bobquasit: (Default)
I haven't been pleased with Barnes & Noble's Nook Color. The book selection is relatively poor, and the prices are relatively high. Which is why I have been utterly delighted by Baen Books.

Not only do they offer a large selection of classic science fiction books for free, but they have a surprising number of books by classic and modern SF and fantasy authors for very reasonable prices. For example, they have quite a few of the Heinlein juveniles - which, I've been told, have often been out of print in recent years - for $5-$6 each. And they're well-formatted, have nice e-covers, and are available in many useful formats (including epub for the Nook and Kindle format too). What's more, they're not restricted by DRM, so you can download them to multiple devices.

I respect the hell out of a company that doesn't treat their customers as potential thieves. And so I've picked up a bunch of books from them for Sebastian, including most of the Heinlein juveniles as well as James H Schmitz's The Witches of Karres - a classic, and one of my favorites. Plus quite a few others! They can even be read online, on a computer, laptop, or tablet.

Most of their books are in the four to six-dollar range. I wish other ebook publishers had as much sense as Baen! But as it is, Baen has already gotten a lot more of my money than Barnes & Noble has. Or will, for that matter.
bobquasit: (Default)
Skype is in a war of sorts with Google Voice. And today, I discovered that Skype had taken my system hostage as a prisoner in that war.

I used to be able to use my Google Voice account to call any phone in America for free from my Gmail home page; just type in a phone number or the name of a contact and I'd be connected, with a clarity that actually stunned some of the people I spoke to. Apparently Google Voice uses some sort of astonishing new sound-processing algorithm.

And then recently I installed Skype, since several friends had urged me to try it. Today I tried to use Google Voice to call my parents in Massachusetts. I typed "Dad" in the Google Voice box...and instead of his home and mobile numbers appearing, they appeared with Skype icons surrounding them along with a dollar sign. When I hovered over the numbers, I was told I would be making a "low cost call with Skype".

Now, just to be clear: the call should have been free, via Google. Instead Skype blocked my ability to make that free call, and tried to force me to pay them for it. As far as I'm concerned, that's stealing.

I tried to find a way to make the call WITHOUT using Skype. No matter what I did, Skype wouldn't allow me to do that. I shut down Skype; when I went back and tried to call with Google Voice, Skype immediately restarted itself and invited me to pay them if I wanted to make the call.

I began to seriously consider uninstalling Skype. I have a temper, but I don't think anybody would take it well when some company takes over something on your own system and basically holds it hostage. Boiling with rage, I began to research a solution.

It wasn't easy to find, but I found it. The problem was an add-on that had apparently come bundled with Skype. So I had to go to the Windows Control Panel, choose Add/Remove Programs, and then removed the program called "Skype Click to Call". Mind you, I wasn't told that the goddamned thing would be installed when I installed Skype, and I damned well wouldn't have installed it if I'd known that it was replacing my option to make free phone calls with the requirement to pay Skype for those same calls.

But Skype, here's a message for you: I will never spend a penny on any of your services, EVER. I'll use the free stuff because my friends are on it. But otherwise, you can go screw yourselves.
bobquasit: (Default)
Snow's coming down again today - 3-5 inches, they say, but I think it's going to be more like 4-8. Sebastian went out back to play while I did some early shoveling.

I told him that we'd reward him if he wanted to do some shoveling. "How?" he asked.

"Well...with money, I guess!"

"How much?"

"...what do you think would be fair?"

"Fifty dollars!"

"What?!? But I already did most of it!"

"Thirty?"

"That's pretty steep! I don't know..."

"Twenty? I need enough to buy a Hex Bug."

"I'll discuss it with your mother," I said, rapidly retreating.

I'd been thinking more in the $3-5 range. The snow is really light...a couple of inches of dust, so far.

Portal

Apr. 20th, 2011 10:35 pm
bobquasit: (Default)
A couple of days ago the closing song "Still Alive" from Portal popped up on my main Pandora station. I liked it so much that I looked into buying the game. Best Buy didn't carry it, according to their website. Game Stop did, and had it available as an instant digital download - for $20, plus a mandatory $3 surcharge for being able to download it again (if it got erased) for 18 months from the date of purchase.

So I went directly to Valve, the company that makes Portal, and downloaded it for $9.99. Game Stop are crooks!

Portal

Apr. 20th, 2011 10:35 pm
bobquasit: (Default)
A couple of days ago the closing song "Still Alive" from Portal popped up on my main Pandora station. I liked it so much that I looked into buying the game. Best Buy didn't carry it, according to their website. Game Stop did, and had it available as an instant digital download - for $20, plus a mandatory $3 surcharge for being able to download it again (if it got erased) for 18 months from the date of purchase.

So I went directly to Valve, the company that makes Portal, and downloaded it for $9.99. Game Stop are crooks!
bobquasit: (Default)
I ended up having to call Nintendo customer support, because their site simply would not work. It was a pleasant call; the Nintendo rep asked me what sort of phone I was using, because she'd never heard such a clear call in her life. I was using Google Voice with my headset, and told her so.

On the down side, we're not qualified for free repairs. We'll have to pay $85 plus tax to have the Wii's lens cleaned. If we do, though, it will have a new warranty for twelve months. Still, that's more money than we'd care to spend at the moment.

I also discussed our DS problems with the rep. We have three DSes and a DSi, and none of them are working properly; they all have big problems playing almost any game. They no longer recognize that a chip has been inserted, most of the time!

Unfortunately, it would be ANOTHER $85 per machine to have them repaired, since they're all off of warranty. That's $425!!!

We could save $40 by shipping all of the DSes with the Wii, and the rep was able to reduce the per-DS cost to $50 under that circumstance. But that's still $285 plus tax.

I think we'll have to have the Wii repaired, since Sebastian's heart would break otherwise. But as for the DSes...I don't know.
bobquasit: (Default)
I ended up having to call Nintendo customer support, because their site simply would not work. It was a pleasant call; the Nintendo rep asked me what sort of phone I was using, because she'd never heard such a clear call in her life. I was using Google Voice with my headset, and told her so.

On the down side, we're not qualified for free repairs. We'll have to pay $85 plus tax to have the Wii's lens cleaned. If we do, though, it will have a new warranty for twelve months. Still, that's more money than we'd care to spend at the moment.

I also discussed our DS problems with the rep. We have three DSes and a DSi, and none of them are working properly; they all have big problems playing almost any game. They no longer recognize that a chip has been inserted, most of the time!

Unfortunately, it would be ANOTHER $85 per machine to have them repaired, since they're all off of warranty. That's $425!!!

We could save $40 by shipping all of the DSes with the Wii, and the rep was able to reduce the per-DS cost to $50 under that circumstance. But that's still $285 plus tax.

I think we'll have to have the Wii repaired, since Sebastian's heart would break otherwise. But as for the DSes...I don't know.
bobquasit: (Rorschach)
Inspired by yet another mailing from the Discover card people, I tried to opt out of "pre-screened" mailings from the credit-card industry today. They nearly bankrupted us seven years ago, so that was a no-brainer.

I went through a long, annoying phone call with an irritatingly pleasant robo-voice.

And then they demanded that I give them my full social security number.

"Hell no!" I said, and slammed the phone down.

Credit card industry = 1, Me = 0

Anyone have any suggestions?
bobquasit: (Rorschach)
Inspired by yet another mailing from the Discover card people, I tried to opt out of "pre-screened" mailings from the credit-card industry today. They nearly bankrupted us seven years ago, so that was a no-brainer.

I went through a long, annoying phone call with an irritatingly pleasant robo-voice.

And then they demanded that I give them my full social security number.

"Hell no!" I said, and slammed the phone down.

Credit card industry = 1, Me = 0

Anyone have any suggestions?
bobquasit: (Default)
We got a new bill from Cox on Friday. It's about $65 less than the last one. No one has called us or explained this to us. We're really confused. Is someone at Cox just making up our bill every month?

"This month, let's charge them $200. Then next month $135. After that, in order, $179, $209, and then $196.93 to really confuse them. They'll never question their bill again!"

By coincidence (I presume) we also got a mailing the same day from Verizon. They're offering FIOS service in our area - we think. But it's a bit confusing, because their TV is apparently via DirecTV. They didn't quite spell out if it was FIOS or not (that's the implication I get, though), and there are various tiers of service which don't include a price. I don't like it when an offer isn't clear, and I don't care for low introductory prices that are followed by unspecified increases after the introductory period ends.
bobquasit: (Default)
We got a new bill from Cox on Friday. It's about $65 less than the last one. No one has called us or explained this to us. We're really confused. Is someone at Cox just making up our bill every month?

"This month, let's charge them $200. Then next month $135. After that, in order, $179, $209, and then $196.93 to really confuse them. They'll never question their bill again!"

By coincidence (I presume) we also got a mailing the same day from Verizon. They're offering FIOS service in our area - we think. But it's a bit confusing, because their TV is apparently via DirecTV. They didn't quite spell out if it was FIOS or not (that's the implication I get, though), and there are various tiers of service which don't include a price. I don't like it when an offer isn't clear, and I don't care for low introductory prices that are followed by unspecified increases after the introductory period ends.

Status

Oct. 27th, 2009 12:06 pm
bobquasit: (Default)
Lots to tell about.

My hand still hurts, so I'm taking a regular dose of ibuprofen twice a day. The bruising has faded somewhat.

I still can't put pressure on it in the direction I fell; it hurts too much. I called the urgentcare clinic where I had it x-rayed, and they confirmed that it's not broken. I may call my doctor if it doesn't feel a lot better soon.
Read more... )

Status

Oct. 27th, 2009 12:06 pm
bobquasit: (Default)
Lots to tell about.

My hand still hurts, so I'm taking a regular dose of ibuprofen twice a day. The bruising has faded somewhat.

I still can't put pressure on it in the direction I fell; it hurts too much. I called the urgentcare clinic where I had it x-rayed, and they confirmed that it's not broken. I may call my doctor if it doesn't feel a lot better soon.
Read more... )
bobquasit: (Default)
I give up. The DuPont faucet filter had the same problems that all the other ones did; roughly one out of four filters worked properly, and the rest lasted a week or less.

Our water is NOT hard or particularly bad. So my best guess is that hot water is occasionally feeding into the cold water, and thereby ruining the filters.

So this weekend we bought a Brita dispenser, one of the big ones with a tap in the front, and put it in the refrigerator. We'll see how it works out. I'm going to fill it by filling up a pitcher and then pouring that water into the dispenser; that way if there's a surge of hot water, it will never reach the filter (the heat being moderated by being mixed with all the water in the pitcher first). Also, the filter itself will be cooler because it's in the refrigerator!

Unfortunately the Brita filter apparently doesn't filter anywhere near as much stuff as the DuPont did, but we can't afford to buy new filters every week.
bobquasit: (Default)
I give up. The DuPont faucet filter had the same problems that all the other ones did; roughly one out of four filters worked properly, and the rest lasted a week or less.

Our water is NOT hard or particularly bad. So my best guess is that hot water is occasionally feeding into the cold water, and thereby ruining the filters.

So this weekend we bought a Brita dispenser, one of the big ones with a tap in the front, and put it in the refrigerator. We'll see how it works out. I'm going to fill it by filling up a pitcher and then pouring that water into the dispenser; that way if there's a surge of hot water, it will never reach the filter (the heat being moderated by being mixed with all the water in the pitcher first). Also, the filter itself will be cooler because it's in the refrigerator!

Unfortunately the Brita filter apparently doesn't filter anywhere near as much stuff as the DuPont did, but we can't afford to buy new filters every week.
bobquasit: (Default)
We signed up with a new heating oil provider and dumped Petro. Boy did they fight hard to keep us from canceling! By the end, she was pretty mad at me - although I was very polite.
bobquasit: (Default)
We signed up with a new heating oil provider and dumped Petro. Boy did they fight hard to keep us from canceling! By the end, she was pretty mad at me - although I was very polite.

Cell phone

Aug. 13th, 2009 09:08 am
bobquasit: (Default)
Our AT&T cell phone contract expired a while ago, so we can upgrade our phones and make some changes. I recently discovered that as a Blue Cross employee I get a 19% discount on AT&T cell service; we'll have to put our service in my name instead of Teri's, but that's no problem.

Here's the question: Should I get an iPhone? I'd get a Google Android phone if I could, but AT&T doesn't have a Google phone. I got a demo of sorts from a co-worker of the iPhone, and it looked pretty cool (even though I hate Macs). Anyone out there have an iPhone? Or can you recommend a better alternative?

Cell phone

Aug. 13th, 2009 09:08 am
bobquasit: (Default)
Our AT&T cell phone contract expired a while ago, so we can upgrade our phones and make some changes. I recently discovered that as a Blue Cross employee I get a 19% discount on AT&T cell service; we'll have to put our service in my name instead of Teri's, but that's no problem.

Here's the question: Should I get an iPhone? I'd get a Google Android phone if I could, but AT&T doesn't have a Google phone. I got a demo of sorts from a co-worker of the iPhone, and it looked pretty cool (even though I hate Macs). Anyone out there have an iPhone? Or can you recommend a better alternative?
bobquasit: (Default)
I just realized that I'd still have to buy the game, not just an account card. Hmm, the price of WoW just went way up. Plus there's the cost of the supplements...

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