Home Business Concepts: 2011
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Holidaying In Europe With the Family

Posted by Linda | 7:20 AM

How's everyone doing? Hope you all had a nice Christmas holiday and looking forward to a happy and joyous new year. For me, mine was awesome. I spent the holiday with the family and finally made it to Paris for our anniversary.

We have been planning on going away to France since 2009, but didn't manage to afford it. The economy was bad and the fear of losing one's job was always a big thought. Luckily, we've all managed to sail through and still keeping our jobs.

So, to celebrate how lucky we've been... we thought we would go away to a romantic and exotic place. There's no better place that Paris.

But just before that, we dropped in London on our way and spent 3 days in the beautiful city. Visited lots of places such as Buckingham Palace, Leicester Square Cinema, the Tower of London and the world famous Harrods. You can't visit London and not see these places. They are what make it a great city - lots of history and architecture.

One thing thought that I notice is that the Kindle Fire has not been released in Europe, so if like me you are travelling to Europe, be sure to download Totally Free kindle Books here as you will not be able to get them in Europe.

We are still in Paris and hope to leave on Tuesday. I will post our holiday pictures next week.

Samsung UN46D8000 46-Inch 1080p 240Hz 3D LED HDTV

Posted by Linda | 4:16 AM

When I decided to replace my old digital projection TV I did my homework by doing tons of research and read tons of reviews and ended up buying the PN64D8000. After 2 weeks of watching it I can honestly say that I was never been so disappoint with a "top of the line" product from any brand at any price point as I have been with that TV and decided to return it for the UN60D8000. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made because the UN60D8000 simply crushes the quality of the PN64D8000.

SAMSUNG UN60D8000 vs PN64D8000
The overall image brightness of the PN64D8000 was about 20% darker than any other TV I have ever owned so the picture ended up looking dull and didn't pop off the screen the way I had hoped it would. That overall brightness problem was also complicated by a brightness throttle built into the TV that keeps the picture at or below a fixed intensity. This throttle causes huge consistency problems as some scenes will look perfect and then and you see it kick in when the majority of screen has really light or white content and the TV keeps it from displaying a pure crisp white and instead it throttles it back so you get a muddy light grey. Before anyone tries to tell tell me it was a calibration problem I know that I work professionally in the film and video industry and I know how to calibrate a TV so this was not a problem with the settings.

If you read the review on televisioninfo.com so will see that they tested the peak brightness of the PNXXD8000 plasma vs. the UNXXD8000 LED and the plasma scored a 90.43 cd/m2 while the LED scored a 357.93 cd/m2 which is nearly four times as bright.

The UN60D8000 is the complete opposite as the picture is bright with pure whites and has the best overall quality I have ever seen on any TV. It handles day to day TV watching through DireTv incredibly well as the picture looks fantastic but when you watch a Bluray this TV is just jaw dropping.

There is no denying that this TV looks beautiful with it's thin edge and it's slim design makes it look fantastic when you out it on the wall. I ended up hanging mine on the wall because the four legged TV stand made me nervous as it was stable side to side but it seemed like it could tip over fairly easily front to back. The Samsung Smart Hub is a nice addition but if I am going to surf the web I would rather do it on my laptop and I found that services like Hulu Plus and Netflix had better picture quality when I ran them on my Playstation 3 vs the Smart Hub. I do use the Yahoo! Smart Apps fairly regularly as it is an easy way to check the weather, items on eBay and the latest tweets without having to flip away from what you are watching.

There are a lot of reviews that knock with TV for it's black level uniformity and there is some validity to this but having now owned both of Samsung's top of the line TV's I can tell you they both have a some issues. Most plasma's will throttle back the white level but I never saw one as bad as the muddy and dull whites of the PN64D8000 plasma. At the same time any edge lit LED will have a problem where the edges will look a little lighter than the middle and you get a little of this on the UN60D8000.

This TV does have a little of this problem but you will only see when the screen is completely black and on mine it looks like a subtle gradient that goes from a very dark grey to black running right to left. For me this slight black level problem was A LOT more acceptable than the dull and muddy white point on their plasma which just wrecked my watching experience for TV, Bluray and PS3. If you calibrate your UN60D8000 you can pretty much totally eliminated the black level problem.

I have always thought that 3D was just a gimmick for movie studios to charge more for movie tickets and the movies I have seen with in the theaters never changed my mind. This TV came with two pairs of 3D glasses and I threw my the 3D version of Tron Legacy in to try it out and I have to say it was better than any 3D experience I've ever had in any movie theater. I was when I tried the 3D out with Killzone 3 on Playstation 3 that I saw how really cool this could be. 3D gaming on this TV is really fun and it is something I will be doing on a regular basis.

The one issue I have with the TV is an issue I never saw in any review and only found out about after I purchased the TV which is that there is an issue between Samsung LED TV's and gaming consoles especially the Playstation 3. When you plug in your Playstation some of the time you will see the TV display an error message suddenly saying 'Mode not supported'. I have done a a lot of research and testing to find out that there is an issue with the rate that Sony sends the HDMI signal to the TV which makes for a 'handshake' problem between the two devices.

Some people seem to have been able to fix this problem by buying a more insulated HDMI cable but I bought a top of the line cable and it had no effect. There is a simple solution where you can simply turn the TV off for a few seconds and then when you turn it back on it works perfectly. I am investigating if a HDMI signal detective will help fix this problem and I will update the review if I find a solution.

The Help - New Release

Posted by Linda | 2:07 PM

"Courage sometimes skips a generation. Thank you for bringing it back to our family." Skeeter (Stone) moved back home to Mississippi so she can get some experience writing for a paper before she can move to New York. When she gets a job answering letters about cleaning she asks one of the maids for help answering them.

A simple job about cleaning turns into something major that changes the course of the town. This is a very difficult movie to watch, but this is a must see. The subject matter will infuriate you and the Hillary character is one of the best movie villains to come along in awhile. For a movie that at its most basic level is about interviewing people for a book it is very engrossing and moves along pretty quick.

This is a very emotional movie that will leave you thinking and wondering how you would have behaved in that situation. The cast and acting alone is worth watching for. Emma Stone gives a great performance and is hard to believe this is the same girl that was is "Superbad".

Overall, the first real Oscar contender for best picture and numerous acting awards to come along this year. A definite must see. I give it an A.

The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition with Blue Eyed North Pole Pixie-Elf

Posted by Linda | 12:44 AM

I was a little hesitant purchasing The Elf on the Shelf, because I don't try to focus Christmas entirely on the Santa aspect, but more on the giving aspect. I broke down and got one this year figuring if I really didn't like it or thought it put too much emphasis on gifts that I could tell my son that Santa decided he was good enough he didn't need to send the elf for following years. The night after Thanksgiving our Elf landed on our mantel.

I called my son (almost 4) and daughter (22 months) in the room and my husband and I read the book to them and explained the process and rules of our new house guest. I never could've imagined how interactive this little guy would be.

My son insisted that his name is Elfey, and is so excited to talk to him every morning. He is genuinely concered about how is trip was and if he got too cold. I absolutely love listening to their one-sided conversation. He knows that if he is naughty Elfey will have to tell Santa and that he may not get his Santa gift this year.

The only downside I can see is that my son is already sad at the thought that Elfey will go back to the North Pole with Santa on Christmas Eve and will be gone for an entire year...Hopefully the gift Santa leaves will alleviate this dreaded time.

This doll is a great size big enough that my kids can spot him no matter where he decides to land for the day, but small enough that he can fit in/on anything, he even decided to perch on our Christmas tree one day. He has a great little face that adds a lot of character and life to the little doll. The book says the kids aren't allowed to touch the elf, which is why it's okay that Elfey isn't the most durable "toy" around. I have no doubt he will be more than able to survive the years of perching around my house for my kids and possibly even grandkids.

Black Friday and Cyber Week Special

Posted by Linda | 2:08 PM

Discover and Link to Holiday Events
Have you seen our new Holiday Offers Page at Associates Central? Discover Amazon Holiday store fronts and promotions happening in November and December all in one location and quickly get text links and banners. Earn up to 15% advertising fees.
Black Friday Week and Cyber Monday Week Starting November 21st, the Holiday Offers Page has all the premier Black Friday special promotions. Below is a summary of the special promotions, gift guides and other events happening right now.

Big Holiday Events
* Holiday Deals - Black Friday and Cyber Week
* The Holiday Toy List – Hundreds of this year’s best gifts for Children
* The Christmas Corner: Holiday Decor, Tableware and Entertainment
* Holiday Gift Guide – Gourmet gift baskets, chocolates, cheeses and more for every occasion
Electronics* The New Kindle Fire – Now Shipping!
* Black Friday Deals Week for GPS, Car Electronics, MP3 Players and Consumer Electronics
* Wireless - All Phones sold with a plan for a penny and $100 Amazon.com Gift Card on Select Phones

* Books Gift Guides – Adults, Kids and Teen
* Movies and TV Best Sellers and Deals
* Holiday Music - Playlists and Classics
* Video Game Best Sellers, New Releases and Deals
Home, Kitchen and Garden
* Home, Kitchen and Garden Gift Guide
* Buyer’s Guides -Espresso Makers, Juicers, Cuisinart Food Processors and Kitchen Aid Mixers
* Holiday Baking Store
* Grocery and Gourmet Foods - Including Gift Baskets

Auto and Home Improvement* Tools – Up to 50% off top name brands and popular items
* Black Friday Automobile Deals
* Lawn and Garden Gift Guide

I love my Kindle Fire

Posted by Linda | 8:47 AM

I'm very impressed with the Kindle Fire, I was so thrilled when i heard about the price of it. Since 2009 I have been a True Kindle fan, it has changed my life of the way I read, and now we have the Kindle Fire that will also change the way I listen to music and watch films, and TV programming.

Lets start with the video. Wow Hulu+ looks and works great on this, I have it on my PS3 also and it is really buggy on the PS3 but on the Kindle no problems at all. Great picture and sound and easy to navigate. Netflix seems to run very well also other than every once in a while you hear a slight click in the audio. As for Amazon Streaming video it is where this Machine really shines. With a free month of Prime you get plenty of films and TV shows to watch for Free. With a click of the button within seconds you have the movie in amazing clarity and sound in the palm of your hand. Super Troopers was the first movie i watched and was a lot of fun, nice to be able to stop it at any point and then start it right back up where you left off. A nice feature is having it in your carousel so all you have to do is press on it to resume the playback. Side loading video from you own collection is very easy also just plug in the USB to you computer just drag and drop.

Music: What can I say but yes i'm in heaven with Amazon and their cloud service I think it was April when they announced the whole cloud service for music and then they offered unlimited cloud service and thats all it took. I have an obsession for music and have a failing hard drive with over 200 Gigs of music from my collection. So since May I have been uploading my entire music collection to Amazon Cloud and now with a Wifi connection I have all the music at my finger tips with the Kindle Fire. If i'm going to be on the road I can easily hit a button and zoom the music is downloaded to the Fire.Yes it is a dream come true. The ease of just popping on over to the store while listing to the music is all right there.

Apps: Along with Amazon's mention of the cloud service they also gave us an app store with a FREE app of the day that I usually start my day checking out and purchasing since the opening just to have plenty of Apps to go with the then rumored Kindle Tablet. Well the day is here and I have plenty of Apps to play with on the Fire. Games, utilities, art programs. they all run great on the Kindle Fire. I also have a Dell Streak tablet and the apps on it are so so sometimes it works other times it just sits there. The Kindle Fire always boots them up and your on your way.

Web: It is nice to sit on the couch or at the kitchen table and surf the web, It seems very quick and easy to me I enjoy it just sometime I forget the ability is there right on the Fire.

Books: Well here we go back in 2009 i purchased my first Kindle 2 and instantly became a true addict to reading again. Having Dyslexia reading has always been so hard and it took me forever to read a Dead Tree book but then the Kindle came out with the ability to adjust the type size and the line spacing and it was like being reborn I was able to finally read without using my finger following each and every word. Now with the Fire not only do you have the ability to adjust the txt, We also get to be immersed in full color graphics and photos. Reading on the Fire is also a lot of fun with a tap of the finger you can read the definition of a word with in seconds. If thats not enough you can link it right to Google of Wikipedia and explore more.

I just love going to the book shelf section and enjoying all the cover art of the books. Your done with a book you are just a tap away from browsing the Amazon Kindle store. The ease of syncing up across all of you Kindle's is just another amazing way Amazon has changed the way we read and enjoy all other forms of media. Sure there a few flaws but it all can be fixed in a firmware update. I hope they put the Twitter posting capability in the reading app into the Fire OS along with the ability to see popular highlights. But those are a few minor things.

I hear from others that the battery life is not up to what the iPad offers? I have no problems with the battery life, consider you can buy two Kindle Fires and still save a $100 over the iPad price and then get 14 hours of battery life. I love my eInk display but the Fire is also another great way to read and have all your media at your finger tips.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 breaks sales records

Posted by Linda | 11:46 PM

Activision, the game's publisher, said that Modern Warfare 3 sales had totalled more than $400 million (£250m) in the first 24 hours in Britain and the United States alone. The game went on sale worldwide on Friday.
“We believe the launch of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is the biggest entertainment launch of all time in any medium, and we achieved this record with sales from only two territories,” said Bobby Kotick, the chief executive of Activision Blizzard.
He added that the total sales for the Call of Duty series exceeded the box office takings for the Star Wars and Lord of the Rings film series.
More than 13,000 shops around the world opened at midnight to sell the game, which sold more in its opening 24 hours than its rival, Battlefield 3, sold in its first week.
Modern Warfare 3 players have since broken the Xbox Live record for the number of players online at the same time, according to Microsoft.

The game begins where Modern Warfare 2 left off, with special forces protagonists pursuing Vladimir Makarov, a Russian terrorist, in cities including London, Paris and New York.
The game has been awarded an 18 certificate from the BBFC due to its graphic violence and real-world settings.
The game attracted some controversy over a scene set in London that shows an Underground train being blown up. There were calls for the scene to be removed because of an alleged similarity to the London bombings of July 2005.

The BBFC did not require any scenes to be removed but did point out that the game is "completely inappropriate" for children This year's release coincides with the launch of Call of Duty Elite, an online subscription service. Annual membership costs £34.99 and gives players extra downloadable content and competitions. Players can also access a free version that offers stats and the ability to arrange games with fellow players.

This year's edition broke the record set by its predecessor, Call of Duty: Black Ops, in 2010, which in turn broke the record set by Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 in 2009.
The Call of Duty series has been running since 2003 and more than 100 million copies of its various titles have now been sold.

Kindle vs. iPad

Posted by Linda | 3:35 AM

According to Amazon, Kindle Fire is a premium product, offered at a non-premium price. It brings everything they’ve been working on at Amazon for 15 years - Kindle, Amazon Instant Video, Amazon MP3, Amazon Prime, Amazon Appstore, and Amazon Web Services - together into a single, fully-integrated experience for customers.

But do they really match the power, style, performance that Apple's products provide and we've all come to expect from smart devices? Well, they've put up a nicely written document which compares the two devices side by side. It makes a very nice reading especially if you've been wondering which of the two to buy for Christmas.

As someone who has an iPad already, it's quite fascinating to actually see how much they have in common and not only size, but in features and functionality.

See the whole Kindle vs iPad here. This might just change how you've always looked at products before because the retail price of a product does not necessarily mean it packs much better punch.

If you were thinking of buying an iPad in the next few weeks or months, you might want to read the comparison document to be sure you are not throwing away your hard earned cash. 

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson - [Hardcover]

Posted by Linda | 2:49 AM

I adored reading this book on my latest Kindle Fire 3G Wireless device. Many people have pointed out its faults, and one I will agree with is that at times it is repetitious. But for me, whom worked in the entertainment business and was a tech geek, in many parts it was a walk down memory lane. My first computer when I arrived at college was a used Apple III. I was the only one on my floor to have a computer, so many people used it. It lasted about 3 years, then the "C" key broke when I was writing a paper on "Marconi and the influence teens had on the invention of radio." I had to write the whole paper using as little C's as possible, but I still had to go into the final draft and pen in all the C's in Marconi's name.

I then got a Window's based computer, used again, while my friends were getting Mac's. It was clear to me then that the Mac was better, but I had what I had, and it turned me into a "hacker." By the time I finished college in the early 90's, I was switching and adding more ram, adding graphics cards, worrying about the fan, switched to a new motherboard, etc. etc. etc.

Then Napster came around and I was downloading music. I only had dial up at the time, so I would set up my computer to download songs all night line over an open phone line while I slept. Remember download times. I worked for a major studio at the time, and I remember the funniest stern memo that came out that voiced outrage at the fact that they had found that most of the work computers had at least one program on it for "stealing" music. People were "stealing" music at work from their own company!!! I just couldn't figure out why the studios and their music companies were not working on ways to make it easier to buy music online rather than prosecuting 12 year olds and trying to encode each song with an electronic booby-traps.

Nonetheless, I went the Frye's hacking route for way too long. Finally after having so much trouble with my windows crashing with my itunes software, I bought a MacBook. Wow. What a machine. I'm on my 3rd iPod, my 2nd MacBook, my second iPhone, and now I want an iPad.

I guess all of this doesn't have much to do with the book. It is my own experience. It's history though, and a history completely shaped by the characters in this book, especially Mr. Jobs.

1Q84 [Hardcover] - by Haruki Murakami

Posted by Linda | 2:35 AM

On January 22, 1984, in what has become an iconic moment in advertising history, the first Apple Macintosh computer was introduced to the world. Striking a cinematic blow against an Orwellian Big Brother figure haranguing a grey and faceless army of brainwashed drones, an attractive and athletic young woman eludes pursuing stormtrooper guards and heroically hurls an iron hammer that shatters Big Brother's huge black and white telescreen, ending oppression, freeing everyone--changing the world. The voiceover intones--"1984 will not be like 1984."

1984. You know--the dystopian novel by George Orwell written in 1948 that depicts a nightmare no-hope future where everything is rotten and nobody ever has a nice day.

Rewind your cassette tape. On an average spring day in central Tokyo, April 1984, an impeccably attired, attractive young woman, Masumi Aomame, late for a very important appointment but marooned in a taxi on a hopelessly jammed elevated expressway, takes an extreme measure. At the suggestion of her slightly odd driver, she escapes the highway using a little-noticed rickety emergency exit to street level underneath a prominent Esso put-a-tiger-in-your-tank billboard. Before departing the cab, the driver cautions that if she does this, "Things may look different to you than they did before. I've had that experience myself. But don't let appearances fool you. There is always only one reality." And with that, while Leos Janacek's Sinfonietta booms ominously on the taxi's high-end FM radio, Aomame enters a world where there are two moons in the night sky and everything she knows is wrong--to her 1984 will not be like 1984, it will be 1Q84. Magic.

With this bravura and memorable opening, Haruki Murakami's vast, ambitious but flawed novel of everything, 1Q84, leaves the flat earth world of conventional fiction and begins the long, sometimes thrilling and entertaining, slog to the far distant end of some nine hundred beautifully written and translated pages. Not unlike flying to Tokyo on the Concorde, taking the long way around with the airbrakes on.

So, the title: 1Q84. The Japanese word for the number nine is kyu. The year 1984 is thus spoken sen kyu-haku hachi-juu shi-nen. The use of the English letter Q is a multilingual pun, signifying to the Japanese reader (and should to anybody else), "we ain't in Kansas anymore."--Reality has changed, old rules don't necessarily apply. We see that a weird novella named Air Chrysalis is rewritten, conspiracies are hatched, passions explode, people die, lovers are lost, puzzles and questions posed. While 1Q84 is indeed a novel of everything, probing notions of reality, truth, death, religion, identity, time, connections, pop culture, anger, duality, mirrors and strange sex, (the novels of Thomas Pynchon or David Foster Wallace and the stories of Jorge Luis Borges come to mind), it is not an envelope-pushing, hard to follow postmodern pyrotechnical fizz-fest. At its heart, it is a love story, sometimes achingly romantic.

Our two protagonists, Aomame (a tough, outwardly cold chick who happens to be a very capable assassin of abusive men--think a Japanese Lisbeth Salander) and Tengo Kawana (a blandly quiet math teacher, novelist and ghostwriter), are both outsiders, both lonely. They are disconnected from each other and much of the world and have been since a long ago innocent grade school encounter was indelibly etched on their souls. They must traverse nine months in a strange new world filled with weird characters and baffling events, where, as in 1984, good days don't happen. Stand-ins for Orwell's Big Brother, the so-called Little People are maybe real, maybe unreal, and bizarre obstacles and complications must be overcome. Whether they know it or not, Tengo and Aomame are in love, and, like lovers everywhere, they must connect. Will they find each other? That is the venerable V-8 engine of the novel--though it is in much need of a slimmed-down tiger in its nine hundred-page tank.

But how does one edit a Japanese National Treasure, an acknowledged master of world literature, a writer perhaps in line for a Nobel Prize? How? Slashing lines, cutting entire episodes--go from here to there, eliminate that back-story, do we really need to know that? Or how about the long passages of half-baked arcana of that sinister religious cult--you lost me there. Let's off-load some unnecessary baggage, fly higher.

Murakami, though, is a wizard. Using a technique familiar to his loyal readers around the world, Murakami, developing his theme of duality and reflected identities, alternates the narrative's point of view chapter by chapter. He is convincingly inside Aomame's head, then Tengo's, and in Book 3 adds the dogged and froggish detective Ushikawa--only then does the novel finally achieve lift off. Murakami carefully braids the threads of the story, gradually tightening them like a Chinese finger trap, ultimately permitting the reader differing views of the same event, resulting in our seeing the action from a higher altitude, a crafty cinematic device. Throughout, each chapter's title is a fragment of a line in the narrative--a delightful motif that prompts an engaging bit of paging back and forth as the reader works to decipher Murakami's narrative trail of bread crumbs.

With a painstaking Japanese, perhaps Apple-like, attention to detail, the book itself is beautifully designed and produced. Fine paper, a lovely binding and a translucent moon grey rice-paper dust jacket with haunting frontispiece images of the twin moons of the story add to the proposition of the presence of a new world. Page numbers alternate, printing backwards, sometimes left hand, sometimes right. And the book's logo, 1Q84, is mirrored across facing margins, reflecting itself, helping to produce an effective and unique coherence to the novel as a complete package.

And yet. The magic and promise of the opening chapter, the image of the elegant Aomame descending that fragile stairway into the heart of a gritty new Tokyo, is not sustained over the many miles in the long distance flight of this novel. The slim and beautiful Concorde flew fast and high. But the fat and beautiful 1Q84 aspires to do more, to fly us to the moon--too bad it staggers under its own weight, never quite leaving the orbit of this flat earth.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2

Posted by Linda | 1:48 AM

I really enjoyed the movie. It was fun, entertaining and really tied things up well, the movie deserves 4 stars, however!!!. The reason for this post is the HORRIBLE Ultraviolet copy, not a true digital copy. Ultraviolet streams the movie and dosn't use the now industry standards for Mac and Win. The movie is NOT stored on the computer as iTunes files or windows format video files. The movie streams from Flixter, which is horribly broken. If you dont have internet connectivity you cant watch the movie.

If you have a slow connection you loose frames for a horrible watching experience and if you pay for internet access by the megabyte you pay more then the movie costs on BluRay just to watch it once. It just dosn't work well.

Why is Warner Brothers changing a system people have become use to and a system for digital copies that most people like.. Ultraviolet is a solution where no problem exists. This is change that only WB and Flixter want. Digital format users are mostly happy with the system that has been developed, iTunes etc.

I have tried to contact WB to issue my complaint, to no avail. I did go to WB on Facebook and posted, along with only one other person, my dislike for Ultraviolet. I also recommend Amazon give feedback to WB of our dislike of Ultraviolet. I'm not a fan of ripping movies but it looks like that may be the only way to get WB movies in a digital format so we can watch the movie where and when we want and on what device we choose. Do what you can to avoid Ultraviolet and complain and complain often until they listen.

JBuds J2 Premium Hi-Fi Noise-Isolating Earbuds (Onyx Black)

Posted by Linda | 2:58 PM

I brought this JBud earphones in March of this year and I notice about 2 weeks ago that they were splitting from cord to the plug. Well tonight it went bad, stopped working. I have just upgraded myearphones to a JBud J3. I hoped that the cord is better the 2nd time around. I can say that I was pleased with my choice that is why I upgraded my 2nd pair. I would really appreciate it if this cord is of better quality than my last purchase.

I enjoyed the sound of my music through the earphones. I also appreciated the color orange, it matched my Ipod to the tee. I would recommend the earphones just with knowing nothing last forever. And I will take my fault in how it went from my ear to my pocketbook back to my ear. Cord is not lasting. I would like for the company to make the cord out of a better material that will last with the way we try to put it away.

I would wrap my cord around my Ipod. Not in a forceful way but in a way to keep it together until it's next use.

Prodyne Fruit Infusion 93-Ounce Natural Fruit Flavor Pitcher

Posted by Linda | 5:23 AM

Many of us don't drink enough water because of it's taste, and let's face it, 6-8 glasses of water a day is a lot of water if we're just not into it's taste.

NO, drinking soda and it's equivalent diet drinks is NOT the same thing because they all contain some form of sugar content, fake or real and really are not good for you.

What's the alternative? Put something in the water to make it more palatable and easier to drink and this just fits the bill.

Strawberries, Cherries, Blackberries, Pineapple, Lemons and whatever comes to mind to add a little taste to the water.

Water as you all know can do a lot for you, from losing weight to flushing out the toxins in your system. So, if that's what the doctor ordered, then this may make it easier to drink the stuff. LOL.

It does give the water some flavor, but don't expect it to be equivalent to drinking a real strawberry or a cherry soda because it just doesn't get that strong (in flavor) nor will it have enough sweetness to replace the real stuff.

So, that's why we use this Prodyne Fruit Infusion 93-Ounce Natural Fruit Flavor Pitcher
Very cheap and has revolutionise the way we now drink water in our household. I highly recommend it.

Griffin Technology GC16034 Elevator Laptop Stand

Posted by Linda | 4:59 AM

I used a computer stand similar to this one (with a 13" Macbook) at a place of employment. When I needed my own, I started looking through my options and decided to go with this Griffin stand. I have a 15" MacBook Pro, and this stand works perfectly for it. The height is not adjustable, but at 5'3" the height is great for me. When my 6' husband tried it out, it was great for him too.

My laptop gets hot, so I appreciate the way that air is allowed to circulate all the way around the computer. It is also not bulky or an eyesore since I started using this Griffin Technology GC16034 Elevator Laptop Stand. In fact, I think it's barely noticeable on my desk. I can stuff my keyboard underneath it when I want to use more desk space. I also greatly appreciate that it can be easily disassembled for storage or packing if I need to relocate it.

Several of the reviews that I read mentioned that the stand loses its grip after a while. The one at work that I used previously never lost its grip even after several years of use. Having said that, I was still a bit concerned. BUT when this shipment came, there are two small clips that attach to the ends of the top of the stand that should prevent the laptop from sliding off. Griffin must have listened to its customers and made this improvement.

Kudos for that, Griffin. The only issue for me is that my CD insertion point is on the front right side, and one of the clips impedes the ease of use. I rarely use the drive, though, so it's a non-issue for me. If I were inserting and ejecting CDs all day, though, I would probably just not use the clip.

Overall, a great buy and reasonably priced.

Kindle, Wi-Fi, 6" E Ink Display - Bang For the Buck

Posted by Linda | 12:22 PM

The new Kindle 4 is pretty sweet. It's weighs less than a paperback and can pretty much fit in your jean pocket (although I don't recommend it). For $79 bucks you get the smallest Kindle yet. One drawback is that you have to deal with ads and I have to say that I miss the old screen saves, but not enough to pay $109 for the ad-free model.

Another issue is with the keyboard, or lack thereof. I don't do much typing on the Kindle, which is why I elected to purchase this model, but still when I have to type something it's a pain. The Kindle 4 also lacks audio capability, so you cannot listen to music, audio books, or use text-to-speech. Honestly, who uses those features anyway?? The text-to-speech sounded like a great idea, but any time I tried using it my brain couldn't keep up with the speech.

My biggest gripe with the Kindle 4 is that Amazon cheaped out and didn't include the AC adapter. They include the USB cable only, which means you either have to charge it on a computer, or buy the adapter separately.

Again, it's all what you're looking for in your Kindle. If you really need to type and use the audio functions then wait for the touch model to come out; if you're looking for a cheap, super light, and small e-reader it's hard to go wrong with the Kindle 4 for $79 bucks!

But if you are looking for the Kindle that has all the features that rivals iPad, then look no further than this Kindle Fire.

Almost Free: Panasonic VIERA TC-P50GT25 50-inch 1080p 3D Plasma HDTV

Posted by Linda | 1:09 PM

This is the first Panasonic TV I have ever owned. After this experience, I will seek out Panasonic for future purchases, and I would order through Amazon again.

Several months ago (Jan. 2011), I spent more time than anyone should researching which model should be my first flat panel TV - yes, I was the last person in America to buy a flat panel (I had a rare Sony tube with impeccable HD picture quality). I learned that there were 47 different models to choose from just in the 46-50 inch category across the major manufacturers. LCD/LED/Plasma/DLP... Daunting.

My primary goal was that I wanted exceptional picture quality. My secondary goal - I really wanted exceptional picture quality - not explanations to why I was finding fault with what I was seeing on the screen. Sports, movies, nature shows, gaming. 3d was intriguing, but not a priority. Most high end sets with strong picture quality are going to have 3d, which is how I ended up with the p50gt25. There was lots of press and raving about the next model up, the VT25, but the p50gt25 finds a perfect sweet spot of quality and price.

I started reading about detailed information, advanced testing, gritty technical details. I thought I needed that information to make the right selection. Maybe I did, but in the end I'm not a guy who brings a set home and runs excessive tests to see if they meet the advertised benchmark data. I'm a guy who watches the TV and either finds fault (and regret) with what I see or I enjoy a visually stimulating experience.

8 month in and I still find myself in awe of the picture quality on this TV. My wife is tired of hearing me mutter "I really love this TV." Absolutely no regrets, this was the right TV for me. Highly recommended.

I will admit that the sound on this set probably falls short of what other models are capable of. A non-issue when I watch movies or gaming through the surround system. Sound wasn't nearly as important for me as picture quality. Also, I've spent maybe 2% of my time on this set with 3d content, and I'd say it's a mixed bag, but that seems to be as much related to the content as the TV. Avatar was very enjoyable. Some scenes within the content are stunning, others not so much. I understand Panny has new glasses models that brighten the 3d image, and I'd be interested in that. If 3d is your top priority, I can't properly comment on how this set compares other than to say that my experience is fairly enjoyable.

Some advice - don't judge picture quality in a retail store. Don't even try to. Bad TVs will look good, good TVs may look bad. There's a reason why they most expensive models are in a dark room set up in a way where there isn't 4 other TVs around it in your line of site. And get that picture mode off "Vivid" as soon as you get it home! As a photographer, I find the THX mode is the right setting for me to accentuate colors while not losing details in the shadows for impeccable picture quality.

I do more online shopping than most, but was hesitant on this purchase. Even tried to get local retailers to come close to the price Amazon had on the bundle, but they wouldn't. I made the leap, ordered through Amazon - delivery and setup were flawless. Excellent experience, highly recommended, AND saved a lot of money.

The New Kingston 8GB Micro SD HC - Class 4

Posted by Linda | 7:46 AM

I bought this card initially as a replacement for the microSD that came with my phone (a Samsung 4GB Class 2 - see below re classes) as recording HD video was very laggy as write speeds were too low. Upon inserting this the change was noticed immediately - copying files to/from my PC were much quicker and HD video recorded smoothly allowing the sound and video to remain in sync.

I immediately bought another for my digital camera, which actually requires a standard SD size card, but this product comes with an adapter that you insert the microSD so there were no problems fitting it with any device that required microSD or standard SD size card.

Please note that this will NOT fit in a miniSD device. It is also an 'SDHC' card, so your device will have to specifically support SDHC and will not work in a device that only supports 'SD' (this includes any card readers attached to your computer!)

Overall, this card provides you with plenty of memory for your files, songs, photos etc and all at an affordable price. Kingston haven't let themselves down either by maintaining high read and write speeds, even for a Class 4 card.

(Those not familiar with classes - the scale typically goes from Class 1 to Class 10. The higher the class, the higher the performance/faster read and write speeds. Class 4 is typically standard and will suit most digital camera, phones, MP3 players. More detail can no doubt be found with a quick Google.)

JBuds J4 Rugged Metal In-Ear Earbuds Style Headphones with Travel Case

Posted by Linda | 12:48 PM

I just got these today and I am very excited about them. Comes with many head phone tips and a really nice case. I have two pairs of premium head phones that broke. Not that they weren't good they lasted a year a piece with heavy use. But before i got these i thought the Zune headphones were the best headphones I ever used, equaling to the Bose in ear buds in my opinion. But I was proven wrong. These sound even better.

When you get to the those deep base frequencies they rock your head like you are listening them by a good speaker set up. Theses are way above the league of those cheap skull candy head phones everyone buys, (because they like the bandwagon.) I say these are up to par with my Sennheiser HD 428, 201 if not better.

I haven't even given sometime to burn them in yet but they still sound great.

The build is very solid with out sacrificing its nice sleek curves.
Comfort could be better but i wont complain if they sound this good I did not like the ear bud tips that came with them so I put the Zune Premium head phone tips on instead and they feel better, must have grown accustomed to them.)

There have been some reviews about broken earbuds but i hope you can give them another chance because these are really great headphones.

PS. Zune Rules

The New Amazon Kindle

Posted by Linda | 12:30 PM

I got myself a Kindle a few months ago, and loved it so much I bought my mom one for her birthday last month. I also got the leather cover, and while I still sometimes get the urge to turn it over to check book description (old habits!), I honestly can't even remember how I managed without it.

Things I love:

* Buying books at good prices directly from my device (takes minutes, literally!)
* Rediscovering my Stephen King phase and finding all his classics in the Kindle store
* The text to speech function - makes me laugh every time, and is useful too
* Being able to read with just one hand, turning pages with my pinky if I have a cup of coffee in the other hand
* Instant set up, which meant not having to do anything to get started

The only remote issue I have had has cleared up. The first week or two after I got it, my Kindle froze a few times. Rebooting cleared it up, and it hasn't happened since then.

For those wondering whether to make the transition from paperback to digital... just do it! You will never look back, especially if you are an avid reader like me.

Apple Magic Trackpad

Posted by Linda | 12:37 PM

I purchased the Magic Trackpad to take full advantage of the new gestures in Lion. The trackpad is the same size as my Apple Wireless Keyboard, although not as wide. It is much larger than a normal laptop trackpad. Because of the slight angle to it when resting on a desk, you can rest your hand comfortably and use your fingers to navigate.

One thing I have not totally gotten used to is the "clicking" behavior of the trackpad. The trackpad on my older Macbook Pro still has a physical button that you press with your thumb to click. The trackpad (and all recent Mac laptops) "click" by pressing down the entirety of the trackpad itself. Alternatively, you can adjust the settings so that a tap on the surface of the trackpad activates a click on the screen.

Because of the awkwardness of depressing the entire trackpad, I've begun to use this as the default way to click. Unfortunately, it doesn't allow you to "click and hold" in order to move windows around the screen, etc. In those cases, you'd still have to use the physical action of pressing down on the trackpad.

Other than that one minor annoyance (that I will not doubt get used to), the pros far outweigh the cons. The ability to use all of my fingers to activate such a wide variety of functions within Lion is a delight.

Leg Avenue Women's Strappy Spandex Tube Dress

Posted by Linda | 2:23 AM

Leg Avenue Women's Strappy Spandex Tube Dress - I had my doubts but I figured for the price, even if I never wore it, it would be fun just to try it on.
I'm a fairly big woman at 5'6" and 170 lbs. One-size things don't usually fit me. This thing does, and it looks great. Absolutely great. It's also comfy. I don't mind lounging around the house with it on.

If you need some attention from your man, here you go. This will be the perfect surprise for my boyfriend on his birthday! I was drawn to this strappy, sexy dress due to the many high reviews, but I was also worried because it only comes in one size, and I am a small person. I usually wear around a size 1 and sometimes generic sizes look really loose on me. Luckily this dress looks amazing and is form fitting, easy to wear, and comfortable! Nothing is exposed when I wear it and it's just perfect! I'm glad this dress is so versatile and fits all body types.

I fooled around and tried wearing it upside down and backwards. On me it seems to look best with the tag at the back of my neck, in other words, the proper way.

Leg Avenue should offer this thing in six colors. I would buy all six.

Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy

Posted by Linda | 2:12 AM

Having recently read and reviewed Greg Lawrence's book Jackie as Editor: The Literary Life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, I was eager to acquire and hear these interviews. I'm not sure how much new light they will ultimately shed upon the historical record of Kennedy's presidency, but they surely will confirm that the Kennedy's marriage was more than a mere public display; there is much evidence here of a deep marital intimacy and that the two genuinely respected and trusted one another on many levels.

It's also clear that Jackie's "thinking life" did not begin decades later with her career in publishing. Jackie's wispy voice is mesmerizing (as anyone who's watched the White House tour can attest). The interviews are easier to listen to than to read, but the book is nice to have for quick reference. It also includes a lot of rare photographs from the Kennedy White House years.

Now for my gripe. The audio CDs come in a rather flimsy sleeve. When my copy arrived in the mail, all the disks had fallen out of their sleeve and rattling around in the case. If this happens to you, check the disks carefully for scratches. (Mine seem to play okay). Also, it was very frustrating trying to transfer the interviews to my iPad so that they would play in sequence (I spent hours renaming the tracks.) Why don't audiobook publishers think of this?

OBi110 Voice Service Bridge and VoIP Telephone Adapter

Posted by Linda | 3:36 PM

I was looking for a cost effective way to have a home phone for the kids to use after cutting the traditional land-line. By using Google Voice and Callcentric (for 911), this solved my issue.

I now pay around $1.50 per month for 911 service and nothing for Google Voice. Quality of call is good and I get all the nice features found with Google Voice. I tested the 911 service by first calling the counties non-emergency line and asking how to test. Then called 911 with the script they provided. They read me back my name and address and everything worked great.

Set-up wasn't that straightforward but there are some good online articles on the topic that will be a great help.

I do realize if the power goes out or if the Internet connection goes down, so does my ability to call. I am guessing that 99% of the time, we will be around when that happens and we can use one of our cell phones to call 911 if needed.

High marks on this device and am very pleased I don't have to be in another cell phone contract (or pay as you go) and don't have to pay the high monthly land-line fees. Not sure why anyone would go with Vonage either. There are other options on the market, but I think this VoIP Telephone Adapter is one of the best out there right now.

Rush 2112

Posted by Linda | 12:10 PM

Ok, I bought this album later after I had Moving Pictures and Signals, and this is one of the better ones. I love this record and Rush is a band that has TRULY EARNED popularity. I'm not gonna get into this topic, but if you wanna know why, watch the documentary: Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage. 2112 really captures what Rush had been trying to make since the addition of Neil Peart (Best Drummer in History). There won't ever be another voice even remotely close to Geddy Lee because no one in their right mind would wanna sing like that! I mean Geddy is amazing but I don't think anyone would wanna sing like that!


Back then, regardless of what those idiot critics said, this was a ground-breaking and innovative album; Rush have become the true masters of Progressive Rock.

1. 2112- This was the first epic I ever heard and it's also got the coolest drumming on anything that was made before Dream Theater, Symphony X, Kamelot, and Stratovarius were formed. Very good song!

2. A Passage to Bangkok- A catchy little tune...perfect for traveling. Haha!

3. The Twilight Zone- A slower paced song but never the less, a Rush Classic.

4. Lessons- It's an ok song, but I don't really care for it.

5. Tears- I LOVE this song! Until I heard this, I didn't know that Rush did ballads and pretty songs. This might just be the best song on the album! Yes even better than the very innovative 2112!

6. Something for Nothing- A pretty catchy song with a good message.

Verdict: A very good album from the 70's that deserves respect! If you like Dream Theater, Iron Maiden or any metal band, then you have to respect these guys because all metal looks back to these 3 dudes. Not kidding...the documentary has people that Rush influence on there like Mike Portnoy, Trent Razor, Jack Black, and the list goes on...

Very good album and I recommend it to prog fans and people who like 70's classics.

The Anansi Boys

Posted by Linda | 3:20 AM

Anansi Boys is the follow-up to gold standard of modern fantasy - American Gods. Anansi Boys is a fun modern fantasy but it is not genious. The story of Charles "Fat Charlie" Nancy and his relationship with his deceased father and long-lost brother is engaging and creative. As in American Gods, the gods and characters from fable have life in the world around us. One of thoe gods - Anansi - is Charles Nancy's father.

Fat Charlie is a character adrift in modern society - hard working, diligent, uninspired. Anansi Boys is his story, and as much as anything it is about the growth Fat Charlie experiences thanks to the influence of those he meets. Fat Charlie's estranged relationship with his father, his unpleasant boss, his aggressive future mother-in-law all help to make Charlie a particularly easy character to empathise with. His is a warm and attractive character who develops in a very pleasing way.

Charlie's father Anansi does not feature much in the book but it is a really excellent character description. It is a little odd for those readers who might have grown up with Anansi stories to have them transposed away from their place of origin and given slightly alien features but Anansi as a soft-shoe shuffling charmer enjoying the easy life is great.

Charlie's brother Spider is the one who breaks open the narrative. Prior to Spider's arrival, the world is sane, senisble, and mundane. Spider is the sense of adventure and creativity that breathes life into the ongoing activities. He is designed as a contrast to Charlie but it is never that black and white. The conclusion of Spider's character arc is really disappointing in its lack of ambition and what Gaiman aspires to for him but Spider is a thoroughly enjoyable read.

The women of Anansi Boys are all a bit weird. The old crones in Florida are a nice take on the cabal and Callyanne Higgler in particular is entertaining, easily helped by her well constructed name which places her so easily in the reader's mind. Miss Dinwiddie is a bit of an archetype but she serves the story well as the source of much of the old wisdom and current tension Fat Charlie discovers. Of the two younger women, Rosie gets most of the coverage but as a paragon she is really not very interesting. Daisy is far more intriguing a character but she does not earn as many words. Daisy's parental backstory is the kind of aside that makes a book like this really good to read. The nationality of her parents is that extra touch of excellence and the combination of ultra capitalist Hong Kong and communist Ethiopia makes for an amusing reference point that presumably Gaiman meant to include. Maeve Livingstone and her affection for her husband Morris is a lovely character.

Anansi Boys is not though a work of genious. The dialogue is very clunky at times. In particular, Gaiman appears to have great difficulty describing the dialect of the Caribbean. The various West Indians and Floridians indicate their ethnicity mainly by swapping "are" for "is" as in "I is". While this may be a feature of the particular dialect, there is no roundness or believability to their use of language. This is probably because Gaiman does not offer the kind of insightful description of their speech to make up for the poor dialogue itself. Far too many of the characters have a distinctly British voice - the worst culprit is Tiger. This menacing force is built-up throughout the book as a fearsome physical representation of fear and dread. His foppish use of British English such as "Frankly...we appear to be stuck together" is the kind of understated Britishness that works very well for Hugh Grant characters but not for the personification of violence that is Tiger. Equally, Dragon is a strange character who seems to exist for one joke. Dragon is a raging beast who when foiled describes his circumstance with a menacing "Bother". Dragon should not be middle class English in any way. Dragons appear in many cultures of the world but really hardly in English tradition at all which makes Gaiman's Anglicising and class identifying of this character just horribly lazy.

What works extremely well about Modern Fantasy is when it is believable. A couple of lazy mistakes make disbelief a little harder. Gaiman clearly is not at all familiar with the Caribbean islands because St Andrews is not a viable name for an island. There are no single islands in the Caribbean with a plural name ending in English. Maxwell Gardens is a surprisingly rare name for a street in London but Gaiman really doesn't make the street identifiable so probably has never been to Maxwell Gardens. That oversight is perhaps why Gaiman had to use the clumsy term "main road" when describing how close Fat Charlie is to his apartment on one difficult evening. These details are lacking often through the novel which is a shame. They are not important to the flow of the story which is still a fun read but do mean that it just isn't as believable.

Where Gaiman references other works, it can work very well. The quote from Danny Glover's character in Lethal Weapon is an obvious but fun one. The reference to Kafka's Metamorphoses is one of the cleverest moments in Anansi Boys given the metamorphosing that some of the characters undertake. These and other references build the reality of the world the crazier events take place in. Other things are less impressive - Grahame Coats use of an Arnold J. Rimmer catchphrase does not fit the very different characters involved. The description of 'Binky' Butterworth's use of a very small lift is just a direct description of the lift scene in the home of Roger de Bris during The Producers. The lift is important for Gaiman's construction of a later event but it isn't especially creative to describe exactly a scene and character from another work without it being a reference point. Indeed, the entire story seems to have been "influenced" by a famous Chuck Palahniuk novel which was turned into an even more famous film. The line identifying the differences between Fat Charlie and Spider includes some of the exact same physical disparities in Palahniuk's pairing and that gives away what could possibly have been any kind of twist to the plotline.

However, there is one clear moment of genious - the description of the meaning of folk tales is absolutely excellent. The role of Anansi stories in celebrating innovation and creativity are a hallmark of the key change in human history that occurs with the rise of pastoralist communities of Bantu in Africa. Gaiman's insight into the role that folklore plays is absolutely superb.

The Headline Review publication does not do itself any favours at all with the additional material at the back of the book. The interview with Gaiman is a bit cringeworthy especially when Gaiman indirectly states that he is a genius. The suggested questions for book clubs are horribly academic. While it can be fun to realise at university that the way to pass exams is to state why the question being asked is incorrect, the questions here are far too dry and also full of assumptions. Book clubs are supposed to be fun.

All in all, Anansi Boys is a fun story with a less complex plot than might appear in the early going. It has some nice characters, some of whom are very endearing. The use of ancient folktales is good. It isn't really a great example of modern fantasy and the dialogue in particular is at times terrible. This is a nice, easy going novel with a thought provoking folklore comment tucked inside but it is not a masterpiece and does not compare favourably to Gaiman's American Gods.

The Tales of Beedle the Bard, Collector's Edition

Posted by Linda | 1:00 PM

First of all, this book is meant for children; I hope people realize that.
Secondly, it is written for Witches and Wizards.

If one understands the above two points, and has their mind set into that particular demographic, they will appreciate this book immensely. Adults will enjoy it as well!

This is a collection of five stories, one could say fairy tales--the equivalent to our tales of 'Cinderella', 'Little Red Riding Hood', etc. Each read is snappy and ends with a moral to the story. The imagination of J.K. Rowling cannot be denied, she certainly knows how to tell unique and magical stories. The illustrations (hand-drawn by Ms. Rowling) make this book that much more beautiful.

It is a quick read (105 pages) and at the end I craved more, and so will you. Hopefully J.K. will expand on this in the future in some thicker volume.

I bought the British hardcover version used. The graphics of the front/back, along with the used quality made it seem like this book has been with me my entire life; it adds more character and charm to an already enchanting collection of stories. I hope to pass this to my (future) kids one day.

Highly Recommended. Also, a portion of the sales of this book will go to a wonderful charity.

Clark Howard's Living Large in Lean Times: 250+ Ways to Buy Smarter, Spend Smarter, and Save Money

Posted by Linda | 3:03 PM

OK, we have all seen those books full of money-saving and penny pinching tips. This is yet another in that genre. But it's the newest, freshest and most up to date book in this genre, and many of the "same-old same-old" tips have been updated for our current financial hard times. Not only that, but there's a scattering of unique tips by "the worlds cheapest man".

If you are newly into penny-pinching this is an excellent book to get you started. If you are an experienced saver, you will still pick up some new tips and plenty of updates on the old stand-byes. Don't get me wrong- if you just bought one of his competitors books, you probably don't have to rush out and buy this one- but it couldn't hurt to take a look at Clark's book anyway.

There's 250 tips, some of which are "well sure" but many of which are "Why didn't I think of that!". Clark Howard covers insurance, prescriptions, utility savings, mortgages, cell phones, and even consumer fraud and identity theft. These last are part of what sets this book apart- sure those security tips are available elsewhere, but it's nice having them all in one easy to read book.

I do note that one idea- that of getting your MD to prescribe larger doses of your daily meds then cutting the pills in half is something my MD isn't crazy about. But Howard has several other ideas that could save you a nice chunk of change every month.

Note also that Clark Howard has a rather interesting and useful website, with synopsis of his radio & TV shows and appearances, consumer tips, and even monthly bargain topics.

The book is written in a friendly and easy to read manner.

In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir

Posted by Linda | 2:59 PM

Before September 11, VP Cheney, our public employee, met in the White House (our public building) with some influential gentlemen from the private sector.

Despite using our facilities, our employee declined to name those participants, who sat on our furniture.
And the media? You're doing a heckuva job, Brownie! This is something you can not find out for us? Too busy being spoonfed?

I'd prefer to hear Colin Powell's commentary, as he did last weekend, saying he was sent into the United Nations with bad information.

We can still recall Adlai Stevenson going to the UN to warn of the missile installations in Cuba. At that time, he brought out huge photographs of the actual equipment and locations. You will recall Powell showed up, how many decades later?, with nice computer-generated graphics. Hunh?

And the media, about that? Zzzzzzzzzzzz. Too busy being spoon-fed, or spoofed, at best. If you can believe what Cheney says and does, find out who visited him. If he's so innocent, what does he have to fear?

Good luck, Mr. Phelps!

Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25

Posted by Linda | 6:09 AM

Most of Richard Paul Evans books are sweet stories that teach values and are a couple of tissues at the end. I have all his books, and have read them all. However this book is different. Fresh and filled with action that is far from his past style.

Action packed, thriller, science fiction elements, young romance, humour, youthful.... you name it, this book has it for everyone. I am thrilled with this book, and may even let my grandchild that is a science freak borrow it. I can only hope that Richard makes a series out of this. And that the movie will be coming out soon. This book makes reading fun for everyone. Young and old can discuss this book, so it bridges the age gap like few other books do.

I can recommend it for a book to tuck into your bag to savour like a good piece of chocolate. And share it if you like, or not!!

My Weekend Reading List

Posted by Linda | 6:00 AM

I'm reading Michael Holroyd's excellent A Book of Secrets at the moment. It's rather making me want to read Violet Trefusis, who figures greatly in the book, but who is also (almost?) entirely out of print. (Paging Persephone. Paging NYRB. Paging Neversink.)

But I also had a bit of a geek out moment when he casually mentions his wife, Margaret Drabble. I just read some Margaret Drabble! And loved it! Is it weird to be happy that two authors you enjoy reading are married? Like when I learned Susie Orbach and Jeanette Winterson are a couple.

Gossipy and probably stupid, but still.
But another reason I like A Book of Secrets so much is that he tells the history of these figures through the "women of no importance": the mistresses, the discarded fiancees, the dead wives. Here he is talking in the Guardian a few years back about why he likes writing about women. "I like extraordinary characters, I like irregularity, extreme things happening.

6 New Rules to Reinvent Your Brand and Reignite Your Business

Posted by Linda | 12:35 PM

From the moment I picked up this book, I couldn't put it down. It was fast and fun as well as well as interesting and completely through.

Not only that, I found it helpful for my company and chock full of ideas.

This book helped me to re-focus on our core brand. It stimulated me to get back to the office and concentrate my energies on all of the new ideas the book contained. I believe that "The Old Rules of Marketing are Dead" can be a springboard for us to continue the changes we need to make in this tough economic environment for a communications and media company to survive and prosper.

 This is something that everyone that owns or would like to own a business should read. Very informative!! Highly recommend.

Free 3G + Wi-Fi Kindle with New E Ink Pearl Technology

Posted by Linda | 5:09 AM

I love this reader. I was able to adjust the font size such that I can easily read even without my glasses. I am allergic to dust. I don't have itchy fingers as I often get when reading traditional paper books. I no longer have a runny nose as I would have when I'd read with a book too close to my face. I often did this as I prefer to read without glasses.

I enjoy being able to see the highlights other readers have made when reading. This gave me an unexpected interactive component to the book. It seems silly but I find joy knowing that others found a phrase, sentence, or paragraph exciting or profound.

I also like how it syncs with other devices. I can pick up my phone, laptop, and desktop and continue where I left off on my kindle. The built-in dictionary has greatly increased my vocabulary. My scrabble friends should beware!

Topeak Explorer Bike Rack

Posted by Linda | 2:30 PM

This rack is a really sturdy rack and has plenty of surface area to mount medium gym bag with no issues. I got it because it has the strip down the middle to use as a small fender and the accessories that Topeak has for it. It has a mount for a light for which I mounted a Blackburn MARS nicely. For days when i had to take something with more bulk to work I would bungee a milk crate to it. Make sure it is on tight or it will slide off the side. Unfortunately the MTX rails in the middle would eat into the crate. Topeak has a MTX folding crate that will roll behind. I recommend it.

I picked up this rack from the LBS some months ago and mounted it on my Mens Schwinn High Timber 26 inch. This rack is a great fit for this bike. I ran into the same issue as another reviewer with this bike concerning the mounting screws for the bottom of the rack. The bike has bigger holes than the screws so I too went to Lowes to pick up some new bolts. The instructions listed sizes of the hardware so I picked up the same size of bolts but longer to use a lock nut on them (I didn't want to have to drill out the holes).

I mounted them bolt head on the inside and nut on the outside. Worked great until I realized that the bolt head would rub the chain in the lowest gear. Taking a file to the bolt head to trim it down some did the trick.

Schwinn 17-Function Bike Computer

Posted by Linda | 12:17 PM

I honestly can't believe this cost me only $10. And for me it was free because I used some of my
Amazon credit
The little thing works just fine. I've had it for about a month now, and I've never been frustrated with it. Although the instructions were a bit hard to understand sometimes, installation was no hassle. It took me 10 minutes to set up the whole thing. You can just run to your bike and install it, since it comes with the plastic ties you need for holding the things in place, and also with a battery.

I usually use the speedometer, odometer, and clock, but I just set it on scan so it goes through the whole thing. To be honest I didn't need all 17 functions, but it doesn't hurt to have it.
The thing turns off after 5 minutes of non-use, and you can take the computer off when you're done riding (which I love, because people steal things around here if they're just hanging). The computer was smaller than I thought, but that was a plus for me because it doesn't take up space.

Overall, I just am so happy I got this. For the price I think I got a great deal. It could be $20 or $25 if you ask me, considering how much it does and how easy it is to use. I don't know much about technology so I can't be sure that it could be that much, but I really think it could fly for a higher price.

If you're a daily biker just looking for a practical little computer that does the basics for you (I never understand why they have the calories and fat-burning functions), I would recommend this. Oh and shipping was prompt, as usual.

HTC HD2 T8585 Unlocked Phone with Touch Screen

Posted by Linda | 12:09 PM

The HTC HD2 T8585 Unlocked Phone with Touch Screen, 5MP Camera, GPS, Wi-Fi and Windows Mobile 6.5 Professional - International Warranty - Black (Wireless Phone Accessory)

I received the phone 9 days ago, the battery last for one day, it's branded T-mobile. In the box: 512mb sd memory, USB charger, USB cable, battery, phone, small user guide. Good touch screen response. Two days after I received the phone the volume down button regularly stuck, so it was impossible use the phone.

I sent it to amazon and waiting for a refund. I I'm looking for another one but, I think this phone is great, so I will buy it again. Works in Honduras Tigo network.

iHome IB969G Charging Station for iPad, iPod, iPhone, BlackBerrys and eReaders

Posted by Linda | 4:18 AM

A great solution for charging up an assortment of Apple gadgets. It provides the extra power needed to charge an iPad while it's powered on. The USB ports on most PC's only put out 500mw and the iPad needs 1000mw to be charged while it's in use. I like that you can charge 4 devices at once and only use a single power outlet.

Plus it makes a great stand for the iPad. We keep this in the kitchen and we can view recipes on the iPad while it's resting in the stand. When you price out decent iPad stands, this becomes a greater bargain.

There were a couple of peeves, but nothing serious. It does not come with an Apple dock connector USB cable. They are cheap enough, like this one, but iHome could have tossed one in. Also the phone charging cable needs to use the included mini to micro adapter. Mobile phones have pretty much standardized on the micro USB connector, a cable like this (except shorter) should have been included.

The Latest Kindle 3G Free 3G + Wi-Fi

Posted by Linda | 12:35 AM

I have had my kindle for about a month.

Like most people I am extremely happy with it. We do not have Wi-Fi so I purchased the 3G one. I am glad I did as it works anywhere - I have had great fun demonstrating to other people how easy it is to buy a book!
It is very easy to use, both for actual reading of the book as well as ordering them. I used it at interval when I was in a dimly lit theatre and I could still read quite easily. With the cover it is comfortable to hold as you read as it stays open when not using any hands - it is simple to rest it on your lap or on the couch beside you.

The manual that is already loaded onto the kindle is very straightforward and explains anything you need to know. I have already put quite a few books onto it and sorted them into categories. The battery life is very good and charging is simple. I charge it from the wall using the same charger that I use for my ipod.

My husband and daughter also intend to purchase a kindle and it is great that we will all
have access to any books purchased from Amazon. If you are still debating about buying a kindle (do I need it? I love the feel of books etc) - take my word for it - you will love it! Just go ahead and buy it.

A Stolen Life: A Memoir

Posted by Linda | 3:38 PM

I want to clear up something on one review I read before buying the book - the person was complaining about multiple pages of her writing about a cat and how unnecessary that was. That person neglected to mention that it was not type written pages, but a photo copy of a young girl writing a diary about a cat that made her happy. Good grief - the poor girl had no love other than that of a few animals that were typically taken from her - the person who wrote that review obviously has no sense of compassion and if you don't have any compassion then maybe you shouldn't be reading this book - cuz you won't get it.

I was personally riveted by this book. I could not put it down. It must have been therapeutic for her to write this because in the beginning as she tells her story - she sounds just like an eleven year old girl. You can see a transformation in her thinking as the book progressed to her adult years - yet still a wounded child lived inside her. The sadness was there through out, but she has been groomed to push down feelings and do what was expected of her to survive. What good would acknowledging her feelings do?

What they did to her was unforgivable and I know that God will judge them accordingly. They may see justice on earth but it will not compare to the justice that God will take on them for hurting a young child and taking her innocence. And for - corrupting her mind about God. Using the Bible to further his "cause" - he will be judged. I hope that someday Jaycee can see God for who He is and not the distorted picture that was painted for her by Phillip. It was not the angels that were speaking to him - but instead the demons.

I know most people don't want to hear about God, but in addition to the loss of innocence and stealing away her freedom and right to happiness - he stole her right to learn and decide whether or not to have faith in God. I don't know if she would have believed in God had this never happened, but her view of God has no doubt been corrupted by this monster as well. It is her right to learn about God on her own and make her own decision. In order to do that, she has to weed through the lies he told first. That just makes me so angry because I think faith could help her and it is just another thing stolen away.

Enough of my soap box. I recommend the book. But if you have been sexually abused - it may be a hard read. If you choose to read it - keep in mind that she is a survivor. Nothing he did to her - no matter how heinous - destroyed her. Take hope in that. We all have a journey and this is hers.

Battle: Los Angeles

Posted by Linda | 12:47 PM

So....before watching this, ask yourself what it is you are really looking for in a movie. If you are looking for the next incredible script and/or amazing dialogue, you might as well just move on. This is an action film, pure and simple.

The basic premise is that a bunch of clustered meteors appear on our tracking devices not long before impact, and seem to be falling near major coastal population centers around the globe. Before impact, they all slow down, and "pieces" of the clusters break away from their main hosts. Film crews on the scene reveal that they are actually aliens, who begin by killing the beachgoers and destroying the ships off the coast. Prior to "impact" a general evacuation of the target areas had been ordered by the gov't, but apparently, a lot of people wanted to witness the event, including swimmers and surfers. Anyway....

The central focus of the movie is a squad of marines led by a green lieutenant and a grizzled staff sergeant with a reputation for getting his soldiers killed in combat and/or leaving them behind (played by Eckhart). The marines set up a forward operating base to halt the alien invasion. Several units, including Eckhart's are sent into the warzone to rescue civilians that havent made it to the FOB, or are trapped. Of course, nobody is quite prepared for the alien soldiers they encounter, but the unit is gritty, and fights their way to some civilians. Their rescue chopper is blown out of the sky with their four (or five, cant remember) injured squadmates in it. So....they have to hoof it to the FOB. Did i mention that the gov't plans to carpet bomb the whole area, and they only have a limited amount of time to get out of the area?

This is where the movie really starts getting interesting. I wont ruin the rest of it, but there are lots and lots of gunfights and explosions, some of which actually knocked my speakers off the entertainment center! Also, Eckhart in particular really shined in his role, but in truth, you come to love all the soldiers, and find yourself feeling proud of those who survive and those who die as well.

A Dance with Dragons: A Song of Ice and Fire: Book Five

Posted by Linda | 1:42 PM

Dubbed “the American Tolkien” by Time magazine, George R. R. Martin has earned international acclaim for his monumental cycle of epic fantasy. Now the #1 New York Times bestselling author delivers the fifth book in his spellbinding landmark series—as both familiar faces and surprising new forces vie for a foothold in a fragmented empire.

In the aftermath of a colossal battle, the future of the Seven Kingdoms hangs in the balance once again—beset by newly emerging threats from every direction. In the east, Daenerys Targaryen, the last scion of House Targaryen, rules with her three dragons as queen of a city built on dust and death. But Daenerys has three times three thousand enemies, and many have set out to find her. Yet, as they gather, one young man embarks upon his own quest for the queen, with an entirely different goal in mind.

To the north lies the mammoth Wall of ice and stone—a structure only as strong as those guarding it. There, Jon Snow, 998th Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, will face his greatest challenge yet. For he has powerful foes not only within the Watch but also beyond, in the land of the creatures of ice.

And from all corners, bitter conflicts soon reignite, intimate betrayals are perpetrated, and a grand cast of outlaws and priests, soldiers and skinchangers, nobles and slaves, will face seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Some will fail, others will grow in the strength of darkness. But in a time of rising restlessness, the tides of destiny and politics will lead inevitably to the greatest dance of all. . . .

This book is released on the 12th of July, click here to pre-order the hardcover or read a sample chapter.

My Daily Cycling is Going Great!

Posted by Linda | 7:38 AM

Ever since I took up cycling, I have started noticing huge changes in my health as well as how long I spend in bed. My routine currently is that I wake up at about 5am and ride for an hour before having a showing and getting ready for work.

There's a big park just a few minutes from my street, so this makes it a cool opportunity for me to exercise and not spend any money in the gym. I don't think tying myself in for a one year contract will make me spend time at the gym. Research has shown that more than half who sign up for a gym membership don't even make it to the third month.

The cool thing about biking is that you get to ride round the park with other cyclists; there's n pressure and from anyone to corner you into some expensive membership fees. All you need is your own bicycle and some riding shoes like this Pearl iZUMi Men's Select MTB Mountain Biking Shoe. That's all.

Since last week I've managed to hit my daily target, so I hope to continue this week. I would totally recommend it to anyone who wants to lose some weight and not bother paying for some expensive gym membership.

Using Sport Pedals with Cleats

Posted by Linda | 9:20 AM

Since I started cycling to work, I feel like I have joined an elite group of keen cyclists in my area. These guys are always talking about their bikes every little chance get - how cool it is to ride around in this big city and not bother with the heavy traffic that's so common these days. Some of these guys I still bump into when I go for my Saturday morning ride, so we're sort of becoming friends in the process.

Two days ago, I mentioned to one of the guys about my new cycling shoes and how cool they were, but the pedals could do with a replacement. He suggested I look at the Shimano bike Pedals This is my first clipless pedal so I don't have much to compare it to but my experience so far with it is great. Easy to adjust the spring tension which makes it easier or harder to clip in or out. Also, like other reviewers noted this pedal comes with cleats.

Just a word of warning to everyone who hasn't installed a pedal before, BE CAREFUL when threading the pedal into the crank. This was the first time I had ever installed a pedal and I must have forced it in just a little bit because the pedal was cross-threaded (the threads didn't match up perfectly) and it wore the pedal threads completely bare. My pedal literally fell out of the perfectly smooth hole where the threads used to be. It's now at the shop costing 35+ dollars to repair.

This is definitely not Shimano's fault but be very gentle and careful when threading pedals into the crank!

10 questions you should ask the interviewer

Posted by Linda | 3:06 AM

You bought a new suit and you are ready for the interview. Also your CV is flawless and you even seem great on paper. Now, for the last piece of the successful job search puzzle you need to impress them at the interview.

How do you do it? Try asking questions. Besides showing your interest in the position and the company, asking questions gives you an active role in the interview and lets you steer the interview into areas where you shine. To make sure your next interview is as smooth as your freshly pressed suit, try these 10 questions on for size:

"What type of growth and advancement opportunities does this position and the company offer?"This tells the interviewer that you have a long-term vision for your professional future and that you're not just looking for a paycheque; you're looking to secure a career.

"How do you see me benefiting the company?"Finding out why you were selected out of possibly hundreds of other candidates gives you a chance to expand on the qualities that caught their eye, further making the case for your hire.
"What exactly are the job responsibilities?"Job ads usually list the general areas of responsibility for a position. It's always good to confirm what the actual duties will be. You don't want to start your new job as an engineer and find out you're responsible for the weekly doughnut run.
"What would my first project be if I'm hired?" This will give you a specific idea of what you can expect when you walk into the office that first day after being hired. It also can give you a heads up as to what will be expected of you, allowing you to build on those attributes during the interview.

"Who will evaluate me if I'm hired?"Ask this question, and you'll discern the company and departmental structure under which you will be working. For instance, will you report directly to the vice president or will there be a succession of middle managers between you?

"Are continuing education and professional training stressed?"This shows your willingness to learn new skills and adapt to new challenges or initiatives. Adaptability is very important in today's changing economy and could be key to retaining your job in a reorganisation.

"What is the company's culture?"This will reveal those "intangibles" of a company that have nothing to do with professional experience or required education. If you need a traditional, office/cube environment to stay focused and get the job done, a more creativity-driven workplace which allows music streaming from computers, nerf hoop tournaments and ultraflexible schedules may not be conducive to your productivity.

"Why did you choose this company?"Hearing why a current employee opted to work at the firm can give you some insight into some of the strengths and opportunities within the organisation.

"When will a decision be made on the successful candidate?"Knowing this helps you determine the timing of your interview follow-up activities.

"May I contact you if I have other questions?"It's always good to wrap up the interview with this question. It keeps the door open for further communication, giving you one last chance to make your case.

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy - The Extended Edition

Posted by Linda | 2:17 AM

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy - The Extended Edition - Firstly 5* for the movie. Been waiting for the Hi-Def Extended edition. Thank you New Line.

Secondly, here's a logical reason for having two disks, and it's basic mathematics. Here goes, hope some of you learn some lessons here:

A Dual Layer Blu-Ray 50GBytes of storage = 400 G Bits of data (there are 8 bits in a bytes - remember this from Tron)

One 400 G/Bits Blu-Ray at around 210 Minutes per Movie = 12,600 Seconds of Movie. Therefore on a Dual Layer 50GB Blu Ray the average bit rate you could force on it for 210 Minutes of footage is 400,000,000,000 / 12,600 Seconds = 31.746031 MBits per second.

Now, as we all know the Max Blu Ray Bit rate is Spec'd at 36 Mbits/second. So, you will NEVER NEVER fit a full highest quality 1080P movie at 36 Mbits/sec. OK, so the average bit rate will not always be needed at 36 Mbits/sec (* see note below!), but lets face it technically you'd bee pushing it to compromise on Quality by squeezing it on 1 Disk.

Obviously Audio / Alternate sound tracks adds to the bit rate, although to be honest a couple of 192Kilobyte/sec audio tracks is a small % of that needed for video. The Main DTS would be 754K/bits per second so a bit more of a chunk into the 36MBits.

So, no way people. technically the movie WOULD BE INFERIOR is fitted onto 1 disk. Get real!

You seem to want New Line to defy the laws of physics - no way, so give it a rest hey over the number of Disks. You can't do it technically at 1080P.

Thanks to the people who queried the 36MBbs rate. This is, obviously(!), the spec of 1x Speed Data read rate - the minimum requirement of the most basic BD-ROM reader.

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy - The Extended Edition

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