Last week Apple introduced the iPad Mini, a 7.9-inch screen version of the 10-inch iPad. The smaller iPad starts at $329 for the 16 GB version, $429 for the 32 GB version. People compared it to Google’s Nexus 7, introduced earlier this year, at $199, but that 7-inch tablet came with only 8 GB of memory (you could buy a 16 GB version for $249, a fairer comparison, $80 less than Apple). Amazon’s Kindle Fire is also $199, with 16 GB of memory, but the Kindle platform, based on Google’s Android, doesn’t seem as open an implementation as Google’s own device, and seems mostly to be a conduit for content from Amazon (I could be wrong on that).
My laptop computer is getting on in years and I think the memory upgrade I got was faulty because sometimes the computer will just die, usually when it is asleep. It starts back up again, but that can’t be good. The other day something happened where if I tried to open a document in Excel, the program would stop working and then quit. I tried reinstalling Microsoft Office to get rid of the problem and I think it was still doing it. I had recently installed a Java update, and while it seemed highly unlikely that would be the problem, I wanted to roll back that update. I think I did a Windows restore to an earlier date and that actually solved the problem. But Java had me worried. And there are multiple versions of Java installed, plus it is always updating, and if you do the update wrong then it installs a toolbar in your browser. I know Java was a big deal at one time, but I’m not sure a lot of websites use it anymore. We have some Oracle web apps at work that use it, but I couldn’t think of any sites at home, so I looked around on the web to see if I really needed Java. One site said that most computer users didn’t need it. So that was enough for me. I uninstalled the 4 or 5 different Java flavors that had been installed over the years (Microsoft does the same kind of thing with its .NET framework which has multiple versions and one of them went bad, preventing me from installing two .NET updates, but then reminding me every day to install the updates, which would fail again; solution: uninstall and reinstall all the different .NET versions).
It has been about a week and so far no problems.
I was watching something recently that used the music “In the Hall of the Mountain King,” which is one of those great pieces of classical music that you recognize instantly, starting off slowly and building up pretty quickly in a little more than 2 minutes. There is the instrumental version plus a version with singing that comes from the Norwegian play, “Peer Gynt” by Henrik Ibsen, with music by Edvard Grieg, written in 1876. I figured I would like to download it, but the version with the singing is kind of scary, even in Norwegian (a bunch of trolls want to torture and kill Peer Gynt). I found the instrumental version on some compilations of popular classical music on Amazon. You could buy the song for 99 cents. But if you look at some of the albums it appears on, you notice that some of these are MP3 compilations of 99 songs and the entire compilation is only $1.99. So for another dollar, you get 98 more songs.
This morning I got a personal message on Budget Light Forum from a Chinese dealer. He said he had noticed that I had written reviews of some flashlights on the dealer’s site and at the forum and would I be interested in picking some lights from a list and reviewing them to help generate interest. Free flashlights! This happens quite a bit with other people and a lot of the reviews you read, especially the really professionally written ones, will say the light is provided by a dealer or manufacturer. And then they get to keep the light. But I have never had anyone ask me to do that, even though I have written probably a dozen reviews at BLF and I always post reviews of products at the seller’s website so people will know what they are getting (believe me, the descriptions from the dealers aren’t always accurate). I wasn’t sure anything would come of it and I wondered how many other people got the same PM, though he did actually link to three lights that I had reviewed.
This year not only do I need to register my car, but my driver’s license is expiring. Due to some federal law, the identification requirements to get a license are now much higher. They want a proof of citizenship which can be a birth certificate or passport, a proof of social security number, which can be a W-2 or Social Security Card, and proof of address which can be two different utility or bank statements. This was causing a lot of problems and long lines when it was introduced in July, but I was hoping things had calmed down now. This is a far cry from the days when one of my friends took his older brother’s birth certificate to the driver’s license place to get a driver’s license in his brother’s name with his own picture: A perfect fake ID saying he was over 21, which only failed once, when he opened his wallet and the clerk saw two licenses.
This past summer I wanted to rejoin Netflix again, but the only plan they offered was a streaming video option that you could then add DVD’s by mail to. I wasn’t really interested in streaming, but I know that Netflix has a hard time making money by mailing DVD’s in red envelopes. Their streaming plan is pretty successful, though, with one estimate saying that 25% of web traffic is Netflix streaming video (not sure I believe that).
I went to Netflix to see if I could get a DVD only plan, but I still couldn’t see any way to do it, even though the Netflix website sort of made it sound possible. The only thing I could do was sign up for streaming.
So I went looking for alternatives. I knew Blockbuster had a mail service. I found one review that said it wasn’t in the same league as Netflix where they will mail you your next DVD the same day they get one from you. Those days really make a big difference in the number of movies you can get in a month.
Then I found a YouTube video where a guy explains how you can join, then switch from streaming to DVD only. So I thought I’d try it out, but it means signing up first and giving my credit card number. I did it anyway, hoping for the best. Once I got an account, there was no way to drop streaming. When I tried to get DVD only, the link was broken! I was so frustrated. I went ahead and cancelled right away, but they said it wouldn’t be effective until next month and I could enjoy streaming until then. Grrrrrrr. I found a phone number, but this was around midnight on Saturday, so I wasn’t expecting it to work. To my surprise I got in contact with a real person almost right away. She transferred me to a DVD guy who switched my account and said that if they charged me for the first month of streaming anyway, he would give my account a credit.
So, back to Netflix again!
I know that it is important to get aerobic exercise a few times each week, but I’ve avoided getting an exercise machine because I figured the best thing for me and the dogs is to take the dogs for a walk. I think dogs can be overwalked and that is one reason Austin started getting pretty stiff legged, but when we cut back from 2 miles to 1 mile, he started doing a lot better (I was thinking he might need the same surgery Katie got, but never went through with it). Now with Katie ailing, we are lucky to get a mile, even though we probably spend more time out. So the intensity of our walks, which wasn’t great to begin with, is very low.
I really don’t like running and when I have run regularly in the past I would actually start to ache while putting my shoes on. And I’d procrastinate all night. It was terrible. So I thought an exercise machine might be good, but they are expensive and the cheaper ones maybe aren’t that great. I still have an old Nordic Track cross-country ski machine that I never thought was that good, partly because I bought the cheapest one they had. You don’t hear much about Nordic Tracks anymore. Instead it is all treadmills and elliptical trainers. Well, a treadmill is just running, so I wasn’t crazy about that. Elliptical trainers are lower impact and supposed to be better for your joints, so that seemed like a good way to go. I thought it would be good to get a used elliptical trainer that someone had bought and never used. But it wasn’t like I was pursuing this.