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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Evaluation of My Two New Bargain Basement Acers

Acer Aspire AX1301-U1302 Compact Desktop PC, AMD Athlon II X2 215 2.70GHz, 4GB, 750GB HDD, Gigabit LAN, Windows 7 Home Premium x64

Computer runs just fine. Sorry to say Windows 7 is blowing much of my fun software out of the water.

The Aspire is a nice size footprint. 14x11x4” It fits in a spot that would have never accommodated my previous minitower. It has 9 USB ports which is a nice feature as well. It is dramatically quieter and cooler than my old box. It was pretty much the same specs as one I found at Dell with a 750gb hard drive instead of a 160gb hard drive on the Dell and 4GB of Ram instead of 2GB on the Dell for the same money. We had great experience with the Acer line when I owned the computer business so it was an easy decision for me. I did add an extended warranty from SquareTrade. Now that I don’t have my own tech and have to do repairs myself, I decided to cover my fanny with an extended warranty. $38.00 for an additional two years seemed reasonable.
Product Features
• 2.7GHz AMD Athlon II X2 Dual-Core 215 Processor
• 4GB DDR2 Memory
• 750GB 7200RPM SATA Hard Drive; 16X DVD±R/RW SuperMulti Drive
• Integrated NVIDIA GeForce 9200 Graphics; High Definition Audio with 5.1- Channel Audio Support
• Windows 7 Home Premium
Processor, Memory, and Motherboard
• Processor: 2.7 GHz AMD Athlon
• Number of Processors: 1
• RAM: 4 GB
• RAM Type: SDRAM
Hard Drive
• Size: 750 GB
• Manufacturer: None
• Type: Serial ATA
Ports and Connectivity
• Modem: None
Cases and Expandability
• Size (LWH): 3.9 inches, 13.9 inches, 10.4 inches
• Weight: 12 pounds


My second Acer is the 1 x ($199.99) DT ACER | AR1600-U910H RT - Retail $199.99. It is an XP machine. I am sorry I didn’t get two Win7 machines now. If I had known how bad Win7 was with older software I would have gotten all the agony out of the way at one time. The machine is about the size of the Wii. It fits easily behind the monitor instead of on the floor like the old desktop. The price was obviously a major factor in the choice. The fact that the machine is used basically for email, surfing and rare downloads means there wasn’t a great need for anything more robust. I do regret the lack of any drive on the machine besides the hard drive. Installing software involved hooking up a CD drive through the USB port. Since I have all the paraphernalia, it wasn’t a big deal for me but if you don’t have a USB optical drive you could be in trouble. Two of the software packages I tried to install through the network refused to install and had to be installed from the CD drive. So for most folks, I would recommend going with something a little bigger with an optical drive and with Win7. Dell had one that was another $100.00 that had both.

Product Features and Technical Details
Product Features
• 1.6GHz Intel Atom 230 Processor
• 1024 MB DDR2 Memory, Multi-in-1 Digital Media Card Reader
• 160 GB 5400RPM SATA Hard Drive, No Optical Drive included
• Integrated NVIDIA ION LE Graphics, 6 USB 2.0 Ports, VGA & HDMI ports,
• Windows XP Home with Service Pack 3, USB Keyboard & Mouse
Processor, Memory, and Motherboard
• Hardware Platform: PC
• Processor: 1.6 GHz Intel Atom 230
• System Bus Speed: 533
• Number of Processors: 1
• RAM: 1 GB
• RAM Type: SDRAM
• Memory Slots: 2
Hard Drive
• Size: 160 GB
• Manufacturer: None
• Type: Serial ATA
Ports and Connectivity
• Modem: None
Cases and Expandability
• Size (LWH): 7.1 inches, 1.2 inches, 7.1 inches
• Weight: 5.9 pounds

No money from anyone was received for this post.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Interplak Dental Water Jet Model#WJ6R/WJ6RW


This is the worse model water jet I have ever owned. The company replaced the first one that worked intermittently within 30 days. The second one is no better. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't work. Even when I can get it to work, it often needs to be turned off and on multiple times. Sometimes the water tank needs removed and put back on several times to get the unit to function. In addition it is flimsy, you need to push it against the wall to get it to hold still so you can turn it on. Their previous model worked fine but sprung pin hole leaks in the water feed tube. Since that is not replaceable, I patched it numerous times with epoxy, which did get me an additional 6 months use out of it. I was here, on Amazon, searching for a replacement when I noticed this unit for sale. This is a poorly designed and poorly manufactured piece of equipment, I strongly advise that you look to another brand. The company representative I spoke with was very good but good customer service is hardly a substitute for a quality product, this is most definitely not a quality product.

Item model number: WJ6R/WJ6RW

Monday, April 19, 2010

Staples Caves, Consumers Screwed

Back a couple of blog posts, I talked about the inkjet cartridges folks using the razor blade vendor’s marketing strategy. Give away the razor and sock it to them with the blades. Visiting Staples today, I checked to see if there was a Staples brand compatible cartridge for my Canon Pixma ip2600. The Staples guy told me they were being forced to discontinue their store brand inkjet cartridges by the printer manufacturers. He stated that Staples was told to remove the compatible cartridges or “they” the manufactures would discontinue stocking their printers at Staples. Hmm, that sounds like it could be true. It also sounds like coercion. Federal Trade Commission take note, this sounds like a restriction of competition through coercion. Sure sounds like racketeering to me or at least price fixing. Restricting a reseller from offering a competitive product that provides a substantial cost benefit to the end user hardly seems to be offering a stimulus to the American public.

Staples has caved to the pressure from the manufacturers who generate enormous profits on ink and toner. Who is stuck paying the difference between a quality compatible ink cartridge and the pricey OEM cartridge? Right! ME and YOU!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Garage Sale Tracker Site

This is a pretty cool site that has the ability to find garage sales. You put in your zip code and they tell you about the garage sales in your area within the miles you designate. In addition they can tell you how many consignment shops or flea markets are in your area within the miles you designate. I had no clue how many were within 10 miles of my zip code.

This is valuable information in these tough economic times. You ought to check them out at Garage Sales Tracker. This is not a paid blog, no remuneration of any type was received to post this information.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Amazon Baby Stuff

Being retired I do a lot of baby sitting.  What my kids spend on day care, diapers, formula etc. is outrageous.  Amazon sent out this link and it does look like it saves money.   In addition, the convenience factor is huge.  Working parents have NO time so having essentials delivered can be a major time saver. 

Amazon offers new parents the easiest way to buy baby essentials and save with:

Free 2-Day Shipping on all diapers, wipes, and formula sold by Amazon
An additional 15% savings through Subscribe & Save, our auto-delivery program
Favorite brands like Pampers, Seventh Generation, Huggies, and Similac.

Here is the link to the site.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Solve Windows 7 Print Problems With XP & VISTA Use IOGear’s GUB211

If you have a network and have tried to interface a Windows 7 machine with your XP and VISTA machines, you have probably had a problem. Windows 7 does not play nicely with others. I put my printer on my new Windows 7 machine because it is now my main machine and it is on almost constantly. My XP machines and VISTA machines would not print to the printer. They would see it and then ignore it. I tried the printer on an XP machine and a VISTA machine and both would see each other and print to each other but the Windows 7 machine just ignored where ever I put the printer regardless of where it was physically connected.

I considered trying the printer Virtual PC but since I am a home user and I only have Windows 7 Home Premium and not Windows 7 Professional, Microsoft won’t allow me to install virtual PC. Of course all of their corporate clients would have gone stark raving bonkers if they hadn’t come up with a way to run all their XP compatible expensive software on their new “improved” Windows 7. That means that those of us not important enough for Microsoft to notice are stuck trying to figure out how to get Windows 7 to print with our other MICROSOFT operating system computers. Microsoft doesn’t find interoperability between their myriad operating systems important in spite of the fact that all three operating systems come from the very same creator and thusly should easily communicate.

After reading tons of online rants about this problem I realized a software solution was unlikely. Most of the people upset don’t seem to be corporate types so the chances of Microsoft releasing Virtual PC for their home Win7 or writing a patch to make the problem go away seems remote at best.

Ahh Ha! There are more ways to skin the Microsoft cat than software. Iogear has a 2-port USB 2.0 Printer Auto Sharing Switch that solves the miserable Windows 7 vs. XP vs. VISTA print problem. The switch installed seamlessly and worked as advertised. I have it set up to share the printer between one XP machine and my Windows 7 machine. You click print and after a nearly negligible pause, you print. My VISTA machine and my other XP machines see the printer as being on the XP machine and they print as well. This solution to an annoying lack of concern, Microsoft problem costs a whopping $16.99 at AMAZON. The Model# is GUB211. The packaging does not claim to work with Windows 7 but the web site states it works and it DOES. In addition the switch includes the two USB cables that you need to set up the switch. Imagine that, a company that actually includes what you need to set up their product. WAY TO GO IO Gear!

A problem caused by Microsoft indifference, that shouldn’t have existed in the first place is now solved.

I will be posting on software that I have found that no longer works under Windows 7. On a positive note, Windows Easy Transfer included with Windows 7, moved data from my old system to my new quite nicely. So Windows 7 isn’t a total bust, so far just an annoying inconvenience.

No Remuneration was received for this post. 

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Hartford Auto Insurance Denies AARP Drivers’ Ed Discount

Do not take the on-line version of the AARP driver’s safety course and expect any consideration from your auto insurance company.

The Hartford auto insurance denied any discount with the on-line version of the course. They will only offer a discount if you take the in person course. This is totally denying the viability of on-line education. The assumption the on-line course is not worthwhile is entirely bogus. The on-line course is more convenient and easier for people to squeeze into a busy life. Of course this would mean more people would take it and then Hartford would be forced to provide more discounts.

See any correlation here? More people taking a course to improve their driving leading to more discounts on insurance policies would mean a decrease in profits. Hartford Auto Insurance claims they want people to improve their driving skills so they can give them a discount. Get real, they want to pay lip service to the program without being forced to give up too much in discounts. There is no behind the wheel component to either course so what flimsy excuse can Hartford field for denying the validity of the online course? None! They have no reason or I could get no reason for the denial except they just don’t give a discount for the online course.

So before you take the AARP online drivers safety course, check with your insurance provider. Naively, I assumed that if AARP was providing the course work that their RECOMMENDED auto insurance provider would accept the course. WRONG! My na├»ve assumption doesn’t mean the course is not worthwhile. It just means that the Hartford is more interested in profits than encouraging consumer to be safe drivers.

Take note AARP, you should have a disclaimer on your online course that clearly states your own RECOMMENDED auto insurance company will not accept the online version of the course for a discount. In fairness to AARP they did refund my fee for taking the course when I expressed my dismay over the unwillingness of Hartford Auto Insurance to accept the course for a discount.
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