We first discovered the very useful FeedFlix back in May, and since then the site’s been updated to present more data on how well you utilize your Netflix membership. By pasting in any of your private Netflix RSS feeds, you’ll see a breakdown of your activity stats, like how long on average you keep titles and your average cost-per-rental. A handy new feature is the “email alerts” function, where you’ll receive a weekly reminder if you’ve kept a title past a certain number of days. We’ve included a screenshot below.
Comcast has joined pretty much every other ISP in New York by shutting off access to newsgroups, effective two days ago, although current users will still have access through October 25th. A lot of stories on this topic have focused on how New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has led the overall “crackdown” due to kiddie porn, but we think this is really just a politically convenient business decision to cut costs on a service that’s declining in popularity. DSLReports seems to agree, and they offer some advice on where you can get affordable newsgroup access now that your ISP is no longer footing the bill.
Payment Reporting Builds Credit (PRBC) is an alternative credit reporting agency that will record your payment histories for things like rent and utilities bills. PRBC says you can then use this verified credit history to supplement your FICO score and credit history from the big three reporting companies. It’s meant in part as a way to help people who don’t have extensive standard credit histories, or who have always paid monthly expenses on time but have other blots (like medical bills) on their official credit histories.
BillShrink’s free credit card comparison service launches today, and you should check it out to see whether your current credit card is the best available option for you. The great thing about BillShrink is it doesn’t try to get you to sign up for a particular card—it simply aggregates the information on each one, then helps you quickly navigate your options to find the best choice for your specific needs. (The site makes money when you sign up for a new service.)
Rudder is a new personal finance service that differs from the dozens of other ones now available in two key ways: it presents a simplified overview of your available funds, which it calls “What’s Left,” and it delivers it (along with bill reminders and balance notifications) to your email inbox instead of requiring you to visit a website. Think of it as a highly customized “Very Short List” or “Daily Candy,” only the topic is always your current financial health.
Reader Mike consulted Best Buy about removing a Trojan that was infecting his computer. They suggested that he buy an external hard drive, pay Best Buy to back up his data, and use his computer’s restore disc. Mike agreed. 5 days later he got his computer and his external hard drive back — mostly empty, except for the shortcut to the folder where the data was stored. None of the files within the folder had actually been transferred.
If you’re the type of Netflix user who enjoys maximizing the value of your membership, you might find the new website FeedFlix interesting. The service scrapes data from your personal Netflix rss feeds and generates interesting graphs about how long you keep rentals, how many you rent per week, and your cost-per-rental. Sure, you could do this all yourself with a spreadsheet, or maybe Yahoo! Pipes, but FeedFlix is free and works instantly.
Josh discovered a mysterious $13 fee on his parents’ phone bill, and as he tracked down the source of the bogus charge, he learned a lot about cramming. The FCC describes it as “the practice of placing unauthorized, misleading, or deceptive charges on your telephone bill” by third party companies, who bank on you being too confused/distracted/annoyed by your hard-to-read bill to notice.
A hyper-vigilant Chase CSR canceled a woman’s credit card and issued her a new one when she called in to confirm her interest rate, because Mint was showing a slightly higher rate. A Mint representative confirms that “while we can generally get pretty good info about APR, APR can vary widely by customer & there won’t always be a 100% match (that’s why we allow customers to edit their account information).”
DHL and Walgreens cut a deal to open DHL shipping kiosks inside stores. 1,600 Walgreens will be offering DHL services around the clock.[Forbes]
Municipal ledger hounds are worried that local governments will slash services as the imploding housing market chokes off access to lucrative property tax revenue. The New York Times visited the future retirement destination of its readers, South Florida, to see firsthand the devastating affect the subprime meltdown can have on communities. For anyone who says “What housing crash, my community is fine,” hop across the jump for a look at your potential future.
Wesabe, the popular personal finance website, has unveiled a new mobile version that “lets you check your balances, see recent transactions, and… enter cash transactions, from any mobile browser.” To save time, you only need to enter the most basic information via your phone—you can add the details to the entry later from a standard web browser.
TryPhone seems like a great idea on the surface—you can preview mock-ups of current phone models and test out their interfaces through your browser. In reality, the beta launch feels underdeveloped, even for a web service beta, with only four models to choose from and limited interactivity on each. The idea is good, but we hope they work on execution.
A new website launched last week that lets you store your gift card data from a variety of retailers in one location, where you can track usage, retrieve card numbers if you lose the physical card, or even swap card balances with other members. The site will also pay you 1% interest on the balance of each card you register, or 3.65% interest if you purchase the card through their site.
The Amazon home page has somewhere around 16 different sales pitches, and more unnecessary graphics than a MySpace page. Here are 9 money-saving ways to shop the site without waiting for another customized ad to render.
Michelle Slatalla, the Erma Bombeck-David Pogue hybrid who writes casual articles about the Internet for the average person (she’s the mom who pestered her daughter on Facebook this past summer), has published a Chatty Cathy review of personal finance site Mint.com. Her verdict: it’s nice to not have to go to multiple sites; the aggregated information is a good feature; security worried her at first, but she’s okay now that she knows Mint is a read-only site and they don’t have her account numbers, just user names and passwords; and she has actually used the ads that Mint displays—not to open new lines of credit, but to negotiate lower interest rates for existing accounts.
SmartMoney reviews four of the most popular, or at least best-publicized, online budgeting and finance-tracking services: Clear Checkbook, Mint, Wesabe, and Yodlee Money Center. They’ve created a simple chart comparing features, to help you decide which best meets your needs—for instance, whether you want text message alerts, or the ability to manually enter transactions, and so on. The most robust offering of the four is Clear Checkbook, although it’s missing a couple of nice features that the otherwise paltry Mint offers (specifically, text message alerts and merchant-based spending breakdowns).
For all of us out there who are hungry but antisocial, the New York Times today presents an overview of online food ordering services. The benefits are obvious – it’s fast, (usually) more accurate, you can place an order the day before, and you don’t need cash. Lots of chain restaurants are now offering it (Pizza Hut, Subway, and Papa John’s are some examples), but there are also a few special websites that aggregate menus from multiple restaurants (after the break).