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. 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!

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

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
http://www.redcross.org.uk/TLC.asp?id=81617

Lutheran Refugee Services
http://www.lirs.org/

Aotearoa-New Zealand Refugee Services
http://www.refugeeservices.org.nz/

United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrant Children
http://www.refugees.org/

Church World Service Immigrant & Refugee Program
http://www.churchworldservice.org/Immigration/index.html

Women's Commission for Refugee Women & Children
http://www.womenscommission.org/

Additional Links/Resources
http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/protect?id=3b8265c7a

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Refugees

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statelessness

http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/static/in_depth/world/2001/road_to_refuge/default.stm

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

 Money Saving Tech Tips