almost 100 years out of date!

I recommend this site as what I've found to be the best *thesaurus* on the Web. To find a word with similar meaning, you have to be in Thesaurus mode (see below). Then start typing the word in the search box. Once objectgraph identifies your word, it will provide you a huge number or related words, bound to include one that will meet your needs.

If you want a definition of that word (or any word), just switch from Thesaurus to Classic (for the classic 1913 dictionary), and follow the same procedure. Or you could switch to another reference, such as FOLDOC (Free Online dictionary of Computing). Same search box for every reference,

The only major downside is that as of this writing the site is set to Classic by default. That means that to use it as a thesaurus you'll always have to switch to Thesaurus mode, using the menu on the right. It's just one click, but it is an inconvenience.

Owner Gavi Narra has told me that he will change the default behavior to select the previous choice (ordinarily in my case, Thesaurus).
There are many form creator websites, and I've looked at a dozen or more, but FormMail wins hands-down. I've used it now for about 8 years. You can see one of my FormMail forms at http://formmailto.com/freeforallreg.

First consider the price. There are free form creators, but in my experience they're worth what you pay for them. They're typically exceedingly limited, and will produce amateurish results. Some will give you a better product if you pay for a premium version, at a price much higher than FormMail's. Others are too hard to work with. FormMail is nearly free -- per month only a dollar per form! (FormMail has in the past offered a completely free version, with advertising, and you may see a reference to the free version on its website.)

I frankly don't know how FormMail provides what it does for the tiny amount it charges. It seems that the owner, Roger, treats it as a hobby rather than a business. The various options should meet any needs. Documentation is extensive. You don't really need to know HTML, although a basic knowledge is helpful. A huge plus is the level of support you get for your one dollar. With rare exceptions it'll take only a day or so to get any help you might need.

You don't have to pay even the tiny cost until you've successfully created your form and have decided you want to use it.

There are two downsides. First, you have to pay via PayPal, which I don't like. (See my PayPal review.) Second, you have to "subscribe" for 6 months at a time, with opt-out renewal. The 6 months are certainly fair, but I try to steer clear of any opt-out payments.

All in all, however, I strongly recommend FormMail if you need to create a professional-looking form.
This is a warning not to purchase deals from this site, also known as Spreebird.

This is one of the many copycats of Groupon. The other such sites I've dealt with, and especially Groupon itself, are very responsible with respect to any untoward experiences. Not so here.

I purchased a voucher for a restaurant meal, and a few days ago proceeded to the restaurant. I knew the restaurant was not really close, but I at least expected to be able to find it from the street address. In fact the street number provided was nowhere to be seen from the street. After driving around and then walking back and forth and about, I finally located the place deep inside an (unnumbered) shopping mall. All this hunting consumed an extra half an hour or more, and then I saw the business, shut down.

It turns out that Spreebird knew it was folded, but deliberately chose not to notify purchasers like me. Its entire reason seems to be that it didn't want to bother customers who'd already used the voucher!

When I asked for recompense, they amazingly wanted me to accept "spreebucks" in the amount of my purchase, toward another voucher. They did agree to refund my purchase price, but nothing at all for my time and trouble.

There are too many deal-of-the-day sites out there to go with a loser like this.
Some sites can infect your computer just by your landing on them! Even when that doesn't happen, following a site's links can cause serious problems. Enter the Web address here, and URLVoid will instantly scan for safety with TrendMicro Web Reputation, Norton SafeWeb, Web of Trust, and 14 similar services.
If you can always check the date easily with a nearby print calendar, you may not need this website. Otherwise, you may find it invaluable in your "Links" or Bookmarks Toolbar. Refreshing it with F5 will highlight today's date. Includes a calculate function, for periods between dates.
This review is of the "USP Verified Dietary Supplements" page, which you can reach directly at www.usp.org/USPVerified/dietarySupplements/supplements.html.

We all want to be sure the nutritional supplements we buy are acceptably pure and potent. To this end some shell out $33 a year to ConsumerLab.com for results of its periodic surveys. In most cases, however, a wiser course is to get completely reliable information here at no charge, from the venerable U.S. Pharmacopoeia. A plus is that you can also find out where to buy the listed products.

(It's true that USP charges the companies for its seal. The fact is, however, that some very inexpensive brands, e.g. Nature Made and Kirkland Signature, carry the USP seal.)
This review of the Better Business Bureau (of particular interest to SiteJabber followers) concerns the BBB's service in reviewing businesses for consumers. You can get to that service directly at www.bbb.org/us/Find-Business-Reviews.

As a result of outside pressure, the BBB claims it no longer considers BBB fee-paid "accreditation" in its ratings. However, the review pages for each non-accredited business will include three (3) prominent mentions of that status, which you should ignore.

Considerations that the BBB says it does apply include BBB complaint history, business duration, government actions, and questionable advertising. BBB will also downgrade if a company fails to provide to the BBB complete information, if the BBB has revoked accreditation, or if the nature of the business is suspect.

The BBB also has a link for consumer reviews (not to be confused with consumer complaints), which do not seem to figure into its ratings.

BBB ratings are a helpful resource in evaluating a company, but should not be relied on exclusively. ConsumerSearch (see my separate SiteJabber review) reflects a huge number of consumer reviews from across the Web, and would be a good supplement to BBB ratings.
Those thinking of switching credit cards or adding one will find this well-organized comprehensive site an excellent place to get the "low" down. Covers over 1050 cards. (Note: Removing a credit card will usually have a negative impact on your credit rating. Adding a new one will have a similar impact at once, but over the long haul may raise your credit rating as a result of your lower utilization of available credit.)
Where will you get the best deals on your favorite groceries? You don't have to visit the stores or even phone, to find out. This site will instantly compare current prices for you, by individual items or by category. It'll at your option send you email alerts of price reductions, and provides product nutritional information and coupons.
This is the government's attempt at a one-stop healthcare destination. It includes highly readable information about over 5,000 plans, public and private, and covers other issues, like prevention and facility comparisons. There's a section on free and low-cost care. The site is probably the best source to learn about the changes (current and future) resulting from the Affordable Care Act, the health care reform law fostered by Pres. Obama.
This is a variation of sorts on sites like Groupon and SocialBuy, which let you pay within a short time frame for substantial local bargains, usable then at your leisure. With all such sites you can order what you like from the various restaurants' menus. The big advantage of Blackboard Eats is that it requires no money up front, so you never have to use your bargain at all; you arrive at the restaurant not with a voucher but with a coupon. Other differences are:

1. As you might guess from the name, Blackboard Eats is only for restaurant meals. In my experience they are for higher-end restaurants exclusively.
2. Blackboard Eats may be more suitable for lone diners, as its bargains are always percentages off. With the voucher sites you pay a fixed amount for food that may be worth twice as much, typically enough for two.
3. Blackboard Eats's bargains, usually 30 percent off, are not as impressive as those of most of the voucher sites or even those of competitor Scoutmob.

To receive Blackboard Eats's emailed notices, sign up at the site.
With one search box this site will initiate any of 12 Google searches plus 127 others (more promised). Especially useful for folks who like a particular search engine but don't want to be limited, or may want to see different sets of search results, which can in fact vary quite a bit. Note that a recent study by the Hitwise marketing service indicates that Bing users achieve a "success rate" substantially higher than Google users, even though Goggle continues to be the most popular search engine.

(Mrqery references Bing under its old name of Live.)
Three dozen types of personal and business apologies, including an all-purpose apology letter. Copy and paste, then modify to suit.
Since I check my email many times a day I find that the best way to schedule upcoming tasks and events is to receive the reminders in my inbox. Of course I could send myself an ordinary email, but I couldn't arrange future delivery.

I've tried numerous email reminder services, and Nudgemail is the walk-away winner. You don't even have to sign up. You just specify the date and/or time of arrival in the To line, to end with @nudgemail.com. And of course if you want to put off a task further, you need only forward the message with a new To line. Use the "Snooze" function to be reminded in an hour, or any of various other options. Unlike some of the free competition, the message will arrive with the subject of your choice (often a subject will be all you need).

Nudgemail's major drawback is that your reminders aren't editable. It's simple however to delete a reminder: just send back your confirmation email with "Remove" in the subject. And you can easily re-send with a modification.
Nonprofit and nonpartisan, this site endeavors to disclose the "real story" behind what's happening in Congress, using sources like government data, news coverage, and public comments. Especially handy for researching bills, tracking votes, and emailing your representatives.
SiteJabber followers who value reviews and ratings not of websites but of products will want to bookmark this site, owned by About.com, in turn owned by The New York Times Company. From across the Web ConsumerSearch considers professional and user reviews both, and then analyzes the reviews and ranks the products according to stated criteria. Users can read the reviews, except those restricted to subscribers of the reviewing sites. ConsumerSearch uses reviews to rate the sellers as well.

The main failing of reviews is the danger of bias in a particular review. The huge number of reviews considered here, from so many sources, really eliminates that concern.
If your auto is cooling its heels parked much of the time, you might want to help it pay its way by renting it out. Getaround brings local car owners together with local car-deprived, for an hourly or longer fee that includes insurance. You can register your car with brief information and a photo.
There are many weather pages on the Web, but this is the only one to my knowledge that offers hourly forecasts. Weather.com a.k.a. The Weather Channel has a page that will let you see at a glance the predicted temperatures and weather conditions for the various hours coming up. And tabs will let you check weather for tomorrow, for the next 5 days, for the next 10 days, and even for the next month.

If this is of interest, you'll want to create a bookmark from the following template: www.weather.com/weather/hourbyhour/graph/xxxxx, first substituting your 5-digit zip code for the xxxxx.

You might also want to compare today's weather with that of yesterday. Weather.com has a page for that as well. Use this template: www.weather.com/weather/pastweather/xxxxx, as above substituting your zip code for the xxxxx.
This site lets you choose an eGift card from a large variety of major retailers, browsable by category and searchable. You help save the environment by foregoing an actual card, and there's no physical product to lose. (You or the recipient can reprint the "card" as necessary.) You pay the retailer's regular price.

You could probably buy the electronic card direct, but this is usually easier, and gives you more choice.

Richard Has Earned 243 Votes

Richard J.'s review of Ninite earned 4 Very Helpful votes

Richard J.'s review of BeenVerified earned 15 Very Helpful votes

Richard J.'s review of TaskRabbit earned 8 Very Helpful votes

Richard J.'s review of MagicJack earned 4 Very Helpful votes

Richard J.'s review of Angie's List earned 15 Very Helpful votes

Richard J.'s review of Getaround earned 3 Very Helpful votes

Richard J.'s review of USP.org earned 9 Very Helpful votes

Richard J.'s review of DirecTV earned a Very Helpful vote

Richard J.'s review of PrivNote earned 7 Very Helpful votes

Richard J.'s review of Safeway earned 2 Very Helpful votes

Richard J.'s review of Screamin Daily Deals earned 2 Very Helpful votes

Richard J.'s review of Time.is earned 3 Very Helpful votes

Richard J.'s review of BlackboardEats earned 5 Very Helpful votes

Richard J.'s review of Better Business Bureau earned 3 Very Helpful votes

Richard J.'s review of Magazines.com earned 3 Very Helpful votes

Richard J.'s review of UPS earned a Very Helpful vote

Richard J.'s review of TaskRabbit earned a Fraud Buster vote

Richard J.'s review of GasBuddy earned 3 Very Helpful votes

Richard J.'s review of GotFreeFax earned 5 Very Helpful votes

Richard J.'s review of AllExperts earned a Well Said vote

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