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

Sunday, May 29, 2011

System Optimize Expert Fails Sniff Test


Free is a byword on this blog. I’m always looking for good free stuff. My Win7 system is sluggish so I went to ZD.net Downloads to see what was available as a Free download for system optimization.

System Optimize Expert came up when I filtered for Windows and Free. Its description sounded good so I downloaded and installed it. I ran Scan and soon as I ran it a pop-up for their Pro version popped up. Seconds after I started the scan System Optimize Expert reported that I had hundreds of problems and did I want to fix them? I replied affirmatively and it said, the free version only fixes 5 problems, did I want to upgrade to the Pro version.

I clicked cancel, went to Control Panel and uninstalled the program. Frankly I don’t care if it is accurate or not, the practice of claiming to be free and then finding some outrageous number of issues that can only be fixed by upgrading seems highly suspicious.

I might add that ZD.net should more accurately evaluate if a download truly is free or just an advertising come on.

Software has a right to be sold but if it is stated as FREE do not play the hardly amusing shell game and delude someone into upgrading for a fee. I have donated to support freeware as no doubt many of you have done. That is acceptable; trying to pull the wool over someone’s eyes is NOT!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

My First Look At The Color Nook


I have an eReader from Augen.  It cost $89.00 at Kmart.   It is a bit quirky regarding some downloads but for the most part it works as an eReader.   There is no, make that NO technical support from Augen.   It does have a color screen that is NOT touch.  I have loaded in some family photos and music.   I can read and listen to music.   I can surf the web at speeds akin to my old 56k modem.   It is not a great eReader but it was cheap.

After much research I decided that the Nook was worth looking at.   It has a color touch screen, supports Flash and WIFI surfing.   From my reading it seemed like it is a thinly disguised iPad want-to-be.   The price compared to any other name brand tablet is ridiculously cheap, $249.00.  

I have had a craving for a tablet ever since my dearly beloved sister’s two week visit and her insidious purchase of an iPad2.   I don’t need any kind of tablet, I have an adequate eReader,  a working laptop and desktop so I really don’t NEED anyone’s tablet.  However there is no explaining lust and I sadly am in a stage of tablet lust.   

Today I went to Staples to look at the Nook.   It was somewhat akin to the prince discovering Cinderella was really the ugliest of the step sisters.   Now I will offer the caveat that it was the Staples display model.   This caveat will allow Barnes and Noble the opportunity to claim that the display model was defective and truly it may have been.  If after waving my arms and kneeling in subservience I had gotten someone from Staples to come over and talk with me, I may have discovered that the display Nook was not representative of a fresh, out of the box Nook.   Since none of the aforementioned behavior was able to attract a Staples sales consultant, I really don’t know if my evaluation of the Nook is accurate. 

It seemed a tad heavy but solid feeling.   The touch screen was more like a jab screen.  It certainly didn’t have as sensitive touch as my beloved Droid X.   It was slowwwwwwww.   Trying to move from screen to screen was dreadfully slow.   Again, no comparisons to the Droid X which is just a phone.   Who knows how surfing would be as the browser said the settings were wrong for wireless and the unit would not allow entry to the settings to check them for the wireless connection?  The single story I got to load was a cute little color picture book featuring an elephant.   The story paged well after it loaded and really that is crucial in an eReader.     Overall my sampling of the Nook left my tablet lust feeling as if a bucket of ice cold logic had been dumped on me. 

 I really wanted to like it so I could convince myself to buy it.   Comparing it to the Augen at $89.00 and zero tech support, I have to feel a little better about my Augen.   Be careful what you read!  I have read many kudos for the Nook but my personal experience has been less than stellar.  

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Attention Kmart Shoppers, Augen Electronics Support Stinks


How is that for a start.   I have the Augen eBook.   I reviewed it here last July. 

Overall it is a good product for the money but you do get what you pay for.   In this case that is a non-existent technical support department.   The reader has not worked well with DRM books from the start.  DRM is digital rights management and it is a protection scheme by the powers who dictate that kind of thing.  If you google it you will find many articles on “cracks” for DRM.  It is obvious I am not the only one that finds DRM annoying and I am an author.   The problem is that DRM causes books to behave badly.  

In my case, DRM handling by Augen means periodically dropping lines of the story.   Since I review books on Pick of the Literate and Azure Dwarf’s Horde of SciFi and Fantasy I get a lot of books protected by DRM.   Dropping lines can have an impact on the plot and the enjoyment of the story.

I went to Augen Electronics website and found that they had a fix.  Sadly the fix does not work.   In fact the fix, locked up the eBook every time I tried to use it.   The Augen site claims to have online chat for tech issues but I have yet to see the icon indicate that anyone is there.   The readme files on the “Fix” are either a result of a horrendously bad translation program or someone whose first language is definitively not English and who has obviously been indulging in some mind altering substances prior to writing the information.   In other words, the “Fix” is useless.   I have emailed Augen multiple times for help and get an automated response that someone will get back to me.   Thank goodness I didn’t hold my breath or I would be long, long dead.

So as an amendment to my original review of the product,   it is still a fair value for the money however with the Kindle now at $139.00 and a color nook and tablets dropping in price, I would suggest saving your money and purchasing a product that actually works the way it is suppose to and that perhaps has technical support that exists.

Alas Augen Electronics the bloom is off the rose and Attention Kmart shoppers, don’t touch Augen products with a 10’ blue light special.






Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Nutone HD80NT Exhaust Fan Incorrectly Rated for Continuous Operation


Nutone HD80NT Exhaust Fan Incorrectly Rated for Continuous Operation

I bought this exhaust fan from Home Depot at a price of $94 plus tax.   It wasn’t the most expensive exhaust fan they had but there were a whole boatload a lot cheaper.   I bought this was expressly because it was the only one I found that stated clearly on the box that it was rated for continuous operation.  NOT!

From the Nutone Web Site Model HD80NT  80 CFM Heavy Duty Fan
•          80 CFM, 2.5 Sones
•          Totally enclosed motor design for continuous operation.

After installing it which was a total pain as it was replacing an existing fan but that is another whole story, it ran for a whopping three days before is started making straining noises.   I turned it off and let it sit for 8 hours and turned it back on, it ran for a day and started making noises again.   I solved the problem by adding an Intermatic time switch which turns the fan on for 8 hours a day.   If I had to buy the Intermatic it would have added an additional $45.00 to an already expensive fan.  I happen to have a couple of Intermatics on the shelf so it wasn’t an issue except for the fact that Nutone claimed the fan was rated for continuous operation.   Once again, false advertising and inferior products claims another victim. 


Friday, May 13, 2011

Buying A Car On The Internet


Recently I purchased a car on the Internet.   I have never purchased a car before that I had not driven or seen.   It was a first time experience.  I wanted a car of a specific color.   My local dealer could not find that color.  He kept trying to talk me into other colors to no avail.

I did discover that you can order a Porsche or Audi from the factory in a custom color.  It will cost approximately $2500.00 over the best price you get from the dealer.   $2500.00 is a bargain considering it is a minimum of $5000.00 to get a new car painted by a quality body shop.  My local quality body shop did not want to do it.  Tom was concerned about door jams, windshields, under hoods, trunks etc.   Both dealers I approached wanted $20,000.00 to paint a new car, which to my mind, just meant they didn’t want to do it. 

Therefore I was on a quest to find the specific color I wanted.   I searched the Internet until I found the car I wanted at Sutliff Dealearship in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.  

I emailed and ended up speaking to Ashley and Emily on the phone.  They could not have been more accommodating.   I had compared prices and they met my pricing needs.   The provided a very fair price on my trade in, sight unseen.   They then expedited a very fair finance rate and delivered the car to my home more than 100 miles away. 

Jim, their driver, explained the car’s features, exchanged license plates and answered questions on the paperwork.   He then took my trade in, left us the new car and drove home. 
Smart Like
Fox!

I am still amazed at how smoothly the transaction ran.   If you would have asked me 5 years ago if I would buy a car sight unseen over the Internet, I would have vehemently denied I would ever be that dumb.  I guess in this case I was smart like a fox since I got the car I wanted, at the price I wanted, a fair price on my trade and most importantly that darn specific color my wife wanted.  

Kudos to Sutliff and their staff for a job well done!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Can You Trust Your GPS?


Recently I experienced a technological fright fest. Leaving our condo, my friend and I each engaged our GPSs. Since we were in the same car, we planned on going to the same destination. We hit the main highway and his GPS said, “turn right” and mine said, “turn left”. Since he was driving, we turned right. My GPS said, ‘take a U turn at the first opportunity”. It proceeded to get worse.

Enduring the conflicting driving instructions for a few minutes, the technologically distrustful wives entered the fray with the suggestion we look at a map, imagine that? A paper map is hardly a substitute for a technologically superior GPS or the savvy user thereof. Then, the technologically distrustful, wives suggested looking at the road signs. Gasp, that is for the gadget challenged unwashed masses use, not for the scientifically superior gadget freaks.

If you are married you are able to predict the next sentence. While protecting our GPSs from the wrath of wives, we actually listened to their advice and ended up safely at our destination, in spite of our dueling GPSs.

As much as I love tech, there are times where common sense must prevail. I know, I know, heresy at best and treachery at worse.   I, a committed gadget freak, must admit that sometimes my GPS is wrong and my wife is right. Go Figure!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Four Must Have Money Saving Apps


A guest post by author Donna Reish.

With the ever looming economic recession weighing down our spirits (but not our wallets), money is a seemingly endless concern. In response to this economic slump, frugality has become somewhat of a trend. Scouring through the internet we can find numerous tips and tricks for saving money. While these tricks have the potential to be extremely helpful, rarely do we stick to them. All too often, we discover a great new way to save a few bucks, try it out, and then drop it. What we really need are tools aimed towards frugal living. While iPhones and Smartphones may cost a small fortune, their money saving potential may prove worth the initial expense. Try these four fabulous apps to help you save and manage your money.

The first step to being frugal is learning to properly manage your money. Thankfully your iPhone or Smartphone offers dozens upon dozens of tools to help you keep track of your accounts and expenses. Two of the most popular money management tools available on your phone are Bill Minder and Quicken. Bill Minder is one of the most popular bill tracking apps available on the market. What makes this app so popular is its simple and intuitive interface. Bill Minder will display the various bills that you have along with their due dates and balances. This app can back up your financial data and send you an email notification when your bills are paid. This app helps you to never miss a due date. Another popular money management tool available as an app is Quicken. Quicken allows you to check your financial accounts on the go. You can monitor account activity, trace financial goals, and find an ATM all within one sleek and easy interface.

As gas prices rise at seemingly astronomical rates, simply getting the places we need to go is breaking our bank accounts. While there are numerous apps aimed towards easing the stress of everyday travel, Gas Buddy is one of the best. Gas Buddy provides a search tool for finding the cheapest priced gas at any given location. You enter a zip code and a map will display all of the closest gas stations with their prices. This app is not only addicting, but also can save you some serious cash. With gas prices ranging drastically even within a relatively small area, Gas Buddy can be a very useful tool for the frugally inclined.

Grocery shopping is another realm to try to save money in. The iPhone app Coupon Sherpa offers both in-store coupons and exclusive deals. With this tool you can search for deals by category or by store name. The app will locate the merchant that is closest to your location and can even email coupons to your friends. What is nice about this coupon app is that you can simply show the coupon on your phone to the cashier at checkout and the coupon will scan. This way you can better organize your coupons and not waste paper. Many of us underestimate the amount of money we spend on grocery shopping each month. With helpful tools like Coupon Sherpa we can save a few extra dollars on this big expense. Coupon Sherpa is not limited, however, to only groceries. You can also find deals on electronics, clothing, jewelry, and more.

While frugality has become somewhat of a fad in recent years, it's a fad I'll happily support. Saving money in small places here and there can make a bigger different than we realize. Living a truly frugal life does not necessarily mean cutting out all large expenses (like that iPhone or Android phone). Just use those big expenses to your full advantage.
Author Bio:
Donna Reish, a freelancer who blogs about best universities, contributed this guest post.  She loves to write education, career, frugal living, finance, health, parenting relating articles. She can be reached via email at: donna.reish13@gmail.com.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Comcast’s New On-Demand Choices Are Worthless


Comcast recently announced several new additions to their on-demand choices.   Bones, Gray’s Anatomy, Private Practice and others were added to on-demand.  Sounds great doesn’t it?

Wrong, there appears to be roughly twice as many commercials on-demand as there are on broadcast.   On-demand has sunk to new and even lower standards.  

Comcast, you are guaranteed to put new life into TIVO sales.   DVR use will double except my guess is that using Comcast’s DVR will mean more commercials.  


Oh, and I saved the best for last.  Comcast disabled the fast forward function so you can’t even fast forward through the commercials.   Nice move Comcast!  Disabling fast forward really endeared me to your service.
Comcast are your intentions to aggressively drive your users to FIOS or Direct TV?

I watched Bones tonight on-demand and that will be the last time I use on-demand to watch Bones.   Following Bones, I went  back to my trusty TIVO to watch Gray’s and Private Practice.

Good luck with your new on-demand choices as far as I am concerned they stink! 

Comcast what in the world were you thinking?
 Money Saving Tech Tips