Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Sending Money

If you need to send someone money, there is no reason to send them a check. Most banks will send money (for free) to any recipient who has an email address or cellphone number. If your bank won't, PayPal will. Setting up a PayPal account is free and easy and sending money is free and easy (you can do it by computer or by app). And unlike a mailed check that will take days to get there if at all, the money will be "delivered" within minutes if not sooner, and not get lost in the mail.

Link to PayPal Website

OtterBox Cases

If you prefer the feel of going case-less, or you want basic protection for $5-$15, then stop reading now. But if you want a case that does it all, including total drop, dust, and screen protection and allowing for swappable modules (including tripods, lenses, backup batteries, credit card readers, and more) to be attached, then an OtterBox case might be just the thing for you. It's available for many brands (including, Samsung, LG, HTC, Motorola, OnePlus and more), but likely will appeal most to iPhone users. Depending on which model case you choose, they range in cost from $15 to $150.

Link to OtterBox Website

Monday, May 30, 2016

Happy Valley: More Good News

Season 1 (2014) of Happy Valley was a terrific adaptation of Fargo (it's the same story but with some twists). Unlike Fargo, though, besides not having a wood chipper, there's a Season 2 (2016) of Happy Valley, and based on the first episode, it looks to be just as good. This is a must-see series. Get Netflix if you don't have it if for no other reason.

Cool Way to Lose Weight

Coolsculpting is a non-invasive method to freeze unwanted fat, including even love handles and double chins. Our Medical Department has not had the chance yet to do the kind of exhaustive study we need to do before evaluating this procedure. But it is an interesting approach.

Link to CoolSculpring Website

Checking on Security Patches

Whenever you read about a security patch for Windows or any application, it's a fair bet that there's a reference to CVE somewhere in the notification. It's the database of Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures, and documents just about every known security-related problem. So whether you're patching a product from Microsoft, Adobe, Apple, Oracle, Drupal or just about anyone else, the patch will be referenced in the CVE database.
To make sure that all of your important programs are up to date with critical security fixes, it's therefore a good idea to check the CVE website. You can search by product, vendor, date, and just about anything else. 
It's a very useful resource if you want to check that your PC is as secure as it can be, or whether there are any patches for the products you use which you haven't yet installed.

Link to CVE Security Website

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Happy Valley PS

If you liked Fargo, you will totally love Happy Valley. You might even say, it's better than Fargo. I didn't say it. But you might. And you might be right.

No Natural Gas: Go Induction

If you eat all your emails at restaurants or by take-out or delivery, ignore this post. But anyone who cooks at home who takes pride in their cooking or just cares about their cooking, and certainly anyone who considers himself or herself a gourmet, should take heed. If you do not have a gas cook-top, then you should give serious consideration to induction. It is as fast and controllable as gas, and in fact, when off, nothing stays warm, so that's an advantage over gas. The irrefutable conclusion is: If your only choice is electric, think induction.

Link to Consumer Reports Pros and Cons of Induction Cooktops

eBay Problem: Go to PayPal

Say you order two (2) universal wall filter screens for $9@, but the seller sends you just one. You email the seller twice to report the problem, but get no response. Try to resolve the matter through eBay's resolution center--forgettaboutit! If you bought the stuff with a credit card, just ask your card to dispute the charge. If you bought the stuff through PayPal, just call PayPal (you will get the number and code on the PayPal website) and they will handle the dispute courteously and efficiently.

Hootsuite: Social Network Feed Aggregator

Marketing professionals, such as myself, who look after dozens of Facebook and Twitter accounts on behalf of their clients don't keep logging into each account in turn, via a web browser or a phone app. Instead they use an aggregator that shows them the current feeds from all those accounts on a single screen. The best-known of all such aggregators is called Hootsuite and, although it costs money if you want to access dozens of social media accounts, you can look after 3 for free. 
Hootsuite is web-based, so you don't need to download anything. Just sign up with an email address, and click to allow it access to your social media accounts. Then log into it whenever you wish. Or if you don't like it, just go back to accessing your accounts via the previous method and everything will still work just fine. You can even mix and match, using Hootsuite sometimes and individual browser windows whenever you prefer.

Undefeated (2011)

Undefeated is a documentary about a Memphis high school football team of underprivileged kids that came from a history of never winning a game to a district championship. The film focuses on the coach and a few of the kids as it drones on and on. Not that it's not an aspirational and heart-warming and touching film, but it just drags on and on. In reality, it's under 2 hours, but it feels like a 6-12 episode mini-series. What's really scary is that about half-way through you think you might have seen it before, just re-confirming the conclusion that, as fine a movie as it might be, it's one that you try to banish from your memory because of the pain of how it drones on and on. You likely will have no idea why you watched it to the end.

IMDb Link to Undefeated

Getting a Deep Discount on a New Phone From Your Carrier

By way of example, say you want a Galaxy S5. Rather than pay your carrier $500+ for one, you buy an unlocked one on Amazon for $275. Once you get the phone, you love it, but others have trouble hearing you. It's not an unknown problem, and all the suggested fixes you try don't help. You're tempted to try another unlocked phone but your research shows that this particular problem occurs far more often with unlocked phones than locked ones, So, you're ready to bite the bullet and buy a new S5 from your carrier a the full list price. Before doing that, though, try this:

1. Do a little research to show the kind of deals you might be able to get if you switched to another carrier.

2. Call your carrier and ask to talk to the Termination Department.

3. Start the conversation as follows: "I have a problem. I am hoping we might be able to solve it. I love you as a carrier and don't want to leave, and I am not threatening to leave even if we can't solve the problem and even though I have researched options with other carriers. [Give a totally accurate description of what happened with the unlocked phone; then give a totally accurate description of the deals you've seen elsewhere] Then, say, I am NOT asking you to match any of those deals. I really want to stay with you. I just want to know if there is anything that can be done other than our paying $500 for a new S5 from you."

4. The rep likely will then say she will look to see if there is any "promotion" that is available to "preferred long-time customers." And shzam, she just might find one. Indeed, she just might find one where the actual cost of the phone will drop to $320.

Cellphone Danger Alert

A major study conducted by the National Toxicology Program has found a slight, but significant, positive correlation between radio-frequency radiation exposure (like that given off by phones) and certain cancers in rats — though only male ones. So, if you have a male rat pet, do not give it a cellphone.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Happy Valley (2014, 2016) on Netflix

In contrasting its view of how poorly Night Manager was done, the New Yorker raved about Happy Valley. And, wow, based on the first episode, they nailed it! It's fabulous. It's got your Shakespearean overtones, your O'Henry overtones, and your originality of script. It's also got your terrific casting and wonderful acting, and just beautiful scenery. It's tense, intense, and just plain gripping. If you don't subscribe to Netflix for any other reason, do so for Happy Valley.

IMDb Link to Happy Valley

Email Auto-Replies

When you are not available to respond to emails, auto-replies are the courteous thing to do. Every email program lets you do them, and always choose the option to send only one to each emailer who sent you an email. In the event you might not be returning to answer any emails, our Courtesy and Manners Department suggests the following, which The New Yorker apparently approves of:

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Best Vegetable Dish in the World

If you live where there is a True Foods restaurant, you are in luck. It's got good pizza. But, it's got the absolute best bowl of vegetables ever, even without the dipping sauce. It's a meal by itself.  You likely will never have seen some of things in it, and certainly will not have seen a presentation more beautiful. And it's not expensive.

Caprese Salad: Not for the Timid

A Caprese salad is the most sublime and daunting of salads. But, you need not limit yourself to organic tomato slices topped with fresh basil and mozzarella, and sprinkled with balsamic vinaigrette. Adding avocado junks and onion slices never hurts, and slathering the basil leaves with pesto sauce will bring raves. A top-quality organic olive oil can substitute for the balsamic, which some say is a good idea because it enhances, rather than drowns out, the flavors of the vegetables and cheese. Even a little carrot slice can be a nice touch, although  jicama is even better.    

Saving Money on Wine

In honor of National Wine Day (which should not be confused or conflated with National Whine Day), our Sommelier Department has some tips on saving money on wine:

The second-cheapest wine on the menu could have the highest markup

Trying not to look cheap, many diners go for the second-cheapest wine on the menu. Knowing this, restaurant owners will often mark it up the highest. So the next time you’re about to make a selection, share that fun tidbit with your friends. And know that no one will turn their nose up at you if you go for the absolute cheapest on the list.
Go for grapes you’ve never tried before

Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon are two of America’s top favorites, according to retail sales reported by Nielsen. But going against the current can really pay off as wineries often offer deals to encourage consumers to try their new blends.
Earlier this year, Wine Spectator launched their “Xvalues” app to help wine enthusiasts discover new varieties without breaking the bank. This free app lets you sort by price, ratings, region, and you can create a list of your favorites for the next time you want to pick up a bottle at your local wine shop.During our interview, we tasted two top-valued wines under $10 that you can find on their app:  The 2014 Kung Fu Girl Riesling from Charles Smith located in Washington state, and the 2013 Portuguese red blend from Casa Santo Lima. The app is currently only available to iPhone and iPad users, but rolling out later this year for Android devices.

Think outside the box with boxed wines

Packaging wine into glass bottles can get pricey for wine distributors. To cut that cost out, going for boxed wines can mean incredible savings. One box holds about 4 bottles and costs about $20 to $25, which means you’d be paying $4 to $5 per bottle. It’s great for summer parties or any big event, but boxed wine spoils faster so you should drink it within a few days of opening. Remember what I always say: “Don’t be shy to try something new because finding out what you don’t like is just as valuable, if not more, than finding out what you do like.” 

Disappearing Folder Pane in Outlook Part 2

It's a much more common problem than originally thought, and likely is the result of some undetermined Microsoft update. Our IT Department is working feverishly and putting in countless over-time to find a true fix, which so far has proved illusive. In the meantime, you can save time and clicks by adding the Folder Pane to your Customized Quick Access Toolbar Ribbon. Some have even reported that after putting that icon on the ribbon, for some inexplicable reason, the problem goes away.

End of Wi-Fi Dead Zones

Not inexpensive, but if you cannot get rid wi-fi dead zones in your house, you might try an Eero system, available from Amazon, Best Buy and elsewhere. The systems is comprised of three units that blanket your home. Dead zones are eliminated and buffering is a thing of the past.

Link to Eero Website

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Best Online Photo Storage

There are two problems with storing all your photos on your phone: They take up a lot of space, and if you ever lose your phone, your photos are gone, too. That's why you should back up your photos to the cloud. Cloud storage gives you a lot of space and convenience for free (or cheap).
The linked article looked at 11 of the top online photo services. While none of them offers the perfect mix of storage space, convenience, and price, they narrowed the field to our top four, which excel in different ways -- find out which one matches your needs.
Also, if you wonder how many photos you can you store in the cloud, find out in our guide comparing the major online photo services.

Link to Very Helpful Article

What to Do If Your Boarding Pass Does Not Show TSA Pre ✔

Sometimes, even though you have registered with TSA and have TSA Pre ✔, you discover that your boarding pass does not have the TSA Pre✔ designation printed on it. There can be many reasons this happens even if you have duly entered your TSA Pre ✔ information on your carrier's website before buying your ticket (and of course you should enter that information with any airline you might be flying on), and if your flight involves multiple carriers, you need to have the information on file with each carrier. One of the most frequent is that, contrary to our advising you repeatedly not to do this, you bought the ticket through a third-party and not directly from the carrier. In any event, if the TSA Pre ✔ is missing, go to your carrier's website, double-check that the TSA information is in there or, if not enter it, and hit Update, and then try re-printing your boarding pass.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Folders in Outlook Disappear

You open up Outlook, and to your shock and chagrin and great distress, none of your Mail folders are there. It's blank. Even the column is gone. Here's what not to do: Go to the Google looking for an answer or, if you do, trying any of the suggestions; re-booting the computer; doing a restore; doing a short fix; opening a backup file; or reinstalling Outlook. Instead, open Outlook, go to View/Folder Pain and click on Normal.

Vodka in Plastic Bottles

When Polar Ice stopped distributing in Phoenix, only a few people were lucky enough to have stored the empty plastic bottles, which are a God-send when taking vodka on a road trip, like to Rocky Point. Our Wine and Spirits Department ("WSD") has discovered two newly-available vodkas at Safeway that come in plastic bottles: Frost and Pinnacle. While Pinnacle is a little prettier, WSD recommends Frost for the following reasons: Frost is less expensive ($14.99 vs. $9.99 for 1.75L); Frost has been distilled 5 times while Pinnacle has been distilled just 4 times; the Frost bottle has what's known as a "handle," which are indentations making it easier to lift, pour, and replace, while Pinnacle does not, making it more difficult to handle, especially for people with small hands; and, based on the WSD's extensive marketing research (involving polling, focus groups, and taste-testing), there is no statistically significant difference in how they taste.

Monday, May 23, 2016

World of Tomorrow (2015)

This is an animated short documentary. The best thing about it: It's short (16 minutes). If you enjoy intellectual conceit (such as the poem (written by a kid in the early '60s in its entirety at a coffee house in a couple of minutes): "A gray-flanneled Levittown, three or maybe seventeen"), and stick-figure animation, this is a movie for you. Otherwise, move along folks, there's nothing to see here. And btw, it was nominated for an Oscar.

IMDb Link to World of Tomorrow

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Bridge of Spies (2015)

Who hasn't waited to say Tom Hanks really stunk in that movie, why did Steven Spielberg ever make that move, why did the Coen brothers have anything to do with that movie, and why would Mark Rylance ever get an Oscar for that movie?  The answer, of course, is everyone. Unfortunately, you're going to have to wait longer. Bridge of Spies, based on a true story, is absolutely fabulous, and Tom Hanks and Mark Rylance are terrific. It's what movie making is supposed to be.

IMDb Link to Bridge of Spies

Car Insurance Card

If you have insurance on your card, your insurance company assuredly has its own app for your phone. Not only is such an app very useful in the event of an accident, it assuredly will automatically have your up-to-date insurance card in, so you never have to leave home without it. If not, you should always photograph your insurance card and store it on your phone, so you never have to leave home without it.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Hot Pursuit (2015)

Compared to Lady Dynamite, Hot Pursuit is fantastic. But it's not particularly good and not worth watching. In fact, while there are some laughs, it's boring ... with characters you could care less about and a plot that's even less interesting. And as much as you might like Reese Witherspoon, and who doesn't, you can't help thinking how much better Holly Hunter would have been in the lead.

IMDb Link to Hot Pursuit

Lady Dynamite (2016 TV Series)

Humor has been studied and is understood to be something that breaks with or tweaks a social norm. When it's great, it's subtle, sublime, and unexpected. When it's bad, it's just exaggerated stupidity, which is becoming all too prevalent. That a situation or person is beyond reality does not make it funny. There is a big difference between being beyond reality and breaking with or tweaking it. If you want a really bad comedy, or at least what can be told from the first 10 minutes of Episode 1, watch Lady Dynamite.

IMDb Link to Lady Dynamite

Searches Made Simple by The Google

If you're tempted to go to a specialized site to find something, lie down for a few minutes and, once the feeling has passed, come back to The Google. For example, if you want to find out the details of a house for sale, and you know just the address or the MLS #, you could go to Realtor.com and search for it. Not only will that take you a whole bunch of clicks, but it often will be hit or miss. Instead, put just the MLS # (or the address) into The Google, and one click later, you will know all there is to know. The same is true  for retailers, most of whom have terrible search engines in their website. Instead, just put the product you're looking for into The Google, and, if you want, the name of the store, and The Google will find it for you at the store and elsewhere if you want much faster. In fine, nine times out of ten, shunning the specialty website and embracing The Google is the way to go.

Drying Sheets on a Clothesline

Drying sheets on a clothesline not only makes them smell fresher and more natural, but the sun's rays are more effective than a dryer at zapping nascent mold or other such undesirable things. Be sure, however, to hang them so that they are open at the bottom which will avoid the problem of a sock getting caught in the sheet and lost when the sheet is taken off the line and folded, as well as producing better flapping in the wind.. Here is an illustration of the correct way to hang a sheet on a clothesline:

Image result for sheets on a clothesline

Friday, May 20, 2016

Amazon's Disappearing Price Guarantee

It used to be that, if a product you buy from Amazon drops in price within 7 days, upon request, Amazon would credit you the difference. No longer. Except for TVs, forget about it. But, if the Amazon rep mis-states Amazon's policy thinking Amazon does do price guarantees but it would not apply in this instance, and then tells you Amazon "cannot" do a refund or even an accommodation, and sticks with that position even after you explain that, of course Amazon can choose not to do a refund or an accommodation, but Amazon certainly "can," sure-as-the-sun-comes-up-in-the-East, make any accommodation it wants, you certainly should ask for a supervisor. When you explain to the supervisor that you have now done Amazon a favor by bringing an improperly trained rep to its attention, and you have the option to do a return and re-buy which is a lose/lose for Amazon, it's third-party seller, you should indeed get an accommodation of at least $10. Then, you might as well delete camelcamelcamel from your favorites list.

PS: If you give a bad review to Amazon upon receipt of its email for feedback, you will be encouraged to let them call you or have a chat or send an explanatory email. You might consider writing something like this even if it doesn't produce a further accommodation: "I mistakenly understood that Amazon would match price-drops so I tracked my $267 cellphone purchase on camelcamelcamel.com. When the price dropped by $13, I phoned Amazon. The first rep told me there would be no refund credit because, while the phone was fulfilled by Amazon, it was sold be a third-party and price guarantees applied only if the product was sold by Amazon. She also refused to make any accommodation saying Amazon "cannot" make any accommodation. I then talked to a supervisor who told me Amazon has no price guarantee policy at all whether on products fulfilled by Amazon or even sold by Amazon. He did acknowledge that Amazon "can" make accommodations and he did a $10 accommodation. The whole process took me nearly a half hour on the phone including a more than 10-minute hold waiting for a supervisor. It's been a very frustrating and disappointing process. I strongly suggest that Amazon make clear, if the supervisor is correct, that it does not do any kind of 7-day or other price guarantee, and if he is incorrect, make clear what the policy is. Of course, I could have just returned the phone for a full refund and bought it again at the now lower price, which would be a hassle for me, and a negative for Amazon and its original third-party seller. I also strongly suggest that Amazon take appropriate action with camelcamelcamel.com that it's offering a service that is bound to confuse and frustrate Amazon customers, as it did me." It might not get you any further accommodation though.

Recent Factoids of Interest

1. Interior design and decorating resource Houzz is the overall best Android app of the year, according to Google, which this evening announced the results of the first-ever Google Play Awards at its developer conference, Google I/O. 

2. Yummly is the best recipe app.

3. The average age for a child getting their first smartphone is now 10.3 years. Tablets have surged from 26% to 55% usage as kids’ device of choice during car rides. Smartphones trail at 45% (up from 39% in 2012). 64% of kids have access to the Internet via their own laptop or tablet, compared to just 42% in 2012.39% of kids get a social media account at 11.4 years. 11% got a social media account when they were younger than 10.

Scrabble Strategy

[Prefatory Note: Family members will confirm that the Scrabble strategy unveiled in today's Wall Street Journal was first devised not in Nigeria, but by the Founding Father and Executive Director of this blog decades ago. It proved then, and appears to have proved again, that it is the best strategy for winning. Indeed, a lifetime record of more than 500 wins and fewer than 3 losses pretty well confirms it]

[Courtesy of the Wall Street Journal]

LAGOS—Nigeria is beating the West at its own word game, using a strategy that sounds like Scrabble sacrilege.
By relentlessly studying short words, this country of 500 languages has risen to dominate English’s top lexical contest.
Last November, for the final of Scrabble’s 32-round World Championship in Australia, Nigeria’s winningest wordsmith, Wellington Jighere, defeated Britain’s Lewis Mackay, in a victory that led morning news broadcasts in his homeland half a world away.
It was the crowning achievement for a nation that boasts more top-200 Scrabble players than any other country, including the U.K., Nigeria’s former colonizer and one of the board game’s legacy powers.
“In other countries they see it as a game,” said Mr. Jighere, now a borderline celebrity and talent scout for one of the world’s few government-backed national programs. “Nigeria is one of the countries where Scrabble is seen as a sport.”
Once, almost all of Scrabble’s champions hailed from North America or Europe. Most stuck to a similar “long word” strategy—mastering thousands of seven- and eight-letter plays like QUIXOTRY, a 365-point-move in American Michael Cresta’s record-breaking 830 point win in 2006.
That seems smart Scrabble. A player who can unload all seven tiles gets an extra 50 points, in what is called a bingo.
Global competition and computer analytics have brought that sacred Scrabble shibboleth into question, exposing the hidden risks of big words.
Risk one: Every extra letter on the board is another opening for an opponent to land their own seven-letter blockbuster.
Risk two: Every letter played gets replaced by a random tile from the bag. A bad draw can—and often does—leave players stuck for several turns without vowels or decent letter combinations. After millions of computer-simulated games, Scrabble strategists have concluded that bad draws happen more frequently than previously assumed.
So while Scrabblers still fancy bingos, they increasingly hold off on other high-scoring moves, such as six-letter words, or seven-letter terms that only use six tiles from the rack. Instead, by spelling four- or five-letter words, a player can keep their most useful tiles—like E-D or I-N-G—for the next round, a strategy called rack management. The Nigerians rehearse it during dayslong scrimmage sessions.
Also, thanks to a design quirk, the board is oddly generous to short words. Most of the bonus squares are just four or five letters apart.
Nigerian Wellington Jighere defeated Britain’s Lewis Mackay at the Scrabble world championship in November. His strategy–to use shorter words–sounds like Scrabble sacrilege. Here’s how the game unfolded. Photo: Rob Alcaraz/The Wall Street Journal
“The geometry of the Scrabble board rewards five-letter words,” said Mr. Mackay, who lost to Mr. Jighere in the world championship final, during which the Nigerian nabbed a triple word score with the antiquated adjective KATTI, meaning “spiteful.” “It’s a smart tactic.”
For decades, a computer revolution has been building in Scrabble, each improvement advancing the science of rack management, said Stefan Fatsis, author of “Word Freak: Heartbreak, Triumph, Genius and Obsession in the World of Competitive Scrabble Players.” These days, competitors use applications to analyze, in real time, the wisdom of every letter laid, comparing their moves to those artificial intelligence would play.
“ ‘What would the robot do?’ is now the key question in Scrabble,” said Mr. Fatsis. Often, he said, the robot plays five letters: “There are inefficiencies in the game that you can exploit by having a mastery of those intermediate-length words.”
Nicknamed “The Cat in the Hat” for his taste in fedoras, Mr. Jighere, 33 years old, is Nigeria’s Rachmaninoff of rack management. At his first tournament in 2007, intimidated by the extravagant vocabulary his Western opponents were spelling, he stuck to midlength words, hoping to limit their play.
“We had this inferiority complex,” Mr. Jighere said during a recent 12-hour tournament in the Nigerian capital, Abuja. “These guys are the owners of the language, they know so many words, we better be careful.”
Now, his method is changing the game. Champions have studied his defensive style, including his decision to put REPAIR on an S during the final, for 30 points. He could have earned 86, including a 50-point bingo, spelling PEREIRAS. Instead, Mr. Jighere kept an “e” for the next round.
“It’s this sort of strategic thinking that the Nigerians are embracing,” said American Chris Lipe, runner up in the 2014 world championship, who called Mr. Jighere’s performance a Scrabble master class.
Mr. Jighere has been playing since he was 14, taught by his older brother when they were growing up in the oil-rich, swampside city of Warri.
Players at the 2015 North American Scrabble Championship in Reno, Nev., in August.
Players at the 2015 North American Scrabble Championship in Reno, Nev., in August. PHOTO: STEVE YEATER/HASBRO/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Nearly every day, a stranger pesters him on Facebook to play the Scrabble-style game Words With Friends. Schools invite him to talk about the game—and reveal his secrets. His own Wellington Foundation for Scrabble and Mind Development in Africa lobbies the government to add Scrabble to the national curriculum, alongside math and science. Upstarts are eager to dethrone him.
“It has not been easy, handling the pressure,” said Mr. Jighere, who says the fame has put him off his game, because there’s no time to practice.
Across the developing world, more governments are funneling money and organization into the sport. In Pakistan, 700-plus people competed in last year’s national championship, which was televised live. A Gabonese man’s second-place finish in the French-language world championship sparked a national Scrabble league in that African state.
“It was a moment of pride,” said Gabon’s President Ali Bongo in an interview. “Incredible.”
Nigeria’s Scrabble ambitions date to the 1990s, when several local fans convinced the dictatorship of Gen. Sani Abacha to make the game an official sport, a designation that brings funding. Nigeria was ostracized from the world then. Scrabble offered one area where the country could redeem its image abroad.
Competitors in a 2014 Scrabble tournament in London.
Competitors in a 2014 Scrabble tournament in London. PHOTO: GARETH CATTERMOLE/GETTY IMAGES
Nowadays, the country of 187 million stages daylong tournaments in stadiums on an almost weekly basis, often with small prizes on the line. Dozens of Scrabble clubs scout high schools for talent, sometimes poaching players. Several of Nigeria’s 36 states have a Scrabble coach on the payrolls.
Of them, Prince Anthony Ikolo was the first to glimpse the potential of the shorter-word strategy. In the late 2000s, the university mathematician had two apps—Quackle and Maven—that let him simulate tens of thousands of possible game scenarios that would result from a given move. The data showed how often a long word would leave the player vulnerable to a counterstrike or a series of bad draws.
Using those analytics, his team came up with a secret list of the five-letter words that are hardest for opponents to utilize, code-named “ajuwires,” Nigerian slang for an intern. “If you know your five-letter words you can beat people playing seven-, eight-, nine-letter words,” he said.
To train his players, including Mr. Jighere, he sent them word lists to study. They met in hotel rooms to play 48 hours of nonstop Scrabble. “It was like a marathon,” said Mr. Jighere. “No sleep.” On their way to Australia, they had their dictionaries open on their airline trays.
Wellington Jighere with his trophy after winning the world championship.
Wellington Jighere with his trophy after winning the world championship. PHOTO: PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
At the tournament, while Scrabble champions from the Western world generally socialized, Mr. Jighere and his teammates kept to themselves, going to bed early. Each morning, the Nigerians met the Kenyans in their hotel to pray.
By comparison, his opponent, Mr. Mackay, spent the evening before their big match at a pub.
At game time, Mr. Mackay, exhausted from days of Scrabble, watched as a visibly relaxed Mr. Jighere slang a succession of terse, defensive words, such as DACOIT (36 points), YOW (34) and AAH (17).
The Brit broke into a lead with AVOUCHED—an eight-letter bingo for 86 points—but spent the next five rounds managing awkward racks, playing words that scored in the low 30s and high 20s. With QUIZ (93), Mr. Jighere popped ahead.
At the final score, which was 449 to 432, the winner’s teammates lifted their champion around the room, singing a Nigerian pop tune: “We Done Win.”
Then President Muhammadu Buhari called to congratulate.
The winning word, for 36 points? FELTY. It was five letters long.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Where Not to Learn About Websites

If you're reading this, you know this is the best place for learning about tech stuff. But, if you're not reading this, and instead are watching television, you might be dazzled by an ad for a website, especially travel sites like HotWire, Trivago, and Travelocity (with that ridiculous gnome). Do not be tempted by such ads. Instead, run for the hills. And for your mantra, remember this: The single most successful website, Amazon, is never seen in a television ad. Likewise, and not surprisingly, this blog does not advertise on television.

No Camera Person Needed

Like most people, you likely are tired of always having to find someone to photograph all your action moves. Well, your long national nightmare is over. Although it cost a few dollars, SoloShot will be your personal robot camera person that automatically pans, tilts & zooms to keep you in the camera's shot up to 2,000 ft. away for over 3 hours. No line of sight is even required.
Link to SoloShot Demonstration

Link to SoloShot Webpage

Safe Computer Practice Tip

Most email scams are obvious. But some are very clever and difficult to detect even for the trained eye. This morning, an intern in our office got an email purporting to be from Drop Box saying, "You haven't logged in to Drop Box for more than a year. To avoid cancellation of your account, click on this link [LINK] and log in." It is difficult to over-state the opprobrium that was cast upon the intern for clicking on the link. The intern protested because it turned out to be a legitimate email from Drop Box. The opprobrium remained in place, however, because as explained to the intern, here is the best practice: Do NOT click on any such referenced link. Instead, go to the website itself and do as you wish to do. It's one extra click and safety always pays.

Car Insurance Discount You Might Not Be Getting

Sometimes, you have to ask to get something. This often is true with insurance companies. If your car has anti-lock brakes, day-time running lights, or air bags -- you likely qualify for a discount on your car insurance. If you qualify for 2 or 3 of these discounts, the savings are extremely high. Also, there is a select group of insurers that will give a discount for zero DUIs. If you're not sure if you're getting these discounts, nothing is lost in calling your insurance company to be sure you are.

Dealing With Overheating Cellphones

There are many things that can cause your phone to overheat. It’s possible – but unlikely – that the cell phone case is the problem. And even if it is, there’s a quick fix: just remove the case until the phone cools off, then slip it back on.
So what else can cause your phone to overheat, and what should you do about it? Computers have fans to keep them cool. Servers have climate controlled rooms where they can bask in cool air indefinitely. Cell phones don’t have either. They can shut themselves down if they get too hot, but who wants a phone that suddenly stops working – and that could physically harm you. We offer several pieces of advice on preventing and dealing with overheating below.

Why do cell phones overheat?

Exposing your cell phone to an outside heat source is the most common cause of overheating. Leaving your phone sitting directly in the sun, inside a hot car or under a lamp that produces a lot of heat can cause the phone to feel hot to the touch. Make sure you store your cell phone in a place where it will not be exposed to lots of heat. If it does get hot, you can hold it up in front of a cooling source like an air conditioner. (You should not, however, put your phone in the refrigerator or freezer. This can cause more damage.)
A faulty battery or battery charging cable can cause your phone to overheat. If you find your phone is overheating a lot, check to see where it feels hot. If it’s directly on top of the battery, try getting a new battery. If the hot spot is where you plug the phone into the charger, purchase a new charger. If the phone feels hot on the part at the top where you place your ear, the problem is likely with the phone.
Leaving your cell phone or smartphone charged in all the time can not only cause it to overheat, it can slowly kill your battery. This article from Popular Mechanics says scientists have found “a lithium‑ion battery [like those used in cell phones] stored at 40 percent charge and 104 degrees Fahrenheit – a realistic temperature for common cell phone use – will lose 15 percent of its capacity over the course of a year. That number jumps to 35 percent if the battery is stored at full charge, as in the case of a laptop that’s left plugged in all day.” Another easy fix: don’t leave your cell phone plugged in all the time.
Using your phone intensely – for example, watching movies or videos for a long period of time – draws a lot of power from the battery. That can make the phone get overly warm, especially if you’re holding it in your hot hand. Use a case with a kickstand or another type of holder to prop the phone up and allow air to flow around it. If that doesn’t help, stop using your phone for a while and see if it cools down.
Even if you aren’t pushing your phone to work really hard, it might be doing it anyway. Having a lot of apps that run in the background can cause your phone to overheat. So can turning up the brightness of your screen so you can see it outside on a sunny day.
To prevent these problems, it is recommended to uninstall any apps you don’t use, or adjusting them so they don’t run in the background; buying a screen protector rather than turning up the brightness of the screen; and putting the phone on airplane mode at night or when you only want to use it to listen to music.
Storing your phone in your pocket and up against the warmth of your body can also cause it to overheat. You might find it makes more sense to carry your phone in a holder, belt clip, smartphone wallet or similar device.

Can my cell phone case cause my phone to overheat?

The vast majority of cell phone cases are made of or lined with plastic. There are many good reasons to make cell phone cases from plastic. It does a great job of cushioning your phone if it gets dropped or slammed against a hard surface. It is affordable and attractive. It comes in a variety of colors, unlike wood or metal, and it is easy to apply interesting designs to the surface.
The problem with plastic cell phone cases is that they are not breathable. If your phone does get too hot, the plastic can trap the heat rather than allowing it to escape. The result? Once the phone gets hot, it stays hot.
Again, it’s okay to remove your smartphone or cell phone from its case if it gets hot from time to time. However, removing the cell phone case too often can damage the case. If your phone continues to heat up, and removing the case is the only solution, you might want to look for a different case or leave the case off altogether.
It’s also important to note that if your cell phone case contains a battery pack, it can also overheat or cause your phone to overheat. These cases are great because they provide your phone with extra life if the battery gets low, which is especially important for people on the go. However, you may find it simply isn’t possible to use one with your phone without one or both overheating. Consider carrying an extra charger in your briefcase, purse or car so you always have a way to charge your phone in case of emergencies.

BangFit by PornHub

We will not go into any details here, but we do understand this kind of thing is of great interest to countless of our readers. Also, our recent polling data confirms that virtually all of our readers decidedly and unabashedly approve of our Editorial Department's dogged commitment to the first amendment. So, the link below is provided for anyone wanting to know more about BangFit from PornHub:

Link to Article Covering PornHub's Launch of BangFit