Foursquare launches categories

Upon logging into Foursquare and checking my history page this morning, I was initially perplexed to see a bunch of question-mark icons next to my venues.

So what gives?

Foursquare has launched categories (and sub-categories) this morning. Here are a few screenshots.

Foursquare Categories – history page

Foursquare-history-categories

Foursquare Categories – history page – sub categories

Foursquare-history-categories-sub

Once you’ve added a category for a particular venue, a shiny new icon shows up where the question-mark used to be. Foursquare has created an entirely new icon set for the categories launch. You can see the movie theater icon above next to the Harkins Tempe Marketplace venue. When I added the “Slices” venue to the category; Food, sub-category Pizza, a pizza slice icon appeared.

You can only add a venue to one category at this time.

Foursquare Categories – venue page

Categories will show up on the venue pages as well, just above the tags area on the lower right of the page (screenshot below). You can also add a venue to a category from the venue page.

foursquare-venue-categories

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a method for suggesting a new category or sub-category. I couldn’t find “community center” in any of the lists, so I had to go with “Building – Other”. All in all though, it appears that Foursquare has covered the majority of venue types in their category lists.

I’d still like to see a method for users easily suggesting a new category or sub-category though.

Update: According to an official Foursquare tweet, you can report missing categories here.

Foursquare Categories – what will they bring to the table?

So how will categories improve the Foursquare experience? I think categories are a good compliment to the current tag system. Tags can now be used for more descriptive purposes now, while the category will define the type of venue. Expect to see new badges created that are linked to certain categories.

I’m looking forward to the new enhancements and anything that will improve the Foursquare experience. How do you think Categories will improve Foursquare?

Crowd source your purchasing

I previously wrote about how I crowd source my purchasing by using online deal seeking communities such as Slick Deals and FatWallet.

Today, I’m going to write about a specific example and share a few tips.

Use the Deal Alerts

Surfing and sifting through all of the deals posted on SlickDeals and FatWallet can be daunting and tedious. It takes time, but there are some tools to help.

One of the best tools available on SlickDeals is the Deal Alerts feature. Deal Alerts allows you to setup instant email notifications for when a new deal is posted that matches a specific keyword set that you specify.

Instant deal notifications are extremely useful. Many of the best deals posted on these sites are limited time or limited quantity. If you don’t pull the trigger on your purchase quickly, you might miss out on a super hot deal.

Deal Alerts + Amazon One Click purchase = awesome laptop buy

During the late November – early December time period last year, I had been closely monitoring SlickDeals and had noticed a few awesome deals on an Acer ultra low voltage notebook computer. Ultra low voltage laptops are light-weight, with long battery life and much better hardware than a netbook. These laptops are perfect for conferences or other events where a mobile computer are needed. Unfortunately, I was missing out on all the deals, sometimes very narrowly.

To help myself score the deal I wanted, I setup instant email notifications using the model name of the laptop I was looking to purchase as my keyword. I then setup one click purchasing on Amazon mobile from my phone.

Lo and behold, I was sitting in a movie theater, watching a film, when I received an instant deal notification on the laptop model that I had been looking for a deal on. I quickly looked at the deal, confirming its hotness, clicked through to Amazon and purchased the laptop with one click.

By the time I got out of the movie, Amazon was sold out.

Thanks to the instant Deal notifications and one click purchasing on Amazon, I scored an awesome ultra low voltage laptop for around ~$330. Win!

Your password contains too many characters

It seems that I run into this situation every week…

I go to a website, sign up for an account, and my password gets rejected with the message “Your password contains too many characters, a maximum of X is allowed”. Where X equals whatever small character limit has been set on the password system.

password

Low character passwords are a security threat

Listen up developers & system admins! Your puny character limitation for passwords is NOT cool. We live in an age of identity theft, information theft, hackers and a constant barrage of threats to information security. Why in the HELL would you make a low maximum character limitation rule for passwords, when it makes them easier to guess/crack/steal/hack?

All sites should allow passwords of 12 characters long at a MINIMUM. Allowing 20 or more characters would be ideal. No one should be using passwords anymore. Nowadays, pass phrases are necessary to avoid an easily compromised account.

Use SSL to encrypt password transmission

And on a related note, every site that protects important information or accounts using a password should be using an SSL certificate and forced HTTPS. Submitting a password over HTTP transmits that information over the internet in plain text, allowing network sniffers to read the text being transmitted.

Get with it websites. Please.

Twitter in Phoenix Arizona

Hello, I’m Wes Novack. I’m on Twitter and I tweet A LOT.

twitter

Follow me, talk to me, let’s have a conversation.

How I use Twitter

I use Twitter to stay connected with the community in Phoenix Arizona, to read about breaking news, for entertainment, to broadcast interesting links, to talk to others and for many other purposes. I also follow and converse with others outside of the Phoenix area, but the majority of the tweeps that I follow are in AZ.

My follow back policy

My follow back policy is simple: interact with me & I will follow you back, regardless of your location. What does “interact” mean? Reply to one of my questions, ask me a question, retweet something I post, etc. I will notice any of these and if I’m not following you, I will. I have found other follow back policies to be too time consuming or inefficient.

Thanks for reading and I hope we can interact on Twitter!

1/3/2015 Update: I moved to Utah in 2013, and I don’t particularly adhere to a ‘follow back’ policy these days…

Paypal adds new fees without notifying users

Paypal-Logo

Last month, I transferred some funds to my friend Steven Kippel via Paypal. Shortly thereafter, he reported that Paypal had charged him a fee on the incoming funds. We both had no idea why.

Steven writes for one of my websites and I’ve been sending him funds monthly through Paypal for over 2 years. These fund transfers were always initiated from a personal Paypal account to another personal Paypal account, using funds from a Paypal account balance (not from a bank account or credit card). These transfers had always been free. Neither party had to pay any fees to send or receive the funds.

The experiment – verifying the new fees

We wanted to get to the bottom of the issue, so I contacted another friend, Jared Newman, to help perform a test. I sent him $1 classified as Purchase – Services. The Purchase tab also happens to be the default send payment option. It is the same way I had been sending funds for years that had never incurred a fee for transferring from a personal account to another personal account.

Jared received the entire $1 at that time, so we thought perhaps there was some problem or other snafu with Steven’s account. Not so. Later on, Jared reported back that Paypal had retroactively charged his account a fee (2.9% + 0.30) to receive the funds that I transferred. This is particularly disturbing because Paypal used to prompt you, asking whether or not you wish to accept a funds transfer if it was going to incur a fee. There is no such prompt for this type of fund transfer.

Jared then wrote about the fiasco on PCWorld. The story was then picked up by The Consumerist, Gadgetell and other websites.

Paypal’s public statement

Charlotte Hill, Paypal’s PR Manager, had this to say to PCWorld “We didn’t want to make a huge formal communication out of this pricing change, because we weren’t really adding any fees, and we were hoping it would be a more useful experience for people”.

You “weren’t really adding any fees” ? Really Paypal? I’ve been doing the same type of funds transfer every month for over 2 years and now when I do that same transfer, the recipient is charged 2.9% + 0.30. How is that not adding any new fees?? How is that a more useful experience?? The bottom line is, personal account Paypal users weren’t being charged for this type of fund transfer before and now they are. Paypal did not notify its users. Almost no one knew about it. Everyone I’ve talked to had no idea about the new fees until they were charged.

All this attention evoked an official blog post response from Paypal. Even so, their reply still didn’t fess up to the fact that they started charging for something that was previously free, without informing their users adequately. Sorry Paypal, but you screwed up. You have added new fees for personal accounts and you won’t even admit the change.

So even though you can avoid the fees and send funds for “free” using the Personal tab in Paypal, I’m still exploring alternatives due to their shady practices. Perhaps Revolution Money Exchange or Google Checkout?