FTC Disclosure

Life is complicated enough without getting into hotwater with federal agencies so: TAKE NOTE Many things I review I got at no charge in exchange for an honest review. Consider this as informing you that ALL things I review may have been gotten at no charge. Realistically about 60% but in order to keep things above board just assume that I got the stuff free. I do not collect information on my readers. If cookies or other tracking stuff is used on my blogs it is due to BLOGGER not ME. Apparently the European Union's new rules state I need to inform you if cookies are being use. If they are it isn't byu me, consider yourself INFORMED.
Words like, “sponsored,” “promotion,” “paid ad” or even just “ad” are clear ways to disclose that you’re being paid to share information and links so BE AWARE that some of what I write can be described as an AD by the government. BTW I will NEVER say a product is great, super or even acceptable if it isn't, whether I got it free or NOT!



Please check out my other blogs
Pick of the Literate 
or Azure Dwarf’s Horde
or visit my web site

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

In spite of the economy, we all need to be optimistic about the future. If you expect the bird of paradise to crap on your head, more than likely it will. If you anticipate being rejected, most likely you will. However if you approach the New Year with anticipation, with hope and with courage, you will probably find yourself having a good year.

It may simply mean that you are impacting the world around you rather than just letting the world impact you. Our world is frequently how we see it. My name is not Pollyandy! I truly believe that perseverance, hard work, optimism and for want of a better description, positive thinking make a difference. I was the first person in my family to get a college education. My high school counselor told me that I was never going to get into college. Hmm, with a master’s degree and most of a doctorate, I wonder what happen. I had an accountant tell me one time to close the doors on my business and declare bankruptcy. Instead I just worked harder and 20 plus years later sold the business to retire. My point here is not how good am I but how good do you think you are.

Do not accept doom saying. Do not roll over just because someone says the sky is falling. Appreciate what you have, who you are and make your own luck. We have a new year ahead of us. This New Year means new opportunities, new friends and new successes. Don’t just hope for a happy New Year, make a HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Need A Battery?

My 12 volt air compressor died recently. It uses a lead acid sealed battery similar to what is in a UPS. I pulled the battery and got the info off of it and went battery hunting. From the original equipment manufacturer it was $30 plus shipping. I compared prices for a new unit similar to mine and was looking at roughly $60 so I figured replacing the battery was more cost effective. I shopped around and the best price I found was at Battery Mart. They had a good price on the battery and weren’t trying to recoup it on the shipping. Total cost with shipping was $25 and change. They shipped immediately and I had the battery in a couple of days. I will use them again and I suggest you look at them for your battery needs. This is not a paid blog and I have no relationship whatsoever with Battery Mart except as a customer.

A caveat for when battery shopping, when the battery has those spade connectors, pull the leads off and measure, do not measure from the base. Apparently F1 is 3/16” and F2 is ¼” and they are not interchangeable. Since I measured the base of the spade without taking off the leads, I ordered a battery with F2 spades and my leads wouldn’t fit. Of course in the wealth of parts I have there were no F2 connectors so off to radio shack and picked up a mixed bag of 3 male and 3 female connectors for $2.11 including tax. A couple of crimps and a little solder and I was up and running. If you want to avoid that extra step, make sure you measure your spades with the leads off.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Help, I’m Melting!

Well not melting but definitely perplexed, this blog has fallen off the Google Page Rank radar. I was all the way up to a Page Rank of 2 (I know big woop!) and when I checked the other day, I have zip, zero, no page rank. I actually get more hits on this blog than I get on my book blog, Pick of the Literate and it has a page rank of three. I don’t know if I am not getting enough comments, links or whatever. I have read scads of blogs on how to improve page rank but none of them have dealt with a disappearing page rank. I try and link to stuff I find that is appropriate to the blog or what ever I am discussing but outside of that I am stumped. If you have any ideas and want to comment, do so!

Really, Really, Last Minute Gift Help

If you are feeling frenzied, here is a solution. Blue Nile has free overnight shipping up until 6:00 P.M. EST. Blue Nile sells jewelry and their prices are very competitive. I researched them before I bought there and they came out with a very positive rating from Reseller Ratings. My order came promptly, it was priced competitively and the piece is beautiful. I have no financial connection to Blue Nile nor is this a paid blog, it is merely a life line for those of us, often male who find that time is short and ideas are sparse. Jewelry always trumps just about anything. And fellow men, remember lingerie for your significant other is really a gift from you to you, and they know it.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Price Spider

It is the season to spend money, falala lala la la. I have always researched my purchases but since I have retired I have moved to the obsessive research category. I use a lot of different sites and find deals in a lot of places. I have used PriceGrabber for years and it is generally pretty good. I read that PriceSpider was suppose to be good. I registered at the site and did a search on LCD TVs. It shows lots of prices and has a little spinning in progress wheel that infers it is doing a current update. I did a search on the Sylvania HD/LCD TV, 32”, pn# LC320SS9. $399.00 was the best price on the search not including shipping. Amazon was at $699.00 with free shipping.

Since it was fat paper day, I pulled out the Kmart circular and found the Sylvania for $429.00, no shipping and no handling but since I am a PA resident, 6% sales tax for a total of $454.00. Price Spider showed Kmart but showed their base price at $549.00 plus tax. If you click the shop now button and go to the Kmart site, you find the $429.00 price that was in the circular. Price Spider says it updated the Kmart price 12 hours ago and as I mentioned the little spinning checking price wheel was spinning. So I wasn’t particularly impressed with the accuracy.

I checked a couple of other things and didn’t find anything quite so obviously wrong. I would suggest that you should not depend on any single pricing site for your best deal but overall though Price Spider seemed to do a pretty good job.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Admittedly I am a cynic about the emails that request sending some ill person a card because they are trying to get into the Guinness book of records or some sort of thing. I got this email and checked Snopes because I assumed it was another hoax. Snopes stated that it was true. Since it is too sad for words, I will just insert the email as I received it. Please check other hoax sites if you have doubts about it’s authenticity but I don’t and I sent a card to a very sick little girl who wants to get a lot of Christmas cards.

Hannah's Christmas Wish

This is the true story of my 5-yr old 2nd cousin, Hannah Garman, who was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme, a rare and incurable brain tumor. She was going to be the flower girl in our wedding in May, but was diagnosed a week after we asked her to be the flower girl. This is especially sad because her mother died 2 yrs ago from breast cancer.

Right now she has lost most of her motor skills. She is confined to bed and cannot really do anything or play with the gifts she is getting from people, but she LOVES getting cards - she has gotten so many from people she does not know and just loves to have grandma read about the people who send them and see their pictures and is so proud of all her cards. Her room is just filled with cards.

When asked what she wants for Christmas she said she wants to see how many Christmas cards she can get. Many people have passed this wish along to their churches, prayer groups, friends and family. There are school groups where children are making her cards. People are including pictures so she can see who it is that is sending her the card.

If you would like to help with her wish, you can send a card to her at:
Hannah Garman
704 Orchard Rd
Lititz, PA 17543

Thanks! Let’s see if we can have the cards coming in big postal bags for her this Christmas.

Thank You

Happy Holidays

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Rescue Money Bonuses and the Financial Gluttons

Once upon a time in a land, not far from here, the evil financial Gluttons scammed the public to their hearts content with a constant plucking of the golden goose. One day they realized that they had plucked every feather from the golden goose and there were no more feathers to be had. Oh, what would they do? How could they fuel their private jets? What would become of professional sports if they couldn’t buy their privileged boxes? The economy would fail without their gluttonous spending.

One bright ogre suggested they go to the King and ask him to give them money from the treasury to enable them to continue their gluttony. The others scoffed, who would be that stupid, to give us gold without controlling how we spend it. The bright ogre said, “our parliament is that stupid.” The evil financial Gluttons looked at each other and said, “He’s right, they are that stupid, they will give us the money and not restrict our continued gluttony”.

And that Virginia, is why Santa Claus is bankrupt, people are losing their homes, the shirts off of their backs and the jobless rate is soaring. The evil financial Gluttons continue lining their golden pockets, reveling in their gluttony while feasting on the carcass of our main street economy.

Perhaps we can change the ending of this sordid tale if we all click our heels together and scream to our elected representatives, “prosecute every single soulless miscreant that uses taxpayer money to fund the bonuses of the economic Gluttons that put us in the financial toilet in the first place.”

A fitting punishment would be to strip them of their private jets, limousine and multiple homes and make them actually earn a living. Now that would be a fairy tale.

Please take the time to scream to your congressman or senator and continue to scream until they rein in the irresponsible use of our tax dollars.
This link will take you to a page with all of the email addresses. Congressional Email Addresses.

If you are too busy to write original ranting, please feel free to cut n paste what I sent to my congressional representatives.

It is incredibly irresponsible for our government to allow the “rescued” financial institutions to utilize taxpayer money for bonuses. This is particularly onerous with the unemployment rate rising and the average tax payer struggling to make ends meet. Please do something to restrict these financial gluttons.

Again, if enough of us shout out our disgust with our money being used to fuel gluttony, our government will hear us.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Bakugan Revisted and It’s Worse

Hosing kids is just wrong. That is what I feel is occurring with the Bakugan toys. Kids watch the TV show and they want them. In an economic climate of despair, a toy of limited “real” value with an exorbitant price just seems wrong. If you got some kind of value for your money perhaps I wouldn’t be so outraged but these things look to be worth a buck and they sell for way more. I researched one by request of my grandson and the best price I could find was $35.00. This is for a toy that looks like it should be found in Crackerjack boxes, remember the free toys in Crackerjack?

I am aware that you can just say NO to the purchase of the product and in a free economy the manufacturer is justified in selling their product for what ever exorbitant price they can get. It just frosts me that they can use these preteen infomercials to create a market, promote an erroneous perception of value by alluding to the collector value of the toy (yeah right) and instigate conflict over the purchase of these questionable toys. If you refuse to succumb to the pleas to purchase, you are a horrible parent and obviously don’t love your kid. In spite of some of these insidious toys being on my grandson’s Christmas list, he won’t be getting them from me. Lego’s are also expensive but at least you can justify the creative aspects and that fact that whatever your age, you can’t have too many Legos.

Short of banning TV, I don’t know what a parent can do to protect their kids against insidious marketing. All too many of the “cartoons” are simply infomercials. Somehow we have to teach the kids to recognize they’re being scammed. I don’t think the concept or the toy here is inherently bad, it is the method of selling and the outrageous pricing policies that disappoints me. Even toy manufacturers should take a look at the overall economy and price their products accordingly.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

An Elegant Fire Extinguisher

Are you looking for a Christmas gift that is unlikely to be duplicated? Give a fire extinguisher and be reasonably sure no one else will have give that gift. Fire extinguishers have traditionally been hidden in closets or mounted out of the way due to their bulky size and bright red color. Due to their inaccessibility fire extinguishers often aren’t used when needed. Home Hero has designed an elegant looking extinguisher that can sit unobtrusively on your kitchen counter. This is one of those things you hope to never need but having one close at hand could save you a world of grief. This was not a paid blog.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Digital Photo Frames Make Great Gifts!

Gear Head DPF100 Digital Photo Frame - 8-4DPF100

I love these digital frames. This is the best bang for the buck I have seen on one this season, $44.95 with free shipping. I put one up by the kitchen sink and I love seeing my kids and grandkids photos. The grandkids love to sit at the counter and point out themselves, Daddy and Mommy. If you are looking for a gift, this is a winner. This is not a paid blog and I have no financial relationship with buy.com except as a customer.

Manufacturer: Gear Head
Mfg Part#: 8-4DPF100
UPC: 00878260001132
Buy.com Sku: 206209157
Item#: E32VGL

Photos stored on PCs or on memory cards can now be shared with loved ones on this flawless Gear Head 8.4" digital photo frame. Memories are the greatest gifts.

The Gear Head 8.4" Digital Photo Frame Includes:
USB 2.0 Card Reader: This photo frame works as a USB 2.0 card reader when you plug it into your computer's USB port with a maximum transmission speed of 480Mbps.

Slideshow Photo Viewing: The Gear Head 8.4" photo frame is an innovative photo frame which allows you to display a constant scan of the photos on your memory card, providing a snapshot view of multiple images for hours of interest and enjoyment.

Computer Free Image Viewing: You no longer need a computer to view your digital images, simply insert your SD, MMC, MS, or CF flash media card to begin enjoying your photos or a friend's.
Slideshow Photo Viewing
Computer Free Image Viewing
USB 2.0 Card Reader
Horizontal or Vertical Positioning
Convenient Remote Control

Package Contents:

Digital Photo Frame 8.4" LCD
Remote Control
AC Power Adapter
USB Cable
User's Manual
Warranty Information
Tech Specs
Screen Dimensions 8.4 inches
Resolution 480x234
Brightness 300 cd/m2
Contrast 350:1
Photo File Format JPEG
Memory Card Formats SD, MMC, MS, or CF
Usage Options Manual, Remote Control, or Slideshow
Power Supply AC 100~240V DC12V
Operating Temperature -5c to +50c
Max Power Consumption 12w
Supported Operating Systems Windows 2000, XP, Vista, Mac OS 10.3 or above

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Space Is Not Infinite

Space is definitely not infinite in my computer. If nature abhors a vacuum, it also seems to abhor empty hard drives. Seems like hard drives fill up just like empty closets acquire hangers. There are many, many solutions to this problem. An obvious solution is to delete some of the crap on your hard drive. As elegant as that sounds, you would be amazed at how many folks brought their non-functioning computers in for service after they were just deleting some unnecessary files. Just a tip, if you aren’t familiar with the name of the file doesn’t mean your computer doesn’t need it.

Linksys has a pretty cool tool that can help the space crisis. It is the NAS200 network attached storage drive. It is an enclosure which will hold two SATA hard drives with two USB 2.0 ports for adding two more drive. It connects via Ethernet so you can hang it off your router and have it accessible to any of the computers on your net. Those of you without a network, it will be accessible through your computer’s Ethernet card or through the Ethernet port on your wide band router. It also includes backup software and can be used to store all those videos you have downloaded. I did a quick search on the web and found if for as low as $89.00. It is reputed to interface easily but I haven’t tried it myself. If you need accessible storage you may want to check this out. This was not a paid blog.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The T-Rex of Mail Boxes

If you by chance live in a rural area, you may find your mail box in a tangled heap on occasion. This is due to the retro habit of mail box baseball where the perpetrator leans out a window and waffles your mail box with a baseball bat. In our area we have had idiots with soda bottle bombs destroying mail boxes. The sad truth is that every generation has it’s idiots, one often wonders if there is an idiot gene, but I digress.

I don’t know if this mail box will defeat idiots but it will definitely help to decrease the idiocy. The thing is built like a tank. I particularly like the video on their web site (http://www.mailboss.net/) that shows a truck rolling over the mail boss box with out destroying it. So if you need the Fort Knox of mail boxes, this baby may be what you should get. I have no financial connection with Mail Boss and this was not a paid blog. This may or may not fit into tech tips but I thought it was a pretty darn cool mail box.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Free Audio Books

Exercise, you love it or hate it, there is so little middle of the road feelings on it. I like sports but at my age, my knees are not so fond of anything that involves running, jumping or going sideways. That limits my options somewhat. I play gold and no matter what your opinion my be, it is too a sport. I lift weights and I do Pilates to stay flexible. Frankly a big part of my motivation to exercise is I like to eat. Matter of fact, I love to eat. Thusly exercise is necessary to keep from turning into a blimp. What the heck does this have to do with free audio books?

I walk and I ride the exercise bike. I find both boring. Audio books are the saving grace. If I can keep my mind occupied, I can exercise. The library has lots of audio books but it isn’t close. I have found some sites where I can download audio books for FREE. I put them on my Clip (Samsung’s answer to the Ipod Nano. I can walk, ride the bike and still prevent screaming boredom. Audio books also keep me awake, with out them, put me on a freeway and I immediately go comatose. So here are a few links for free audio books.

Monday, December 1, 2008

World Aids Day, December 1, 2008

HIV is more dangerous than DDT or TNT. What makes those three initials so deadly. DDT has been banned and is pretty much an historic problem. TNT is available but not for the average person. Drugs, alcohol and unprotected sex is everywhere, anytime, anyplace you want to find it. Working with addicts in the 70’s was not as depressing as looking at the problem today. In the 70’s most every STD was curable. Getting stoned and stupid didn’t necessarily lead to a life of fear and medical treatment. Today you can change your life with one incident of stupidity. YOU CAN CHANGE YOUR LIFE!, and NOT in a good way either!

Preaching seldom reaches teens or young adults. Surprising to many adults, rational explanations and a discussion of consequences will be more successful in deterring life threatening behavior. If you are too drunk or wrecked to make rational decisions there is a strong likelihood that you may become prey. Yes Virginia, there are predators out there. They may not look like thugs or monsters but if they give you AIDS does it matter what their appearance might be.

Be aware, your behavior has consequences. Those consequence can go far beyond unwanted pregnancies or next day regrets, they can change the rest of your life and not in a good way. Think before you drink! (or smoke, or shoot up or pop or sniff, or snort or lick or what ever you do) I’ve seen too many people ruin their life while in an altered mental state, PLEASE don’t be another one.

Watch the video, it is thought provoking. Just because it was put out by NIDA doesn’t mean it is propaganda or bad. Even the government gets some things right. This video is put out by The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), which is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the principal biomedical and behavioral research agency of the United States Government. NIH is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Canon Plain Paper Photos Printer

Up until now if you wanted an all in one printer you had to settle for mediocre photos. If you wanted good photos you had to use photo paper. Well, the Canon MX7600 all-in-one will print very good quality with 4800 x 1200 resolution on plain paper, yep, plain paper. Photo paper is expensive. Printing on plain paper can save you some serious bucks. This is a 5 color cartridge system with separate cartridges for each color. If one color runs out, replace it not an expensive three or four color cartridge. The trick is a sixth cartridge with clear ink which treats the paper and allows the color pigment ink to produce good photos. The printer lists for $399.00 but I found it at NewEgg for $299.00 including shipping. B&H photo offers it at $268.00 plus $31.00 shipping so they can get low price in the search engines. I prefer up front honesty such as New Egg. If you need an all in one printer and want decent photos, take a look at this printer. If you are just looking for photos, you still get better photos on other printers but you still need photo paper. Get all the specs on the MX7600 at the Canon Site.

Shameless Self Promotion

I Like To Whine by William G. Bentrim is now available for purchase at Blurb.
Personally, I probably whine too much but this is my book for kids on whining and it’s consequences. It is my first attempt at selling a book. I have books I give away at http://www.bentrim.info/ under free books. A long time desire to actually publish something is the motivating factor on putting I Like to Whine on Blurb. If nothing else check it out and let me know what you think. Of course, if you want to buy a copy, WHOOHOO!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Give Thanks

Read some blogs from other countries and give thanks you don’t live there. It takes no courage on my part to write what I think or feel. I am able to express opinions on my government or church with no concern for reprisals. There are folks in other nations that express their opinions and get beaten, have their homes torched or suffer even worse fates. Give thanks that in the gold old US of A we can freely express our thoughts, verbally, on paper or on the net.

Give thanks that you have the mind and the computer to even read this missive.

Give thanks if you are fortunate enough to spend the day with family and folks you love.

Give thanks for the many small blessings that fall into your lap each day.

Give thanks for children, for they truly are our future.

Happy Thanksgiving Day!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Is Your Web Purchase Going to be Skunked?

You read my blogs, you follow my advice about finding sites that compare products and prices. You can’t find the product you want at a price you are willing to pay locally. On the web you find a really good price on that product. How do you know if that site is reliable? How do you know if that web site is honest? There are sites that will help you to determine if you are looking at a good place to buy or if you are setting yourself up to be thoroughly skunked.

My favorite site to check an online reseller is Reseller Ratings. Not only do they have an easy to understand rating system, they have end user reviews. They also note if a site actively responds to customer concerns.

The Safe Shopping network doesn’t rate a site on whether it is a quality site but it does rate on safety of using the site and ease of use of the site. Frankly I don’t find it terribly useful.

Reseller Ratings is the best site I have found to get the real skinny on an online reseller.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Gang Membership Saves Money on Car Rentals

I am a member of AARP, a gang for old folks. As a gang, we have colors red, white and blue. We have our “do-rags”, AARP ball caps. We also have our club houses, the local senior centers. Somewhat like your street gangs that offer protection to their members, AARP also offers protection. Of course, AARP does not justify their existence with violence or guns. Instead, AARP offers benefits.

There has to be some compensation for aging. It sure isn’t the bum knees, the tricky back or the balding head, in this case it is the AARP benefits. I recently re-upped with my AARP dues. It was $39.95 for 5 years. Shortly thereafter I needed to rent a car for several weeks. I did my due diligence and went to all the sites that claim to save you money on car rental. I even went to Bill Shatner’s site, Priceline. Not one of those sites had a price even close to what I got through the AARP site. Even Captain Kirk’s “name your own price” site failed dismally to compete with the AARP site. How much did I save? I saved over $100.00 on a 2 ½ week rental. Now subtracting my gang dues from my rental savings, I netted a cool 60+ bucks even if I don’t get another single benefit for the next 5 years that my dues payment covered. So if you are over 50 and want to save some money, join AARP. Incidentally when I first got my invitation to join AARP I was appalled, grossly dismayed, totally bummed out to think I was old. Well you are as old as you feel but you can save a few bucks by taking advantage of that age.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Product Comparisons Save You Money

Some folks decide to get a new TV and go out and buy it. Others, like me, research it ad nauseum. I hate buying stuff if I don’t know all the particulars. One of the beauties of the web is finding sites that make it easier and cheaper to shop. Product reviews help immensely in making decisions. ConsumerSearch.com is a site that provides reviews and analyzes comments from experts. They evaluate and research and claim they are independent. They admit they do get some revenue from retailers but claim they are still independent. The add about 10 new reports each month.

Another site I like is PriceGrabber.com. PriceGrabber seems to have a pretty good cross section of products and vendors. They are a good place to find a low price and even have fairly good product descriptions.

Wize.com is another site that you can search products for different attributes and uses. It provides reviews by end users. Reviews by end users can be of limited utility.

BestBuys.com is similar in nature. It allows you to search products by price range and do comparisons. It will also suggest a place to buy it and claims that place has the best buy.

Keep in mind that all of these sites provide information that may be biased but you are better armed knowing the information they provide. Many of the best prices are on web sites. How comfortable you are in purchasing from a web site will have some impact on their information. Knowing at what price a product is available can be a tool in dealing with a local retailer. I personally prefer dealing with a local retailer if possible. Keep in mind they probably won’t be as cheap as what you can find on the web but they are convenient, you don’t have shipping charges and if there are issues, you have local recourse.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A Voice of the Retired, Labels Don’t Fit.

Growing up in a small steel town we had a lot of labels for people. Propriety today prevents me from even putting them in print. We had the Lithuanian Club, The Eagles, The Moose, The SOI, The Elks, The Odd Fellows, The Saxon Club, The German Club, The Masons, The Knights of Columbus and I am sure some that I wasn’t even aware existed. Our parents often used the labels with disdain, such as non-union. As kids we didn’t take them as seriously but in the heat of action, such as a fight behind the 5&10, they often came out.

I think a good education helped me to divest a great deal of my need for labeling. Getting to know the people behind the labels was a sure fire way to dissuade using a label in a derogatory manner.

So now having retired I am struggling with labels again. Retired means old. I may be retired but in no way do I think of myself as old. Retired means unemployed to me, not old.

Senior, to me, still means of high school. Somehow I have difficulty ascribing that term to myself. Age wise I may qualify but mentally, not a chance. It may be genetic. When my 93 year old mother was rehabbing with her new hip she declined to eat in the dining room because she didn’t want to hang out with those “old” people. I would guess that she was the oldest person on her floor by at least 10 years.

World Series

Look at what “old” means in the sports arena. How many times during the World Series did you hear Jamie Moyer referred to as “old”. Look at Brett Favre, I don’t care what you think of him, calling him old seems ludicrous.

So for those of you who wish to pigeon hole us geriatricly challenged folks as incompetent or technophobes, look at your peers. You may find just as many people in your age group, that exhibit the behavior you are ascribing to us. So keep in mind that if you want your voice to be heard, you may want to listen to the voices of others, regardless of age and you may want to avoid labeling.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Movie Management

I guess there are folks out there with more time on their hands than I have and I’m retired. My favorite TV shows are Two and Half Men, Chuck, Boston Legal and the jury is still out on Amanda Tapping’s new show, Sanctuary. Once I have them on my TIVO I have a heck of a time, just keeping up with them. I am aware there are lots of movies On Demand on Comcast. We have started many of them and have actually found two we enjoyed. Now if you eliminate sports, I’m watching the Steelers as I write this, you might have more viewing time available. If so you may want to watch movies. How do you get your movies?

Well my buddies at Diamond Case Design have the most complete and intelligent overview I have found on how to get movies to your home. Note I do not say to your home entertainment center as DCD does because many of us do not have a “home entertainment center”. Someday when my tube tv’s die I will replace them, in the meantime if I have to see High Def I will visit one of my kids. As usual I digress. Here is a link to Diamond Case Designs excellent overview on how to get movies. You would think with all the times I link to these guys I would get more than a ball cap. A nice home entertainment center would be really cool. (hint, hint) I do not get any reimbursement from Diamond Case Designs (unless the ball cap counts).

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veterans Day

I don’t care how you feel about our current wars. I don’t care if you hate or love war. I do care if you honor our Veterans. Regardless of your political position, our Veterans have protected your right to have a position. Our Veterans have faced things most of us can not or will not imagine. These are people who have put their money where their mouth is, their life on the line. Please take a moment today and thank whatever deity you believe in for the sacrifices our Veterans have made for us and our country. If you know a Vet, thank them. If you are a Veteran, Thank You!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Refugee, Its Not Just A Word

We rudely discovered after our own Katrina disaster that refugees is not just a word. Today, Bloggers Unite are blogging about refugees. First, you don’t want to be one. Imagine losing your home, running in fear, watching your family disappear, too horrific to contemplate? Thousands of people daily go through those emotions, not just victims of genocide, but victims of natural disasters as well as political incompetence.

Bloggers Unite

If blogging about an international problem can jump start some caring, then let’s blog away. Take some time, click on some of these links, maybe you will discover that Refugee isn’t just a word.

UK Refugee Services

Lutheran Refugee Services

Aotearoa-New Zealand Refugee Services

United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrant Children

Church World Service Immigrant & Refugee Program

Women's Commission for Refugee Women & Children

Additional Links/Resources




Saturday, November 8, 2008

Email Overload

How many emails have you gotten today? Justifiable email is reaching choke proportions, let alone the spam avalanche of sexual enhancement, financial security, help me get my millions out of Nigeria and more. Buried alive isn’t just a Halloween concern, it is a day to day experience with email.

How to solve the dilemma has occupied a great deal of web space. I use Mail Washer Pro to screen for spam. It grabs all my email before it gets to Outlook. It works fairly well but does lock up about every other week, never had figured out why. It identifies spam with it’s own database, I still do a fast rundown before I process the email which removes the spam. Firetrust which makes MailWasher Pro has a free version as well. I have included the link but as I write this, I am unable to get any Firetrust site links to open. Cnet downloads and other MailWasher downloads are available and working, I don’t know what is up with the Firetrust site.

Xobni is currently a free program which will allow you to more thoroughly search and use Outlook. It is an Outlook plug in and Xobni is offering the beta version free for use in hopes that when they release the final, full bells and whistles version that you will purchase it. I have downloaded it and am going to see how well it works. I’ll let you know.

If you use Outlook and what is in it is important to you, check to see if your automatic backup is working. I noticed that even though Outlook says it automatically backs up when you exit, it doesn’t really do it on all occasions. It does do it when I shut down my system but I leave my system on days at a time. You can export your inbox to a file, actually several different types of files. In Outlook, click on file then backup to see the date of your last backup. If it is not recent, do an export just for safety’s sake.

In spite of all it’s shortcomings, I feel email is a very good thing. It brings a lot of crap but it also allows easy cross generational communication. I get great emails from my grand nieces and I know they would never call or write a snail mail letter. I regularly email old friends who I never snail mailed or called. I get daily emails from other family members. In short, email rocks regardless of it’s problems.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Naked Controversy of the Closed Contest

I have noticed a lot of blogs have contests to increase their readership. Since this is a tech blog, I thought if I had a contest I should have a techie prize. Now I am aware that a Tripplite Circuit Tester is only worth $10.00-$15.00, in spite of that, I thought it would provide a modicum of incentive for increased comments on the blog. As in many things, I was wrong. The only comment I got was on the blog bemoaning the fact that no one was commenting. Since that was the only comment I got during the week, that kind hearted soul is the winner of the Tripplite Circuit Tester. Greg at Pittrehab, YOU ARE THE WINNER! The Tripplite Circuit Tester is on the way. Thank you for your comment.

In regard to generate more traffic and contests, my guess is bigger, better prizes might help. More interesting or perhaps more controversial blogging most definitely will help. As a retired dude, bigger, better prizes don’t fit the budget. More interesting is based on the beholder; I’m writing it and wouldn’t be doing so if I didn’t find what I was writing about interesting. Therefore I am only going to attract a very small but elite readership that recognizes the true brilliance of my thoughts. (I’m going to keep repeating that to myself until I believe it.)

As far as more controversial:
I believe women are equal to men and should be accorded the respect and remuneration they deserve.

I believe many of my male peers really are pigs and have difficulty accepting that barefoot and pregnant is not the natural state of the opposite sex.

I believe Americans have the right, perhaps even the duty, to react with deadly force if someone invades their home.

I think dropping the Edsel model was a mistake.

I think guys with full heads of hair at sixty are sissies; bald is obviously much more masculine.

I don’t think a small smack on the butt of a “terrible two” is going to maim him for life, nor do I believe it is child abuse.

I think too many parents are preoccupied with career and financial success and not enough parenting.

I think too many children’s sports coaches have their own shortcomings and egos wrapped up in their coaching and not enough willingness to teach the sport not just the win.

I believe that many of the younger generation have learned from our mistakes and are working diligently not to repeat them.

There, surely someone can find some controversy in all that drivel. So I will continue to be happy writing what I enjoy and be satisfied that my page rank will probably never go up. If you aren’t doing what you enjoy, why are you doing it?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween, What’s Truly Scary!

You know what is incredibly scary, truly frightening, sweaty palm, shortness of breath terrifying? The number of people who have bitched and moaned about what is going on in the world who won’t pick their butt up out of their Barcalounger and get out and vote. The voting age population for the last presidential election (United States Election Project for Nov. 2004) was 221,256,931. The estimated number of voters in the 2004 election who actually voted was 122,294,978. This is just shy of 100,000,000 people who were too damn lazy to cast a ballot.

The homily that you get what you deserve seems to be appropriate for our nation. All our citizens have the franchise. Our women can vote. Our people of color can vote. Our religious preference has no impact on our right to vote. There are many places in the world where that just isn’t true.

I was lucky enough to be the Director of Kids Voting for Southeast Pennsylvania in the 2006 election. I was astounded at the willingness to work of my 1,400 plus volunteers on Election Day, of the hundreds of teachers who supported the program and of the more than 16,000 students who cast ballots. We don’t have to be apathetic.

Hope is a big word, only four letters but a gihugeic word regardless. I hope and I hope you hope that we, as a nation, get out and vote. If we don’t, again we will get what we deserve. I don’t care if you don’t like either candidate, get off your keester and VOTE on Tuesday. Otherwise Halloween won’t be the scariest thing you have to deal with in the next year.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Grand Theft Auto is NOT Suitable for Kids

The October issue of Wired magazine had a letter to Mr. Know-it-all from a father wanting to know if he should let his 10 year old son dress for Halloween as the main sleazeball character in Grand Theft Auto IV. Mr. Know-it not so much thinks he may send mixed messages to the poor brain damaged kid if he disapproves of him dressing like his sleazy character but lets him play the game.

Mixed messages? This guy isn’t sending mixed messages, he is shouting loud and clear that he can give a damn about the emotional well being of his kid. Scream all you want Grand Theft Auto fans, kids shouldn’t be playing it. Kids do not have the experience or resilience to be exposed to the unsavory themes of this distributing game.

Parents, it is ok to say NO! No matter how much they whine, complain, claim ALL their friends play it (maybe new friends are needed) you still can say NO! Parents have a responsibility to provide a wholesome as possible environment for children. Let college corrupt their behavior, that’s why you will be paying the big bucks. Parents, computers are not a substitute for oversight and common sense. Just because something is on the computer doesn’t mean it isn’t harmful. Would you take your 10 year old to an X rated movie? If so, commit yourself to the nearest institution before you screw up somebody else. If you wouldn’t take a child to a sleazy movie, why let them immerse themselves in a sleazy game hour after hour permeating their unformed personalities with grossly bad behavior. This isn’t Pacman or Tom & Jerry, this is thugs go wild.

Computer games have ratings, check out what your kid is spending so much time playing and make sure you aren’t abandoning your parental responsibilities.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Connect Your Computer to Your TV

You ever want to hook your computer up to your TV? If you have a Tivo and a network it is a piece of cake. Download the Tivo server software onto your computer and you can then see all your graphics files and music files on the Tivo. This is particularly good for showing off your digital photos on a much bigger screen. Conversely, you can save Tivo shows on your computer hard drive and if you want, you can burn them to DVDs. However this does require a Tivo or similar DVR. If you have no Tivo and you want to:
n View your digital photos on your large screen TVs
n Listen to your music through your home stereo system
n View videos stuck on your hard drive on your big screen
n Do basic web surfing in your living room or TV room
n Show off presentations to family, friends, or co-workers.
Our friends at Diamond Case Designs have a very good article in their Home Theater Information Center that gives step by step instructions in “HOW TO” connect your PC and TV. Again, we have no financial interest in Diamond Case Designs but we do recognize their expertise and they are kind enough to send us their newsletter so we find out all these cool Home Theater tips.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


With all due respect to the Rays and their fans,


Ego Shattered, the Naked Soul Shriveled, Dumb Contest

In the immortal words of Pink Floyd, “Is there anybody out there?”
As contests go, this is a bust so far. Not one comment this week, butkus, zip, zero. NO WINNER. It seemed simple enough, comment on one of my blogs and be entered, the more comments on more blogs the more entries. Alas I have stooped to add the sure fire key word, naked, to the title to see if anyone reads this particular post. It is possible that my prize of a Tripplite Circuit Tester is insufficiently attractive to get someone to read my driveling prose. On the other hand, since this is a geek focused blog, why wouldn’t you want a circuit tester unless, of course, you are sufficiently geeky that you already have one.

I guess I should be thankful that I have the occasional reader who accidentally stumbles into the twilight zone of my half-witty rending. If my satisfying self expression is predicated on readership I am doomed to a pathetic page rank. However if satisfying self expression is just the act itself of self expression then I find myself satisfied. Voyeur readership is better than no readers whatsoever. So thank you for reading, if no comments are forthcoming, so be it, I get to keep the four Tripplite Circuit Testers for my self, and what self respecting geek ever has enough cool gadgets, I shall remain comfortably numb.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Hard Drive Crashes, Man Jumps Off Roof!

Has this happened to you? Has your computer hard drive ever taken a nose dive into oblivion? Don’t despair there is hope.

If you have had a computer for any length of time, you probably have had a hard drive failure. In and of itself a hard drive failure isn’t necessarily horrible if you have a good backup. However that is a seriously big IF! Most people intend to do backups, some think they do backups but very few actually do backups. So what if your hard drive crashes and you have no backup?

The other night a friend approached me at my favorite watering hole and told me that her hard drive had died. She was practically distraught in that all of her family photos were on that drive and she had no backup. I pulled out my key chain and read a name and phone number off of my led flashlight. The company I recommended was Drive Savers. Why do you recommend things or services? I make recommendations based on my experiences, sometimes on reviews but most comfortably based on my experiences.

Drive Savers is a hard drive recovery firm. I had a computer business for over 25 years and trust me, we saw a lot of dead hard drives and distraught, un-backed up users. The only company that I found that consistently came through on data recovery is Drive Savers. I have had no contact with them since I sold my computer business but I emailed them to tell them I had given out their name off of the led flashlight they had given me as a marketing tool.

I got a call based on my email and they asked me if I wanted to be an affiliate again. Since I do consulting I do run across folks who have difficulties so I decided to jump on board again. So you will find a banner for Drive Savers on my sidebar. Why?, because based on my experience Drive Savers is the best data recovery firm, period.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

If you want change, then Vote!

This is the best attention getting, non-partisan ad for encouraging the vote I have ever seen. Feel in your name and watch the video.

AARP 08 Video
Enter your name to see who can bring real change to Washington.
First Name:
Last Name:

Win A FREE Tripplite Circuit Tester Contest

Just For Making Comments
I will give away one Tripplite Circuit Tester each week for the next four weeks to whoever posts the most comments on my blog. Please don’t comment successively, if there are two in a row by the same person, it will only count as one. I will keep track of the comments for each week and announce each week’s winner here. Cut off time for comments for each week will be noon on Sunday. I will be counting comments on Sunday October 26, Sunday November 2, 9 and 16.

AC Circuit Tester, 3 prong, brand NEW Brand New Tripplite Brand AC Outlet Tester A must have for every toolbox and desk drawer. I gave one of these to every one of my technicians when I was in the computer business. Many computer and consumer electronic issues are from "bad" power. This tester shows by means of three colored lights whether there is: an Open Ground--Open Neutral---Open Hot--- Hot/Grnd Reverse--- Hot/Neutral Reverse or a Correctly Wired Outlet. Avoid ELECTRICAL Outlet problems, TEST those Outlets. This product should not be used to replace the services of a qualified electrician.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

How much computer security do you need?

Wired magazine has an article in the October edition that addresses that question. Security is big business. Look at Norton and McAfee, they get you with a fee each and every year. Every week you hear of some data base that has been compromised. Keep in mind that your home computer has little likelihood to be the target of the more talented hackers. Even those of us who have or had small businesses are not that attractive to the hackers. High volume shysters have been targeting gas stations with their parasitic card readers because that is where there is some serious money. Look at how many credit cards they can get in one day with minimal work so it stands to reason getting your credit card information off of your home computer is not going to be high on the agenda of the average cyber creep.

This is not to suggest that you should do nothing to protect your computers. You should have a good antivirus software package installed and a spyware destroyer or two. Most importantly you should make sure they are updated and working. Encryption software, encrypted hard drives, biometrics are all costly, effective but costly security devices. Most happy homeowners and small businesses really don’t need that level of security.

AVAST is a very good, free antivirus software package, click on the name to download it. I used to recommend AVG but they have had updating issues for several months now and frankly that drove me to AVAST which has been very unobtrusive and updates transparently.

Ad-Aware Free is free to home and personal computer users. It does a nice job on spyware and crap removal. Spybot-S&D is my other spyware program. The two programs don’t always play nicely. Ad-Aware may find some of the Spybot backup files and complain about them but otherwise they get along ok.

Periodically I go to the Trend Micro’s or Comodo's free online scan to check up on AVAST. I do have the security enabled on both of my routers.

Check out my post on Free Software-Free Protection on September 30 for more software suggestions.

Bottom line is that you can spend a fortune on security for your computer, it won’t hurt you (may slow down your pc) but it probably isn’t worth what you pay for most users.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A Bit of a New Look or Some More Change

Looking at my blog, I decided that it has become cluttered with attempts to generate some miscellaneous income. My Amazon Store, my CafePress store, my Zazzle store all get some interest but seem like they detract from the blog itself. Thusly I have put all of those commercial ventures on my web site with links from my blogs to them. If someone wants to buy one of my "oh, so chic" t-shirts, a book or something from Amazon, it will now take two clicks to get there, one to get to my web site and one to get to the store. If someone really wants to buy something, I think two clicks are not a deterrent. If they don't then the presence of those commercial items on the web site may have deterred them from coming back.

Life is nothing but change. Alvin Toffler's book Future Shock suggested that we (his readers) would have difficulty changing with the accelerated pace of today's world. Change has gone from arithmetic to geometric.

I think all of us are capable of change. My 93 year old mother begrudgingly accepted the use of a walker. She wasn't happy about it, but it beats the heck out of falling and not having mobility. If she can handle change so can the rest of us.

Stock market be damned! Keep faith in yourself and those around you. We can handle change and who knows maybe we will end up being better off.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

LG Dare Cell Phone—I love it!

You may have seen my semi-rant posts on my Samsung FlipShot. The main reason I got the phone was the camera which turned out to be iffy at best. The killing factor on the phone was it’s refusal to accept incoming calls about 80% of the time. It would send the calls to voice mail before I could get the darn thing open. Made me crazy.(crazier probably) After nearly a year of complaining to Verizon and one replacement of the phone for the same model, Verizon came through and said they would replace the phone for me with a different model. (In fairness to Verizon, their customer support people were always friendly, courteous and very pleasant to deal with under trying circumstances.)

My replacement was the LG Dare. It has a better camera and it really does a nice job with the photos. The Touch Screen is terrific. It has tactile feedback which lets you know it really did feel your command. (I go all the way back to the original HP PC touch screens in the mid 80’s which were cool but you never knew for sure if your touch was registered.)

There is a standard headphone jack which would seem to be a no brainer but first phone I have had that has one. I hooked up my pc stereo speakers to my phone and was knocked over by how good the music sounded.

It was a piece of cake moving the photos off of the phone to my pc and moving mp3s over to the phone. LG included the cable to connect to the usb port of the computer which was a $20.00 extra from Samsung.

A good review of the phone is at Cnet.
There is also a video of the phone at YouTube.

Overall, I LOVE THIS PHONE! It actually accepts calls and gives me time to answer them. Data, music and photos transfer easily. The photos are terrific.
The specs are below, if you don’t want an iPhone then look at this baby because it is SWEET.

Manufacturer:LG Electronics U.S.A. Part Number:DARELGBLKVZW General
Cellular technology CDMA2000 1X Band / mode CDMA2000 1X 1900/800 Weight 3.76 oz Wireless Interface Bluetooth (A2DP) Combined with With digital camera / digital player Phone

Service provider Verizon
Wireless Vibrating Alert Yes
Voice Recorder Yes
Speakerphone Yes
Polyphonic Ringer Yes
Alarm Clock Yes
Calendar Yes
Additional Features Handwriting recognition,

Touch-screen Digital Camera Camera highlights With a resolution of 3.2 megapixels, this camera phone will give you better pictures than other phones. Still image resolution 640 x 480 Messaging

Data Services
Voice Mail Capability Yes
Short Messaging Service (SMS) Yes
Internet Browser Yes
Messaging / Data Features Text messages 3G Services / Included Services VCAST, VZ Navigator Digital Player / Recorder

Digital player supported digital audio standards MP3, AAC Digital player/recorder type Digital player Display
Display Type LCD display
Display technology TFT Display Resolution 240 x 400 pixels Color Support Color Color Depth 18-bit (262000 Colors) Power
Talk time Up to 280 min
Audible Battery Alert Yes
Cellular Phone style Candy bar Automatic Redial Yes
Call Divert Yes
Call Barring Yes
Call Timer Yes
Caller ID Yes
Call Waiting Yes
Volume Control Yes
Ringer Control Yes
Conference Call Capability Yes
Computer Link Yes
Physical Characteristics
Height 4.1 in Antenna Integrated Warranty
Service & support type 1 year limited warranty

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Panic or Greed Both Are Self Centered, Self-Fulfilling and Self Destructive

We live in the greatest nation in the world. I look at blogs in other countries where the blogger is in danger from his government for what he is writing. We have the freedom to express ourselves in so many ways.

At the moment we have a sizable portion of our nation trying diligently to destroy it. It is difficult to say whether panic or greed is fueling the current Wall Street nose dive. Greed obviously fed the conditions that led to our current financial crisis. Even the “rescue” couldn’t avoid the Washington game as usual pork.

It appears that a great many people can not see the benefit of our society and what it can be. Grabbing what they can, forcing down the market by selling to get theirs before it gets worse and fulfilling their own fears. It may be greed and it may be just sheer panic that the sky is falling and I better grab my chunk before it is gone. I don’t know the motivation; all I know is that the financial institutions that lead the panic and the poor suckers like me who watch their retirement swirling down the toilet are in the same sinking boat.

The damn boat is sinking because we refuse to have faith in our own country, our own people and our own destiny. I am not talking about believing in the lying, self serving weasels in Washington who let the greed ridden, golden parachuted CEO’s rape the financial institutions. I am not talking about having faith in our grand corporate edifices that reward failure at the top and lay off and penalize the bottom that does the actual work. I am talking about having faith that the average American still puts in an honest day for an honest dollar. I am talking about having faith in the small businesses of this nation that employ more people and do more good than those corrupt, grandiose, blue chip engines of corporate greed.

The big guys are only looking for how they can squeeze the last dime out of your widowed mother’s pension, they are not looking at the destruction they are doing to our nation and the world. As long as they get theirs, who cares about the rest of us?

We must care about ourselves. Have faith that we can survive this financial debacle. Stop running in panic and selling our stocks, driving down the market and fulfilling the over paid pundits predictions.

Just stop, take a breath, if you don’t sell it, you aren’t going to lose money on it. Historically our economy is strong. Historically the market will recover. We will be ok, our pensions will be there. Our retirement will occur. We just have to stop panicking. Withdrawing your money due to fear, selling your stocks due to fear just allows the vultures in the wings to pick up your investments for a dime on the dollar. The jackals will survive and flourish unless we curb our panic and face this financial crisis with common sense.

We, as a people, try our best to do good, to help others, to respond with aid to crisis here and abroad. We can not allow the greed and panic of a few to force us into a spiral of despair. Shelve that panic, you greedy fools stop your predatory practices, when you eat the seed corn you have no crops. When you destroy the economy and drag the world into a depression, you will have no safe place to spend your ill gotten gains. Buck up America, we aren’t wimps, we can survive this with common sense and a calm mind and faith in our great nation.

Donuts—The Perfect Food

First, the donut is the perfect diet food, it is well rounded and most importantly it has the zero calorie center. The symbolism of the donut is obvious, being one with the world and the evoked sadness due to the emptiness often found in many people's center. Man does not live by health alone, an occasional dip into dietary decadence is good for raising the spirit. If nothing else, donut lovers are emphatically expressing their support for law and order and the stereotypical donut devourer.

Wired magazine had an article about how to increase views of your site. One of their tips was to write about stuff in which you have strong expertise. In other words, something you are an expert on!

I humbly feel that I can claim a high level of expertise on Donuts. My earliest food memories feature donuts. I have fond memories of May’s Donuts Shop in New Castle, PA. They had wonderful filled donuts. Their lemon filled donut always had a tart flavor offset by the liberal use of powdered sugar. The jelly donuts were sweet but never overwhelming.

The First Street Bakery had exceptional glazed donuts. Ideally you went to the bakery late at night and had them drop the donuts off of the dripping/drying rod, right into your bag. Not to brag but those were the days you could eat a dozen donuts on your walk home from the high school dance and not gain a single ounce.

Publix in Naples produce a consistently good maple glazed donut. It is truly an epicurean delight. Their maple iced cake donut is also good. They have a glazed croissant that is wonderful but is inappropriate for this venue.

Ronnie’s on rt.278 in Hilton Head has a good donut. However since they have changed hands, the quality has dropped.

Factory donuts such as Crispy Creams, do not hold a candle to the small local donut shops. Grocery store boxed donuts should never be mentioned in the same breath as real donuts. However some groceries do produce a quite edible donut in house. Genuardi’s puts out a good solid, cruller like glazed and iced cake donut. Their traditional glazed donut is nothing to brag about. They do periodically have a glazed cruller that is exceptional even if it isn’t circular or have a hole. Giant used to have a good sour cream cruller which I haven’t seen lately but they also had a good cream donut.

Dunkin Donuts are ok, I think their coconut and butternut are their strong points. Surprisingly, YumYum puts out a pretty darn good and consistent donut. They have a fired, cake, glazed jelly stick that is simply delicious and their buttermilk crullers are at the top of the donut chain.

Alas donuts have gotten a bad rap the last few years. Dieticians seem to have no soul regarding donuts. I did run across a scientist on the Good Morning America site that provided some suppositions on why some of us, who aren’t in law enforcement, are so passionate about our donuts. The link is below.


Please comment as to where you have found the best donuts. The sharing of good donut sources is sadly lacking. Happy eating!

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Shipping Charge Scam

Basically if I go to a site and find what I want at a price I feel is fair I tend to buy it unless they hide the shipping charges. Hidden shipping charges drive me and I suspect drive an enormous number of people away from a site. Show the shipping charges before your customer is expected to put in their information and you will retain more customers.

How dumb does the vendor assume we are when they want all the information, including credit card, before they kindly let us know their shipping charges are outrageous. Why else would you hide your shipping charges? Buyer beware is even more important on the Web than ever before.

If a site doesn’t give you the shipping charges prior to collecting your information, GO SOMEWHERE ELSE! If we all boycott the sites that think they can play bait and switch with shipping charges hidden, maybe they will wise up and give the consumer some credit. The $6.99 item including shipping is a much better deal than the $4.99 item with the hidden (until you check out) shipping charge of $9.99.

Don’t let inertia prevent you from going to another site and finding the real price up front, boycott the hidden shipping charge sites.

Friday, October 3, 2008

3D Printing Follow Up

I got a comment from Joris of Shapeways after my blog on 3D printing. He apparently works at Shapeways. I checked out their site. This photo is off of their site. Pretty cool stuff can be done there. If you have interest in 3D printing but don’t have the budget to go out and buy your own equipment, this is the site to visit. You can upload your designs and have them created. It seems like the perfect opportunity to see if you do want to get involved in 3D printing. Mudge said in his comment on the article, science fiction at work, I have to agree, too cool to believe. Shapeways also has a blog. Lots of interesting stuff on their blog too. No, this is not a sponsored review, just darn interesting stuff.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Ok, we all love FREE, if you are reading my blog, you know how often I like to put FREE in my blogs, ‘cause WE ALL LOVE FREE.

Well, this time it is the jackpot, FREE & USEFUL!

Comodo may be one of those companies you have never heard of and now you will wish you had. They offer a wealth of free software that focuses on security. Their catch phrase is the Trusted Internet. Basically what they want is to increase trust in use of the Internet and the businesses that operate on the Internet. They do have products they sell (hey they are a business) but they want to facilitate the Trusted Internet concept by providing software tools to protect computers. If people feel their computers are protected they are more likely to use the Internet and Internet businesses, thusly the Trusted Internet. If more people trust the Internet and use Internet businesses, Comodo will sell more of their products and make more money and therefore will be able to support all of their FREE software.

Get this they have ten (10!) FREE applications you can download. Perhaps more importantly they have very good overviews of what you are getting and a wealth of FAQ to support each product.

The ten applications are:
Comodo Firewall Pro
Comodo Memory Firewall
Comodo Verification Engine
Comodo iVault
Comodo AntiSpam
Comodo SecureEmail
Comodo AntiVirus
Comodo BoClean
Comodo Backup
Comodo Registry Cleaner
And as an added bonus Comodo AV Scanner which is not a download, it scans your computer from the Internet.

I did some research on Comodo and found they are a big wheel in the Certificate business. I read some reviews of the products and found some big time positive reviews. I also read that some of the software, in some cases, is perceived as too good. The Firewall got some criticism for intrusiveness. I guess there may be some folks who don’t understand that firewalls are designed to protect and may be intrusive. Overall, I suggest you go to their site Comodo, check out the software, see what you can use and try it for FREE!

3D Printing—Way, Way Cool

You may not be familiar with the term 3D printing but I bet you remember the replicator from Star Trek. Well kiddies, it is no longer just science fiction. Replication exists! Analog Science Fiction and Fact had a great article in the November 2008 edition called: “The 3D Train Wreck”. Thomas A. Easton, the author gave a great overview of the future of 3D printing.

Simplistically, take your 3 dimensional CAD drawing and print it out on a laser printer that will print layers with some type of raw material. Each layer is adhered to the previous layer until you have a full three dimensional finished product. There are a variety of existing technologies that are doing this right now. Rapid-prototyping in industry is the biggest market right at the moment.

Consider how incredibly convenient it would be to fabricate or replicate things right at home. My Polaris pool sweep needed a part yesterday. The part is unavailable, without the part the sweep doesn’t work. The alternative was to buy a new sweep for $500.00. If I had a 3D printer, I could have paid to download the schematic for the part, replicated it and been done for a lot less than $500.00.

Yeah, but this stuff is still way out there, no, not exactly. Idea lab is taking orders now for the Desktop Factory for $4,995.00. It fabricates composite plastic powder fused by a halogen light source. The volume of the initial products will be restricted to 5”x5”x5”. The Desktop Factory 3D printer is about the same size as early laser printers with the initial product measuring about 25 x 20 x 20 inches and weighing less than 90 lbs. That is just about the same size as my first HP LaserJet. The price sounds like a lot of bucks but remember what a desktop computer cost just 10 years ago, let alone 20 years ago. Demand and competition will drive the prices down and as the volume of sales increase.

Fab @ Home is a site dedicated to the promotion and development of fabbers, machines that can make almost anything right on your desktop. Much like the early computers, you can build your own fabricator. YouTube has a good video on the home built fabber.

Early home users will be geeks, just like the early computer users. As the industry and products mature, we will all jump on the bandwagon. The home replicator will be as ubiquitous as the home computer. The future is now!
 Money Saving Tech Tips