Archive for the 'Money' Category


Dec 11, 2007 in 3 Stars, Facebook, Just For Fun, Money

Rating: ★★★☆☆

AceBucks Facebook Application
AceBucks — “the largest underground currency for Facebook”.

The AceBucks is virtual currency and has no real value. It’s just that… virtual. So why would you want AceBucks? And what makes the 700,000+ people that have it installed want AceBucks?

Spending AceBucks

Acebucks PurchaseWith AceBucks you can buy things, both real and virtual, through their store. Sweet!

I like alcohol, so I bought the “Cheers!” champagne glasses. Well not really. I bought the virtual “Cheers!” champagne glasses which just adds a picture to the AceBucks box in my profile.

I liked the large picture and would have liked to show it off in my profile, but all I get in my profile is this tiny thumb. Hardly seems worth my $12 AceBucks 🙁

Ok. Screw the virtual items then. Lets find some real ones…

There are a few real items worth buying on there as well, like a Nintendo WII or this XBOX 360 I found…

AceBucks XBOX 360

Earning AceBucks

So now that you’ve found something you want… how do you earn AceBucks?

First signing up will get you $125 AceBucks, inviting friends will get you $5 AceBucks and $25 AceBucks if they actually join. There are also 11 different Faceboook games that reward you with AceBucks. (yes AceBucks has an API). You can earn additional AceBucks with 3rd party offers from companies like NetFlix, PetSmart, Disney, Walmart, etc. Signing up for newsletters will earn you AceBucks. You can also sell your own items for AceBucks.

AceBucks Problems

The AceBucks application is pretty cool, but it’s not without it’s flaws.

You cannot convert your AceBucks into dollars or dollars into AceBucks. This makes it incredibly difficult to ever afford the expensive stuff.

People do auction off US Dollars (USD). So you could “buy” $50 USD for X amount of AceBucks. But this brings me to yet another problem.

There’s no way to tell what is a real tangible item that will be shipped to my door. All auctions are marked with either “real” or “virtual”. But I’ve found way too many virtual items being sold as real items.

AceBucks Ferrari
I can afford 2 REAL Ferrari’s With my current AceBucks balance!

It’s easy to tell that this Ferrari is not a real Ferrari just by looking at the price. But other items that have their AceBucks price closer to their actual value are not so easy to identify.

It’s very possible you will end up buying a “real” item and receive just a picture of it.

There are also a few “questionable” auctions. Auctions for AceBucks lottery or AceBucks raffles where you could “win” more AceBucks should be banned.


These problems prevent AceBucks from earning any rating higher than 3 stars. It probably even should have earned a 2 star rating. Though I gave it a 3 star because I feel like this application has potential. And maybe you can buy some neat stuff with the AceBucks you earn from playing games. Just don’t cry when all your AceBucks get scammed away from you.

You can work around the real/virtual problem by contacting the buyer about the item (still no guarantee that you’ll be scammed). But eventually AceBucks needs to offer some sort of guarantee on real items if they want this to be legit.

AceBucks also needs to figure out a way to convert AceBucks into USD and vice-versa. I can’t think of anything I’d want to sell for a currency only used to buy pictures.

If they do nothing else but resolve these issues, AceBucks would easily be a 5 star application with the potential of growing larger than their current Facebook scope.

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Dec 06, 2007 in 4 Stars, Facebook, Money, Utility

Rating: ★★★★☆

*BANG BANG BANG BANG* and *KKKAAA-CHING* and take their money

Tired of your friends, roommates, co-workers and poker buddies borrowing money from you and not paying you back? $13 for lunch, $20 for dinner, $11 for a movie ticket. They promise to pay you back and even tell you a sad little tale of how they forgot their wallet at home, or were supposed to get paid yesterday but won’t until Monday. If they’re a good friend you probably don’t really mind. You also probably trust them a lot and know they’re good for it. You’ll get your money back for sure — right?

Unless they pay you back within a few days or you’ve loaned them enough cash to put a down payment on a car the chances are that you’re going to forget. If you don’t forget, they will. Or you both will. There’s even a possibility they’ll remember paying you back and you won’t remember that part. Uh-oh.

Before you lose your friends over some petty cash go add IOU to your Facebook profile. IOU by Sanjay Madan, another Harvard Alumni, will keep you from having to bust noses and break legs by keeping both you and your friends up to date on any outstanding financial transactions. Anytime you dole out some money log into Facebook and visit the IOU canvas page where you can enter the date, the amount, borrower’s name, and the reason. If you invite your friend IOU will create a link between both of you and will display to them the shared transaction so they know exactly how much they owe you and why. Once the debt is repaid you can simply clear out the transaction which removes it from both of your profiles.

IOU Ledger

Not only is IOU great for keeping track of the money you’re owed, but it can also help you keep track of the money you owe. If you’re frequently dipping your hands into your friend’s petty cash drawer this is a good way of making sure you maintain that relationship so when you’re down on your luck that register will still be open.

The Result

IOU is an incredibly useful app for Facebook. Not only will your wallet be happier, but IOU will help you keep those Facebook buddies by not letting the bitterness of debt and deceit come between you.

IOU Buddy

The app consists of only two pages, the ledger, and an invite page. It’s easy to use and beautifully designed. It also does not send out pesky and annoying notifications that make your friends secretly hate you. Those Harvard kids really know what they’re doing. For an extra bit of charm there’s also a little icon buddy in the top corner that randomly spits out satirical comments now and then. He’s not very functionally useful, but he takes take the edge off tracking finances a bit.

One thing noticeably lacking from IOU though is the ability to track payments. You can clear a debt in its entirety but there currently is no way to register or track partial payments. IOU is relatively new though and just starting to be published in the Application Directory so perhaps with a little bit of time we’ll see more functionality. Hopefully not at the cost of its simplicity though.

Now I can finally keep track of all those times Erik borrows lunch money.

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Sponsor Me

Dec 03, 2007 in 5 Stars, Events, Facebook, Money

Rating: ★★★★★

Raising the bar for Raising funds

Trying to raise some funds? It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to collect cash for a disaster relief fund, birthday present, community project, sponsored event, or to just line your pockets you still need a way to get the word out about your cause and a method for people to contribute. Sponsor Me, a remarkably well designed Facebook application by James Smith and Mat Clayton, is the perfect solution. The team of two claim to have written Sponsor Me in their free time and currently provide it as a free service. Now that’s charitable giving!

What garnered my attention at first with Sponsor Me was how well it was designed. The entire application seems well thought out and carefully implemented. The first thing you’ll notice with Sponsor Me is its friendly and informative landing page. Most applications force a redirect to their add application page for new visitors, but Sponsor Me provides a clean and informative landing page to help the user decide if the application is right for them or not and then provides a helpful link to their add application page.

Sponsor Me Landing Page

The design is clean and a model of usability. In the standard view there are three tabs that give you access to friends’ campaigns, past campaigns, and popular campaigns. This allows you to keep track of your own campaigns as well as those of any of your friends whose causes you may wish to contribute towards. The popular campaigns page shows the top sponsored campaigns currently running in Sponsor Me to help spread the word of greater causes. To have a campaign displayed on the popular campaigns page it must have a minimum of 10 sponsors.

If I was going to put Sponsor Me through a real test I needed a cause. Sure I could try to raise funds to cure cancer or shelter the orphans, but I had a greater calling. I set my mind on the noble cause of ending hunger, at least here in the office. I followed Sponsor Me’s simple two step process for creating a new campaign. You can enter a title, description, and set a number of options including an end date, currency, target amount to raise, and of course the PayPal account where the funds should be deposited.

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The next step was to seed my campaign to a bunch of friends who would hopefully support it, contribute towards it, pass it on to their friends, and so on. I would be fine dining in no time! Thanks to Sponsor Me’s integration into Facebook this part was going to be easy. I selected a few friends hopefully not as poor as me and pressed the send button. Raising funds has never been this easy!

Sponsor Me News Feed

Honestly I didn’t think my campaign would have any takers. I let it age over a few days to see what would happen. Much to my surprise, day by day there was one, then two, then three sponsors. The sponsors kept trickling in. No one had opened their checkbook yet but they were at least rallying around my call! It was almost enough to make me shed a tear or two — almost.

The Result

Well to say the least, Sponsor Me hasn’t helped put any food in my belly or those of my fellow bloggers but it has shown me a level of quality in a Facebook application that has yet to be challenged. I continue to monitor my campaign through Sponsor Me by logging in everyday to see it progress towards the target amount and who’s supporting it. Soon I hope it will cross the magic threshold of 10 supporters to get listed publicly. Then the world is my oyster! Or is it oysters for lunch?

If you have a charitable fund or just looking to raise some extra cash you should definitely considering adding Sponsor Me to your profile. It’s incredibly easy to use. You’ll have your campaign up in a few minutes. With the viral nature of Facebook it’s only a matter of time before a noble cause strikes a chord in the heart of Facebook’s 50 million plus members.

Sponsor Me Help Our Friend Celina Pay For Cancer Treatment

The first reader to create a campaign for a non-profit charity contribution who invites me will receive a small donation.

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My Appointments

Nov 27, 2007 in 1 Star, Business, Facebook, Money

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

How to “Facelance”

When it comes to Facebook applications there is a plethora of “just for fun” apps that don’t provide much added value or service to Facebook beyond entertainment. So when William Blanchard told me about his company LAMBcast, Ltd’s new app My Appointments I got very excited about the possibilities. My Appointments promises to help you monetize your “skill, talents, and expertise”. It enables you to freelance directly through Facebook by providing an appointment scheduling and payment system on your profile page. Could this be one of first truly utilitarian applications? Will it spark a gold rush of service oriented applications?

I had to investigate further so I immediately installed My Appointments. Well — almost immediately. There was a brief pause of confusion as I stared at the about page which had a logo and description referring to an application named “Hire Me”. I finally inferred that Hire Me is simply another name for My Appointments. It’s easy to assume that this is probably to attract both users of My Appointments and their potential clients who would hire them. But I must admit it made me hesitate. The last thing you want as a middle man service layer is any sort of doubt in the mind of your would be clients. People do not like their source of livelihood messed with.

My Appointments Logo

Once you install My Appointments you are prompted to fill out a short questionnaire about your services, contact, and billing information. After I completed the questionnaire I was taken to a page informing me that my trial period was now over and a subscription of $5 monthly through PayPal was required for “uninterrupted use of Hire Me!”. This was a little unsettling and jarring to me. Not that $5 a month is much to ask for from a service that helps you schedule more clients efficiently but the fact that I was never given a trial period to begin with. Suddenly I felt like I had been deprived of something I didn’t even know I had had.

My Appointments Trial Over

My Appointments Profile Box

After that I wasn’t sure what to do next. I wasn’t about to pay $5 now for something I supposedly could have tried for free and there didn’t seem to be anymore options or tabs to click on. I decided to check out my profile and see what a potential client would see. Boy was I in for a surprise!

My Appointments had embedded the largest profile box you can imagine that looked like a giant banner for “Hire Me”. It clocked in at a whopping 924 pixels in height. The bulk of it was a box featuring the “Hire Me” logo saying “Click To Enter”. Once you click on the profile box the interface is enabled and the large banner turns into your appointment calendar and scheduling form where clients can click on an available time slot and submit their contact information. There is also a PayPal button at the bottom of your profile box allowing your clients to be redirected to PayPal to submit their payments to you.

That is about the extent of the functionality of My Appointments. Oh — except for the fact that it kept spamming emailing me every time I did anything! Not only was I never informed that it would be emailing me, but I’m not even sure where it got my email address from. Did it get it directly from my Facebook profile? Or did it utilize my PayPal login email address in a way that I was not informed it would? Either way, receiving a steady stream of emails from an unidentifiable sender that contains the same messages the user interface already told me is completely irritating. Plus they are full of typographical errors like “Thank you for addming this Application.”

My Appointments Email

The Result

I admit it was love at first sight with My Appointments — but then I woke up the next morning sober! I was so excited about the idea of a truly useful app that I almost over looked the glaringly obvious user interface and usability issues. To top it off the usefulness of My Appointments is rather limited. I couldn’t figure out a way to import or export existing appointments so unless I use Facebook exclusively and have all of my clients book their appointments on my profile I am going to have some major scheduling conflicts.

The over zealous email notifications, super-size-me profile box, missing free trial, and handful of other quirks all contributed towards the 1 star rating. I haven’t given up on my dreams of a Facebook app revolution though. I think with a lot of hard work LAMBcast could be on to something with My Appointments. If they can fix all of the bugs and polish it up there is a potential market of hundreds of thousands of self-employed people on Facebook. Some who might even be willing to spare $5 a month. But if LAMBcast doesn’t, someone else will.

Uninstalled but you can still hire me for $160 an hour. Well, maybe. Let’s talk.

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