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!

Amazon

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Hunger Hurts!

Hunger isn’t just your stomach growling at 11:30 A.M. in anticipation of lunch. Hunger for millions of people is a debilitating condition faced daily, that drains resolve, crushes enthusiasm and stifles growth. As you read this, more than 500 million people are living in "absolute poverty" and more than 15 million children die of hunger every year. There are estimates that 1/3 of the world’s population is starving and another third is chronically hungry. Guess where that puts you, the third that is striving to lose weight and stay fit, rather ironic. Even in our good old US of A we have people going hungry, every single day. In this economy, the food pantries are be overwhelmed by not just the traditionally impoverished but by white collar, formerly middle income folks who are suddenly jobless and destitute.

Heifer International is partnering with Bloggers Unite to heighten awareness of a endemic problem that we are all loathe to face. Pause for a moment the next time the Boy Scouts or the mailman are publicizing a food pantry drive and think how you feel when you are hungry. Now magnify that feeling ten fold and pull some things out of your pantry and donate them. The next time you grocery shop and they have a buy one, get one free, buy two and donate the two free ones to your local food pantry. It truly doesn’t demand a terrible sacrifice for anyone if everyone thinks a bit beyond themselves and gives a little. Lots of little donations by lots and lots of ordinary people can help starve off the hunger afflicting so many.

Friday, April 24, 2009

ACER Adds To Its Laptop Family


ACER is attacking the laptop industry with renewed aggression. They have released so many new models, I am not even going to address them all. One surprise to me was that ACER owns the Gateway, Packard Bell and eMachine brands. I’ve only been out of the reseller business for 3 years but I was surprised at that. As a reseller we had far fewer problems with the ACER laptops than we had with competing brands. Frankly we always looked a eMachines when they came in for service as disasters waiting to happen. Perhaps they have improved under the ACER umbrella. Take a look at the reviews of the new models here. In my experience even though I no longer sell equipment, the ACER is a good choice. This is not a paid blog.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Segway With A Seat, P.U.M.A.

According to Segway and GM the Personalized Urban Mobility & Accessibility vehicle will reinvent urban transportation. Perhaps the enormous pressure the government is putting on GM to reinvent themselves has helped to put this puppy on the front burner. They claim it will seat two people but one of them better be diminutive. The PUMA makes the Smart Car look gargantuan. It appears to be a tricked out wheelchair but Segway claims it will do 35mph. A fender bender in this “vehicle” would most likely be more like a fender eater. Although for those of us who have hit the open road on bikes of any type, cycles, scooters or pedal, the result would be the same in a fender bender so I don’t think that should preclude considering this as your ride. Guys, it has automatic curb appeal to eco-chicks. Girls, your date will be happy to pop it in the back of his SUV if you run out of juice. The makers claim it will go 25 to 35 miles per charge and that each charge will be approximately $0.60. I personally would spend more recharging my personal battery at the donut shop after pedaling 30 miles. In these leaner, meaner times maybe a re-evaluation of how we get places is necessary. Although the PUMA is currently a prototype with all the pressure to provide more economic alternatives to the auto, we may see a working model on the streets sooner than we think.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Kodak InkJet Ink Campaign

Kodak has been advertising heavily that their printers will save you major bucks on the price of ink. We have all known for years that many of the inkjet printers have been sold at production cost or below to hook you on their exorbitantly prices ink. Many of us have had mixed experiences trying to use compatible inkjet cartridges. Back when I was repairing printers, we had an inkjet come in looking as if a small animal had been slaughtered in the printer. Think about how fast that print head moves and then picture a leak in a refillable cartridge, pretty ugly it was! Compatible inks have come a long way and that is one method of cutting inkjet printing costs.

The new Kodak printers seem to have similar specifications to it’s competitors. I compared the $149.00 range and there were distinct similiarties and all of them had more expensive ink than the Kodak. I did notice that the Lexmark X6675 has a five year warranty if you register it. That is 4 years longer than the rest of the pack.

If you are getting a free printer when you buy your computer that makes your decision easier. $100.00 will buy a fair amount of ink. It does seem that Kodak is bucking the industry and offering a viable alternative that WILL cost a lot less to print. Those of us with working printers can only try to find acceptable compatible ink cartridges to combat the outrageous ink prices the rest of the vendors are demanding. Check out Kodak’s price comparison site. This is not a paid blog.



Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Good Value Notebook at Staples

Notebooks are always a volatile purchase. It is practically inevitable that on the way home from picking up your hot, new, great value notebook, you will see or hear an advertisement for a better, cheaper, sexy notebook. The best compromise deal (balancing features, performance and price) I have found recently is the HP Pavilion dv6-1030us Entertainment Notebook PC at Staples for a final down and dirty price of $599.98. I found the same notebook at Amazon for an additional $200.00. The price involves rebates so be prepared to wait for some of your money back. This notebook is a better value than the one Staples seems to be pushing for $50.00 less which doesn’t have as large hard drive, has no bluetooth and a smaller screen. If you don’t need the size and the DVD burner, I would look at some of the netbooks. They are pretty darn sweet and in the $299.00 range.
Specifications
Intel® Core™2 Duo Processor T6400
16.0" Diagonal High Definition(8) HP BrightView Display
HP Mesh Imprint finish & HP Webcam with integrated digital microphone
Memory (RAM) 4GB
Memory Type DDR2
Memory Expandable to 8GB
Hard Drive Size 320GB
Hard Drive Type SATA
Optical Drive LightScribe SuperMulti 8X DVD R/RW with Double Layer Support
Display Size 16.0"
Display Type High Definition HP BrightView Display
Operating System Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit with Service Pack 1
Battery Type 6-Cell Lithium-Ion
Network Card Wireless LAN 802.11a/b/g/n WLAN & Bluetooth
Video Graphics Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 4500MHD
Other ports 5-in-1 integrated Digital Media Reader
Bluetooth Enabled Yes
Dimensions 14.9" (L) x 10.15" (D) x 1.33" (min H)/1.61"(H)
Weight 6.34lbs
Warranty 1 year

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Home Security Video Systems

Sadly one of the more dismaying aspects of an economic downturn is an increase in property crimes. Video surveillance has progressed as rapidly as the rest of the tech area. In addition, video surveillance equipment can allow you to keep an eye on the kids when they are in the recreation room, backyard or pool area. The costs today are significantly lower than even two years ago.

From the Costco site Q-See 4 Channel H.264 250GB DVR w/ Mobile Phone Surveillance & 4 CMOS Camera Kits Item # 379578 for $299.99 plus shipping and handling.

Costco has a wired system that should meet many small business and most home owner needs. Note, it is a wired system, not wireless. It includes a DVR complete with hard drive installed. Be careful in comparing systems, many include a DVR but don’t clearly mention that you have to add the hard drive at an additional cost. (DVR is digital video recorder) The DVR is particularly useful for proof purposes in crime. In one situation at a local cyber cafĂ©, a wallet was stolen. After pursuing the stored video, it clearly showed the perp stealing the wallet. It was amusing to see how he changed his adamant and angry pleas when he watched himself lift the wallet on the monitor.

The Costco 4 channel DVR system provides you peace of mind by allowing you to remotely monitor your premises over the Internet, or even on your WinCE or Symbian enabled 3G phone. Watch live video or playback video, and even access DVR menus from virtually anywhere in the world. With the sophisticated user interface, you can plug in your USB mouse (included) to easily navigate through the program menus. H.264 compression allows you to maximize your hard drive recording time, and delivers good digital video quality when viewing over the Internet or 3G mobile networks. This DVR combo solution records real-time digital video onto the pre-installed 250GB HDD, and includes 4 complete out-of-the-box color CMOS camera kits with cables and stands for ease of installation.
Q-see solutions are the perfect answer for keeping your family secure, protecting your assets against theft, or managing your staff and resources more effectively. This easy to install complete security package has everything you need to setup a secure home or business, and can be integrated into your current security system. With Q-See, surveillance can be handled remotely – worldwide.

Key Features:
H.264 Compression providing ultra-efficient results
(CIF) Real-time recording on each channel
Triplex technology (record, playback, and remotely monitor at the same time)
USB mouse function to easily navigate through program menus
USB port for backup to flash drive or USB hard drive
Remote Internet monitoring (up to 5 users at the same time)
Mobile Phone Surveillance (WinCE & Symbian on 3G networks)
4 Audio Inputs / 2 Audio Outputs
One 250GB hard drive pre-installed
4 Camera kits with CMOS image sensors and 30 ft. night vision
1 Year Warranty

Q-See 4 Channel H.264 Network DVR:
Display at 120 FPS (shared by cameras)
(CIF) Real-time recording on each channel
Various recording modes
USB Port for backup to flash drive or USB hard drive
Remote viewing through Internet Explorer
Password Protection Function
Supports DHCP for network setup
Supports multiple channel viewing and backup
Supports dual stream for easier internet access with lower bandwidth
Pre-Installed 250GB hard drive
Triplex technology (record, playback, connect via network at the same time)
4 Channel video input / 2 Channel BNC video output
4 Channel audio input / 2 Channel output
Display Resolution: 704x480
Record Resolution: 352x240 at 120FPS, and 704x480 at 30FPS (shared by cameras)
Software Operating System Support: Windows 2000, XP, Vista
RS-485 Port (PTZ Support): Yes
Power Supply: 110-240V
Operating Temperature 50°F - 104°F

From the Amazon site the Panasonic Internet Video Monitoring System with 3 Color Cameras, TV Adaptor and Remote Control (Gray) for $799.00. This system is $1299.00 on the Panasonic site. The features that make this different from the much cheaper system are wireless cameras and pan and tilt cameras. Note that the Panasonic unit has an SD slot that you must add a card to record video, it does not contain a hard drive.
Easy to Set Up and Watch on TV Just connect the video cable to a TV to watch the camera images and control up to 8 cameras. You can set up the network cameras where you want, and even access cameras from across the internet. Change the Camera Direction by Remote Control! You can move the camera lens in the direction you want to see by pressing the cursor key on the remote control or even access your favorite angles by using the preset controls (numbers 1-8). This simple remote control lets you operate the camera right from the TV, without having to move the camera by hand. 802.11b/g Wireless Communication This system can communicate wirelessly with standard 802.11b or 802.11g wireless devices, allowing the flexibility to install and operate the system without running network wires, and utilizing SSID filtering and powerful 40/64/128 bit WEP encryption helps to protect your wireless network from illegal intrusion. Human Detection Sensor The built-in sensor can detect the presence of people and large animals, which can trigger the camera to record images or send an email of the captured image(s) to your computer or cell phone. Warning Buzzer Informs You When Activity is Detected Each camera can utilize either a built-in sensor (BL-C10A/BL-C30A) or a commercially available external sensor to detect activity. When the sensor is triggered, a buzzer sound notifies anyone who is near the TV adaptor. When you need a little privacy With the built in Privacy mode, your privacy is protected by simply pressing a button. An indicator on the front of each camera turns red, and you know at a glance that the camera is now only accessible by you. Each camera can also be set up to show a green light when the camera is being accessed. Easily Record Camera Images By inserting an SD Memory Card into the TV Adaptor, the camera images can be recorded onto the card. The recorded images can then be displayed on the TV by remote control operation.
The Panasonic system necessitates adding an additional $163.00 camera to make a camera to camera comparison to the Q-See. Both systems have benefits but the Q-See has a far superior cost effectiveness factor if you can wire the cameras. If wiring is cost prohibitive or just not possible then the wireless system makes more sense.
This type of system can be put together piece meal but unless you are very knowledgeable that can be problematic. A pre-configured vendor system may not be exactly what you need but may end up saving you money in the long run.
This is not a paid blog but if you decide to buy on Amazon, go through my store front and I will get a commission.


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Sanyo Eneloop Batteries Rock!

I blogged on Sanyo Eneloop batteries back on February 27, 2009 I have now had the batteries in two of my cameras for over 6 weeks. I pulled out one of the cameras last night and it fired up, flash worked and the shutter lag was diminished. I wasn’t really aware that the a big chunk of the dreaded shutter lag was based on the ability of the batteries to handle recharging the flash. I took 5 flash pictures almost as rapidly as I could depress the shutter. I am totally impressed with that. In addition the Lenmar, Sunpak and Energizer rechargeable nickel metal hydride batteries don’t hold a charge in the camera for more than two or three days. I find that a bit odd in that they hold up fine in a little flashlight that my grandson wanders around with and leaves lit on a regular basis. Bottom line is if you are dismayed with your rechargeable batteries I strongly recommend the Enloop batteries. This is not a paid blog nor do I have any financial interest in any of the brands mentioned but if you click here and buy Eneloop batteries I will make a whopping 4% on the transaction.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Lights Out Saves Money



I’ve noticed that my grandchildren have a tendency to turn on a light and keep on going, never to look back and never to turn off the light. I suppose that over time that has an impact on the electric bill. My supposition is apparently accurate since Black and Decker have a product that will turn off the lights automatically. Moreover it is a very simple product which means it may actually continue to work for awhile. It is call the Lights Out AutoSwitch and will be available in a few weeks. It is $30.00 which if you translate to a 100 watt bulb running 10 hours or 1000 kWh at $0.25/kWh, you would have to save about 1200 hours of that 100 watt bulb running to pay for the switch. Of course less hours would be needed if your electric is more expensive and more hours if it is cheaper. In a room with 6 ceiling fixtures of 100 watts each on one switch you would pay for the autoswitch rather quickly. Of course if you replace each of the 100 watt incandescent lights with compact fluorescent lights you screw up my math and elongate the pay off on the autoswitch. Bottom line is, I thought the concept was cool and it may save you some money in certain situations. This was not a paid blog but I have had good experience with Black and Decker products.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

World Autism Day April 2, 2009


Autism seems to be the most recent ubiquitous disease. There are many definitions and even more arguments regarding those definitions. Bottom line is if you have someone you care about suffering from some form of autism it can be searing. It is extraordinarily difficult to watch a child grow up unable to conform to social boundaries. An inability to conform to acceptable behavior whether it is 1st grade or church, tends to isolate and alienate the child thusly compounding the effects of a disorder with emotional issues.

Early diagnosis of autism can have a major impact on the life an autistic person may live. Frequently providing a consistent emotional environment with a clearly defined structure can help a child develop internal controls. I recently saw the results of an out of control child moved from a inconsistent environment into a structured environment. In merely a matter of months, a child that was impossible to be around, has made remarkable social progress. On the other hand a teen that has had inconsistent structure is unable to maintain social control under any kind of emotional stress.

Too many people feel that drugs or firm discipline is the panacea for autism. Each individual who displays symptoms must be appropriately diagnosed and a treatment plan developed. Autism is a disease and must be treated as such.
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