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 
or Azure Dwarf’s Horde
or visit my web site

Friday, December 30, 2011

Epson EX5210 MultiMedia Projector


It is probably overstating that I am in love but this is onesweet projector. I pulled it out of thebox, read the quick start guide and in a matter of minutes had my laptop screenup to big screen size! Not only thatbut within that initial 15 minutes I had YouTube videos running on my wall, ina very well light (sunlight bright) room. Within the first 30 minutes I was running Ice Age and feeling prettydarn chipper about the ease of use of this very portable projector.

I’m retired so I don’t need this for business. I will use it for presentations now andagain but I am more excited about using it as a big screen TV on the occasionalshore trip where there are just little tube type TVs. I’m also looking forward to running anoutside film fest for the grandkids on the side of the house.

The sound is adequate on the projector but you probably willwant to put something beefier on the source to give you better sound. The on screen menu and source selection wasself evident and easy to use. Focus andorientation were also a piece of cake. Is it clear I really liked this little fellow? Admittedly I haven’t played with one latelybut his puppy beats the bejabbers out of the ones I have used previously. Clarity is amazing on a flat white wall, Ihave to assume a screen would be even better.

It comes with a nice padded case. My only suggestion would be to have anotherpocket on the case for the cables. Itcame with VGA and USB, I added to it an SVHS and component, with the powercable you have a bunch of wire, an extra pocket on the case would behandy. If you are actually traveling with this, I’msure you have a spare pocket on your laptop case for the projector cables.

To summarize, this was extremely easy to setup and getworking in a astoundingly short time. Iam really going to enjoy using it.


I was provided this projector for review.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Backups Revisited

I’m an ex-computer geek, I can’t help myself but mygrandson’s computer crapped out recently and he was devastated. As much as I preach backup he had nobackup.

Then I got an email from a fellow blogger who said she hadlost over 30 unpublished posts when her hard drive died.

So in spite of obvious redundancies I am going to repeatmyself.

I I hate losing stuff. I use a bunch of different ways to back up but here are a couple ofideas besides having multiple computers and hard drives.

2nd copy at http://www.centered.com/ is a inexpensive backup type software thatyou can tell to just copy stuff on a schedule. Like every night. It is easy touse and inexpensive.

Thumb drives are now down to about a $1.00 a gb and a 8gbthumb drive will save a lot of posts. (Amazon had a 16gb flash drive for $17.72 and free supersaver shipping.)

Online or cloud storage is available for free. 50gb at http://www.adrive.com/ This is also good for archiving things youdon’t want to lose. DropBox is anotherplace to off site backup.

If you are worried about putting stuff in the cloud forstorage, http://www.axantum.com/axcrypt/is a free encryption program that is easy to use.

Google and Microsoft have 2gb of free online storage too.

I’m bald already but if you hope to avoid pulling out allyour hair, some type of backup strategy MUST be implemented.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Case Logic ECC-101 Point and Shoot Camera Case (Black)

This precisely sized case protects your point and shoot camera inside and out with a ribbed exterior and scratch-resistant interior. Features: Fits most popular point and shoot cameras / Durable molded EVA exterior protects your camera / Compact design allows this case to fit easily into any bag / Soft, nylex-lined interior protects LCD screen from scratches / Internal mesh pocket for an SD card or cable / Two zipper pulls and elastic side gussets eliminate fumbling when accessing the camera / Removable lanyard included for an additional carry option

External Dimensions: 3.4 x 1.3 x 5" / Internal Dimensions: 2.3 x .9 x 3.8"

This is a sweet little camera case. It has a pocket for the camera and a second pocket that can hold the USB cable or a spare set batteries or SD card. I like the semi-hard shell as well. It seems like it should provide excellent protection for the camera. I was provided this case at no charge for review purposes. Please know that if it was crapola I would say so.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

House Party Money Saving Tips for Christmas and New Years (A Guest Post)

Planning ahead for the end of year parties is the key to saving money. Marquee hire and event hire companies are going to be busy. If you don’t have patios, pergolas or carports to use as your staging ground, you had better get on with booking now! Here are some more tips to saving money and party like a Rock star this year

If you live in the Southern Hemisphere or near the equator, now is the time to start partying! The warmer months are now. Here in Colombia, there is an excuse for a ‘fiesta’ everywhere. Australian’s love to drink beer, and party the day and night away this time of the year. If you are lucky enough to have access to patios or pergolas for a backyard party, now is your time to get cracking. If you are stuck in the Northern Hemisphere, you should still make plans for house parties. It is the silly season after all.

· What you need out the back. Out-door structures, carports and any other part of your home with some cover, make the best place to set up your bar and food serving stations. If you are in the cold, don’t let it stop you. Why not go with marquee hire? There are models that come with a central heater, and you will have the warmest party in town. If you are hiring, see if you can do a deal to keep that party tent for a week or more. It is a busy time for event hire companies everywhere, so now is the time to start organising! You can do both Christmas and New Year, and all the days in between.

· Brew your own. Not everyone is obsessed with beer, but let’s face it, there will be a lot of consumption in most places around the world. Have you thought about preparing your own special brews for that week of fun and silliness? Home brewing can save you a lot of money. Add fruity flavours to your brews so that everyone can drink what you create.

· Entertainment. Lots of people think they need to set up some expensive sound system to keep the guests entertained. There are plenty more ways you can do it. Have you thought about games and contests that will keep everyone occupied? Social games can get hilarious. Why not do something different to just playing music and letting everyone chatter away? Keep them active!

· Gift giving. Gift giving and sharing can get hectic. An excellent way to create more fun, and have something that will keep everyone very entertained is to make a lucky dip. Everyone should bring one present per person. This way, you will have enough gifts for everyone. Run your lucky dip and make it a focus of your entertainment. A microphone, and something of stage for focus, will help to set the stage for laughter. Everyone will be bartering and bargaining after all prizes are dished out anyway.

· Everything else. Cleaning up can be costly. It is worth looking at what you can buy in bulk, use to eat and drink, and ultimately, throw it away. There are plenty of eco-friendly serving options available on the market, and because this is the time of year they are all competing for your business, prices are as good as they will get. Don’t forget to shop online. That way, you can get it all delivered. The other way to use online shopping is to push the price down on your traditional retailer. Show them the price you can get online with your smartphone

Invite your neighbours so you won’t have trouble with the police. At least give them a warning, and don’t forget to walk around the street. It is not only the houses left and right of you.

This is a guest post by a company called Article Exchange. They write articles that have links within advertising their clients. I accept the articles as long as the links appear to be legitimate businesses. I am not endorsing the businesses or recommending them.



Friday, December 9, 2011

Marcy Recumbent Mag Cycle ME709


In an effort to maintain some semblance of health once it is too cold to swim, I ride an exercise bike. My old upright bike was beating up my knees. I got this bike after discussing my concerns with two of my bridge playing doc friends.

The bike needs assembly when it arrives. That was not arduous but it was not a 5 minute job either. The instructions were clear and amazingly enough all the parts were there. The bike adjusts easily after assembly. 


The computer on mine was not working correctly and I called customer service at Marcy. Imagine my surprise when I got a delightful young woman who seemed genuinely glad to get my call and to provide me with superior customer service. She was eager to help and promised a new computer would be on the way that day. I told her that I was truly impressed with how easy it was to rectify my problem and how happy I was with my service. I got the new computer in less than a week from the west coast and over a holiday! Totally impressive!

If you are considering an exercise bike this one works well for me but in my opinion, even more importantly, it is imperative then we all support companies that offer exceptional customer support.

Addendum 4/19/12. Bike works great. Timer, even after easy, cheerful replacement stick stinks or sticks your choice. Getting the timer to reset is annoying, doesn't not reset easily. With that said, it is still an excellent exercise bike, well constructed and smooth working. The "computer" is worthless though. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Making Money From Books Online: A Guest Post


Saving money is one thing, making it is the other side of the same coin. Here is my top tip for making a little money from home, and maybe saving some too. It is something I have tried myself, as a young mum struggling to make ends meet, and found it worked. My friends have made money this way too, so pass the advice on to any hard up young graduates you know. It is surprising how few of them realize what an asset they have on their bookshelves. They might not make a million, but it may just keep the wolf from the door, and at the same time be helping out other students who may be struggling financially too.

It may seem obvious advice, but it is surprising how few people take advantage of the superb system Amazon have for selling second-hand books. It really is simplicity itself, and there is none of the time-consuming photographing, description and uploading work to be done, as on ebay. I found that the books that could be sold for the most were academic textbooks. Since I had finished my college courses I had piles of books from my studies just cluttering up the shelves. Some were close to my heart, but others I was quite happy to pass on to another student. Luckily I am not a book scribbler, so they were in good condition. Since academic books can cost $60 or sometimes much more, buying one for a third of that is a great option for hard-up students.

Making an account

Setting up a seller account is simple, as it is just tagged onto your buyers account. The interface is really clear too. Simply search for the book you want to sell, click on the ‘Sell one like this’ link, and follow the simple instructions from there. You are asked to describe the condition of the book, and I suggest you be honest here to avoid complaint. Students don’t seem to mind ‘some pencil marks’ or ‘in reasonable used condition’. You decide on the price, so assess how much others are selling for, how widely used the text book may be, and set your price at a level that is right for you. I needed money quickly, so tended to simply undercut everyone else, gaining the ‘Low Price’ label for my book, which gives a psychological advantage for those wanting a quick sale.

One thing I particularly liked about the Amazon book selling option is the fact that they contribute towards the postage of the item, which can be a big proportion of the price you get otherwise. The rate is not at all bad either, although it is different in each country, obviously. One pitfall is when you have very heavy book, so just be careful not to advertise a book which will cost you $8 to post, if you only get $4 for postage, unless the price is sufficiently high for it not to matter. If it’s a slim paperback you can actually make money on the postage!

Fiction - a penny a piece

Fiction books are not really worth selling on Amazon, as there is virtually no money to be made. Commercial sellers will advertise the book for one cent to get the sale and make money on the postage, and probably post out in bulk with a business rate. It is seldom worth selling your ordinary fiction books, which will actually fetch a better price (if any) on Ebay. If you go down this route it is best to fix a price for a book rather that put it onto an Ebay auction. Ebay favours more unusual and niche books, although you can sell these on Amazon too by taking and submitting a picture. Collectors will hunt it out either way, and I managed to sell a rare wartime Denis Wheatley book this way to a collector, for around $50. I have no idea it was worth a cent, but took some advice, on a hunch, and worked out a guide price.

Payments from Amazon have always been quick, and they take a comparatively small amount of the sale price in my experience. Once you have listed your title it is like fishing. You just wait. I used to package up my books in advance if I knew they would sell, to save time when the email arrived telling me to post out. It’s great to post within two days if at all possible, so that you get a good rating from your buyer.

Easier than it sounds

And that is all there is to it. It’s simple and effective, and you will not only be recycling, but helping out poorer students too, whilst helping yourself – because everyone needs a helping hand from time to time. I passed this tip on to a friend recently, who rang me to say he had earned over $600 in two months just selling his old university college books, which is why I thought I would write about it here. He was thrilled, and it helped him out of a financial hole. So why not pass the tip on to your kids and their friends, and start checking out your bookshelves today.

--

Izzy Woods is a freelance writer and self confessed bookworm. She writes for online publications including a 0 credit cards specialist, but can otherwise be found knee-deep in a meaty hardback.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Save Money On A Great E-Book!

Win-Win Christmas Gift

Whit Gentry wrote an excellent psycho thriller. I reviewed it on Pick of the Literate. This fall Whit’s grandson died suddenly. As a grandparent I can not imagine the pain that ensued from that sad event.

Whit has put his book on Smashwords.com which is a website that presents Ebook formats that can be downloaded to all ebook readers, PCs, laptops, and Ipads. Smashwords is a user friendly web-site, they will not be contacting you to buy items. He put the price of his book in ebook format at $0.99 (less than a dollar).

Whatever sales yield between now and Christmas will be donated to St Jude in the name of his grandson Cager Neal Gentry. He will post the money order that he will send to St Jude's for all to see what was achieved.

If you're interested, this will take you to the purchase page -- www.smashwords.com/books/view/109205

I am posting this wherever I can to promote both Whit’s excellent book but also to help honor the memory of his grandson.

Whit is one of the good guys which proves that adage that sometimes bad things happen to good people. Rather than bitterness he is trying to help other families and their children through his donation to St. Judes.

It’s less than a buck, do what you can!

Please pass this along if you are so moved. I certainly was.

Bill


Friday, December 2, 2011

Assassin's Creed Revelations Best Price 12/2/11


Just a heads up for you XBox fans, New Egg has it for $49.99 including shipping. They are the least expensive I have found anywhere that is known to be legitimate. There are some sites that have it for less but they got slammed on reviews. Best Buy was advertising it but only as a loss leader to get you into the stores, they would not ship it. Some how it escapes them that many of us won't be caught dead fighting the holiday crowds. If I can't buy it locally, I'm certainly not getting into my car to drive to some big entity that has no interest in customer service.

I was not impressed with Cyber Monday. I noticed that several things I had looked at the previous week were actually more expensive on Cyber Monday. Ahhh the adage buyer beware holds true now and forever!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Custom T-Shirts from ooshirts Reviewed




I got an email from a custom T-shirt company recently. Company name is ooshirts. I had never heard of them and was truly surprised they heard of me. They asked if I would be willing to review their T-shirts. I told them that was pretty tough considering I had never seen one of their shirts. They then asked if they sent me a couple of shirts would I review them. I cautioned them that “I calls them as I sees them”. I was assured that they wanted an honest and objective review. I agreed to do it.

I went to their site and designed a shirt. I got the shirt promptly and was quite pleased with the quality. I washed one a couple of times to see how the design would hold up after repeated washings. The design was crisp and bright after washing. The 2xx was a real double x, both longer and taller. I get grumpy when clothiers dictate that 2xx is just wider not taller. Frankly I am way taller than I am wide. The quality was good, the service was good and the shirt looks good so I am more than satisfied. So ooshirts, your strategy was solid, you garnered a future customer and I really like the shirts you sent me. Thanks!



Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Win a copy of Antiquitas Lost: The Last of the Shamalans

Starting December 3rd

Win a copy of Antiquitas Lost: The Last of the Shamalans a rollicking fantasy. Authored by Robert Louis Smith M.D., MSc by entering at Azure Dwarf on December 3rd or on the Interview with the Author that will be posted at Azure Dwarf on December 6th. The Contest runs from Dec. 3 to Dec. 10 and shipping has been restricted to the U.S. or Canada.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Online Shopping Frustrations

One of my pet peeves is the hidden costs of shipping. I’m guessing that the retailers hope you will ignore the cost of shipping once you get to checkout. I just was on the Walmart site and was going to buy something that seemed to be aggressively priced. It had free shipping to the store. If I wanted to go to the store I would not have been shopping on line. Duhh!

It would not give me the price with shipping until I went through the checkout procedures. Guess what! Not worth my trouble when I think they are playing head games. Give me the full price before I have to put in my credit card not after! Lost sale due to annoyance!

You would think these guys would learn by now that annoyance probably costs them far more sales than sneaking in the shipping costs at the end earn them in sales.

Grinch me not!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

10 iPad Aps on Finances--Guest post


This post is a repost from bestonlinecolleges.com. and is just a brief summary. Click on the link to get the real skinny on the 10 apps they have researched.   Thanks to Rose King from bestonlinecolleges.com for the link and post.   This is not an endorsement of their services or products just a repost of an interesting post. 
So much of our time is spent using a device to keep us connected to the world, so why not use these gadgets to manage our money as well? The iPad's portability and user-friendly features make it the perfect tool for managing your cash flow and accomplishing your financial goals in one convenient place. All you have to do next is load up on a handful of reliable financial apps, and you've got yourself a portable and personal financial adviser. Get your money in check with these 10 iPad apps.

1.     Mint.com

2.     Shoeboxed Receipt Tracker and Reader

3.     Pageonce

4.     powerOne Financial Calculator

5.     Ace Budget

6.     ATM Hunter

7.     Loan Shark

8.     MoneyWell

9.     iCompta

10. PayPal

Sunday, November 20, 2011

AmazonBasics 8 GB microSDHC Class 10 Flash Memory Card with SD Adapter

First of all I love the form factor of the microSDHC memory cards.  It goes into  so many things.  I have converters to make it into a standard SD memory card or a USB drive.   So the form factor gives it great versatility. 

This specific card was appreciably faster than one that was two years old.  Sadly I have no specs on the 2 year old one.  I did a relatively unscientific but practical test of the cards speed.   I copied a 10gb file from my hard drive to the new AmazonBasics card and it showed up in substantially less than a second.   I copied the same file on my 2 year old card and it took 4.5 seconds.   So from a layman’s point of view this card is seriously faster.  
I liked it. 

I was provided this card at no charge for testing and review.  

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Sharable 1TB Hard Drive, LG’s Super-Multi NAS N1A1




This drive set up beautifully.   No issues, three different users on three different computers accessing the drive through a wireless router.  It was $89.99 with free shipping from Buy.com.   The following is copied directly from their site.  The accolades above are due to a product that set up easily out of the box with no calls to tech support necessary. 

With smart phones and tablet PCs becoming essential tools for business, healthcare and education, LG’s Super-Multi NAS N1A1 is able to stream information and media directly to portable devices. Open up new possibilities of distributing information to clients, doctors, patients and students. The LG NAS lets you go beyond the storage limitations of handheld devices and gain access to videos, music and presentations via the internet. Whether streaming video seminars to students or sharing medical information with patients, the LG NAS delivers a new level of interactivity.
Features:
Access Data or Stream Media via the Internet
1 Terabyte Storage
Gigabit Ethernet Support (10/100/1000)
USB 2.0 ports for freedom to add additional drives
Remote Access/Multiple User Access
Network Print Server Support
Built-in FTP Server Functionality
Active Directory Support
Auto Sync. Back Up Support
iTunes® Music Server Support
One Touch USB/Memory Copy & Synchronized Backup
Journaled File System
Processor Marvell 88F6281 1.0GHz
Memory 128MB
Speed (Read/Write) Read: 60MB/s
Write: 40MB/s
HDD Capacity 1TB * 1 (3.5", 7,200rpm)
Manufacturer Hitachi®
RPM 7200
Buffer 8MB / 16MB
Size 3.5”
File Sharing Protocol CIFS/SMB
Network Services DHCP
Management HTTP/HTTPs, FTP/FTPs
Time Syncronization NTP

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Budgeting for Your Investment Property--A Guest Post


Summary: this article takes a look at the importance of budgeting when investing in realty and who can help you establish and stick to a budget.

(I accept guest posts.  This is a guest post and I am not recommending the companies that are represented by the links.  I have not researched them in more than a cursorily manner to just determine they are not offensive to my personal taste.  Posting the article is not to be seen as a endorsement of any kind except I thought it was worth reading.)



Propertyinvestment can be a huge financial risk, especially to those who haven’t established a well-planned budget.  In fact, having a well thought out budget is an essential component to owning and keeping and investment property.

Detailed below are the reasons why you should plan out a budget, those professionals who can help you establish a budget and some helpful tips on how to stick to your budget.

The Importance of Budgeting

Bad financial decisions are the root cause of many failed property investments. People often over stretch themselves financially, either on the sales price, or by taking out a loan that they will be hard pressed to pay back, or by neglecting to calculate the upkeep costs of the property. Having a budget can help you avoid all these situations.

The purpose of a budget is to help you understand what you can afford to spend on a property and what its maintenance costs and are likely to be. It can help you plan out and keep track of your loan repayments, taking into account your expected profits, and how such profits can be used to help pay off your loan and upkeep costs.

Getting Professional Help with Your Budget

It is always advised, when thinking of investing in property, that you seek help from a financial adviser as looming loans and multiple repayments, combined with incoming profits, can be overwhelming.

When seeking financial advice, regardless of whether you go to your bank, a home lender, or an accountant, it’s essential that your financial adviser has a background in property investment. This is to ensure that any financial advice given is tailored to establishing a budget that is efficient and practical for investing in property.

Financial advisers, with experience in investment property, have the necessary know-how and often use property valuationsoftware programs. They can help you organise the frequency of your loan repayments, the property’s upkeep costs and your property’s projected profits and exponential growth.

Seeking out good financial advice can help you work out the most efficient and effective budget for your specific investment property needs.

Tips on Sticking to Your Budget

Having a great budget is only half the battle — it’s sticking to your budget that’s really going to test your resolve! Below are some handy tips on how to stick to and survive your budget:

1.     Always keep the end goal in mind!
It’s easy to lose your self in the costs of day-to-day living. So, it’s handy to continuously remind yourself of why you are keep a budget.

2.     Keeping track of your spending.
Monitoring your outflow of cash will help you see where your money is going. This may reveal areas in your life where you can reduce your spending and, perhaps, invest a greater portion into achieving the goals of your budget.

3.     Resist spending money on unimportant things.
Unfortunately, when budgeting, you have to always ask yourself — do I need this? Will this make it harder for me to reach the goals of my budget? So it’s good to keep your spending on things that you don’t need to a minimum.

4.      Prepare for changes in your circumstances.
Sometimes life throws us a curve ball and we can get hit with a host of unexpected expenses, like emergency surgery, or insurance payments etc. Changes in your financial circumstances might require you to revaluate your budget. This is why it is also good to be careful with your spending on unnecessary things. It’s better to have extra cash saved just in case the unexpected happens.



Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Etonic Stabilizer Golf Shoes 2011


 Etonic Stabilizer Golf Shoes 2011

I wrote about my dissatisfaction with a pair of Etonic golf shoes back in July.   Last month the CEO of Etonic World Wide called me and apologized for my experience.   My complaint wasn’t that quality control could miss a bad pair of shoes but that customer service appeared to be non-existent.    I was told that the customer service issue had been addressed and I was thanked for making Etonic a better company. 

Tom Elwell (the CEO) is a man of his word.   There is now a wealth of contacts on the Etonic website.   In addition he asked if I would be willing to review a new pair of Etonic Stabilizers.   I agreed to try them and he sent me a pair.   First there is a bunch of spikes on this puppy.   What I like is that there is a spike in the center of each spike for increased stabilization.  (I think this is where the name came from.LOL)   In addition to that is a block in the insole that helps to prevent foot collapse on the turn and on the torque.   I get torqued which was obvious in my first review but I also torque a lot on my golf swing.   I frequently have my foot slip with the resultant bad shot. (That’s my story and I am sticking to it.)   This little block seemed to have a measurable impact on foot slipping.   As a bonus the shoes were really, really comfortable.  

I am not a shoe tester but I am a golfer.   This shoe exceeded my expectations and I really liked it.   Etonic you have changed my mind and I will be recommending your shoes here and to the duffers I hang out with. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

ReManufactured Ink Cartridges


Sophia Global Remanufactured Ink Cartridge Replacement for Canon PG-40 and CL-41 (1 Black and 1 Color)

I'm always hesitant to use 3rd party ink.  When I was still in the computer business, we had a client bring in a printer that looked like a small animal had been butchered inside it.  His refilled ink cartridge had leaked and the fast back and fourth left an astounding mess.  These ink cartridges still are not recognized by my Canon printer so the convenient low ink warning is missing. However the pair of cartridges are a better price than the single cartridge from Canon.  I have printed out some photos and they are not quite as good as the Canon cartridges but so close that I needed a magnifier to tell the difference.  I recommend them. I purchased them at Amazon.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

9 Essential Tips for New Home Buyers--A Guest Post


Summary: What are some essential tips for new home buyers? Read on to find out!

(I accept guest posts.  This is a guest post and I am not recommending the companies that are represented by the links.  I have not researched them in more than a cursorily manner to just determine they are not offensive to my personal taste.  Posting the article is not to be seen as a endorsement of any kind except I thought it was worth reading.)

Buying your first home or first
investment property is a huge responsibility. Your personal financial future is often heavily invested in the value of your home. While a real estate agent can guide you through the process of buying a home, having a bit of knowledge beforehand can really help you avoid many of the costly pitfalls new home owners make.
Here are nine essential tips for new home buyers:
  1. Know Your Limits
Before you do anything, you have to know how much you can afford to pay. While you can easily get this information from banks and lenders, you should always have your own idea on what you can afford. These institutions don’t always have your best interests in mind. They want to maximise their profits and don’t always consider how much of a burden a large mortgage is on a new home owner. Also, be conservative when you estimate your financial strength.
  1. Determine What You Want
Once you know what you can afford, consider what kind of property you want to put your money towards. Do you want an inner city unit? Do you need to be close to public transport? Would you prefer a large country house? Figure out what you’re looking for first so you don’t end up wasting your time especially if you are considering it as a property investment now or in the future.
  1. Buy Smart
Always use common sense when buying a home. While you might fall in love with a certain property, it might be impractical to purchase it. Always use logic when determining what home you need to buy so you don’t inadvertently sabotage yourself.
  1. Don’t Overlook
Once you’ve found the home you want, stop looking. Prolonging your search can hold you back. As a first time home buyer your resources are generally limited. Don’t dawdle.
  1. Save for Twenty Percent
Although there is the standard minimum requirement for borrowing money for a property, you should always aim for at least double that figure. Twenty percent is a good, safe figure to aim for. Not only will you save thousands of dollars in interest in the long term, but in many cases you will be able to receive a better mortgage.
  1. Remember Closing Costs
Many first time home buyers often overlook potential closing costs. There is a litany of costs involved. Taxes, real estate agents’ fees and appraisals can quickly add up.
  1. Get Pre Approved
Make sure you are pre-approved for your mortgage before you start signing off on any deal. The last thing you need to do before your closing is to scramble for financing. Make sure this bridge is well and truly crossed.
  1. Calculate Moving Expenses
Depending on where you plan to move, moving expenses can be quite significant. A move down the road isn’t too bad but if you are moving to a different city, expect to spend some serious money.
  1. Furnishings
First time home buyers often go over budget, leaving them with very little in disposable income. They soon find out that, although they have a beautiful new home, they cannot afford to buy furnishings. Remember, you need to fill your home.
Buying your first home can be intimidating, but with these nine tips the process should be a whole lot easier to understand.


Friday, October 28, 2011

Samsung ML-1865W Monochrome Laser Printer with 1200 x 1200dpi Resolution, Black for $56.00 at Buy.com


This is an excellent price for any laser printer.  I sold some Samsung lasers when I had my computer business and they worked just fine.  This price is excellent but keep in mind what you are getting.   It will give great print quality but no color.  The toner cartridge is $59 at buy.com and $63.95 at Staples and yields 1500 pages.   A typical black ink cartridge for a typical inkjet printer yields 400 pages  for a $20.00 cartridge.   Do the math, roughly $80.00 for 1600 pages  vs. $60 for 1500 pages.  Keep in mind that page yield is often considered 5% coverage which is a bit ludicrous.   So in spite of the fact that a laser printer at $56 is a crazy price it may not be a good fit for you.   I did not find any compatible toner cartridges for the Samsung (there may be some, I just didn’t find one.) and I use compatible cartridges for my inkjet printer that cut the ink cost by 50%.   This Samsung is a decent deal but remember ALL the printer vendors are basing there sales model on razor and razor blades.  Give you the printer and soak you on the ink!

ML-1865W Laser Printer Tech Specs1 x Black Starter Toner Cartridge Tech SpecsPlatform Support: PC Tech SpecsPlatform Support: Mac Tech SpecsGreen Compliance: Yes Tech SpecsGreen Compliance Certificate/Authority: Energy Star Tech SpecsWi-Fi: Yes Tech SpecsWeight (Approximate): 9.26 lb Tech SpecsForm Factor: Desktop Tech SpecsHeight: 7.24" Tech SpecsWidth: 13.43" Tech SpecsDepth: 8.82" Tech SpecsHard Drive Capacity: Not Applicable Tech SpecsProcessor Speed: 375 MHz Tech SpecsDuty Cycle: 5000 pages per month Tech SpecsDuplex Printing: Manual Tech SpecsRecommended Use: Plain Paper Print Tech SpecsPrint Color: Monochrome Tech SpecsMaximum Print Resolution: 1200 x 1200 dpi Tech SpecsMaximum Photo Print Speed: Not Applicable Tech SpecsISO Color Print Speed (ipm): Not Applicable Tech SpecsISO Color Print Speed (ppm): Not Applicable Tech SpecsMaximum Mono Print Speed (ppm): 19 Tech SpecsMaximum Color Print Speed (ppm): Not Applicable Tech SpecsStandard Warranty: 1 Year Limited

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

7 Zip 4.2 Be Cautious


 
McAfee Site Advisor says it isn’t dangerous and said downloads were free of adware etc.   I downloaded it today and it tried to put all kinds of crapware on my computer.  It asks if you want it and even when I said no to everything but the compression software it still added an extra program to the download.  As soon as download was complete I uninstalled 7 Zip and it blew out my desktop and I had to manually reboot.  I then uninstalled Net Assistant for Firefox which it had added to my download.  So regardless of what McAfee says, I would be cautious with this program, it may or may not be insidious but it will do it’s best to install software that you did not ask for nor want. 

Sadly it was on the site called addictivetips that had a program for synching Google Calendar with Windows 7.   Windows Live Calendar Gadget may be a fine program but since 7 Zip was on the same page I am now gun shy of anything I would get on that site.   This may be incrimination by association but I’m sick of stuff trying to be added to my computer without my wanting it.  So I will continue to manually synch my Outlook and Google calendar. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Kensington K72353US Wireless Presenter Pro with Green Laser Pointer


Ignore the 1gb designation, this is  the memory-less unit.

This is a must have for anyone who does power point presentations.  If you are a gadget freak you are going to love this pointer.  It has a nice matte black finish that feels very comfortable in the hand and it is very light.  The receiver on their other units is also a usb flash drive in addition to being a receiver for the unit.  This unit does not have the flash drive.   I would recommend the 2gb unit as it is actually several dollars cheaper than this unit.  (K72336US)

The laser is green and astoundingly vivid.  It was bright and precise at 100 feet in normal lighting.   In a dimly lit room I am sure it would be useable even further away.  

In essence you could put a rather large presentation on the flash drive and only carry 1 piece of equipment with you besides the computer.  Kensington did this right.  It even comes with a very small zipper heavy nylon case that's padded to protect the pointer.  A suggestion to Kensington would be a slot in the case large enough to carry 2 spare AAA batteries.   It would provide a little peace of mind for Murphy’s law interventions. 

The instructions are basic pictographs. You really couldn't get any simpler.  The unit moves the Powerpoint slides forward or backward and turns the presentation on or off.  This allows you to have the ability to point at your slides and move them all with the same unit. This may seem pricey but it certainly is a good purchase and would be a great gift for the person who uses power point presentations.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Etonic Golf Shoe Update, A Changed Mind!


I posted a critical review of Etonic golf shoes on July 10th.   I was unhappy with my shoes but particularly unhappy with my customer service experience.

On October 15th I received an email from the CEO of Etonic World Wide.  He expressed his dismay over my experience with his company's shoes and asked for my phone number so he could call me to discuss it.  

On Monday October 17th Tom Elwell and I conversed for 45 minutes and were on a first name basis at the end of the call.  Tom Elwell is a CEO who truly believes in his company.  One of my complaints was there was no phone number for customer support on the web site.  There is one now.  Tom also told me he had contacted an employee, who was on vacation, to find out why there had never been any response to my emails.  Here is a CEO who is working for his paycheck.  He didn't hand off handling a concern to an underling, he communicated to me himself.  Tom believes in his product and  now I know he also believes in customer support.  

I think everyone can accept that a defective product can slip through quality control.  What incenses me and perhaps many of you is not being heard.  I can accept an apology, I can accept an excuse but I can't accept not being heard.  Tom Elwell heard me, responded and has regained a customer due to his assurance that his company not only wants to provide good products, they want to provide good customer service as well.   

So Tom, you heard me and I heard you loud and clear.  Etonic you have a good hand on your helm.   Tom, thank you for reaching out!
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