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

Sunday, September 27, 2009

RAM Buyer Beware

Once more I am reminded of the complicated aspects of the personal computer.   Due to the RAM hungry demands of the ever popular MS automatic updates my wife's and my own computer have been slowing down.  I knew I needed pc2100 ddr RAM so I went shopping.   What was interesting was that I found that density is also important in RAM choice.  It appears that high density RAM is considerably less expensive than low density RAM  The only defining difference I could find was that low density RAM is 64X8 and high density is either 128x8 or 128x4.   What was frustrating was that neither motherboard manual said a darn thing about density on RAM but several articles I found said that high density RAM was only suitable for specific motherboards.  I did note that a couple of guys on eBay noted that their RAM was high or low and cautioned that many sellers didn't mention that and no returns for incompatibility.  

After mixing and matching between three machines I was able to get all three up to 2gb but it wasn't easy.  For those of you who don't have access to RAM without first buying it, Good Luck!   Things aren't getting any easier but I did notice that newer RAM was substantially cheaper than the older pc2100 memory.  So maybe you should upgrade sooner than later.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Nintendo DSi

My grandson and I took a trip recently. His DS and DSi accompanied us. If you are under 20 you can stop reading now because you know all of this. The DSi is the latest system from Nintendo and is a computer in so many ways. Of course you can game on it. The thing I find just astounding is the ease that it connects to wireless networks or other DS systems. At one point he and 5 of his cousins were all playing Mario Kart. An ad hoc network set up by 11 year olds. Listening to all the screaming, yelling and laughter, I had to wonder why so many out of touch parents are opposed to the idea of kids playing video games with each other. How is that less acceptable than sitting around and playing a board game? Certainly you need exercise and like anything else, excess is not a good thing. Too many people ignore the fact that it allows kids to communicate and play while simultaneously introducing them to the intricacies of networking.

In addition to the ability to easily network locally, the DSi connects to the Internet with astounding ease. You have the ability to go online and play games with people all around the world.

The DSi has a camera so the budding photog can take digital pictures with his DSi. Then the photos can be tweaked, toyed with, totally messed up and you can share them with your friends. This feature led to a great deal of hilarity and outrage as various cousins had their noses enlarged, the eyes blown up or their teeth colored.

You can play with sound as well. The DSi has the ability to record and play your own sounds. In addition you can hook up your headphones and listen to tunes you load through the micro SD card slot.

The touch screen and dual screens provide an additional resource. This thing is so cool, I am tempted to get one myself. At $169.00 at Amazon it is good value for the money, an amazing toy and an equally astounding learning/teaching tool. There is a wealth of software cartridges for it and you have many, many choices that do NOT involve first person shooter type games.

The Nintendo DSi is well worth checking out.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Paid Blogging, Ethical?

I occasionally write a paid blog. It may be on something as strange as maternity clothes or police type shoes. You write a blog, put in a link and get paid for your trouble. Some really popular blogs with big followings can reap some serious money doing this. I am not in that category but wish I was. I have never written a paid blog that I didn’t believe what I was writing.

For example the maternity clothes post sent those who clicked the link to a site that offered some very stylish and reasonably priced maternity clothes. I despair sometimes at how depressed the pregnant woman sometimes gets in regards to self image. My motivation for blogging was that everybody is happier if the expectant mother is happy. The impending Mom, the husband and anyone else in the family is happier if Mom is happy. Clothes can help the self image and if you have never been pregnant or married to someone pregnant or loved someone who is pregnant, you need to understand; sometimes they need help to feel good about themselves. Thus I felt good about writing a paid post that pointed them in the right direction of very stylish, reasonably priced maternity clothes.

The police type shoes site is one my nephew has purchased shoes from and absolutely loves the site and the shoes. So I had no problem getting paid for a blog post that pointed people to that site.

Since I don’t have a blog that generates enough traffic to be offered big dollars for a paid post I haven’t faced an ethical dilemma yet. I hope that if I ever do I can stick to my guns about only writing about things I believe are good.

Paid blogging is getting a lot of negative newsprint lately in regards to the Mommy bloggers accepting large ticket items and writing positive reviews have gotten a lot of press. I have reviewed products on this blog. I have never gotten free product for writing a positive review. No one has sent me cool electronics and said keep them if you write a positive review. Now if any manufacturer reading this wants to send me some cool, expensive gear to keep, I will be happy to review it. However you will get an honest post on what I think about your product, not necessarily what you want me to say.

Here are links to places to investigate if you want to do paid blogging.
Sponsored Reviews
Blog Distributor
Associated Content

Friday, September 18, 2009

Friday Five Through The Ages

The responsibility for this post rests securely on the head of 70steen of FuelMyBlog membership. She posted photos of herself over the last few decades.

Her photos were much more interesting than mine but I found the concept entertaining. Therefore peruse at your own risk 5 decades of yours truly and how one can “progress” through life.

The Photos

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Free Bluetooth Headset

Ok, Free is always suspicious. I have a bluetooth headset so I don't need one. I got this from Buy.com and I have had good experiences there. Check it out, I am not recommending it, I am not getting paid to mention it, I just thought it might be of interest to someone who needs/wants a bluetooth headset.

Here is the Link.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Defining Customer Service

I have written many times over the past couple of years about declining customer service. I read this week on ZDNet.com an article about the “crapware” that pretends it is helpware and is stealing your data, corrupting your system and robbing you blind. (See my blog on spyware) Comments on the article ranged widely but the one that caught my attention was a self proclaimed “IT Expert” working in computer support who thinks that the people he supports are stupid and deserve to have their computers trashed by spyware. Sadly this abysmal attitude seems to be rampant in customer support. Once again I am going to mention Diamond Case Designs, Inc. - 655 N. Shepard St. - Anaheim, CA 92806 - (800) 616-5354 - www.diamondcase.com . They epitomize what customer service should be. Their recent newsletter had this customer spotlight that I think defines what customer service needs to be. BTW I do not get any financial considerations of any type from Diamond Case and this is not a paid blog.

Diamond Case Designs Customer Spotlight:
Accomplished Au
thor Ian Randall Wilson

You may wonder how two seemingly innocent looking cats could affect the design of a custom entertainment center. Well let's just say to call these cats curious is an understatement. Please read on to find out how Diamond Case Designs, Inc. worked hand in hand with author Ian Randall Wilson to design the perfect furniture solution to fit his unique space, organize his electronics, and ensure curiosity did not kill the cat. (Link to full article)

Acronis True Image 11 Rocks

I’m sure the people at Acronis would rather I was writing about their latest release version 12 instead of version 11. However an indisputable source, my brother, told me that version 12 was fraught with peril. Since I dealt with enough peril when my BounceBack clone feature didn’t work, I decided to avoid more frustration and peril and go with version 11. In an earlier blog I expressed my dismay over BounceBack’s drive cloning feature. Drive cloning is making an exact duplicate of your hard drive including all hidden files and most importantly the OS. This feature is invaluable if and when or maybe just when your hard drive decides to head south, winter or not. BounceBack was doing a commendable job on daily backup and made file restoration quite easy. However on a limping hard drive BounceBack’s clone feature refused to work.
I turned to me geek brother who is still working and who used to be my top tech and asked what he would recommend. He strongly recommended Acronis version 11. Of course that is discontinued but you can find it out in the wilds of the Internet. I found my version on a “buy it now” ebay deal for a most affordable $22.95 including shipping.

The best news is that it worked right out of the box. It stated early on that you had a choice of cloning with no changes to the source drive, a clone with deletion of the source drive and a clone with an aggressive deletion of the source drive. I avoid deletion whenever possible, even on a terminally ill hard drive there is an occasional miraculous recovery where you can strain off more of your data. It was unclear in the documentation but I was led to believe I had to remove the source drive and replace it with the cloned drive upon completion of the cloning process. This was not in my plans. Since above said geek brother is on vacation and although I could call him I try to avoid that since some of his more prickly clients insist on calling him on even trivial problems even while he is vacationing.

I could not find an answer on the Acronis website. I registered the software, which you must do to get support. I registered the software about 8 times and the web site still insisted that I needed to register my software. My initial love for Acronis was losing the luster on the bloom as I became more frustrated. Finally I sneaked into chat pretending to be a potential buyer instead of a “not really registered but tried really hard to” owner. Lucky for me I got a guy who assured me I do not have to remove the source drive when done but reminded me that I didn’t want to leave both source and destination drives installed in the same unit as this could lead to a schizophrenic computer.

I was able to get the dead hard drive on one of my units up long enough to clone it and low and behold when I put in the clone drive it worked just peachy! Then I cloned my main system which has a 300gb C drive that on occasion doesn’t want to boot and has been scaring the bejabbers out of me contemplating the enormous number of software packages I would have to reinstall if said hinky drive went south.

Bottom line is that Acronis 11 works as advertised, I bow down to my geek brother’s expertise and to the folks at Acronis that actually produced a piece of software that does what it claims to do, kudos. This is not a paid blog.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Unreasonable Anger, Unreasonable Fear

What has provoked the hysteria over health care reform? Are the insurance giants who are reaping windfall profits bankrolling provocateurs? Is it the drug companies who may find their insane profits diminished? One has to suspect that there is some financial ax being ground that is trying to derail any progress on health care reform. I am amazed at the astounding ignorance of some of the enflamed opponents suggesting there will be death squads promoting the demise of senior citizens. Shouted admonishments of “keep the government’s hands off of my Medicare”, belie the fact that it is the government who is running Medicare. We need health care reform; I’m on a fixed income and under 65 years old. My health insurance premiums are roughly the same as my mortgage and I am lucky. I’m lucky because so far I have been able to pay both. I know too many people who aren’t so lucky. These people are not dead beats, welfare cheats or illegal immigrants; they are just regular people trying to make ends meet.

I am enough of a cynic to suspect that deep pockets of vested interests are financing the roadblocks to health care reform. Listen up people, this is the first time in decades where there may be enough congressional votes to get some health care reform. Call, write or email your representative and give them your feelings on what should or shouldn’t be in the health care reform bill. Don’t let health care reform be “Swift Boated” by the special interest groups.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Fear Mongers Abound!

The President of the United States wants to address the children of the nation. The President of the United States who was ELECTED to his office wants to address school children. GASP—Radical, immoral, obviously a brainwashing plot SCREAMS rabid, foaming at the mouth of radical CONSERVATIVES.

Years ago when I supported Barry Goldwater I was proud of being a conservative. Today, conservative seems to be synonymous with nut-job. Republican Presidents have sent out addresses to the nation’s children and the kids survived. Of course perhaps there was some subliminal message that generated the current crop of nut-jobs, I mean radical Conservatives. The news has shown text of parents complaining they don’t want their children exposed to the words of their ELECTED President. Perhaps if they shared intelligent dialogue with their children they wouldn’t be so fearful of their kids hearing someone else speak.

Take note world, President Obama is NOT the devil incarnate. I don’t agree with everything he says or does but I respect the office of the President of the United States. I didn’t agree with everything President G. W. Bush said but he wasn’t the devil incarnate either. Get a life folks, radicalizing the people you disagree with demeans both you and your point of view. Intelligent dialogue used to be a hallmark of democracy; it is time to return to some semblance of intelligent, respectful discourse. Fanatics, whatever their stripe, never, ever are good for our wonderful nation.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Taking Woodstock—Don’t Waste Your Time

I don’t normally review movies but this one demands a disappointed one. Taking advantage of the Woodstock anniversary, this movie sucked a lot of aging boomers into thinking they could get back their groove. The predominant color of hair (providing they had some) in the theatre was white, not platinum but just old white. Lot of reminiscing prior to the movie coming up, regarding who was doing what the summer of ’69. I can't come up with a good reason for the title. Story was ok, disjointed, couldn't decide if it was a coming out, coming out of the closet, coming of age or what. Woodstock was a backdrop as opposed to a theme. Music was non-existent. Acid trip was prolonged so long I thought perhaps I was on one. Confusing movie, could have been excellent if it stayed on focus, expanded the reaction of the locals to the influx of "hippies" and had some iconic music. Even as background, period music would have helped, overall the movie was very disappointing.
REAL Woodstock Video on YouTube

Friday, September 4, 2009

Hoof and Mouse

The old hoof and mouth disease is alive and well. I had a recent paid post that was critical of the advertiser and PayPerPost the facilitator. I took umbrage to the fact that, in my estimation, I had dotted all my i’s and crossed all my T’s and still had the post rejected twice. Being blithely ignorant of the process I leaped to the cynical conclusion that the advertiser was simply avoiding making payment. I did a rant post about the soulless capitalists that were ripping off the humble and oh, so deserving blogger. Keep in mind this was for a $5.00 paid post. That is $5.00 total, not per click, view or anything else. Now $5.00 is not a make or break deal for me, even in this economy. I was taking umbrage on being ripped off. (or so I thought)

Please note, I do periodically do paid blogs and never have done one that I would not have written the same material even if there was no payment.

I got a very nice, much more rational comment on my rant post from Carri at PayPerPost. She pointed out that the advertiser does not shoot down the posts, it is a staffer at PayPerPost who is the buzz killer. She also pointed out that they don’t get paid unless I get paid which means they make every effort to help the blogger make a post that fits the advertisers’ requirements. Since I took down the post rather than make a 3rd revision Carri could not evaluate it herself. I stoutly state (no fat joke intended) that I met every requirement the advertiser required and the post was still rejected twice. I even went to the trouble of verifying the accuracy of the link through multiple browsers just in case good old ie8 was screwing things up. I still feel that the PayPerPost staffers erroneously rejected the post but since I am not willing to prolong an unpleasant experience particularly since it was a $5.00 unpleasant experience, I can’t really blame them too much.

Bottom line, much like sending emails when you are angry or overwrought, you shouldn’t post a blog when you are fuming either. In my weak defense, I was not aware that PayPerPost wasn’t paid unless I am paid. Also you can put in a trouble ticket to PayPerPost to try and get questions answered and if it was for $20 maybe I would have pursued that but for $5 it just wasn’t worth the trouble. To PayPerPost, your staffers should provide greater clarity as to why posts are rejected. This would help in correcting what ever the problem might be. I would tell Carri this but there was no way of returning an email to her.

In closing, even if I would write it for free, I am never going to waste my time on a $5.00 paid blog again. Although it has given me material for two posts so it wasn’t a total waste of my time.
 Money Saving Tech Tips