Friday, December 28, 2012

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Hello, I Must Be Going

If you appreciate and like Marx Brothers movies, you will  understand the title and grasp the full meaning of this movie. But even if you've never seen Groucho, the mirror scene, the titular scene, or the sanity-clause scene, unless you have a heart of stone, you will like this movie. The key acting roles, especially the star role, are exceptionally well done. The dialogue misses a few times but, overall, is realistic and smart. The story is poignant and it didn't surrender to predictability. And many who like me have found it annoying that movies about modern times seem to feel some need to always include a urination scene will be delighted there are none is this movie. Unfortunately, there are a couple of scenes that could have been cut with no loss for the integrity of the movie or for the enjoyment of the audience. Lastly, but most importantly, it weaves real stuff about real people in a way that entertains, amuses, and even enlightens.


GmailWiz is a Chrome extension that adds up to four buttons to Gmail that lets you with one click send automated responses. After installing GmailWiz, a thumbs-up Like button gets added to the right of Gmail's reply button. You won't see this button when viewing your inbox; it shows up only when you are reading an e-mail message. You'll also see that wand icon gets added just above, in the row with the print and open in new window buttons. Click on the wand to go to GmailWiz's settings. In settings, you can choose to enable any of the four available instant-reply buttons. They are: Like, TL;DR (too long; didn't read), Got it, and Let's Discuss. Each of the buttons comes with a default response, but you can change it if you'd like. Also in settings, you can choose whether these instant replies will go to only the sender or everyone on the thread.

Extended Warranties

I've never bought an extended warranty on any product. However, the one exception to this would be large televisions where taking them into a repair place would be undue burden. I cannot say there is a better warranty extender or even that this one is any good, but SquareTrade is the one recommended and used by Costco and reviews from all over the place are quite high. The cost for a 3-4 year warranty which includes in-home service and no deductible is $170 or less for the large televisions. They do all kinds of products including smartphones and tablets, but I didn't even look at them for a warranty. The warranty must be purchased within 30 days of purchase. Here is the link:

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Pitch Perfect

If you liked Bring It On (the first one), Glee (the early episodes), and Best 'N Show, you most definitely will like Pitch Perfect. If you haven't seen any of those predecessors, they are must-sees. And if given that Bring It On 2 was one of the few sequels to make it, then Pitch More Perfect, when made, might make it as well.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Camera for Android Tablets

If you bought an Android tablet (such as the Google Nexus 7), you might be disappointed when you see that there is no camera application. Fret not. Just go to Play (the Android app store) and download/install any of a number of camera apps, both free ones and very sophisticated ones that cost a couple of dollars.

Friday, December 21, 2012

LDM Redux

The earlier review of LDM (which is what those of us who eschew LGO call Los Dos Molinos) was based on a Saturday lunch dining experience. While that review remains accurate, and everything noted about the wonderful food that is like an exploding taste extravaganza in one's mouth is as true as ever, a few cautionary words are in order for weekday luncheon dining which likely apply with equal force to dinner dining. The place gets crowded and can fill up early. More distressing, while the parking lot remains adequate space-wise, the ingress and egress can be a horrible nightmare. And matters likely will get worse when AAA blocks off the only existing escape route. Also, you are well advised if you are able to get out onto Camelback, to take the first street North instead of spending an inordinate time even to get to 7th Street.

Online Radio Player

I have been asked to recommend the best internet radio, which are stand-alone gadgets look and function like a conventional portable radio, but instead of picking up FM or AM broadcasts, they connect to your own wi-fi network and stream a huge selection of web-based stations. Do not buy any such thing. Instead, download Radio Tuna, which is a free program that installs quickly and easily, and lets you choose your music genre and, if you don't like the station that it selects for you, you can choose from hundreds of others.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Returning Orders Before Delivery

Let's say you order something (call it a microwave) from someone (call them BestBuy) and you decide that their customer service is so bad (because they misrepresented to you that they would take away and recycle your old microwave which wasn't true) which you discovered when you learned the product was being delivered by UPS (you figured out UPS was not going to take away your old microwave) and you told BestBuy you wanted to cancel the order and the only option BestBuy gave you was to refuse delivery or return the item, you might be interested to know that there was a third option where the sender (BestBuy) would contact UPS and request the order be re-routed back to BestBuy, but they will never tell you that because UPS charges more for that to the sender (say BestBuy) than if the customer (say me) refuses delivery. So, the lesson is: If you are in the same spot as I was, demand the merchant contact the carrier re-direct the product back to it.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Holiday Tip re Postal Gratuities

You can, and if you've gotten decent service should, consider a holiday gratuity for your postal carrier. They can accept up to $20 (over that you and the carrier can face doing hard time up the river). Here's the only problem: The carrier might be so overwhelmed that he or she not only will bring your mail to your door when it's raining explaining that he did not want you to get wet walking to the mailbox in the rain, he or she might just start bringing your mail to your door and ringing the bell every delivery day.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

From Webpage to PDF

If you want to keep a secure, tamper-proof copy of a web page, then PDF is a good format to choose. Unlike HTML, you don't end up with dozens of constituent files (text, images, style sheets etc), which makes it easy to view, print or archive. Or to send to someone else by email. The easiest way to convert a web page to Acrobat PDF is via a web service. There are several, but here is a link to my favorite one:

Monday, December 17, 2012

Word of Note to High-End Snooty Appliance Owners

If you are looking at buying Viking or Dacor appliances, you might consider Sharp. As it turns out, Viking and Dacor and perhaps others do not manufacture their own stuff. Sharp does.

Ringtone Volume

At least on new Android phones (and perhaps on older ones and iPhones as well), not only can you change the ringer volume, but if you go into the phone settings, you will see where you also can have the phone ring especially loud if it is in your pocket or handbag.

Microsoft Office 2010 2-for-1 Sale

I do not mean to sound like I'm pushing any Microsoft software, nor do I get anything for this plug. If you buy Microsoft Office 2010 now, you will be entitled to get the next version free.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Ordering Chinese Food To-Go

With winter gripping ever tighter, many people now are including hot soup in their traditional Sunday night Chinese to-go orders. A word of caution: Be sure to ask that the soup be separately wrapped in its own plastic bag. Otherwise, you just might discovery upon getting home that the plastic lid cracked and the soup was everywhere. And should that happen, please phone the restaurant not to complain or ask for anything, but just to alert them to the issue and to suggest the prophylactic step they can take. They likely will be quite appreciative.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Decoy Bride

It's not another Local Hero (which is one of the five best movies of all time so that's not surprising), the photography is not as good, the story is predictable and certainly not unique, it does not share the richness of characters or dialogue, and it's not as memorable, but the music is good and, if you love Scotland and the Scottish coast line, you can do a lot worse than Decoy Bride.

Better Than iTunes

If you use iTunes, you know it doesn't exactly play well with others. It works great if you use Apple products such as the iPod or iPhone, but if you use other brands of mobile devices, you're likely out of luck. Try switching to doubleTwist. It uses an interface that looks almost exactly like iTunes, so you won't have to try hard to learn a new program.
doubleTwist recognizes nearly any media device as you plug it in to your computer. It even works with iPods and iPhones. Then, you can simply drag that media to the doubleTwist icon. There is also an option to sync your music with any device via Wi-Fi. And, what's more, you can share what you are listening to with your Facebook friends and Twitter followers. Keep your music, movies, playlists and photos organized using one program. No more managing separate applications for separate devices.

Friday, December 14, 2012

If Anyone Tells You They Are Not Listening, Do Not Believe Them

As many people know, the NYTimes and other sources long ago planted a device in me that transmits to them things I've said or wrote or even thought, which are then fed to their editors and shamelessly reprinted as if they had the thought in the first place. This has just reached a new level: The New Yorker is in on the transmissions and feeding them to its cartoonists. Compare my blog posting of December 13 entitled "Reducing the Risk of the Mistaken 'Reply All'" with the following from the December 17 issue of New Yorker:

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Cable TV Remote Controls

Many have asked whether a programmable remote control (which will list for $250 or more, although they can be found new on eBay or for $125) is worth it or should one just stick with the standard remote that comes bundled with the cable box (btw, the cable company will give you an extra free one so you can have one both at the end of the sofa where you read your paper and the other end of the sofa where you eat your dinner). The answer is that it depends. If you want total flexibility as to programming, the answer is yes. For example, you can program a programmable remote to turn on with one click one, or some, or all of your devices at once, while the standard can turn on one or all the devices you have set it to control but not just some with one click. If you want ease of operation, however, the answer is no. For example, the A-B-C-D functions and the DVR list function appear as buttons on the standard remote that are easy to push, while they appear as on-screen items with the programmable remote that are more difficult to navigate. My personal research and study of the matter says the programmable remotes are not worth the cost. If anyone would like to buy mine, let me know.

Reducing the Risk of the Mistaken "Reply All"

The Reply All button is considered by many to be the most dangerous email button ever devised. You can disable it or hide it, but that makes using it, when you want to, quite cumbersome. If you are using Outlook 2010 for your email, and if you're not you should be, consider the free add-in called TuneReplyAll.
  • It can show a warning message when a user is going to reply to everyone. The user has to confirm his or herchoice to reply to all. This will help to prevent sending out confidential information.
  • If Outlook includes the user's own address in Reply all, TuneReplyAll can remove it from the message.
  • Alternatively, if the user wants to include his or address in the To, CC, or BCC address field in new, replied or forwarded messages, TuneReplyAll will add it.

Here is the link:

Turning Icons Into Personal Pictures

Do you have some favorite pictures that you have been wishing could be used to create icons for your PC? Well, wait no longer. There is a very simple way to create a whole album of icons.  Why should your desktop look just like all the other desktops? This tip will show how to convert your favorite JPG, PNG, and GIF files into your own personalized icons. The beauty of the method is that there is nothing to install and no program to learn how to use. It is an online Flash app that converts picture files into the special sizes and format necessary for icons.  

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Free Alternative to PowerPoint

If you want to create a presentation to illustrate, say, a new idea or project, then you'd probably consider using a presentation package such as PowerPoint first. But there are actually some great products available on the web which are even more powerful and, for the most part, totally free. Like this site for example.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Comments on the Garmin GPS

Portable GPS systems are far superior alternatives to in-dash GPS systems. First, they cost at least $1,000 less. Second, they generally are more advanced and easier to use. Third, those that come with lifetime maps cost nothing to keep up-to-date. Fourth, they can be used for walking. Fifth, they have more apps.

Here is one word of caution re the lifetime map feature. Some GPS units come with micro SD cards and others do not. The map updates often are too large for a GPS unit to handle without a micro SD card. So, whatever model you buy, be sure it has a micro SD slot. micro SD cards are very inexpensive.

Here is one feature to take note of: bluetooth capability so that your cellphone will play through the GPS unit. Some GPS units have it and others not. It is a very handy feature to have especially if you use your GPS in rental cars. You can also use it to avoid paying to have your new car bluetooth capable, but any car can be made bluetooth capable for a couple of hundred dollars.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

How Do You Know?

Can a movie with Reese Witherspoon, Paul Rudd, and Owen Wilson, with an over-done performance by Jack Nicholson, a ridiculous story, poor script, total predictability, and bad dialogue miss? Amazingly, perhaps, the answer is, unfortunately, Yes!

Android Jelly Bean

If you are using Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0), it turns out to be easy and worthwhile to upgrade to Jelly Bean (Android 4.1). Just do not count on your carrier or Samsung to help in any way or understand anything. In fact, when it comes to manufacturer support, it's becoming a joke, e.g., LG will assure you that its soundbar's volume does not come on automatically, which is flat wrong. If you have any issue upgrading to Jelly Bean, feel free to contact me, but just remember, if you phone, to listen carefully because my menu options have changed.

Account Killer

Account Killer is a free website that tells you how to delete your account and profile information from over 500 websites. It will also tell you for any site if your account and profile information cannot be deleted.

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

Fifty percent will think this movie is poignant, heart-warming, and creative. The other fifty percent will think this movie is insipid, sappy, and inane. All will agree that, while it's not a big movie, it is not boring. All also will agree that the scenery does not match the attempted majestic musical moments, but that is only because Yemen does not have the kind of majestical scenery needed for such moments. All also will agree that the characters are fun to watch. And all also will agree that it does a nice job of poking fun a governmental attempts at image-making and spin control.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Silver Linings Playbook

If you are unlucky to have not grown up in Philadelphia, or be an Eagles fan, or if you are too old to remember David & Lisa or too young to have never heard of it or seen it, and you like a wonderful (even if predictable and on occasion a bit slow) story with terrific acting (even if Robert DeNiro does over-do it a bit as many actors formerly great actors do), and you want to see what Marty Funkhauser (from Curb Your Enthusiasm) will look like when he gets older, you will find Silver Linings Playbook heart-warming, enjoyable, and definitely worth your time and the price of an Early-Bird ticket.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Movies and The Google

If you type the name of a movie currently showing at theatres in your area into the search box of The Google, The Google will list out all theatres in your area and show times for that movie.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Removing Unwanted Toolbars and Add-Ons

If you do accidentally install toolbars, add-ons or other software you can't get rid of, try using this free download. It can remove many common unwanted toolbars and add-ons from your browser.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Anatomy for Everyone With Fabulous Graphics

In the old days, learning about the components of the human body meant poring over a copy of Grey's Anatomy.  Or, if you were studying medicine, you could take a scalpel to a real cadavre of course.  Now, thanks to a fabulous web site (Biodigital Human), you can learn about the makings of the human body without having to resort to textbooks or a lab.  
With nothing more than a web browser and a decent internet connection you can browse the virtual skeleton.  You can choose between male and female, zoom and rotate the skeleton, and turn on/off the display of specific bodily systems such as reproductive, cardiovascular and so on. You can also view the location and symptoms of hundreds of common diseases.
Whether you're a wannabe surgeon or would like to play one on television or merely an interested bystander, this site really is something special.  A truly excellent educational resource.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Finding Wi-Fi Spots

See what's broadcasting with NetStumbler. It's a free download that lets you see each network name, signal strength, frequency and more. You can use it to find public Wi-Fi, assess the speed and security of your own wireless network or see if you need to tweak your network channel.
To download, click "netstumbler 0.4.0" on the right-hand of your screen beneath the "downloads" heading.

Monday, December 3, 2012

New Service of UPS

If you register at UPS for UPS My Choice (which is free), when a UPS package is shipped to you, you will get an email or text from UPS when the package is on its way, and then if you want to change the delivery day or place of delivery, you can do so online.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Five-Year Engagement

While predictable, the script/dialogue is so good and the people are so likeable that it makes for a quite enjoyable movie.

Los Dos Molinos

LDM recently opened its latest place at 10th Street & East Camelback. Many restaurants have tried and failed in that spot. LDM will make it. The food is delicious, the service is excellent, and the parking is to die for.

Location Sensors in Your Laptop

It’s not just your phone that can know where you are. Many laptops and desktops have location sensing built into the hardware. There is also software to allow location sensing. Windows 7 and 8 support location sensing but it is disabled by default. These days many applications like to use your location. Here is how to enable or disable location sensing:
  1. Open the Start menu
  2. In the Search box, enter “sensor” (without quotes)
  3. In the Control Panel list, select "Enable location and other sensors"
  4. A list of installed sensors will be given. 
  5. Enable or disable them as preferred by using the checkbox next to a sensor. An example is shown in the figure below.
  6. Click “Apply”