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

Friday, February 27, 2009

Eneloop Not Just Another Cereal, Oops Battery

Grandchildren demand lots of batteries not just in their toys but in my cameras. I have two digital cameras that seem to suck the life out of whatever type of battery I install. I have myriad rechargeable batteries. Nicad and NiMh neither of which have been satisfying. I have tried brand name batteries and no name batteries. I have tried the expensive lithium disposable batteries but the disposable aspect offends me. Charge them up, pop them in the camera and they work just fine but they don’t hold a charge for any length of time. If I am lucky they still work 24 hours later but generally they need to be recharged on a daily basis.

I read about the Eneloop batteries and liked the idea but I have 16 AA NiMh that work, poorly but they work. Then my Lenmar SpeedCharger died. Luckily it died just within warranty, although Lenmar honored the warranty they did charge me $10.00 shipping and handling or 33% of replacing it.

The death of my SpeedCharger forced me to take a look at chargers and I found a deal at Amazon that offered a charger with the Eneloop batteries. I bit the proverbial bullet and ordered the deal. I like the fact that it includes those nifty little adapters allowing use of AA batteries in other devices. On receiving the Eneloop batteries I promptly put them in my cameras. They come precharged which is also a nice feature. Three days later they are still holding a charge. This beats the heck out of the traditional batteries I have used. Down side is that the charger takes 7 hour to recharge them. I still like the fact that I am not forced to change batteries every day on my cameras. Eneloop may not be the the ultimate solution but so far it beats the heck out of everything else I have used. This was not a paid blog and I have no financial connection to Sanyo. However if you have an overwhelming urge to buy Eneloop batteries, you can go to the very bottom of my sidebar and click on My Amazon Store (or click here) and buy to your hearts content. I have made a whopping $0.69 in the last year with my Amazon Affiliate Store.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Toshiba 40” LCD A Hot Deal

Recently I had a TV dying and decided to upgrade to current technology. I am one of those stubborn souls that feels if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. I am going to live with my low resolution tube TVs until they die. Well considering I won the aforementioned dying TV in 1985 in a sales contest I think it served me well.

Shopping for a TV is an interesting experience. I blogged on my Best Buy experience on February 9th. They would have had a sale except for the surly twit that drove me out of the store. Target had a Magnavox 1080p, 42” that was priced at $699.00 which was a good deal, except they didn’t actually have it in stock. Kmart had a good deal too except they too didn’t have it in stock. Hmm, you can put anything you want on sale for a great price if you don’t actually have to deliver something. I went to a local retailer and they were $200.00 more than my $699.00 target price. I talked to one of the owners and she said she would find me one. I told her she could exceed my targeted price of $699.00 but I didn’t want to pay a two hundred dollar premium to buy locally. I emailed her the next day and she was off but when she did get back to work she told me she would email me some prices that week. I’m still waiting.

The next day I was surfing when I remembered good experiences with Bob and Ron’s World Wide Stereo, a local retailer. Twenty years ago they had treated my then teenage son very well on his sound equipment. I really like buying locally and was pleasantly surprised I didn’t need to pay a premium to do so. I checked their web site and they had the Toshiba 40RV525U on sale for $699.00. I called and they actually had three in stock. I picked it up, set it up and I love it.

There is a Cnet review of the Toshiba here. I set out to buy a 42” and got a 40” but I don’t feel shortchanged. The Toshiba has plenty of connections and I am pleased with it’s performance. I just ordered a 256mb video card and a RAM upgrade for the computer that I have attached. I will let you know how that works out sometime down the road. In the meantime I am enjoying my new toy.

This is not a paid blog and I have no financial connection besides being a customer of any company mentioned in the blog.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Sauder Woodworking Company, Good Customer Service

Despair is the most common reaction when I have to call anyone’s customer service. My recent experience with US Air customer service was abysmal. I called Comcast Customer Service regarding a commercial for upgrading service and two different representatives had no clue what they were advertising on TV. So imagine my delight when I assembled a Sauder TV stand and had a pleasant and fulfilling experience with customer service. The unit assembled easily with good directions but one of the two door pulls was defective. I emailed customer service regarding the problem, they promptly emailed me back requesting my address and said the part would be shipped immediately at no charge. Wow, what a delight! Kudos go to Jessica Stuckey at Sauder Woodworking in Internet Support. Thank you for doing your job when so many are not. On a side note, the tv stand was well made, good quality at a terrific price of $70.00 at Target.

This is not a paid blog and I have no financial connection besides being a customer of Sauder Woodworking.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

HD TV Dummy Guide

Did you know that an HD TV doesn’t provide HD unless you have an HD source? If I am now insulting you, well stop reading.
It appears that many folks don’t know that an HD (high definition) TV doesn’t give any better picture that any other TV if you don’t have a HD source. I happened to be in close proximity to folks buying TVs recently and (believe it or not, suffered in silence) listened to sales people and buyers ignoring the reality of HD.

If you don’t have HD coming in from your cable, your satellite dish or over the air, you aren’t going to get HD TV with the incredible quality. Incidentally you do not, I repeat you do not need to have a special antenna as long your TV has a HD tuner which if it is an HD TV, it should.

Digital and HD are not synonymous. Digital will give you an overall better picture and will be your only choice in June now instead of February. The only problem with over the air digital is that fringe areas that are not close to a broadcast source will get no picture. Analog signals would give a picture, perhaps a bad picture but nevertheless a picture in weak reception areas. Digital either you get a great picture or you get no picture, there is no weak, fuzzy signal. HD or high definition is a further enhanced picture and is much better than your typical digital signal.

I recognize that if you are online, reading blogs, that all of this is most likely redundant and perhaps even insulting to your intelligence, but trust me, there are a bunch of folks out there that are confused about the whole current TV situation. Sadly some of them are selling TVs to their equally unsophisticated customers.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Wall Anchors

No, not boat anchors, wall anchors, those little plastic doodads that hold things in or on drywall. I suspect that you have bent one or two, as I have, when trying to pound one of those plastic screw like sleeves into a hole you have drilled in the wall. They hold ok but in my experience, I always have to have a few spare for the ones I bend.

Technology has listened and there are now some very interesting alternatives.
The Wall-Dog is easy to use and holds well. They look durable and go in fairly easy. Popular Mechanics tested them and were pleased with their performance.

The WallClaw is more complicated and take more vigor to install. They tested very well and held some serious weight.

I have just spackled over some holes left by removing molly bolts, these seem like much better solutions.

Check out the October 2007 issue of Popular Mechanics for more complete test results. This was not a paid blog.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Zonbu, A New Computing Approach or Magic

Last October Popular Mechanics had a blurb on the $99.00 computer with a monthly fee of $13.00 per month. I looked up Zonbu today to see how they were faring. They appear to be operating under a bit different scenario now.

Zonbu is both an operating system and a concept. You can get Zonbu (a linux OS) for free along with upto 250mb of online storage. You can download it to your computer and run their online (cloud) applications. Their premier service gives you 50GB of online service for $15.00 per month. They provide the OS, the applications and the storage. They claim you now avoid all the hassles of upgrading (which can be a trial). They claim you can avoid viruses which target Windows OS. You have online data storage which is supposedly impervious to data loss. You can access your data from any online source. It is an interesting concept. You can buy computers from them with the OS preinstalled. I have reservations but you may want to check out their site, it makes for interesting reading. Zonbu This was not a paid blog.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Best Buy Strikes Out

There are a wealth of places to buy an LCD TV. Why would you ever buy from a store whose employee’s act as if they are condescending to do a HUGE favor by talking to you? That succinctly describes my experience at Best Buy. I chose the TV I wanted on their web site. I read reviews from several sources that said the Insignia was a very good value for the money. It was their store brand and it was priced very aggressively. $699.00 plus tax for a 1080p, 42” LCD TV is a good price. I first looked at the displays and immediately discovered that they were not displaying their own store brand. That cast some doubt as to how it would compare to the other brands. Of course their store brand was priced considerably cheaper than their name brand products so maybe they didn’t want you to see how good it was, instead of how bad it was, who knows since I never saw it.

I finally, after much looking, tracked down a surly little twit who begrudgingly asked me if he could help me. I find it quite interesting when someone nearly a foot shorter than me can convey looking down their nose quite so convincingly. Now as I am a genuine senior citizen, I am sure he assumed that I was dumber than dirt, particularly when electronics are in question. I asked him where the Insignia TV’s were displayed and he told me they didn’t have enough room to display them. This perceived lack of space was in spite of the fact that there were several vacant spaces on their show room wall. I asked about the $699.00 42” unit and he said they didn’t have any. I told him I had confirmed on the web site before I drove the 30 minutes to his location and the web site stated he did have it in stock. He, hmmphed and went to a terminal where he proceeded to pound away for a surprising amount of time(probably texting or emailing a peer) on the keyboard. He finally said, “yeah we have them, do you want one?” I asked him how big the box was and he asked what kind of vehicle I have. I told him a sedan and he said, “it won’t fit.” I asked him how big the box was and he said he didn’t know but it won’t fit. At this point I concluded that he really didn’t want to sell the loss leader TV and I left.

I still want a TV and I plan on getting one but it won’t be from Best Buy, I may be a senior citizen but I am not completely stupid, I can recognize bait and switch when I see it and surly just doesn’t cut it for me. I am aware TV’s are commodities but there is still no reason to be rude about it. I wonder if Best Buy will have to go the route of Circuit City before they discover that customer service or even pleasant sales people are a good thing. I will pay more for someone to, at least, pretend they want my business.

Friday, February 6, 2009

US Airways Rip Off

If you do a search on US Airways Sucks you will find an enormous number of disgruntled travelers. I have joined the club. It is not over a large amount of money, it is primarily a principle.

On a recent flight, during web check in I noticed my wife and I were not seated together so I chose "Choice" seats and paid $10.00 each for them. On the diagram they appeared to be exit seats, thusly more leg room. I received the email confirmation of payment for the "Choice" seats. Upon being seated in the aircraft, I noticed that the seats were in no way choice, the flight attendant agreed that they could see no way they were choice seats. They were not on a bulkhead, aisle or exit row and there was NO extra leg room. Again, I asked the flight attendants and they agreed, they were not "Choice" seats and was advised to see the “help” desk in the Terminal. The people at the desk said they couldn't help me and gave me a 866-523-5333 number that no one answers. The recorded message then tells you to go to the web site and email customer service. I then emailed Customer Relations and was told that I will be charged for "Choice" seats regardless of whether I actually got "Choice" seats due to a no refund policy.

In my return email I asked for this issue to be escalated to a higher level and in return was told the policy is no refunds on “Choice Seats”. It isn’t too much of a stretch to realize how much money can be made by offering “Choice” seats and then not providing them. Most people will let the charge go as too much trouble to pursue.

You may wonder why I feel this is a scam and not just a mistake. Hmm, if US Air only flew 100 flights each day and only scammed $20.00 per flight that would be a net scam total of $730,000.00 per year. Now they fly substantially more than a mere 100 flights each day so it doesn’t take a forensic accountant to determine that a troubled airline might just try and improve the bottom line with a tiny, but repetitive billing “error” that could easily put several million each year against their shoddy business practices.

So flyer beware, US Air is out to get you!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Hot Deal on A Digital TV

Kmart has a Sylvania 32” LCD TV for $369.00. It is new, not a refurb and a major bang for the buck. It is 720p that for most of us is all we need. 720p translates into 720 progressive scan which simply means a screen resolution to satisfy all but the major geeks. This TV is $399.00 plus shipping at Amazon and even higher elsewhere. It is not the top of the line, it appears to be a good solid “main street” choice. Here are the specs. A 32” is an appropriate size for viewing from 3’ to 8’ distance, perfect for the home office, bedroom and den. Size does matter and for the family room you probably want to go bigger. Again for the price, this is a very good value. This is not a paid blog and I got no financial reward for writing it, however if anyone from Sylvania would like to send me this TV for a prolonged in house evaluation, I am more than willing to do a follow up blog. Model# LC320SS9
Product Overview:
Item Weight: 24.3 lbs.
Screen Size (by diagonal measure):32 in.
PC Input:No
S-Video Inputs, Number:2
Component Input Sets, Total Number:2
Digital Audio Output:Yes
Analog Audio Output, Type:L/R audio
Analog Audio Output:Yes
Digital Audio Output Type:HDMI and Coaxial
HDMI Inputs, Number:2
Tuner Type:ATSC/NTSC (digital/analog)
Display, Resolution:Maximum Resolution:1366 x 768
Native Resolution:720p
Width:30-3/5 in.
Height:22-1/5 in.
Depth:10-7/10 in.
Controls, Audio:Bass Control:Yes
Treble Control:Yes
Controls, Video:Closed Captioning:Yes
On Screen Display (OSD):Yes
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