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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Verizon Cellular Modem

In previous blogs I have been lamenting my lack of broadband while on vacation. Two of my cronies who have visited have had the Verizon Cellular Modem. It works great! In spite of the fact that I get a lousy phone signal here from Verizon, the modem works just fine. Now if they would come up with a reasonable price.

$60 per month for Internet access is steep even if you do want it for travel. It is substantially slower than my Comcast Triple Play setup at home. Frankly I would have gone for the Verizon fiber optics if they offered it in my not so rural location but they don't. So to buy into the Verizon cellular modem, it would be in addition to the current connection at home. So Verizon, how about dropping the price on the wireless modem service? If that doesn't fly could you offer monthly purchase of the service for techno-junkies on vacation with a limited budget?

The chances of any one from Verizon reading this, let alone giving a flying duck about it are slim and none. However I have once again vented my feelings.
WhooHoo!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Age is not so relevant.

Inside every old person is a young person who is saying, "What the heck happen."
Ageism runs rampant in our society. Boomers such as I have decided that age is irrelevant. We often wear stuff that we shouldn't, drink things we shouldn't and do things that we shouldn't. Of course shouldn't may be coming from those who can't do, drink or wear what we do. I don't want to party all night but I want to think that I could if I wanted to. Several years ago my son encouraged me to go on one of those sit on the outside of a 12 story pole and drop until you puke rides. His encouragement was that the next time we would be in Knott's Berry farm I would be too old to ride it. Sadly his pathetic psychological maneuver worked and I rode the ride. It was fun.

Driving along one day in the year 2000, I passed an Audi TT. I slowed, looked and lusted. I said, "man I wish I had one of those." The same son said, "why not get one, you aren't getting any younger." It worked again and I enjoyed the heck out of that denim blue TT.

I guess that I don't feel that age is all that big a deal if I am so easily manipulated. I can get down on the floor and play with the grandkids. I can swing a golf club and a baseball bat. With an appropriate amount of suitable lubrication and the right music (classic rock) I can boogie up a storm. (not a pretty sight)

Bottom line, if you feel old, act old, you end up being old but conversely you are only as old as you let yourself be.

Listen to that young person inside you, "what the heck happen?"

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Poul Anderson’s Many Talents

Poul Anderson’s Many Talents

The following are the Anderson books I have read. I did not find one disappointment. He seems to be able to address scifi and fantasy with equal success. Ensign Flandry was reminiscent of the “Hornblower” series of iron men and wooden ships that I loved. If you haven’t read Anderson, you are missing a real treat. I did not find him preachy, educational or particularly thought provoking. I did find him highly entertaining, relaxing and a darn good reading experience.

A Knight of Ghosts and Shadows
Alight in the Void
Boat of A Million Years
Devil's Game
Earth book of Stormgate
Ensign Flandry(in 3/1 The Imperial Stars)
Fire Time
Game of Empire
Going for Infinity
Hoka
Maurai & kith
Mirkheim
Oeration Chaos
Operation Otherworld
Orion shall Rise
People of the Wind
Shield of Time
The Armies of Elfland
The Broken Sword
The ByWorlder
The Fleet Of Stars
The Sound & the Furry w. G.Dickson
The Time Patrol
There Will Be Time

FLASH!!! Video Post Cards Big Hit With G-Kids

FLASH!!! Video Post Cards Big Hit With G-Kids

Are creative juices swabbed up by the bread of leisure? Even with the lack of broadband, I assumed that I would be writing more while not occupied with the normal mundane aspects of life. I find that I can spend the day mesmerized by good books and the calming effect of the water lapping against the shore 35 feet away. On the days we play golf, I am astounded that one game can provide such peaks of ecstasy and pits of despair. Non-golfers won’t have a clue here but you golf nuts recognize that the rare bird brings such good feelings while the all too frequent triple makes you question the entire existence of the game and your masochistic desire to play it. Regardless of the reasons the creative well has seemed to be somewhat spent.

No broadband means it is difficult to look at and purchase new tech goodies. I have noticed that gated communities play hell with GPS systems. The several I have seen in action, don’t appear to realize that a gated community is not a thoroughfare.

As much as I have found the Acer 5100 more than adequate for my needs, I have found that the video capture software accompanying the machine is highly inadequate. Cyber-link Power Producer and NTI CD/DVD Maker can capture video but want to save it to removable media rather than a hard drive. Since I neglected to bring any writeable media with me, it precluded use of those two products. The Acer OrbiCam seems to work just find for snap shots but that seems to be the only thing Acer decided it should do. When I do have broadband, the camera seems to work just fine with Microsoft Live Messenger. There doesn’t seem to be any way included with the machine to do a video, save it and then later email it. Having several digital cameras with me, I was able to record a short video, download it to the laptop and then email mail it when I went to the public library to use their broadband. Those creative folks at Star Bucks claiming to have broadband overlook the fact that the majority of the world does not have a T-Mobile account without which the local Star Bucks clerk told me was necessary to use their broadband. Might I make a suggestion oh mighty coffee giant, GET REAL, for the price of you way too strong, too fattening coffee you should offer free open wireless. So says the guy frustrated with the third week of going to the not so close library to get any kind of connection.

Back to the mini-video, I highly recommend this convenient (assuming you have access to broadband) way of keeping in touch with the little folks in your life. Leprechauns and grandchildren alike, seem to find the computer video an entertaining way of getting a electronic post card from vacationing grandparents. According to my son, the video postcard was on it’s 30 plus viewing when he called us to tell us how much his kids enjoyed it.

I guess then this qualifies as somewhat tech tipping, not with any money saving that I noticed but keeping in the spirit of the title at least some tech tipping.



For any tech savvy reader, if you know of a free, decent video capture software package that would work with the Acer OrbiCam, I would love to hear from you. Since as I may have mentioned, I don’t have any damn broadband to search for my own solution.

Postscript:
Dane-Elec 4GB Compact Flash Card FREE BUDGET SHIPPING $13.00 Mail-in Rebate $18.95 After Rebate Buy.com price: $31.95 List price: $79.99
I am not familiar with Dane but the price is right for a 4gb flash card.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Robert Adams Prolific & Entertaining

Robert Adams Prolific & Entertaining

I haven’t read all Adams’ books just the following.
A Man called Milo Morai
A Woman of the Horse Clans
Bili The Axe
Cat of Silvery Hue
Champion of Last Battle
Coming of the Horse Clans
Death of a Legend
Friends of the Horse Clans
Horse Clan Odyssey
Horses of the North
Madman's Army
Memories of Milo Morai
Revenge of the Horse Clans
Savage Mountains
Swords of the Horse Clans
THe Clan of the Cats
The Patrimony
Trumpets of War
Witch Goddess

He is entertaining and gives you strong characters to identify with or to hate. Another post apocalypse series, it is still worth reading. I’m a fan of animal side kicks, particularly the ones who seem brighter than their human buddies. I didn’t find the books particularly thought provoking. They didn’t inspire me to go out an make any changes in my life. They allowed me to escape to a world different than my own and leave my responsibilities and concerns behind. Everything I read doesn’t have to broaden my horizons or outrage my emotions, sometimes it is just fun to have an adventure. If you want a good adventure, pick up any or all of these books. They’re fun to read.

Changing Habitats

I stumbled across a dead iguana the other day. I don’t know why it died or if something killed it. A couple of days later I saw another iguana strolling along the edge of the pond. I would guess they were both 24” and better in size. I asked a native when we got iguanas since I have been coming here for 15 years and had never seen one before. His response was, “we don’t have iguanas.” After I assured him that we do, he suggested that one of the new developments had chased them out of their habitat and they were looking for a new home. It seems like a golf course community would be a positive environment for an iguana but obviously at least one of them didn’t find it so hospitable.

Humans differ from animals in that we change habitats consistently and often. We jump in the car when it gets cold and go to where it is hot or vice a versa. We seem to be able to thrive in most any type of environment. I’m dismayed over my lack of broadband but I can remedy that by going to the public library and jumping on there. Our animal buddies don’t have the same opportunities.

My home environment is over run by white tailed deer. One of the local townships hired a hit squad to come in and thin the herds. That act received considerable emotional response for all sides. The hunter were ticked off that they weren’t allowed to kill the deer. The farmers were delighted that someone was killing the deer. The deluded but compassionate were dismayed anyone was killing bambi. Sad truth is that the deer population has run amuck. There are no natural predators so they reproduce ad nausea. This plays hell with the farms and also the highways. Our county has the largest number of road kill in the state. That road kill is indicative of an enormous amount of money spent on auto repair, let alone the toll of human suffering on the folks unlucky enough to be injured or killed trying to avoid hitting a deer. There is a distinct lack of habitat for deer in the county. Not only have we destroyed their habitat we have destroyed the predator that kept their population in check, leading to starvation and disease. Did I mention we also have some of the highest incidents of Lyme disease in the state, thanks to the deer tics?

There really isn’t a good solution. Bringing in cougars or wolves would thin the deer population and outrage the pet owners. Designating preserves won’t keep the deer in the preserve. The habitat has changed and won’t be changing back any time soon. Human impact on the environment is obvious and most frequently negative. I see no answer, I am a contributor to global warming no matter how much I recycle, curb my driving and gasoline consumption, replant trees I take down, my personal impact is still negative on the environment and the creatures I share that environment with. After listening to the latest UFO sighting in Texas on this morning’s news, I can only hope that if we are being evaluated by aliens that they have more tolerance and better environmental standards than we do, or we’re toast.

Monday, January 14, 2008

NEXT by Michael Crichton

Michael Crichton’s books always make me think. I found this book very thought provoking and disturbing. His concerns about the legal ramifications of gene patents and body ownership seem valid and frankly frightening. He suggests that the legal system does not have the technical background to recognize some of the problems they are creating by allowing patents on diseases and genes.

The book was not an easy read. Crichton may be brilliant but the book was extremely disjointed. He introduced an amazing number of characters and eventually put them into some type of context. I think there was an excellent message in the book but I fear he will lose readers who can’t deal with the sudden and rapid change of characters and topics.

I would still suggest that you read the book. The hysteria over “frankenfood” the concerns over gene manipulation, the questions regarding cloning, all are going to be in the headlines for the years to come. He provides a lot of data in a very digestible format. He also provides incentive to jump on the web and find out more about the issues.

Not an easy read but entertaining and thought provoking.

Poets of Action--The Pelbar Cycle Books

The Pelbar Cycle is a 7 book series of a post-apocalypse society. You may feel you have been there done that but think again. Paul O. Williams’ characterizations are vivid, loveable and sometimes despicable, in short, very, very believable. First the series is a good read. If you aren’t enticed, entertained and addicted, you won’t plow through a 7 book series.

The portrayal of splintered remnant society after a nuclear holocaust is sobering. The vagrancies of fate provide multiple societies, in some ways simplistically illustrating many of our current social groups. It is easy to identify with many of the characters. Individuality is frequently suppressed by most of the splintered factions but individuality is what saves the fabric of the emerging cohesive society. The poets of action are those annoying intervals who won’t bow to convention for convention’s sake. They are the lonely voice of reason in a chorus of suppression. They are the catalysts the change the world.

Every page does not make you pause and ponder or you would never get through 7 books. However there is a veritable banquet of food for thought if you can open your mind to differing mindsets. Too often, I found myself reading well after I planned on going to bed or doing something else. I found the books compelling, troubling and reassuring. Do yourself a favor and track them down.

The Pelbar Cycle, “The Breaking of Northwall #1: The Ends of the Circle #2; The Dome in the Forest #3; The Fall of the Shell #4; An Ambush of Shadows #5; The Song of the Axe #6 and The Sword of Forebearance #7”.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Vitamin Deals

Oh, the joys of staying healthy can keep you jumping. I try and do the right thing about vitamins. I recently researched the heck out of a senior (how that pains me to say) multivitamin and a 1000 mg Vitamin C. I did my best to make sure I was comparing apples and apples.

Puritan Pride had a very good price on Vitamin C $.035 per caplet and $.036 per multivitamin but their $60.00 minimum to get free shipping put them out of contention.

Amazon had the Vitamin C for $.0543 per tab and free shipping for $25.00. Amazon’s best price on a senior multi seemed to be $.054 with no free shipping so out they go.

Walgreen had a great price on Vitamin C $.0288 but no deals on multi and minimum $50.00 purchase for free shipping.

Ebay I found the Kirkland brand of multivitamin for $.039 each including shipping but I am edgy about buying vitamins on Ebay.

Bottom line for my vitamin purchase was Costco. Costco had the C at $.023 each and the Multi for $.0314 each. No shipping since I picked them up locally. My local drug stores such as CVS and Riteaid were not even close to the mail order let alone Costco. I know it isn’t tech related but since most of us pop the vitamins, it seemed appropriate.

Duck Butts

I am watching two ducks bob for who knows what. For some demented reason I find ducks butts funny. Of course, many things I find funny are not particularly amusing to the rest of the world. Admittedly Monty Python influenced my retired not dead handle. Why dead cows, attack rabbits and shrubbery are funny is hard to explain. Equally the time my dear wife was choking on a pickle, her loving husband and two loving sons, laughed themselves to tears before using the Heimlich. When pushing my granddaughter on the swing and the swing hits me in the chest she finds it hysterical. Humor is interpreted and subjective in so many ways.

Humor is crucial to well being. Laughter makes you feel better. Instead of flipping off the guy who just cut you off, laugh at what an incredible imbecile he/she is. Way healthier than blowing your top. We have friends coming tomorrow that we laugh a lot with. Every time we get together we laugh, often to the point of shortness of breath and tears. Perhaps most importantly, we laugh at ourselves. Sure we laugh at each other but our friendship is so strong that we can laugh at ourselves. Friends like that are rare and deeply appreciated. They keep us centered, keep us from getting too self assured and they keep us healthy.

So the next time you see a duck’s butt, laugh! It is good for you and you got to admit, there is something really funny about that darn feathery butt.

Whose reading this?

Who reads my blog? Damnifino! There are so few comments and none of those have been very revealing. I am no looking for names but whys. Who are you and why do you care what I write? My insatiable curiosity has provided me with a wealth of amusing incidents over the years. My earliest recollection of being burnt by my curiosity is kindergarten. Early in my kindergarten career, prior to any reading skills, I noticed a bright red button on the wall, near the steps outside our classroom. Several times I endeavored to push it but my mittens prevented me from fully depressing the button. One day I left my mittens at home so I wouldn’t be forced to put them on. As we went up the steps for recess, I was finally able to fully depress the pretty red button and set off the fire alarm. After the evacuation and re-entrance to the school, my sixth grade sister was instructed to walk me home. I clearly recollect that she was not happy with me. I vaguely recollect that my Dad was not overly concerned but did suggest my curiosity would need watching.

So curiosity ruling, who are you and why do you read this stuff? Where are you? Is there anything you want to know about within reason? As an ex-teacher, I thrive on feed back and waste away when I get buttkus. The worst classes I ever taught were college level entry to computers to adult students who were required to take the course by their employers. Many of them weren’t particularly thrilled with their job, let alone being told that after work, on their own time, they had to take a course. Exacerbating the problem was that it was Russian Roulette time finding enough computers in the computer lab that actually worked. The day students reveled in screwing up the computers. So there I was trying to get a group of unwilling, un-wanting, uncaring folks excited about technology. Talk about minimum feedback, wow, it was much harder than pulling teeth. I hated it, worse class, I ever taught, most likely for the students too.

Feedback, give me some, PLEASE. I don’t need names, but I sure would like to know what motivates your reading my blog. What would you like to see me write about. I am cognizant that your feedback may not be to my liking, tsk, that is the beauty of the blog, I can write what I want whether you like it or not. However, I would like to get some feedback, good, bad or indifferent, it will be enlightening.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Paranoia by Joseph Finder


Take a normal, footloose 30 something, put him in a pressure cooker and see what comes out. A highly entertaining take on big business and redundantly, their lack of ethics. What happens when you find yourself compromising your basic personality? Do you give up, cave in or grow. Having spent some time, 25 years, in the tech industry, I found the premise entirely too believable. A compelling read, I recommend the story to any of you who have ever questioned the moral aspects of your career. In spite of the thought provoking content, a quick and engrossing book.

Grouper Fingers and Chicken Lips

Ok, I was unaware grouper had fingers, let alone they were tasty. I had pecan crusted grouper fingers for lunch and they were great! I grew up in western Pennsylvania when and where fish came in one form, sticks. Imagine my surprise when I discovered Mrs. Paul wasn’t real and did not actually make the fish sticks herself.

A few years back on a family vacation we spent some time in the Florida Keys. I discovered FISH, not fish in stick form but real fish. I was stunned, this stuff is good. Much to my dismay upon returning home I discovered that freshness has a major impact on how good fish can taste. Regardless, I found that the form factor plays a major part on fish quality as well. So I was a bit suspicious of Grouper Fingers. Hmm, sounds like fish sticks to me. Nice to be wrong. Again, they were great.

Also growing up, I did have a gismo that turned pan fish into food. It worked kind of like a sardine can. Catch the skin, turn the handle and get a teeny, tiny fish bite. It takes a serious mess of sunfish to make a meal but fried in butter in a black cast iron skillet over an open fire, they are delicious. Keep in mind though at 13, I ate everything that couldn’t get away from me. So perhaps they weren’t great but at the time they beat the heck out of fish sticks.

So chicken may not have lips but Grouper Fingers do exist and are quite tasty. How does this relate to Money Saving Tech Tips? Darn’d if I know.

The Cameras Work

I mentioned Creative web cameras I bought at a good deal before Christmas.
http://money-saving-tech-tips.blogspot.com/2007/11/do-you-miss-your-grandchildren.html
It remains to be seen if the rebate actually is rebated. A great self serving gift to each of my sons, I hoped the cameras would be of use while on vacation. Of use, meaning I got to see my grandchildren. See previous blog as to why this isn’t happening.

The cameras worked great. We set them up with Microsoft Live Messenger. The video quality was more than adequate as long as the window was kept small. The audio quality was also good. It worked surprisingly well, in spite of questionable documentation.

Now if I only had broadband to use it.

Life with out Broadband

Life does go on without broadband. It is amazing how dependent you become on getting your email, notice of your bills, your credit card and bank statements, ordering your prescriptions let alone blogging. On vacation, I found good connections in each hotel we stayed in. We don’t have broadband or even a land line where we are staying. My tech resistant wife even asked what good is a computer without internet access.

We are making every other day trips to the library. It is adequate but barely. My normal response when I hear something on the news that I want more data on is to google it. When I think of something I want to relate to a son or a friend, I email. When I want to see my grandchildren, I video conference. Convenience and immediate access is a big part of my internet experience. I hoped to see multiple available wireless connections while here. I intended to track down the strongest signal and offer them payment for use through out the month. There are ZERO wireless signals being seen. At the last hotel we stayed in, I had 6 different wireless networks seen and four of them were unsecured. My son said the reason there are no signals available is that everyone where we are staying is old, with the unspoken assumption that they are also computer illiterate. I am aware most folks in my age group are not particularly interested in computer literacy. However, three of my age appropriate friends, just sprung for the Verizon wireless modem. So we aren’t all illiterate but perhaps I am presently ensconced in a computer illiterate environment.

Speaking of Verizon, or perhaps cursing, I have a great new Verizon phone which gets a next to nothing signal in my home. I get next to nothing signal where I am presently staying. How Verizon can lay claim to their vaunted best network is beyond me. I don’t see it but the point here is that if I can’t get a Verizon signal on my phone, I can’t expect to get a good signal on their modem. I have considered smoke signals, it is definitively broadband but not too conducive to computing.

My new phone, see previous blog, claims to be a wireless modem. Verizon doesn’t seem to be aware of that or at least the customer service reps I have spoken to are unaware of that feature of the phone. I have emailed Samsung tech support several times to no avail. No response, so I don’t know if they know about this feature they claim or if we are back to blowing smoke. Regardless, if it is using the Verizon network, which since it is a Verizon phone seems a reasonable assumption, I wouldn’t get a decent signal anyway.

I am listening to the New Hampshire candidate debate and frustrated to no end because I can’t get online and verify some of the trash talk. We need something better than we have. The Internet is a daily part of my life, I won’t die without it but I do miss the easy access. Frankly I miss my grandchildren more, but that is my priority. There is life beyond broadband, I have been reading about a book a day and that too would not be happening if I was pulling down my normal net time. I am golfing, swimming and fishing too. So don’t get me wrong, vacation and retirement are great but I really miss my broadband.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year

Have you paused for a moment in your busy day to ponder the fact that you have a clean, 365 day slate in front of you. You can start to do something you never did before, or stop something that is annoying you, like smoking or excessive anything. A new year doesn’t have to change anything…but it can. Change comes from within. If you are in a wonderful relationship, work to keep it that way. If you are in an abusive relationship, work to get out of it. Only you can change you. You may think that you boss, wife, mother, etc. makes changes in you. WRONG, if there are changes made, you are making them. Perhaps in response to input from others but you are the one that is making the change. Instead of lamenting about how helpless you are, look at your alternatives. Even if you are in a maximum security unit, in solitary confinement, you can make changes in yourself. If you are some of the lucky ones with nothing but joy in your life, spread some of it around. Be kind to those around you, try and make other lives as full as yours. We all have choices, a new year can give you the opportunity to make some good ones. Happy New Year.
 Money Saving Tech Tips