Saturday, April 27, 2013

Zero Percent Credit Cards

If you have an excellent credit rating, you can get a credit card that will have a zero-percent interest rate for new purchases for 12-18 months. That's a free loan that might be very advantageous for large purchases. In deciding whether or not to get another credit card, one thing to consider is what the effect will be on your credit rating. If you have three or more cards already, adding a card might lower your score; if you have only one or two cards, adding a card actually can raise your score. If you have a credit monitoring service (which everyone should have especially because of the real-time alerts for any changes to one's credit report), it will include a simulator to answer that question.


Friday, April 26, 2013

Android Security Apps

Not having a security app on your Android devices is worse than walking a high-wire without a net. There are several excellent ones, all free, including: TrustGo, Avast!, Lookout, and Sophos. The link will give you a detailed comparative description of each.


Thursday, April 25, 2013


AIRBNB is a great alternative to VRBO for renting terrific places in wonderful neighborhoods of major cities in the United States and around the world.


Wednesday, April 24, 2013


May the Lord bless and keep this movie far away from your entertainment center. If it does make it into your DVD player, and you need to look at your plate while eating dinner, do not let this be a dinner movie unless you speak Hebrew because you will have to read the sub-titles which, bad as they are, are much better than watching excruciatingly long close-ups of faces with no action and for no purpose.

IMDb Link:

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Changing from an iPhone to an Android

There is no doubt any longer that the latest Samsung and HTC phones are way superior to, much less expensive than, way easier to use than, and far more customizable than the iPhone. Some people think transitioning from OSX to Android is difficult. Nothing could be further from the truth. Here is a link explaining what a breeze it is and giving the simple steps to do so.

Link: mailto:?subject=Making%20the%20change%20from%20iPhone%20to%20Android%20as%20easy%20as%20possible%20%7C%20How%20To%20-%20CNET&

Unsticking a Printer

Print Queue Cleaner is a free download that does not even install, but if your printer sticks and refuses to print, just run it and within 30 seconds the printer should start working.


Monday, April 22, 2013

PS: More Booze-in-the-Box

Even the most cursory view of a supermarket's liquor department will uncover there are soft packages of all sizes for all kinds of liquors, including daiquiris, margaritas, and many many others. So again, you can pack and travel efficiently with this new "liquid technology."

Sunday, April 21, 2013


Undoubtedly you've heard of wine-in-the-box, and likely have tried it and been pleasantly surprised by its quality. But if you still think it comes only in largish hard boxes, here is some good news: It is now available in  smaller soft boxes. This is a great advantage for storage in the refrigerator and is especially fabulous for taking wine with you on a trip--no broken bottles and much saved space.

Here is one excellent source:

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Fast Easy Way to Install and Update Programs

Ninite is a free download that automatically installs or updates almost all the most popular software. If you already have a program in the list, Ninite will automatically recognize it and update it if it's not already current. If you have to reformat a hard drive, Ninite will install all recognized programs with one click.


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Storing and Sharing Documents Online

CometDocs is a very neat web-based system that allows you to store document files online.  You can then convert those files to different formats, or make them available to others for sharing.  If you need a web-based document conversion utility (Word to PDF, say), then it's a handy system to use.  And if you want to share a file with someone that's too large for your email account to accept, then you'll also find CometDocs indispensable.


Sunday, April 14, 2013

2013 Mad Men Episode 2

Slightly, but not appreciably, better than the first episode. The dialogue is really weak. The best thing was Pete's wife throwing him out. The one hope is that the previews for next week look promising. It's Spring, so there's the eternal possibility of renewal and improvement. Perhaps not surprisingly, the Nielsen demographics show that Mad Men's audience is made up of Cubs' and Red Sox's fans.

Trouble With the Curve

Although Clint Eastwood is becoming a bit stylized in his roles, he remains a joy to watch. That said, the only things you will miss if you skip Trouble With the Curve is the ending you can predict within 15 minutes of the start of the movie and terribly written dialogue. Amy Adams turns in a wonderful performance that is the highlight of the movie, and John Goodman is his always entertaining self, but the casting director should be penalized for hiring Justin Timberlake and the credits director should have to explain why "Security for Mr. Timberlake" was listed in the scroll and why no one else apparently was given security.


Friday, April 12, 2013


All professional window cleaners and many amateurs know that Sprayway glass cleaner is totally the best by far. It does not streak and has no ammonia, and it's less expensive than Windex and the like. But here's what even the professionals likely do not know: It cleans some stuff you'd never expect better than anything. For example, yesterday, I accidentally sprayed some of it on the stainless shelves of my outdoor barbecue. Then, when I wiped it off, I was nothing short of stunned! Having been outside subject to the elements and right next to the heating unit itself making them subject to splatters and spills, they were badly coated and discolored with gunk. Until the first wipe. With a few more sprays, waiting a few minutes and a little wiping, those shelves are glistening clean. It's like a cleaning miracle. Sprayware is available at all hardware stores and at many other stores.


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Post Office Insanity Revisited

In my April 2 posting, I discussed the great convenience of USPS flate-rate padded envelopes (e.g., printing shipping labels from home and their ability to hold more stuff for the same price than the small flat-rate boxes) and explained that USPS flat-rate padded envelopes could be obtained only by ordering them one-at-a-time on the website. While my conclusion re ordering was totally understandable given how the website looks and works, and that it therefore was totally reasonable for me to place 7 separate orders, it turns out each order will bring one box with 15 padded envelopes inside. Given that I likely will not be sending out 105 padded envelopes, it's going to be the merriest and most joyous of Christmas's for family and friends. I'm just sorry I did not order the envelopes to be gift-wrapped, but even so, I hardly can wait to see the smiles on Christmas morning when everyone tears into their own box of 15 flat-rate padded envelopes.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Extending Battery Life

The major headache of smartphones is their limited battery life. In addition to using battery-saving habits (e.g., turn off wi-fi, bluetooth, and GPS when not in use, dimming the screen, checking email manually instead of having it pushed automatically), there are apps that will extend the battery use by automatically and transparently managing battery-draining functions.

Here are two for Androids: Juice Defender and Battery Doctor Saver

Here are two for Apple: Battery Life Prof and Battery Doctor Pro

Monday, April 8, 2013

Mad Men: The New and Final Season

While Mad Men is the furthest thing from a show about nothing, the first episode was pretty much a nothing, and many parts make no sense. Peggy seems to be the only principal character who actually is doing any advertising work. Roger's sessions with the psychiatrist not only are beyond ridiculous, they are so badly written as to be painful--Matthew Weiner would have done well to consult with Philip Roth or perhaps Mr. Weiner is sending out subliminal messages to the audience that he knows nothing about psychiatric sessions because he wants the audience to believe he's never needed or been in one. Thank goodness the set and costume directors take the pride they do in continuing to adhere to the reality of the time--although even if the doctor would set out on snow-covered NYC streets with skis, he would do so with cross-country skis and not the down-hill skis that appeared on the show. Most frustrating of all are the introductions of inexplicables without any predicates: Don, where did this newest affair come from? And Betty, when did you start caring for lost young'uns? The good news is that, if the past is prologue, the episodes should get better as the season goes along.


Credit Card Warranties

Many credit cards carry automatic extended warranties on many purchases. For example, televisions bought on most American Express cards will automatically extend the warranty by one year and, if something goes wrong, will cover a service tech making an in-home visit so you don't have to schlep the television to a service center and, if the television is not reparable, will refund you the purchase price. So, before making any significant purchase, you might check that your credit card provides such coverage.

Sunday, April 7, 2013


This is a must-eat-at restaurant. The food is both unique and fabulous, and the ability to select 3-4 "courses" of just the right size makes for a divine rainbow palette of taste sensations (which you might not be able to tell  just by looking at the  menu as noted below, but trust me). The wine list is excellent. The prices are very reasonable. The service is impeccable. Aside from the distinctive "shutter collage" behind the greeting stand, the decor is the so-called "modern approach" of metal, concrete, glass, and high exposed ceilings, but it has far better acoustics than most ... so you can actually hear what is said at the table without difficulty. The parking is excellent. One word of caution: You might want to bring your cellphone with an installed flashlight app because the menu's choice of font and paper color makes it otherwise a bit difficult to read.


Thursday, April 4, 2013


If you want email customer service where an email will be answered, or you want telephone customer service where you can understand the rep and the rep has some clue what he or she is talking about and the rep won't give you false information about the compatability of your television or dvd player, or you want a website that will help you in any way and won't give you false information as to the compatibility of your television or dvd player, or you want to pay for without being able to watch internet-fed major league games on your television or through your dvd player, or you just want to throw away $23/month or $100+ for the season, then is a must for you.

MLB Extra Innings on Cox

Cox is offering by way of a "promotion" a discounted price on MLB Extra Innings, which Cox describes as showing "many" of the games in HD. Although it took some time and effort, contrary to the promotional materials and to misleading, indeed false, "explanatory" emails from Cox technical support, our crack investigative team has confirmed the following: There are 13 MLB Extra Inning channels. Only 2 of them are HD channels. So, for most days where there is a full scheduled (which is most days), the chance of the game you want to see being in HD will be 2 in 13. Put another way, if you are buying the package principally to follow your home team, almost all the games you will see will be in SD and not in HD. And lest there be any mistake: There is a HUGE difference in watching baseball in HD vs. in SD. We have not investigated whether the conclusions stated herein apply to other cable carriers.

Talk About Useless Programs

If you want to know how long it takes for your computer to bootup, you could sit in front of it with a watch and note the time you pushed the power button and then the time when it booted, and subtract the former from the latter. But that is so yesterday. With BootRacer, the timing is done for you and you will get the exact time it took down to the millisecond. I am not kidding. The really good news is that BootRacer is free, so you no longer have to pay to capture this information.


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Google Play Movies on Nexus 7

I'm sure the iPad already had this feature, but with the latest update to Google Play Movies & TV, you can pause a movie and then tap the screen to get all kinds of info on a character or the soundtrack.

Getting the Most Out of Your Monitor

There are three basic ways to connect a monitor: VGA (analog), DVI (digital video) and HDMI (digital video and audio). While you likely will not notice any picture difference on properly adjusted monitor, here is the one factor that will make the most difference in the clarity of your picture: The length of your cable if you are using VGA. The digital cables can be 6' or longer with no degradation of picture quality. But changing from a 6' to a 1.5' VGA cable will make all the difference in the world, and is well worth the $2.28 investment.

Cables and Such is a fantastic place for all kinds of electronics stuff and other stuff, most of which ships free no matter how small the order. The only problem is that much of the stuff comes from China or Korea and so the wait time can be several weeks. If you need any such stuff overnight for a shipping charge of about $5, again no matter how small the order, then is the place to go.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013


If you would like to have a newly opened tab show up on top in Chrome without having to click it again, or otherwise control how new tabs open and other tab features, add the TabsPlus (no space) extension to your Chrome browser.

Fixing a Corrupt Google Chrome Profile

If you notice Chrome acting strange, e.g., not opening right, or an extension button disappearing that might not be of any importance but it's driving you completely nuts, you can try to trouble-shoot the issue even to the point of exchanging emails with the extension's author, only to discovery you have a corrupted Chrome Profile. Then, fearful of how difficult the process might be to convert to and then customize a new profile, you can look for a downloadable tool to fix the problem but they are all bogus shams--do not go near any of them. As it turns out, creating and then using a new profile is quick, easy, and painless, requiring no new customization. Here is all you need to do and once you sign in, you will see everything come back magically, and the missing button will have reappeared:

  1. Exit Google Chrome completely.
  2. Enter the keyboard shortcut Windows key  +E to open Windows Explorer.
  3. In the Windows Explorer window that appears enter the following in the address bar.
    • Windows XP%USERPROFILE%\Local Settings\Application Data\Google\Chrome\User Data\
    • Windows Vista/ Windows 7/ Windows 8%LOCALAPPDATA%\Google\Chrome\User Data\
  4. Locate the folder called "Default" in the directory window that opens and rename it as "Backup default."
  5. Try opening Google Chrome again. A new "Default" folder is automatically created as you start using the browser.
If you wish, you can transfer information from your old user profile to your new one. However, this action is not recommended, since a part of your old profile may be corrupt. With that in mind, to transfer your old bookmarks, copy the "Bookmarks.bak" file from the "Backup default" folder to your new "Default" folder. Once moved, rename the file from "Bookmarks.bak" to "Bookmarks" to complete the migration. All other browser data will remain in the "Backup default" folder, but you won't be able to transfer it to your new profile.

For Mac, see here:

Getting Around Post Office Insanity

One of the Post Office's dirty little secrets is that, in addition to flat-rate boxes (which are pricey except for the small one but nothing is small enough to fit) and flat-rate envelopes that are great alternatives to FedEx because for about $5 you get a tracking number and delivery in 2-3 days and you can print your pre-paid mailing label at home, there also is "available" padded 12" x 9.5" envelopes. These are flat-rate as well for about $5 as long as the what's being shipped is under 70 pounds, including items that are too large in the small flat-rate boxes.  Unfortunately, if you go to the Post Office to pick some up, you will discover the Post Office does not stock them ... they have to be ordered. You can order them at the Post Office and get them in about 6 weeks. Or you can order them online from and get them in a few days. Alas, while they are free and there is no S&H charge, will let you order only 1. That is, one at a time. You can, however, order one and then another and then another. Just go to Shop/Mailing and Shipping Supplies and then at the left click on Priority Mail or Flat Rate or Envelopes and then look for Padded Flat-Rate Envelopes. You will have to choose if you want 5, 10 or 15 but no matter which you pick, it will default back to one. Then go to Express Checkout and just four clicks later you're done.

Diagnosing and Unfreezing Hanging/Frozen Programs

Occasionally, a Windows program gets hung up and just sits there frozen. You can open Task Manager (Ctrl+Shift+Esc) and try to close the hung program. But sometimes you might want to see if you can find out why the program got hung up in the first place or you may want to try to unfreeze it. In that case, Windows 7 has just the system tool you need. Here is how it works:
  1. Open Resource Monitor by entering “resmon” in the Start-Search bar. Alternatively, open Task Manager ( keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Shift+Esc), and click on the "Performance" tab  and then the button "Resource Monitor".
  2. An example of the window that opens is shown in this article. In the CPU section of the "Overview" tab, right-click the executable file of the hung application. The listing of the hung application will be colored red.
  3. Analyze Wait Chain in Resource MonitorThe context menu that opens is shown on the right. You can close the hung process from this menu or you can choose the entry “Analyze Wait Chain…”  to see what other processes may be interacting with the hung program. If you know that an entry in the wait chain is not crucial you can try ending that process to see if it frees up the hung program. However, take care not to end a process that is vital to system operation. Ending a process here is not permanent, however, and rebooting the computer will normally restart everything.

Monday, April 1, 2013


At first, you think it's another movie about the 2008 financial collapse. Then, you think it's murder mystery, and you fear you are watching the unsuccessful melding of two disparate plots, the flaw that plagued Top Gun. Then, you realize it's a movie-adaptation of an episode of Law & Order--Criminal Intent told from the perspective the perp, rather than from the perspective of the Major Case Squad. While Tim Roth did a good job as Detective Michael Bryer, you kept wishing that the casting director had chosen Vincent D'Onofrio instead, and you can't help to wonder if then the movie would have turned out quite differently. All-in-all, while the big screen was not needed to make this movie--even if it was needed to have Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon appear in it, Arbitrage is an entertaining piece and, unlike too many movies these days, is not too long.

IMDb Link: