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 
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Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Disappointing Google Nexus Is Here


Boy talk about a let down. I am sure the phone is sweet, what I don’t like is that it is business as usual. At this point you can get the phone for a price similar to the rest of the “Droid” phones as long as you are willing to get it from T-Mobile. Supposedly it will be available from Verizon and others soon.

WhooHoo, I thought that Google was going to provide a new method of cellular dispersal. I had hoped they would help to end the vise the providers have put around our heads. If you want an unlocked Nexus it is over $500.00. Maybe that is a reasonable number for some folks but for me and I suspect many others, $500.00 is way too much money to spend on a phone that is only marginally or superficially better than anything else. The exorbitant price and the failure of Google to provide a new improved business model for cell phone distribution is just darn disappointing.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Avatar The Movie


If you are not planning on seeing Avatar, change your mind. I saw the 3-D version and it was one of the most visually spectacular movies I have ever seen. The plot was pretty much standard cowboys and Indians. It would still be fun to see with out the amazing visuals but frankly the special effects and cinematography are the true stars of the movie.

The 3-D wasn’t over done. I was a bit apprehensive thinking they would have a lot of cutesy effects causing the audience to drop and duck. The 3-D effects fit well with the theme. I was surprised that there was a $3.00 surcharge for seeing a 3-D movie. That translated into $36.00 of tickets for our multigenerational 3 threesome. Both my grandson and I got age related discounts and it was still $36 for three tickets. If that is going to be the norm for 3-D movies then they are never going to gain the popularity that they hope to get. The 3-D effects were nice but if I had known prior to reaching the ticket window I would not have paid the difference.

All in all, it was an entertaining movie with the oohs and ahhs being for the effects rather than the story. I would suggest that you might even enjoy it even if you don’t care for scifi.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Video Games In School


There is a school in NY City that is basing it’s entire curriculum on video games. The premise is that today’s wired kids can be better engaged through a medium that is home to them. NYC has a 39% drop out rate. Quest to Learn is hoping that this approach may be able to up their student retention level. Oddly enough I saw socialization results that mirror what they are seeing when my sons had the first cyber cafĂ© in the area. Quest to Learn has discovered that kids with attention disorders can be reached through video games. At one point my sons had a Mom come in and buy her son 100 hours of computer time. She stated that she had seen more socialization progress in her ADD child the 6 weeks that Cyber-Stop had been open than she had in three years of therapy. As a former teacher and counselor, I saw kids engaged in problem solving and pushing their social skill to new positive levels. Therefore I am inclined to think that the Quest to Learn may have a winner.

Education is still mired in tradition. Tenure is a good example. Tenure may not be bad due to the possibility of politically motivated retaliation from locally elected school boards. However merit raises, as much as they terrify school boards and teachers unions both, are long overdue. Years and years ago I used the game Monopoly to help convey the meaning of communism, socialism and capitalism. I would have students play as competing teams to see how each system worked. My “game playing” was not well received by my supervisors. Any time something new is introduced into education it has an uphill battle. I can only hope that the Quest To Learn experiment can survive the Luddites and succeed.

Monday, January 18, 2010

FireFoxed

Once again I create a new use making a noun a verb. I have gone over to FireFox. I felt like a rebel until I read an article that said FireFox just pulled ahead of IE in number of users. So goes my sense of rebellion. I have found that some main stream commercial sites don’t like FireFox. You discover this when you try and fill out a form and it won’t let you do that. So I open IE and the form works fine. One wonders what ostrich has it’s head buried in the sand in these supposed main stream sites that they haven’t noticed that folks are disgruntled with IE. I am not a mindless MS Basher. I just get frustrated when I was automatically updated to IE8 and some of my stuff stopped working. Plus IE8 was slowwww! So even though the linked article above suggests that IE will pull back ahead of FoxFire, I have come to the realization I’m not a rebel, using FireFox just makes sense.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Haitian Nightmare

Unless you reside on another planet you are aware of the tragedy that continues to unfold in Haiti. Here is a link to a reputable organization that is helping if you are inclined to help. If not inclined to send money, then please, at least, send prayers.

Support Doctors Without Borders in Haiti

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Rolling Hot Spots

The rolling hot spot is another bad idea that comes to fruition. Ford announced that they are equipping select models to function as rolling hot spots. Thus you will be able to access the Internet from your own vehicle as you roll down the road. What is truly scary about this is that the same idiot that is shaving/putting on makeup while texting and driving will now find it easier to multi task to disaster. Incidentally, Ford isn’t the first to implement such idiocy, Chrysler has already done it.

I’m as into being wired as the next geek but I shudder to think that we are making it easier to be driver safety stupid. See the PC World Article

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

"The Adventures Of Hardy Belch" A New Review


Here is the latest review on Amazon on "The Adventures of Hardy Belch".

5.0 out of 5 stars William G. Benrim's best yet, January 11, 2010

The Adventures of Hardy Belch by William G. Bentrim is, in my opinion, the author's best yet. Twelve year old Hardy Belch (What a perfect name for a 12 year old boy!) and his dog, Tiny, are featured in three stories: The Bully, The Green Man, and the Delaware River Pirates.

Tiny, who is actually very large, is also telepathic dog and when problems come up he loves to help Hardy plan solutions. These are all stories that are not only entertaining, but also have an important message. Children will love the stories of Hardy Belch and Tiny and will also learn about how to stop bullying, how to treat those who may look different, about fairness, and dealing with financial stress.

Parents can read the Author's Notes in which Mr. Bertrim explains his mission to help children learn in a positive and fun way. The author has a wonderful web page here ,where you can meet Hardy and Tiny, and even print out a Hardy Belcher bookmark. I highly recommend this wonderful book for children.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Cake Wrecks



I just finished reading a very funny article in the New York Times about cake wrecks. I was unfamiliar with the term prior to reading the article. Apparently there are sites that document ugly or mis-captioned cakes and they have a loyal following out there. The web site mentioned in the article is called CakeWrecks. It has photos of cakes of all types and trust me, many of them you would not consider eating. The CakeWreck site only posts photos of professionally made cakes which is both sadder and more astounding if you think about it. Jen Yate’s the blog’s creator says she gets around 50 cake photo submissions a day. Wow, that is a lot of culinary screw ups. The verbiage is a major chuckle but after looking at the site there are some very vivid visual disasters as well. For example read the caption on the real cake that I recreated in the attached graphic. If you have nothing else to look at today, check it out the blog CakeWrecks, it made me LOL.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

SCAREWARE



What is Scareware?  From the ZdNet blog  “Basically, scareware, also known as rogueware or put in simple terms, fake security software, is a legitimately looking application that is delivered to the end user through illegal traffic acquisition tactics starting from compromised web sites.” 


The ultimate guide to scareware protection posted by Dancho Danchev at ZdNet is a must read.  It is dismaying to discover how well organized the malware folks are and how determined they are to separate you and your money.   Read the article, it is long but it is worth reading.   The following is a list of real malware cleaners provided by Dancho Danchev at ZdNet.   

Legitimate online malware scanners offered for free by their vendors include, but are not limited to:

Friday, January 1, 2010

Body Scans


On must consider thanking the Puritans once again for skewing our national psychic totally out of whack. Body scan equipment is available and substantially more convenient than the bulk of the techniques and procedures used to currently screen air travelers. The major complaint isn’t the amount of radiation or the expense but privacy issues. Gasp, some unknown TSA technician is going to see a digital image of my naked body. Hmm, titillating an unknown person versus stopping a potential terrorist assassin, that doesn’t seem like a tough choice. From what I have read, the person seeing the digital image is not able to view the actual person who is being scanned. The, in your face, screener is not able to see the scan. There are no identification markers on the scan unless a search is triggered. The scan is not stored. So take your digital camera, put a bag over your head, strip down and take a photo. Send that photo to be put in a pile with several hundred other unidentified photos, would you even be able to pick yourself out?

People get over it. No one cares if you are hung like a horse or a house fly. No one cares if your are carrying implants or a freak of nature. Compared to safety false modesty is just inappropriate. Anonymous images that can’t be connected to the person being imaged are not infringing on your privacy. They may save your life. Frankly I would much rather have someone looking at my body scan than giving me a pat down. Unless a strip search is being conducted by an extremely attractive, age appropriate person of the opposite sex, I prefer an anonymous body scan. Safety trumps false modesty any day.
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