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

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

Another year is gone and another year is starting. Can you look back over the last year and conclude that you spent your time in a worthwhile manner? If you can’t, now is the time to plan your new year. I will be so bold as to offer suggestions:

TELL the people you love that you love them. You think they know but make sure they know.

Take the time to explain something to a child. The key here is take the time, we are all busy but childhood is short. Don’t miss it.

Do something that may help someone else. Do it without looking for a reward of any type. Just do it!

Make family your top priority! If we all take care of our own, then they won’t be dependent on the charity of others which may not exist.

Practice tolerance, whether you recognize your own prejudices or not, be tolerant of others. Instead of emulating the demagogues who rant and rave on TV and radio, have pity on them for their narrow point of view.

Have enough sense to know that advice unasked for will probably be ignored.

I suspect that will be the result of this post, but one can always hope for a better new year.

Have a wonderful, happy and blessed New Year!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Droid Envy

As mentioned in a previous post, I would love to have a Droid but can’t quite justify going with the $30/month charge for connection. I have to admit that I am impressed with what I have seen. I sat in my grandson’s Christmas pageant and saw the little dot on the map to show where I was. BTW this was before it started, I am geeky but I wouldn’t be phone playing while my grandson was singing. Anyway, I am weakening. I really liked the real time map feature and the screen is very bright and legible. I have avoided looking at available aps since I don’t want to increase my envy depression. The ability to scan bar codes while in a store and compare brick and mortar prices would drive me stark raving mad as a retailer but as a consumer, wow! What a nice feature. Only 18% of the cell phone population currently has a smart phone. What an open market for the vendors. I am going to try and hold off to see what the Google Phone will do. It is reputed to out do their own predictions as well as burying the iPhone. Fun things are happening in the cell phone arena. Link

Thursday, December 24, 2009


I’m detecting a pattern in some of my posts. A certain disgruntlement seems to permeate my normally cheerful demeanor. It may be the holiday season and it may be age. I do my best to say what I mean, do what I say I will do and to honor my word. I tried to do that the entire time I owned my businesses. Sometimes it appears that is not the case nor the interest of many current businesses. When I discover that is the case, I try and write about it so that someone else doesn’t repeat my mistakes. I admit, sometimes I would like to see people make the same mistakes as I do so I won’t feel like the only village idiot. I try not to be that person.

I still feel most people are decent human beings. I have noted that the customer service people in the recent “rants” were pleasant and courteous and powerless. I don’t feel everyone is out to get me(thank you Frank Burns of Mash). I don’t think the nation of Italy is morally bankrupt due to the ludicrous conviction, with out evidence, of Amanda Knox. I will have to admit that it is easier to write when I have a full head of steam and it should be obvious that some of the things I have written about lately have definitely steamed me. BTW, writing about stuff really is a good catharsis.

Regardless of the frequent sour tenor of some of my posts, life is good, so are most people and I want to wish all of you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! (or whatever holiday you celebrate this season) Oh, and thanks for reading my blog!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Optical Storage Predictions

I don’t know if referring to someone else’s blog is still blogging or just being a traffic cop. I read an interesting article on the impending demise of optical storage. It is on zdnet and by Robin Harris. His article pointed out that hard drive storage capacity is growing and is still considerably faster than optical storage as well as cheaper. He cites the historic precedents of punch cards, tape, small capacity floppy drives and escalating changes. He ends by asking hard drive manufactures to come up with archive quality hard drives.

I enjoyed the article and agreed with much of what he said. I do heartily agree that there is a need for archive quality hard drives. Until a hard drive exists of that quality, I will continue archiving on optical disks, both CD and DVD. I haven’t moved into blu-ray and don’t anticipate doing so. By the time I finish burning the major stack of optical media I have, there will be some better alternative.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Verizon Cellular Phone Upgrade, Cumbersome At Best

I have Verizon for my cellular carrier. I was going to upgrade my phone to the new LG enV Touch. I have the LG Dare which I really like but I liked the idea that I could load documents into the enV and read them. Thusly I would be able to stick a couple of books into my phone for those long Drs office waits, traffic jams etc. where you wish you had a book.

I went into the Verizon site to upgrade, added in the stuff I wanted and got to the review portion of the order. It showed a $9.99 per month data package. I didn’t want a data package. If I was going with a data package, I would go with the new Droid. So I hit edit and tried to take the data package off. After many frustrating minutes, I called customer service. It turns out that you can’t get that phone unless you get the data package. It is interesting that the only time you clearly see that requirement is when you are ready to finalize the upgrade. If you aren’t careful and don’t thoroughly read the upgrade sheet, you are going to automatically be billed an additional $9.99 per month for a 25MB data package you don’t want. I have to wonder how much money Verizon is raking in from unsuspecting souls who don’t have a clue they have a data package. As it turns out, the third customer service rep I spoke to pointed out where it mentioned the data package. It was there, it just wasn’t clear.

I encountered more interesting upgrade frustration when speaking to the 5th rep while activating my wife’s new phone. It turns out when you purchase ringtones through the phone you can’t move them to your new phone. If you purchase the ringtones through the online media center then you can load them into your new phone when you upgrade. This is the third time I purchased the same ringtones. In the course of conversation with #5, I mentioned my frustration with upgrading my phone and being forced to get a 25MB data package for $9.99. He said, “Order the phone, get the 25MB data package and then call customer service and upgrade my plan to unlimited data.” By upgrading my plan and paying $10.00 per month more I could get unlimited data instead of 25MB. A one cent upgrade that he was the only rep to mention. I still am not happy about the “required” data package but $10.00 per month for unlimited access vs. $9.99 for 25MB is a no brainer. I actually called a 6th customer service rep to verify the one cent upgrade because I couldn’t believe no one else had mentioned it. She verified #5’s statement.

Interestingly Verizon claims that the “Smart” phones manufacturers require the data package and thus they have to add it. I looked over my alternative phone choices and then called customer service again to ask if they needed data packages. I would have to drop back to a phone with less features than the one I am using to avoid paying $10 per month for a data package I don’t want. So I am not “upgrading” to a lesser phone. I will continue to use my LG Dare and hopefully a new “not so smart” phone will debut with a 5 megapixel camera. That feature with unlimited data access would push me over the upgrade edge.

As an aside, the customer service reps I spoke to were all astoundingly polite, in spite of my ever escalating grumpiness. Too bad they have no control of the upgrade policies.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Toys-R-Us Elusive Lego Bargains

Toys-R-Us was advertising Lego bargains. Buy one at regular price and get the second one at 50% off. Anyone who has purchased Lego knows that they seldom are on sale. I was pumped to nail down my Christmas shopping in one fell swoop. Ha!

Even when the item said it was in stock, it was lying. You added the item to the cart and a message would come up stating that the below number was how many they really had and there was no number shown below.

After trying all the combinations of items that I could conceivably guess might be acceptable as gifts for my grandchildren I realized that there was no inventory of Lego. I called and got a delightful young lass who told me the web site often wasn’t up to date on inventory. She checked a few of the items I had hoped to purchase and confirmed they were not in stock. I asked if there was any possibility they would be back in stock prior to Christmas. She had no idea but I should keep coming back to the website and try to buy them. I asked if the sale would be continued, she had no idea but I should come back to the web site and check.

An inescapable conclusion could be that you can offer anything on sale and it won’t cost you a dime if you don’t really have any product. I would hesitate to ever suggest a firm as reputable as Toys-R-not me might be indulging in deceptive business practices. All I know is that didn’t have a single Lego set that I wanted and that was way more than 10.

I discovered that Fosters, a local toy store that didn’t use to carry Lego but now does had several of the sets that I was searching to buy. When I called, the clerk told me to make sure I printed out the coupon from their web site to get 15% off my purchase. So I was able to support a local business, find some Lego that I wanted and even got a discount. It was a happy ending to a frustrating beginning. Moral? Just because a big chain says they have something doesn’t mean they do and the time you spend to get one of their nebulous bargains could be better spent with the kids or grandkids you are buying for in the first place.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Holiday Printing

I sit here listening to Christmas music and printing out photos for my Christmas tree photo ornaments. I enjoy using the photo ornaments for stuffing stuffers. Of course I enjoy giving the grandkids ones of me in Santa hats or other silly poses. Sure it is cheesy, but the kids laugh and give me a hard time and we all enjoy it.

Yesterday my granddaughter and I found a great Disney site that allowed her to dress Cinderella and then print out the finished product. We also had to print out new princess photos for her “house” decorations. Being the ever doting grandparent, I use photo paper and quality setting. Needless to say, those full 8.5x11” printouts go through ink like there is no tomorrow. I use dramatically more ink on the days I baby sit and the holiday season seems to just suck the life right out of the ink cartridges.

If you go through as much ink as I do and you are in the UK, you may want to consider checking out Cartridge Save. They have printer cartridges for practically every printer you can imagine. They don’t restrict your choices to strictly factory inkjet or laser cartridges but also offer compatible cartridges which can save some serious money. If you are blowing through your ink as fast as I am, check out Cartridge Save. Have fun printing out your Christmas and other holiday projects.   
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Staples Drops The Calendar Ball

Christmas comes once a year at least the last time I checked. I have gotten my annual calendar printed at Staples for years. Last year I used their on-line creator and it worked well. This year on December 4th I tried to use their on-line service and it was dismal. It wouldn’t upload my photos so I tried to call customer support. That was a waste to time and finally I hung up on the elevator music and looked for other vendors.

I ended up at VistaPrint. I find their site annoying due to the constant badgering to add more to your cart. However their calendar creating software worked smoothly and all 13 of my images uploaded in substantially less time than I had been able to get on photo up on the Staples site. I have not seen the end product but I have ordered from VistaPrint in the past and the products have been acceptable.

So if you plan on doing a calendar as a gift, I recommend looking at VistaPrint. I received no remunerations whatsoever for this recommendation.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Amanda Knox Outrage

My last post posed hypothetically that anti-Americanism may have played a part in Amanda Knox’s ludicrous conviction. After doing a web search, it appears that I am not the only one that questions the basis of the conviction. It appears that this young woman is being a scapegoat to the rabid anti-American feelings in a very conservative Italian community. The more I read, the more I am outraged. Here is a link to a site that summarizes the case. Don’t just read this article look at others and make up your mind. If you are as outraged as I am, email or call your congressman and senator, perhaps official pressure may help.

I have found a website that claims to be the Amanda Knox defense fund. I have emailed the Associated Press and asked if their reporter, Gene Johnson who has done many stories on the Amanda Knox case, can verify if the website is legitimate. If it is legitimate, I am going to donate, that family is taking an emotional and financial beating.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Italian Justice, An Oxymoron?

If you don’t know who Amanda Knox is, you are probably living in a cave. I am sure I don’t know enough to rant about the jury’s verdict but I do have to question how it was reached. If the news reports are accurate, there was no, repeat NO forensic evidence to show that Miss Knox was ever in the room where the murder took place. Somehow that seems to indicate reasonable doubt. Of course reasonable doubt is part of the judicial process in the good old US of A. It doesn’t appear that is the case for the Italian judicial process. One hesitates to suggest that the seeming mindless pursuit of a guilty plea regardless of evidence may be indicative of the European dislike of Americans in general. It would truly be a tragic miscarriage of justice if a young woman is sentenced to 26 years in prison primarily due to her nationality.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Software Compatibility For The Rest of US

I’m a novice author. I am self published because at my age I don’t want to grow old and die waiting on a publisher to “discover” me. If my books sell then I did something write (I know, cute!). Since my first book is selling I am going to rashly suggest I am an author. One of the things I have discovered is that the on-demand printers who cater to the self publishing world still have the mind set of corporate publishing. LightningSource who I suspect I will use at some point seems to be a reasonably priced, full service print house. Now I am getting to the part about software compatibility. LightningSource will only accept my books if they are formatted under specific software. Oddly enough I have older versions of the software but they only support more recent versions. I am supposed to fork out $500.00 for the latest version of Adobe or Quark so I can submit my manuscript to LightningSource. Now I am not beating up on LightningSource, as I said, I plan on using them sometime because after a lot of research they seem like one of the better alternatives, at least for the self publisher. What is annoying is that they want the self publisher market but they want the self publisher to be using full publishing house software. Backward compatibility in software isn’t all that difficult but then I do look at the issue from my 25 years in the computer business.

I guess this ties in with my post on the adoption of Windows 7 and why in the world would I want to do that. A new version of the software should be able to read the old version’s files. Why would you make your software incompatible with it’s previous version. In this case, I suspect that it is a corporate policy thing by some MBA who has never written a book, booted up his own computer or bootstrapped his own finances to follow his dream. I am sure it cost less in people time to only use specific versions of software. God forbid, someone should have to know something beyond the tip of their nose. So to you corporate entities that want the small business or the self publisher or anyone who doesn’t have a bucket of money to throw at new software, LISTEN UP, you’ll get more business if you pay attention to all us ornery little guys.
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