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Napster to Go: Fill Your MP3 Player with Disappearing Songs*

Napster MP3 TNapster provides unlimited access to over 1.5 million songs online through their subscription service. Pay a monthly fee, and you can listen to all the songs you want, and “with Napster to Go, you can?fill and refill any compatible MP3 player with music without paying per song or album* “.

So it sounds like you can load up your iPod-like device with all the songs it can hold and listen to them all your want.? Well, not exactly, according to the foonote.

*MOUSE PRINT: “It is necessary to maintain a Napster subscription in order to continue access to songs downloaded through the Napster service.” [Website, March 23, 2006]

Translation: Unlike an audio tape onto which you have recorded music which can be played over and over forever, music transferred to smart electronic devices can in essence self-destruct if you do not continuing paying your monthly subscription fee.  The technology is called digital rights management.

To Napster’s credit, they disclose this limitation right on their homepage. Other music subscription services bury the self-destructing nature of conditional downloads in their terms and conditions in less than clear language, if they disclose it at all.

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Fishscam.com: Don’t Worry About Mercury in Fish*

Fishscam TMany consumers are concerned about the cumulative health effects of eating certain fish because of its possible mercury content.

This ad says there is no reason to worry unless you are eating a lot of whale meat.

The only identification of the source of this ad is at the bottom: fishscam.com

Who is behind “fishscam”?

*MOUSE PRINT:  Fishscam is part of a nonprofit called the Center for Consumer Freedom.  Sounds like a conventional consumer group, right? Not exactly. While they do have individuals who are members, they list restaurants and food companies first as members of their coalition.  [US News, March 27, 2006]

That is not to say that restaurants and food companies don’t have legitimate gripes about junk science, or other matters they have weighed in about (such as the ‘McDonald’s made me fat’ lawsuits).

In any event, health claims are very hard for consumers to evaluate. It seems like one day a study says that certain foods are bad for you, and the next day another study says they are not problematic at all. Who and what can you believe?

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Cingular: No Charge for Roaming*

Cingular No charge for roaming TOn their website (as of 3/20/06) Cingular says “With Cingular Nation, never pay domestic long distance or roaming charges!”  That means, with respect to roaming, if your call is routed over another company’s system, you will not be charged extra.

However, after clicking a link to the plan’s fine print terms, one learns more.

*MOUSE PRINT: “Cingular reserves the right to terminate your service if less than 50% of your usage over three consecutive billing cycles is on Cingular-owned systems.”

Cingular Fineprint roaming T

Translation: If you roam too much, Cingular can turn off your service.

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