Category: Testimonials

 

An example of how Meh.com’s deal-a-day can conquer

I’ve long been tied to deal-a-day websites. Woot (the original version; the site is currently an Amazon site) started it all. Shnoop had its moments (last time I checked it wasn’t a deal-a-day site anymore). Then came meh, which is run by the guys who founded Woot. A lot of this stuff can be looked at as novelty, but the sites had/have their moments.

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It’s not very clear how to recycle Cochlear sound processor technology

I want to recycle Cochlear sound processor technology as well as accessories and Cochlear doesn’t lay out how to do that. And that’s bad. Read More

Radio Airplay: A review of Jango’s backend service after 2 years use promoting music

If you’re an indie musical artist or even one under a label and looking for exposure, you may see Radio Airplay, which powers the Jango music streaming service, as an option. Indeed, it is an option to get heard around the world by music listeners who listen to stations aligned with specific performing artists that you align your own music with.

As a legit means of service, though, you have to pay. Oh, do you have to pay…

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My mobile hosting experience with Project Fi so far

I left Verizon Wireless in a huff this spring. I’d been on the service since 2011 or so on one of their plans for the deaf which knocked down the standard monthly price to just under $60 but charges for any and all calls that your phone makes. Add to it the number of voice mails that I received and what it would cost for a person to review them… It was an annoyance, as was forced-on-me apps by the service. I won’t list a data-cap complaint because I did not tend to use my Samsung Galaxy S III for web browsing or social media / data heavy apps; TXT/SMS, photography and offline apps were more useful for me and using Wi-Fi was a work-around with data anyway.

It was because my Galaxy was aging that I wanted to get out and move forward. I was reminded by my older brother that Google has a mobile entity of its own called Project Fi. I had two friends tell me they used Project Fi and it worked for them – utilizing Wi-Fi for data knocked down prices. The prices were there already seemed low enough: $20 base rate (phone + TXT/SMS) and data at $10 a gigabyte… And money saved from unused data each month. It sounded like a good chance to take… Read More

When you're better at Tech Support than Apple is

Talk about a tech FAIL on Apple’s part:

I bought an iPod Non 7th generation in April of this year. In some ways I’ve still been adjusting to it and some features I really liked but hadn’t tried out yet. I’ve mostly been using it around the house; I’ve found my other iPod (Nano, 3rd gen) is more effective on workouts than going to the touch-based Nano.

I upgraded the important desktop software tied to iPods and what not, iTunes, on Wednesday afternoon to version 12.4; I’d put off upgrading for a while because of no clear need… But prompts to upgrade came up so routinely that I decided there was no clear reason to not upgrade either.

It would seem the upgrade itself helped give me a reason not to have done so.

The 7th generation Nano doesn’t sync anymore with iTunes saying it can’t identify the device. There’s been no action undertaken on the Nano to cause change/issue, only with iTunes backend. I uninstalled iTunes and found I can’t install older versions any more. I have to use 12.4…and the software won’t/can’t identify the Nano.

This is where tech support jumps in and saves the fray, right? Involvement and instruction to get matters resolved… Yeah, about that…. iTunes/Apple support was a joke. I didn’t contact them having not tried tech support methods that “More Info” on iTunes had prompted, and yet it was that stuff that was fed to me directly all over again. When I told them I’d already tried that stuff, I got instructed to do a … reinstall? Despite the fact it’s prompted by iTunes itself, which I already attempted, which already failed in clearing up the issue. Multiple times at that.

In the end they wanted to send someone (a tech support person) as aid? Or have myself venture to the Apple Store to have one of their people look at the problem in person? It’s not like a device like this can’t be remedied by a user, but the options for doing so themselves were few.

Oh, the 7th Gen Nano still works on its own… I just can’t sync. And my older iPod Nano (3rd Generation) works just fine with syncing. What does that tell you about Apple’s own failure?

As a last, last attempt on fixing things (and I felt bad for doing it because I thought I’d put my music library at risk), I used an elaboration uninstall remedy that CNET had pitched years ago. I didn’t want to reset play-counts or do a media rebuild… I just wanted a clean installation of an (old) iTunes version. The article elaborates on having to uninstall more than just iTunes as part of the process to restarting. Trying to install an older version of iTunes failed, miserably, as the iTunes library database files had to be deleted too. I wasn’t about to restart my audio library…  I gave up on this idea. I uninstalled that older version and re-installed iTunes 12.4. For shame, I’d have to lose this new(ish) Nano.

Yeah, well, I plugged it in for a last sync attempt and everything worked just as fine as it should for how well the device worked on its own.

Some type of software compromise had happened in the Apple core – not just in iTunes but interacting programs.  Getting rid of everything resolved this. Repairing the issue, however, wasn’t what tech support thought. Not in elaboration, at least.

That was then, this is Sound

A Spectra-22 speech processor is a bulky piece of hardware, that’s all I can describe it as after eight years of toting one around.

For those who are unaware (and the general web-cosmos out there), I’m deaf. Stone deaf. I lost my hearing by way of genetic disorder requiring surgery at the age of 18. I was implanted with a version of Cochlear’s Nucleus-22 processor (known as the ABI) but didn’t go through with having it “turned on” (so to speak) until October of 2001.

…and if I knew how well I would hear with this implanted device, I would have gone through with it much sooner.

The thing is, with the implanted device, you have had to wear body-worn equipment to make it work. Stuff on your person. And for eight years, I’ve been wearing what essentially is a obsolete piece of equipment. The Spectra-22 was originally state-of-the-art in about 1989 – give or take a few years. While the entire concept of a late-deaf person hearing again is fantastic, technology sometimes does limit as much as it enables.  Like in my case. Read More

My Quest for Glory

I’ve been re-playing the old Quest for Glory games from Sierra Online the last few days. The redesigned Trial by Fire from AGD Interactive, Wages of War and Shadows of Darkness. So I’m really re-living my love for the game.

Re-living it so much that I took the Famous Adventurers Corespondence School’s Admissions test:

My name is Forge of Armongaar and I am a Paladin.

Paladin Shield

What kind of Hero Are You?

www.theschoolforheroes.com

The odd thing was that with my love for the game, I wanted to finisht eh series and re-play the fifth and final game of the series: Quest for Glory V: Dragon Fire.

After I installed it and played for a few minutes, I couldn’t believe how much I hated it.

The three previous games I had played (I skipped the original game, but the design I am about to talk about holds true for that game as well) were graphical/art driven adventures. Dragon Fire, however, is a bridge game for Role Playing Games in general. Everything is developed in computer-animated 3-D… Not the quality you would see if you were playing a MMORPG now, but a very early version of such interfaces.

I just wasn’t satisfied with the product, which I had played before, this time around. Not after playing the other adventures back-to-back-to-back. I expected the cartoonish 2-D fun and instead I got early 3-D boxiness that just didn’t fit in the overall scheme.

**shrug**

Soda Popping

Financial bubbles have burst all throughout the financial industry. The two that come to mind first and foremost when I think of financial bubbles bursting are the tech bubble of the 1990’s (when IT and the World Wide Web were all the rage for scheming and dreaming on Wall Street) and the housing bubble, which is part of why we’re in this current financial mess that we’re in.

But has anyone noticed the Soft Drink bubble?

Coca-Cola

It seems like just 2 years ago, you could get two 12 packs of Coca-Cola products or Pepsi Cola products for five dollars (at least on sale). Now? At times, a single 12 pack of Coke or Pepsi alone could cost five dollars. Give or take.

Beverage Spectrum reported in April 2008 that the culprit was the rising cost of corn:

Millers derive high fructose corn syrup, the number two ingredient for most soft drinks, and ethanol, the number two ingredient for gasoline, from the same yellow kernels. The cost of those kernels jumped in the last few months after congressional efforts for energy independence collided with the fallout from a volatile stock market.

Beverage manufacturers have seen those costs passed on to them. Food Business News reported in early April that HFCS cost an average of 18.65 cents per pound, up from an average of 15.7 cents at the same time last year. That’s a 19 percent increase that’s causing financial pain for beverage companies. And that pain will likely travel down the supply chain into the cooler case.

But with the falling prices of gasoline (and the decreasing amount of driving by Americans) there is no fall in soft drink prices… Or Corn futures for that matter.

Another quirk is… well, no one is talking about it. Costs were up all over last summer, but how they’ve failed to fall back down is bothersome. What ever happened to the old addage “fast nickel as to a slow dime” when it comes to selling a product? It creates demand, it stimulates production and it stimulates the rest of the economy – laborers, producers, consumers, etc.

Pepsi new logo

For the record, you can get cheaper packages of Pepsi — though you will only get eight cans as to 12. But Marketwatch’s Matt O’Hern pointed out the glaringly obvious last October:

Pepsi claims higher prices for energy and food combined to raise expenses by 11%/ They’re betting the 8-pack will appear as a better value to consumers. Who does Pepsi think they’re fooling?

The 8-pack might be easier to carry around, but that’s where the “value” ends for me. I’m used to paying about $3.50 to $4.50 for a 12-pack, $10 for three 12-packs during specials. I just paid $3.50 for the new 8-pack at Publix, which shows that Pepsi is out of touch with the average shopper.

Even his cited numbers that he is used to are high, as they’ve become a recent feature of the increase to soda (pop, softdrinks, whatever you want to call it). But that’s a bit besides the point, the fact is that the “fast nickel to a slow dime” is being applied here — with less value for the “lower” cost.

So when is this Corn-inspired Soft Drink bubble going to burst? And how painful will the fall-out be for that?

"The Natural" is the surest way to waste money

I’ve bought from Pizza Hut a total of 2 or 3 times in the last year with thanks to them raising prices and fees and the dropping of quality in their pies. I used to be a regular but now get better quality and better costing pies from other major chains and even the local neighborhood joint around the corner from where I live.

But on Friday, I decided to mix things up and ordered online once more from Pizza Hut, requesting “The Natural” medium pie (costing the same as what a large pie from other competitors would)…

And this proved to be the biggest waste of money I’ve spent on pizza in years, and the only contradiction to the saying “bad pizza is better than no pizza” that I have ever literally encountered.

Service wise, I could complain about gas fees still being $2.50 from Pizza Hut (hell, I will: drop your friggin’ fees, will you?!! Gas prices are DOWN!) but with an early delivery, there really was nothing to complain about… Until I actually tasted the pizza.

Now, I’ve spent money and time on DiGornio’s Harvest Wheat frozen pizza’s, I’ve wasted money on lower quality frozen brands without “Natural” tied to it’s name, I’ve pissed away cash on ingredients to make my own pie at home….

What I tasted mirrored upon the latter — like a home made pizza, made by an amateur with the quality of the cheese and crust to match. All for the low-low cost of $12.57 (plus 2.99 for a 2-liter bottle of Pepsi). That’s 15.50 for a home-made-quality pizza with a bottle of coke… Oh, plus tip.

A cardboard quality crust with a cheese that seemed straight from Kraft…

Suffice it to say, I’ll be spending my money on other pizza options in the future. I’m a regular with Domino’s. Jet’s Pizza is going to start offering online ordering soon… You can’t beat the Little Caesar’s pizza deals… And of course, DiGiorno’s pizza is a fantastic option compared to the ultra-convenience and shitty quality from Pizza Hut.

I realize that some pizza’s don’t get baked properly… But with a crappy cheese layer and a cardboard crust, the Natural was a crappy, crappy pie and I would have been better off sticking with their regular fare.

what to do, what to do…?

So, the contract for my Blackberry 8700g and my Tmobile account comes up for renewal at the end of September. For two years I’ve been pretty much happy with what I’ve gotten (sans a few aggravating moments here and there). I’m wondering if I should simply renew? Renew and replace my blackberry with another model? Or perchance I should jump ship?

My blackberry is worn, the trackwheel is functional but barely — and tends to stick when scrolling through web pages or my menu. Real pain in the ass to deal with if I am trying to browse the web or just navigate applications on the Blackberry desktop menu. Then you have the fact there is no camera built in like just about every other cell phone or handheld out there and it seems just a little to antiquated.

So if I upgraded the Blackberry and Kept T-Mobile, I’d likely switch from the 8700g to the Curve. The interface seems straightforward like the 8700 and what not. No big learning curve (no pun intended). There’s a built in camera and what not. Bells! Whistles! But not bleeding edge.

The other alternative is for me to let the contract expire and go with another carrier with another device. Of course, the IT device right now is the iPhone and only one carrier has it — American Telephone and Telegraph. Unlike T-mobile, AT&T doesn’t straight out offer people in circumstances like myself a data-only package. No, in most cases you have to buy a standard package with the iPhone even if your hearing does not leave you capable of utilizing the phone itself on the device.

AT&T does offer data only, deaf packages for the iPhone but you have to jump through hoops in order to get it. I don’t even want to try to figure out the swing-time it will take for someone in the offices to read over signed documents, proving my deafness, and then approve the data only plan. It’s certainly not user friendly (or enabling) to only offer the application to those seeking them for phone use alone. Some people — even the hearing — would like a convenient, mobile means of surfing the web, texting and utilizing mobile media… All while not paying out the rear end for a laptop that is too bulky to utilize for simple mobile applications.

So as it stands at the moment, T-Mobile looks like it’ll be getting my business again by default. Anyone else have suggestions?

SMS / TXT — for lack of context, I am done with it

txt 2 luv = STFU

The last post — the video — got me thinking to some of my own endeavors with SMS / TXT messages over the years. I’ve spent hours on multitudes of people waiting for responses, hanging in limbo, hitting highs and lows over anagrams, or perhaps misinterpreting things that are being said or not getting the entire context of the story or getting to talking about anything of substance..

Enough of that shit.

Seriously, one or two messages from people who I normally converse with and share the context of their lives with is fine. Because txt is simply a surrogate while they can’t be in touch with me or I can’t be in touch with them via email, IM or on the phone.

But in certain cases, txt replaces chatting and it’s unhealthy. It leaves you out of the loop in general on people’s lives and you find yourself disconnected from them.

I may be hearing impaired but most people know how to get in touch with me if they want talk. But to keep doing it solely by txt? Sorry, not happening any more.

July 26th, 2008 Edit: I humored someone with this, the same person that sort of highlighted the lack-of-context aspects of txt/sms. Part of me wanted to keep the connection open… And decided to cater to the lazy aspect of said person.

…but that lack-of-context helped kill a long time friendship in the end. Lack-of-context led to lack of information, lack of information turned to lack of honesty and frankness, lack of this turned to disrespect and everything went

kaaaaaabloooooie!

.

In limited use, sms/txt are a great tool. To keep in touch in general, you gotta be fucking kidding me.

I'm doing something wrong, aren't I?

So I’m on Pandora — I have been here a few times in the past trying to find similar music to what I love as a way to introduce myself to new music.

The problem is more times than not I get introduced to stuff that doesn’t sound at all similar to what qualities I like in a song.

For instance, tonight I started with the Doors and Moonlight Drive — The deep baritone vocal from Morrison, coupled with the trance like bridge section from Manzarek and the jazz style drumming from Densmore make this song a classic to me. Those are the qualities I am endeared to in the music.

What I get are songs that are probably comparable in structure but not too comparable – to me – to what the song invokes with the mood. A song that invokes the pace. A song that simply makes me do a double take that I want to hear again.

I tried You’re Going to Lose That Girl by the Beatles next. Again, the genome project picked up on the structure of the music and not so much the mood that’s set. The pace of the song doesn’tseem to carry over in the suggestions, nor does the vocal harmonies, nor the rhythem bae of the song that doesn’t overstep it’s bounds… But mostly it’s the vocals that are most catchy with the song.

And wasn’t catchy at all with the suggested songs that followed. I know, I am asking for a tough act to follow with bands that can compare to the Beatles or songs that can compare to the Beatles but there has to be something out there. This is a 43 year old song for god sake…

I did have a better time when I tried surfer instrumental rock (Walk, Don’t run gave way to soem great music) but that’s instrumental all the way. That’s how Pandora is supposed to work.

Maybe I’m just too picky with music…? Or maybe I am just doing this wrong.

Trillian Astra upgrade and the lack thereof; Get it DONE

More than a year ago I learned about Trillian 4 — AKA Trillian Astra. I won’t even go into the bells and whistles that are supposed to be part of Trillian Astra but I will give readers the only thing that matters in a testimonial: I’ve been a paying customer for the Trillain Pro IM client since Version 1.5. I love how it integrates IM clients (AOL IM, MSN, ICQ, Yahoo, and all Jabber IM clients including Google Talk) and it’s interface more than any of the IM applications on there own.

That being said, I’m tired of waiting for Trillian Astra to go to Beta or the official release. Tired of reading the development blog that updates too slowly and only talks about the technobable in developing Astra which goes beyond the average user (which I am)… And of course, I’m tired of Trillian 3 Pro. I’m ready for an upgrade.

This was originally due last year and at this rate will not be out until next year… Please, get it done. Get it done, gentlemen.

Note to self: Your printer is not your enemy

Note to Self: There is a reason why you like HP printers. They’re pretty easy to use if you’re not being bullheaded. They also have never sucked when you have used them.

And of course, it’s a lot simpler to clear paper jams than fidgeting with buttons or trying to rip the paper out. Silly.

DVD play revisited

More than three years ago I wrote about the end-of-life of my original DVD player. It was a pretty sweet machine and I was sad to see it go.

Especially sad when I’ve tried the competition.

My first replacement player was a Toshiba progressive scan blah-blah-blah that was purchased in 2004. The player was slow, annoying and overheated easily. I started looking for a replacement for that sucker (casually) last fall and mentioned to family how I’d like a new DVD player for Christmas.

My older brother obliged me. I wish he hadn’t.

While I was looking at the new systems and thinking there was a chance I could buy a player from either side of the current format war, my brother went out and bought me a DVD Recorder. Pretty nice, right?

Yeah, it’d be real nice if it wasn’t a bottom-of-the-line Memorex player which cannot even send closed captions to my TV in a timely fashion during standard DVD playback. Movies end up being somewhat like watching dubbed karate movies with captions being displayed well after someone speaks.

Just a little annoying for this hearing impaired movie fan.

Factor in a poor remote control that focused on recording aspects instead of play (as well as additional captioning lag, if not dropped captions, if you paused or fast forwarded through a portion of a DVD) and you have all the makings of a gift that counted for the thought — nothing more.

So for the last several months I’ve been watching movies on my computer instead of on my DVD player which is bothersome as well (17″ monitor replacing a 27″ TV will do that) and I finally decided enough was enough. Twice now, I have had equipment purchased for me by my elder sibling (who’s motto sometimes is “I don’t care” — he’ll get the job done but getting the job done is more important than doing it well sometimes) and both times I was fed a shit sandwich. Enough is enough.

I went shopping on Amazon yesterday.

The only thing that guided me on my search was the quality I had found in my original DVD player. Panasonic had won me over in it’s simplicity and quality (you know, what companies are supposed to do with their products instead of winning you over by being the lowest priced object on the “clearance” rack at Wal-Mart). I didn’t want tons of bells and whistles (no DVD-R this time, no Blu Ray or HD-DVD) and ended up choosing a highly-ranked unit that costs a little more than a fifth of what I paid for my original player back in 1998).

The only down side is having to wait for it to arrive.

Crackberry indeed

I miss my baby and I am so worried about her.

At the end of February, I accidentally broke the lens cover on my Blackberry 8700g and it was rendered an annoying shade of useless. I found I could get it repaired for about 75 bucks from BBRepairshop if I shipped the unit off to them.

And that’s what I have done — the package with my addiction unit is in transit to Houston, Texas… Where BBRepairshop.com resides.

The question is just how my unit returns to me — in working order I hope — and if I will continue wasting money on my 2 year contract with T-Mobile if it does return to me in worse condition than it left.

"Grand Theft A"ddiction

Maybe it’s the fact I finally got used to the streets turning back on each other? Maybe it’s the fact I can pick up prostitutes any time during the day? Or the fact I can “Clean up the ‘hood by offing Drug Dealers?

Whatever the case may be, I’ve got a jones for Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and have been playing it off and on for the past week since it arrived in the mail. I’m not that far into the game knowing how deep GTA games are (missions, side missions, etc) but I’m far enough in to know I like what I see.

Gang Wars? Check. Drive bys? Check. Great music? Check. Corny Dialogue? Fuck you, nigga’!

Grand Theft Auto in la Cuidad de San ANdreas kicks ass and I am going back to my game RIGHT NOW….

'Texted' Out

Damn you Metrocall / Weblink Wireless!!!

I start a conversation with my friend Michelle around 5 PM on Friday through my text messenger. “Hey Hey” with Michelle’s standard “Howdy” response.

Well, after that Howdy from my AFI loving friend, I couldn’t send nor receive messages from anyone on a cellphone all weekend long (still the case at 11 PM Sunday). I was able to receive email like normal, I was able to get messages from the Internet, I was even able to set up getting messages from my scarcely used AOL account on the pager but I couldn’t do text messaging with Cellphone users. Bummer to be left out of touch with friends like that. It made me want to replace my pager with something like the Sidekick… Oh well. 🙁

The Death of a DVD Player

I’ve alluded before on Der Stonegauge that I was an early adopter of the DVD format. In 1998 I had the money to blow so I went out and got a player before the format even took a firm hold on society. Over the years, my Panasonic DVD-A105 has shown hundreds of hours of DVD video in high quality without a ton of bells and whistles like some of the new models that come out. It isn’t a progressive scan DVD player, it doesn’t have digital zoom, or a hard drive or whatever… it’s just a solid machine that has gone the distance time and again.

I bought Star Wars original trilogy (pirates :p) on DVD when the problems really started with my player. I attempted to play each movie and I had “digital breakdowns”, so to speak. I had been noticing the machine acting funny lately besides that (even though I clean it regularly) and just giving a few more problems than normal…

Well, Star Wars seemingly did a number on the machine. I tried playing Gladiator last night and what happened was… well, I couldn’t get past certain chapters due to digital breakdown on a clean DVD along with several messages telling me I had no disc in the machine while I did.

I bought condensed air to clean my machine, I ran my DVD laser cleaner, I tried running those DVDs again and the same problems came up. The machine would lock up while having the tough time reading the discs and end up ejecting the DVD from the machine or just plain turning off.

Sadly, I knew that my 5+ year old Panasonic is on it’s last legs…

I started looking at new players today seriously with regards to replacing my machine… And as I was sitting down to write this entry, my brother dumped a new Toshiba. Personally I would have preferred to find my own system but… Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, ya know?

Curiously strong…. breath strips??

Nice, Altoid’s now offers breath-strips much like my fave Listerine Cool Mint breath strips…

King Gimp

Oh, the life of a walker-bound sports fan…

Last night me, Michelle, her brother Geoff and one of Geoff’s friends attend the Lightning vs. Devils game at Times Palace. The game itself was a bore for the most part but the company was real good.

What sucked was getting to and from the arena.

I haven’t walked through a cityscape with this walker and my first experience with that was last night – it’s tough folks. It’s even tougher getting into an arena without knowing the access points for cripples and gimps… No offense intended towards the disabled.

And leaving the building? Don’t get me started…

Knights of the Old Republic

Well, what happened with Johnny when he lost his Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and Playstation 2?

He started playing with his Christmas presents…

I had received to different computer games to bide my time with at Christmas but I hadn’t installed them until mid January and barely played the first one. The second one was Sim City 4 and that was fun but it gets old fast.

So I went back to the first game I got / installed — Star Wars, Knights of the Old Republic

This game is usually heralded by gamers for it’s challenges and it’s depth, and I have to agree with that. I am not a hardcore gamer, nor will I ever know the depth and versatility of Video Games like, say, Gabe and Tycho over at Penny Arcade… But for me, Knights of the Old Republic was truly a fun game and a challenge… And personally? Thinking of the story line (well, there are several alternate story-lines, mind you, but for the sake of the argument – the one that has the main character a Jedi Knight and not a Sith Lord) could very well serve as a movie… No, not another one tied to the destiny of the original or prequel Star Wars trilogies…. A new movie with a stress on PREQUEL – no ties to the movies you know besides Sith Lords, Jedi Knights and Tatoonie.

I won’t publish any tips or hints here (how can I? I suck :p but I will guide any KOTOR gamers who are stuck to Gamebanshee… They were my savior at certain points in this game and I am looking forward to playing it again sometime in the future — just not yet. Not yet indeed.

Oh, one thing that sorta bummed me out at the end — the hero doesn’t get the girl! It ends up sorta like the end of the original Star Wars movie with a medal ceremony… And yet there is this small buildup of a relationship between one character and another and at the end — nothing happens! No kiss, no hug, no admittance of feelings… Nothing! Nada! Zip! Zero! Zilch! Ugh, how unforfilling! Oh well, it’s only a computer game…..