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Monday, December 27, 2010

Busy, busy, busy...

I know I haven't been posting in a month. I've been working 18 hour days, 7 days a week and I'll be posting more in the next week or so. I've built a base of more than 500 returning, regular readers every week and I'll post an interesting review of a $25 video camera in a week or so.

Thanks for your patience and look out for my post soon!

- Head Monkey

Monday, November 8, 2010

Windows Phone 7 Review- Is this a gamechanger?

A couple of weeks ago, I blogged about the impending debut of Windows Phone 7. Well, today is the day and WP7 has dropped across the globe as a competitor to Apple's iPhone and the Android software.

So far, it seems the Samsung Focus is the phone of choice.
(Credit: Samsung)

So far, the reviews seem to be pretty positive, with most reviewers finding WP7 to be responsive and every bit as good as its rivals. For now, there will only be seven or eight phones out with WP7. But expect that number to swell as makers start churning out versions for every purpose and purse.

Apps? Like the others, WP7 has them too. For now there's around 1,000 apps in the store with several hundred expected to be added every week from now until...whenever.

Paul Thurott's Super Site for Windows has the most comprehensive information on this new phone operating system with more than 20 pages of review down to the tiniest detail- click here to read it. This guy literally wrote the book on the new WP7, "Windows 7 Phone Secrets" that can be found at Amazon if you click here.

If you're looking for something different from the rest and like to be someone who has the first of everything, then maybe Windows Phone 7 might be the right call.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Get an Andriod phone for $10? Sure. But...

...ah, there's always a "but" when something sounds too good, isn't there?

This is the Comet.
For 10 bucks, it ain't bad.

(credit: T-Mobile)

In this case, T-Mobile will really sell you an Android smart phone with the latest 2.2 release of the Android operating system for smartphones (also called "Froyo"- it's development codename) for ten dollars. The downside is like buying the cheapest version of a Chevy you can find; sure, it's still a Chevy, but it has minimal this and minimal that and if you want to upgrade to a better model, it's gonna cost you.

The $10 phone- named "Comet" and built by a small company called Huawei (???) offers a much slower (and cheaper) processor and a minimal memory of 2 gigabytes (it is expandable to 32 gigs if you purchase an SD card on your own and plug it in the side). The screen is also smaller, 2.8 inches compared to 4 inches for the most expensive models.

But, if you've been looking for a smart phone but don't need or want the fastest this or the biggest that, then this might be the phone for you. Remember, though, this is still T-Mobile and any phone you would buy would come with a 2-year contract with all of the monthly data rates that apply to everyone else.

The phone can be purchased without a contract for around $150. Then, you're free to drop in your carrier-specific phone card and talk away for a fraction of the costs of your friends.

Go here to see a description of the phone.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

MacBook Air is out- but, Oy Vey! The price!

OK- everyone here knows I love free, but there are times when investing a little money is just fine when the result is high quality, great performance and cutting edge technology.

Apple delivers that with the new MacBook Air. Weighing in at a miniscule 2 lbs, the name "Air" is certainly appropriate. Boasting an 11.6" screen and no thicker than a pencil at most , this is the computer you want when lugging a 5 lb. computer for 10-12 hours a day gets to be a tiring chore.

Compared to the standard laptop below it, the Air is
positively razor thin.
(credit: Cnet)

So, how does it work? Pretty well, it seems. But there is a catch. With all of this lightweight construction and power saving features, the Air has to make compromises in order to achieve its remarkable light weight. The battery is kept small and, as a result, the processor has  lower performance to maximize power consumption. The memory is smaller to reduce size, so 500G hard drives are out as an option.

The upside? Well, obviously size and weight. The quality of the components is very high, as is the construction (all metal and high quality plastics). The computer comes with Mac OS 10 and there is a certain pride (snobbiness?) to owning an Apple and having everyone around you "oooh" when you pull out this little marvel.

The price? Starts at $999 and zooms up from there as options are added like bigger drives and extra batteries. Is a lightweight computer worth a grand? Not to me- but, hey- I'm cheap. has a balanced review of the MacBook Air here and they seem to think it's a pretty good buy if it fits your needs and lifestyle.

It's not free, but it may be money well spent.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Windows 7 mobile- it's time for a three-way fight for your cell phone dollars.

Life comes in threes: McDonalds, Burger King and Wendy's...Moe, Larry, Curly...Ford, GM and Chrysler and now- iPhone, Android and Windows.

Wait. What? Windows, you say? Is that possible to cram an entire operating system in one of those thin, little phones? No, of course not.

What Microsoft has done is create a viable competitor to the long standing duo of iPhone OS and Android in the rough and tumble world of the smart cell phone market. Life here can be a long, hard road. Just as Palm, who basically dried up and folded before HP bought them recently.

Look for this soon at your favorite retailer
(credit: Microsoft)
The Windows 7 mobile system is inspired by the Zune HD theme and has pretty much gotten positive reviews across the board. Why should you care? In a word, competition. Competition drives innovation, keeps prices lower and motivates the competition to keep outdoing each other and that, my friends, means consumers like you and me get better products.

To see how the Windows 7 Mobile phone stacks up, has a great review for your reading enjoyment. Click here to see it.

What other good things come in threes? Oh, that's right- my kids!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010 Take a break with a few minutes of laughter, awesomeness and OMG!

Ever need a quick and easy time-out? You know- a few minutes recess from the stress and trouble of daily life? Well, take a break, because is here to rescue you.

Packed with videos, pictures and games for a limited-time distraction, this site provides short term entertainment. For instance, you can enter the topic of video or picture you're interested in seeing (i.e., "golf", "skiing", etc.) and literally hundreds of selections will appear for your review.
Take a Break!

There are also games to explore and play. The caveat here is that some are entertaining and some are not, some are tasteless and some are truly gems. Luckily, there's a rating system that tends to weed out the non-players.

If I haven't made my point yet, is not meant as a mind-challenging sophisticated site filled with class and distinction. It does have a wide selection and plenty to see and do so if you have a few minutes to kill, head over to by clicking here.

Disclaimer: there is some risque content (pinup girls, bikini pix), but no nudity.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Ten great FREE apps for the Android phone.

Oh, I love free.

Free, free, free!

Go get 'em... The price is right!
If you are like millions of others and just bought an Android based phone, here are ten FREE apps for the Android phone you can use to make your experience and your life easier.

There are apps that help you with money, buy groceries remotely, read a book on your new phone or even exchange contact info simply by tapping two phones together (I kid you not). has the skinny on these apps that you can enjoy FOR FREE!

Go here to see. After all, it's free!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

New Ipod Touch- Is it the iPhone without the phone?

Apple's been on a roll lately- new iPhone 4th generation, new Apple TV, new iPod Shuffle and Nano. Now, Apple has debuted the 4th generation iPod Touch.

Like the iPhone, the new Touch has new features that make it stand apart from the crowd and allow it to cement its role as the premiere music player in today's market. Although it looks just like an iPhone, the Touch can't make calls. However, it can play apps, play games, play movies and music and shoot HD video and play it all back on a crystal clear Retina display.

The coolest thing, however, is something called Facetime. Think of it like a mini-Skype system. By aiming the camera at yourself, you'll be able to see not only yourself, but also the party you're speaking to on the same screen right on your iPod Touch. The catch? You can only communicate with another 4th generation iPhone or Touch and only via wifi...for now.

Apple is gearing up to sell millions of these over the next few months, so this may not be as big a limitation as it seems. Go to the Apple website to see everything the 4th generation Apple iPod Touch can do for you. Click here to go there now.

I hope that's the last new Apple product for awhile- my fingers are starting to cramp up from all of these introductions!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Sony Playstation Move Review- it's not like a Wii (but kinda is)

A few years ago, the Nintendo Wii came onto the scene and puzzled the American buying public (or ABP)with wand-like controllers and the ability to detect their movement in a 3D space without wires.

Sony hopes these wands are magic for sales.
(credit: Sony)
 After a few months, the ABP started to see the potential in the Wii and started to buy them in record numbers. Well, it only took a few years, but the Wii's main competitors- the Microsoft Xbox and the Sony Playstation - have finally started to catch up with "wand controller" versions of their own (see my blog post of the Xbox version- called Kinect- here) .

The Sony Playstation Move uses two Wii-like wands to control the actions and movements of the characters and objects in the game. Move your arm in a large sweeping motion and the character will follow suit. Go back and forth and the character follows the movements. Other controls can be moved with the thumb and fingers.

So, how does it work? Well, the geeks at have a full review and they have some good and less than good things to say. But you'll have to follow this link to read it for yourself.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

DVD Easter Eggs- the dirty little secret revealved!

Here's a fun way to use your DVDs:

Happy hunting!
For the better part of a decade, studios and filmmakers have been hiding little gems in and among their menus so the viewer can happily stumble upon a behnd-the-scenes documentary, video game or blooper reel. These are called "Easter Eggs" (because they're hidden like Easter eggs- get it?) Some DVDs have one or two, others can have a dozen. A great site that has cataloged all of these treasures is

While not the most imaginative name, the site's title is what it does; a long searchable list of DVD titles aong with the number of eggs and how to access them.

For instance, the "Anger Management" DVD has an Easter Egg that you access by click on a pair of glowing cat's eyes in the main menu- then a behind-the-scenes documentary plays.

Go to the link now and Happy Hunting!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Microsoft Word shortcuts- the mouse isn't needed!

The mouse is all powerful and does everything.

But, did you know that there are literally dozens of keyboard shortcuts that can do almost everything a mouse can do and in only a fraction of the time?

It takes a little time to master, but
keyboard shortcutsreally do save a lot of time.
(credit: unknown)
It's true and your ol' buddy the Head Monkey here has the information that will turn you into a Word superstar. Simply click here to go to Microsoft's website to find easy to use keyboard combinations that do things like change fonts to bold, highlight everything on the page and even undo a mistake.

What kind of keyboard combinations, you ask? Well, an example would be "Ctrl+F" (in other words, pressing the key marked "Crtl" and- while continuing to hold it down- pressing the F key). What this does is open a box that allows you to find a word anywhere in the document.

F= Find...get it? BTW, this key combination also works for Internet Explorer web browsers. It's really a big help. Remember to click here to go to the website.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Xbox Kinect- What is it and why is it a big deal?

Every Christmas brings a whole new crop of electronic gizmos and gee-whiz things that go beep. Kids will beg and plead their parents for these things and that means it will be up to Mom and Dad to translate all of these new and strange words into something to get for placing under the tree come December.

Today's tech word of the day is "Kinect".

This is an add-on to the Xbox that allows truly no-hands control of games and other Xbox functions.

It's hard to tell here, but the Kinect is about the size of
small book.
(credit: Microsoft)
Looking like a thin, black bar on a nondescript plastic stand, the Kinect's technology is truly remarkable. It can sense your movements and gestures in a 3D space. In other words it "knows" when you move your arm, leg or body in a backward, forward, up, down and all otherways motion.

It can also recognize voice commands so if you're watching a movie on the Xbox (an Xbox can play either a DVD or stream Netflix) a simple "pause" or "play" command will cause the Xbox to do just that. In games, you might tell a character to duck or run.

However, this is one of those cases where seeing will explain more than I can tell you. Go the to Microsoft Xbox site here to see a video about what the hub bub is all about.

Go on! Get moving!

Monday, September 20, 2010

iPod Nano reviewed

A herd/cluster/flock/school of iPods.
(Credit: Apple)

Engadget, one of the web's premeire electronic gadget sites, has a review of the new iPod Nano. Redesigned and overhauled, the Nano boasts new features and a snazzy new look.

About the size of a matchbook (remember those?) it can hold thousands of songs, podcasts or audiobooks and can run for hours on its little, bitty battery.

One of a slew of new iPod devices introduced a few weeks ago, the Nano falls in the middle of the iPod range between the micro-sized shuffle and the cell-phone size Ipod Touch. Priced around $179, This is going to be the must have present of the 2010 Christmas season.

Your kids and/or grand kids will want one, so you should know all about them to be a more informed consumer.

And, while you're at it, you might want to get one for your favorite blogger too!

Go see the Engadget review by clicking here.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Clever quotes from clever folks- Finding the perfect quote for your writing or just for fun.

I was writing a piece for work this morning when I decided that I needed a quote from someone to help me define a concept. I found the website and it is jam packed with thousands of quotes from people far more wise than I when it comes to encapsulating a thought, idea or person into a riveting quip perfectly suited for presentations, letters, essays or just for fun reading.

Here are a few examples:

I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.

Groucho Marx

All generalizations are false, including this one.
Mark Twain

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.

Lao Tzu

Some are funny, some are thoughtful and all of them are useful. You can search by topic or author or keyword and once you press enter, hundreds of thoughts from the past 2000 years are available for your use.

Here's a few quotes to ponder:

I've failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.

Michael Jordan

or an opposing view:

If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There's no point in being a damn fool about it.

W. C. Fields

Go here to read more.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

What is your ancestry? Are you sure? REALLY sure?

I thought I was sure.

Turns out, my family history was partially true and partially not. While my grandfather did come fom Italy in 1911(as I was always told) , my maternal grandmother's side in the US goes way back to the 1690's, I have a relative who was a Confederate soldier and POW and his father apparently fought for Texas independence. Wow.  No one ever told me any of this!

Where did we get this info and can we prove it? has massive records taken from the US census from as far back as 1790 as well as military records, tax records, the National Archives and other government and newspaper sources. As you find records that pertain to your search, you're able to download the exact document that contains your relative's information. That is, if you're looking at the 1820 census, you can print out a copy of the actual 1820 census that specifically shows your relative- old timey handwriting and all- there's no better proof than that.

Additionally, you can choose to connect with other families who share the same relatives as you who've also been researching the site. My family tree has so many branches, roots and leaves that I must be related to 5,000 other people spread across the country.
Makes for a heck of a family reunion...

While does cost money to join ($12.95/mo.), there's a 14 day free trail (my wife found most of the info detailed above in about 5 days) and you can cancel anytime by calling an 800 number.

To find out if you and I are related, go to by clicking here and I'll save you some potato salad at the family reunion next July.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Now Showing: The worst movies EVER made...and I mean ever!

Some things in life go full circle. Movies are like that. Some are very good, most are terrible and some are so extremely bad that they come all the way around to entertaining, just because of poorly written scripts, wooden acting and atrocious special effects.

I'm not sure if this is a bad movie still or me after watching
several hours of these stinkers.
I have to admit, there are some real stinkeroos out there I enjoy watching simply because I know that I'll see the movie's monster wearing sneakers, the camera crew in the window's reflection and absolutely horrible acting that makes me laugh all through the movie.

Is there a website for this kind of movie? Of course! That's why we're all here isn't it? It's called and the name says it all. Reviewed movies are listed alphabetically and each one has a synopsis, photos and a movie clip or two. The best element of all is the "Thing I learned from watching this movie" section with hilarious observations and humorous jabs at the movie's seriousness.

With movie titles like The Creeping Terror, Please don't eat my Mother and Puppet Master III (really? There were two other Puppet Masters? Where was I when these premiered?)

In a strange way, this site is kind of a tribute to the people who persevered and got these movies shot, edited and finished. As a video professional, I know just how hard this can be.

Go see here and remember, you've been warned...

Monday, September 6, 2010

Free photos from the U.S. government and you own them!

Free stuff from the government? Really?

This obscure plane is the XF-85 Goblin. See? I
told you any photo was available.
(credit: US Air Force)
Yup. Well, kinda free- your American tax dollars paid for it. In this case, it's photos of all descritptions from or about nearly any era of US History.

From pre-revolutionary images (photos of these, obviously) to last week, there are millions of photographic images avialable to you at no charge. Aircraft, ships, buildings, people, departments, judges, property, events are all covered and more.

I'm an airplane nut and I live not too far from the National Museum of the Air Force in Dayton, Ohio. That website alone (click here) has thousands of photos of aircraft and aircraft related subjects all for you to use for free. Normally, all you have to do is provide a photog source credit (i.e., Courtesy U.S. Air Force) and the full photo file is available for your use without further problems.

Wayne Rasmussen (right) meets the
Iranian Agricultural Minister in 1976.
I said ANY PHOTO, didn't I?
(credit: US Dept. of Ag)
Note however, that a few photos may require a license to use and you'll be notified of that requirement long before you ever use the photos.
Go here to get to the central database for all US government images.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Netflix on demand explained...right now!

We gave up our television cable about two years ago and started watching only over-the-air TV. The main reason? Cost. I had better uses for the $75/mo. than watching "Project Runway" 4 times a day.

The XBOX 360 can play directly from  DVDs too
Soon, however, we were looking for an additional avenue of entertainment and we found it. For $8.95/mo. we were using Netflix to get our choice of DVDs from among tens of thousands of choices. Nice...and interesting, but it turns out there's more.

For that same $8.95, not only could we get our DVDs , but we were able to see an additional several thousand movies and TV shows via the internet. What was truly interesting was the method we used to get the internet video stream to our old TV: we used our XBOX 360.

This is how it works: by subscribing to XBOX Live, we can not only play other video game enthusiats around the world, but we can also access other services like Netflix. All of these services use our home's internet connection to "talk" to Microsoft, Facebook, Netflix and other online services.

The "little video covers" that show individual titles
in each category. Pick one and start viewing.
Simply select the Netflix box and about a dozen different categories of videos appears before your eyes. Topics like Drama, Romance, Comedy, Western, etc. Click on the category of your choice and about a hundred individual videos fitting that category appear (they look like little video covers), click on a box to see a description and a "play now" button.

If it's the video you want to see, press "play now" and after about 30 seconds of computer stuff (you know- whirring, buzzing and the like) your movie starts playing- full screen and as sharp as a DVD.

You can stop, play, rewind, fast forward just like a DVD. You use the video game's controller for a remote.

A note about the choices: Not every movie Netflix offers is available online. There is a great deal of blockbuster and hit movies available, but they may not be as recent as those on the DVD shelves, plus many of the TV shows offer full seasons for viewing, but some only offer one season (out of all of the seasons that show may have been on the air).

A good note about the choices: As you choose and watch more and more videos, Netflix "learns" what you enjoy and offers more precise categories based on your choices. For instance my wife always seems to have a category titled "British Romantic Comedies" (she has a thing for accents).

By the way, this method of viewing Netflix also works on The Sony Playstation3, Nintendo Wii and the Apple TV (see my previous post) as well as a few other special video appliances- but that's another post for another day.

That's why, in my house, we call Netflix our "poor man's cable". Go here to go to Netflix.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Unlimited Data Plan for $40 a month- Virgin Mobile debuts new hotspot plan

Virgin Mobile, a provider of cell phones and other mobile devices has announced a new plan for their hotspot products (think of these as cell phones that only process data and perform as a mobile, personal wifi device). For just $40 a month, you'll be able to access the internet and up to 5 devices (laptop, iPod, iPad, etc.).

There's no contract and no other fees. Simply purchase the wifi device for about $150 and pay the $40 a month fee and you'll be able to get on the web wherever you are- as long as cell phone service is available.

Go here to see the Virgin Mobile announcement and where to get your hotspot.

Friday, September 3, 2010

The "new" Apple TV is here! Did you know there was an old Apple TV?

It's true. Apple's 1st generation of the Apple TV appliance/computer has been around for a few years now, but it never really took off. In fact, hardly anyone outside of the home theater geek groups knew anything about it. It's not a TV at all, but a computer appliance that plays out content of all kinds to your preexisting TV.
The Apple TV box- typical Apple
design understatement.
(credit: Apple)

That's about to change because the new Apple TV is completely revamped. Contained in a small box no larger than a paperback book, Apple TV (picture, right) allows you to access High Definition content to Netflix, Flickr and YouTube. It connects wirelessly to your computer and streams video (through the air! no wires)  immediately. It can also play all of the music (or movies) you've purchased on iTunes.

Additionally, if your iPhone or your iPod already has a movie or TV show downloaded into it, you can play the production to the Apple TV wirelessly using a free app called Airplay. Press the button and the movie appears- full HD and all- on your TV. And all of this for $99. I don't think apple has sold anything for $99 for a long time, so you'd better get down there and get one before they change their mind.

Isn't that something? Learn more about the Apple TV here from the Apple people themselves. I'll  post a review of the new Apple TV as soon as I can find a quality one.

It seems the new Apple TV is a peach!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

More news on new Apple promised!

This Nano is small, but can hold thousands of songs,
podcasts, audiobooks and more!
(Credit: Apple)
Here's more info on the new Apple products introduced by Steve Jobs yesterday. We've already seen the iPod Touch and all it has to offer, now let's take a closer look at the Nano and the Shuffle. 

The Nano is smaller in size than the Touch and until yesterday, didn't have a touch screen at all, instead relying on a small disc and a tiny non-touch screen to assist in navigation and seeing exactly what it was you were playing out. The new version is all touch-screen, albeit with a screen area far smaller than the Touch. To give you an idea, here's a picture of the new Nano to the left (Thanks for the picture Apple!).

Here's an idea of size and colors available for the Shuffle
(Credit: Apple)
The entry-level iPod is the shuffle (see picture, right). With no screen at all, the shuffle is miniscule, barely more than an inch square. It uses a "click-wheel" like the last generation Nano and speaks to you, so you can choose the song or podcast of your choice. It weighs virtually zero, which makes it perfect for the workout set. Yet it can hold hundreds upon hundreds of hours of audio of nearly every description. has an article with details on the new goodies here.

 We'll take a look at the Apple TV tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

BREAKING NEWS! Apple's new iPod Touch hits the market!

There's at least $687 worth of iPods in this photo.
A few months after the 4th generation iPhone went public, now it's time for the 4th generation of the Apple iPod Touch to debut. Known as the "iPhone without a phone", the new iPod Touch has a ton of new features that's best described at Apple's website. You can go to it here.

Apple also debuted new versions of the Nano, Shuffle and Apple TV, which we'll touch on in a later post.

What does this mean for Apple? Well, the Christmas buying season is soon approaching and there is just enough time for teens to get whipped into a consumer frenzy and beg their parents or grandparents for this exact item. It is expensive, starting at $229 for the 8gig version, but I predict that Apple will not be able to keep them in stock.

That is the most sure-thing prediction since I predicted my teenager would be hungry at dinner time.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

It was a dark and stormy night...ZAP!!!!! How to save your computer while sitting in the dark.

So, there you are- typing away, fingers a blur as you write your latest inspiration on the computer for the world to read and absorb in slack jawed wonder when *click* the power dies and your great American novel dies with it. Without power, your computer instantly shuts down and takes all of your unsaved work with it.

This really could have been avoided. By simply purchasing an uninterruptable power supply (UPS), you'd have plenty of time to save your next literary masterpiece.

Think of a UPS like a constantly charging battery. About the size of a small shoebox (more or less), the UPS will supply power to your computer and monitor and give you enough time to save your work and properly shut down your computer so the world is not denied your hard earned genius.

Someone's unprotected computer in this building just
started to smell like cooking bacon, because everything
got fried...everything.
Additionally, most UPS's also filter the power coming into it and provide "clean" power going out, extending the life of your $750 invesment. Plus, many UPS's provide strong surge protection, sacrificing itself instead of allowing a lightning strike or other power bump into your delicate electronics and turning them into 17 pounds of scrap metal.

PCWorld has reviewed several power supplies and has posted an article here so you can make an informed decision and be well prepared for the next lighting strike that Murphy's Law says will destroy your computer three days after reading this article. So get going!

Then, once you're really protected, you can resume your grammatical gift to the world worry free.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Why is my computer growing hair?

Please tell me this is not your computer!
BTW, that's not carpeting covering the vents in this
When was the last time you looked at the back of your desktop computer?

Yep- that's what I thought. It was the day you got it and plugged in all of the cables, wasn't it? How long has that been? A year? Two? Five?

I bet if you look back there right now, you'll see a bunch of dust and fluff blocking the fan vent. Go ahead, check. I'll wait...

Yuck. Pretty clogged, isn't it? Those vents need to be clear in order to provide the cooling your computer needs to run efficiently and for a long time. Failure to keep these holes free of dust and gunk means your baby may overheat and greatly shorten the life of your desktop.

What to do? Go here for tips on cleaning all of your computer- case, mouse, keyboard, screen- all of it. You just might extend the life of your computer by several years, saving you a good bit of cash in the process.

Now, let's look under your bed... on second thought, nevermind.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Print your custom message - literally anything you want to say on a coffee mug!

My wife likes things "just so". She orders salad dressing on the side because "they might put on too much on it". Whatever- if that's what she wants, then that's what she gets- I like a happy wife.

It's that kind of specific, custom "I want it a certain way" kind of approach that the good folks at Cafe Press have used to build a successful business. They specialize in imprinting your design onto the usual t-shirts and coffee mugs. But that's not all- you can have your design printed onto bags, pillows, hats, baby clothes and even underwear. Yes, I said underwear.

What if you don't have a design ready? No problem. Cafe Press has a web page especially created to help you make your custom item. Using their site, you can write, import or otherwise make any custom item you wish.

This is a great idea for a few mugs for a small business or a t-shirt promoting your kid's run at class president.

You can order one or a hundred of anything and soon you too will have your message on a t-shirt.

I wonder if "Monkey Simple Tech" will fit on a pair of boxers?

Go to Cafe Press here to find out.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Quick! Stop me before I spend again! Photography store heaven for shutterbugs

As a professional photographer, I am by definition looking for the next new thing. Lenses, batteries, lights, cameras and the idea of purchasing all things photographic makes me all warm and gooey inside with anticipation.

And the best company I know to keep feeding that addiction of compulsive photography spending is B&H Photo. Located deep in the heart of New York City, I have literally spent tens of thousands of (other people's) dollars purchasing all manner of video and camea ephemera. They literally have everything and anything one might need to capture an image on film, memory card or other recording media. All of the goodies are here too, from Gorillapods to gobos and other things that are named with made-up words (BTW, both of those previous objects are real).

The only downside I can see from using this company is the NY attitude from the phone salespeople may sometimes be a bit shocking to the fragile southerner or the innocent midwest consumer. But, my experience with dozens of purchases has proven them to be honest, reliable and upfront with all of their offerings. So, if you're a little hesitant doing business with them..."Forgedaboutit!"

That was the best NY accent I could write. It really was.

To find B&H Photo, go here.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The eight most frustrating words a consumer can hear: "Your call is important to us-please hold"- Here's a solution!


I just got off the phone after traversing the infuriating phone maze of my cable company's customer support phone line. "Press 1 for English, Press 3 for billing, Press 5 for more options"

I wish they had a "press 9 for electric shock" for the person who invented this system!

So, while I was on hold (67 minutes!) I had the opportunity to surf the web for some kind of relief for this frustration of being kept in phone limbo while I waited for anybody to finally pick up the other end so I could pay them money!
Not me- But I feel his pain

What I found was a great website created by a consumer who was as frustrated as me in getting a human to answer my question. has gathered all of the "secret phone codes" for getting to a real person as fast as possible. The site also contains the tricks of using voice prompts to accomplish the same thing. Hundreds of companies are listed from the Fortune 100 to little operations most of us have never heard of.

This kind of site could cut your wait time drastically and spare the inventor of phone limbo a few electric shocks.

Oh, what the heck: 9999999999999999999999999999. Boy, that felt good! You can feel good too by going here.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Ford's got That Sync-ing Feeling- and That's a Good Thing.

Remember "My Mother the Car"? Of course you don't. Hardly anyone does. For years, it was considered by many to be the worst television show ever shown on broadcast television. The point of the show was the car actually spoke to its owner, played by Jerry Van Dyke (please don't ask me how I know that). Here's the twist: The car's voice was actually his mother's brought back from beyond. No wonder it was one and done.

With that fresh idea in your head, I give you the Ford Sync. Like MMTC, you speak to your vehicle, but this time your mother has no part in this. And your vehicle can actually speak back to you...sort of. Created with the genius geeks at Microsoft, Ford Sync is an option on most Ford Company cars and trucks and takes interaction with your wheels to a new level.
Ford's Sync Video Screen

With this option installed, the new owner will experience a new level of hands off control. FS allows you to control your compatible cell phone and MP3 player by simply telling it what to do (i.e.,"play Beatles"). You can also make hotel reservations, call friends and family, get directions, have FS read text messages to you and tell you all about your sports team, stocks and the weather wherever and whenever you want it to do so.

There's more the Ford Sync can do- much more, but why let me tell you about when you can get it from the factory itself. Go here to find out more.

And I promise your mother's voice will not come out of the speakers.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Hey- I just found $50 in your dresser drawer!

You know that old baseball card collection sitting in your garage or that twenty year old video game console gathering dust in the attic? Did you know that someone will actually pay you money for those?

It's true and it's easy to do. Ebay is one of the better known companies on the web and Ebay members offer for sale everything from million dollar homes to wooden clothes pins to WWII fighter planes. These folks are selling their unwanted goods on the internet and you can too and it's free to join. Ebay gets a cut of the sale (a small one) and the rest goes into your pocket.

Ebay is not an online storefront like or Amazon. The majority of the sellers are just normal folks like me and you. In fact, it's in Ebay's best interest to make it as simple and carefree as possible to sell your, treasures on their site. Tutorials and books on the subject of selling on Ebay abound, but the best place to start is at Ebay's official beginner's page located here.

Try selling an unloved widget or two then, once you have the details figured out, start scouring the house for that old rug, Aunt Millie's rocking chair and that awful owl lamp your mother-in-law gave you after you moved into your first house...oh, sorry- that was me.

P.S., I got $19 for the lamp...don't tell the wife!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

How an iPod is just like a Jeep and a box of Kleenex.

The word iPod is alot like the word Jeep.  Both are brand names but both are also synonmous with the product they represent. The makers of Kleenex often take out ads in jounalism trade magazines making the point that Kleenex is a brand name for facial tissue.

The iPod is like that too. Many folks simply say they "have an iPod" when they really have something else as their MP3 player of choice. This avoids having to explain exactly what brand you have ("Archos? Who's that?"), what it does and you usually end up the explanantion with the phrase "just think of it like an iPod".

In the world of MP3 players, the 2nd most popular player in the United States after the iPod is the Microsoft Zune HD. Never heard of it? Not to worry, most folks haven't either and that's a shame because the Zune is a darn fine player in it's own right. It has a HD screen (thus the "HD" portion of the name), huge memory- up to 64 gigabytes- and a touch screen that is simplicity itself to use. It can hold 10,000+ photos, audio books and even has an FM radio! OK, that doesn't seem like such a big deal, but the iPod Touch doesn't have a radio at there!

The best thing about the Zune HD, however, is the Zune Store. Think of it like Microsoft's version of iTunes. Millions of songs and movies are for sale, thousands of podcasts available for free and a special little item call the Zune Pass. For $15 per month, you can download unlimited (yes, unlimited!) amounts of music into your Zune player for as long as you pay the subscription. the good news of all this is you get to keep your choice of 10 of those songs every month forever- even after you cancel your Zune Pass subscription. Apple has nothing like it and no one else does either. You can also buy songs and keep them permanently one at a time too.

The Zune HD doesn't come with all sorts of apps like the iPod (although it does have a few that come preinstalled), but it's comparable in nearly every other way and the best feature of all? It's cheaper than the iPod- 16G versions start at $156 (go here to see it on sale for that price), Apple's 8G iPod touch starts at around twenty dollars more with half of the memory. ($175). So, you're getting twice the memory for the less than the price of the iPod Touch.

Available at most big box stores, the Zune HD is available right now. Go to the Zune site here to learn more.

Remember, it's just like an iPod.

Only better.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Quick Tip: Buy a week-old computer and save!

Here's a good way to save some money and still get a quality computer with full warranty coverage:

Dell has an outlet segment of their main website that offers fully inspected and warrantied products that have been returned for several reasons: buyer's remorse, not what they expected, malfunctions and so on.

Most products are no more than a few months old and it's a great way to save hundreds on a computer and pocket the difference. Go here to start shopping.

By the way, Apple has a similar program for their products and it can be found here. You can also find deals on iPods as well.

Happy shopping!

Looking to save money on travel? Take a Kayak.

I like to travel, but with a family of five it can cost a pretty penny. Car trips are pretty much the limit for us, but sometimes we manage to muster up enough scratch to actually fly somewhere and a cruise may be not too far into our future (I hope!).

As I've pretty well established on this blog, I am a cheapskate and I'm always on the lookout for the best deal anywhere. Travel is no different. I'm willing to pay for a quality vacation, but I'm not looking to overpay  just to see an enormous mouse or dip my toes in an ocean. One of the most useful sites I've found to save on a vacation is

Offering the lowest prices on flights, car rentals, packages, cruises, hotels and more, Kayak scours the internet for all sorts of deals and values and gathers them in one place for your review. They offer worldwide destinations and last-minute bargains you can grab for pennies on the dollar.

Travel hasn't gotten cheaper. Far from it. But when using Kayak, travel may have just gotten smarter.

To board your flight for a few dollars less, check out Kayak here.

Monday, August 9, 2010

If you're looking for a new job, This is the Web Site for You. Indeed it is!

There are literally hundreds of websites catering to the job searcher looking for any kind of employment(Monster, Careerbuilder, HotJobs) and there are those that serve far more specific occupations and industries (JournalismJobs, Higheredjobs).

You could spend all day looking through each and every site until your eyes are bloodshot or you could just go to a job seeking website with the unlikely name of

I've been thinking all morning how to descibe this site without comparisons to Google, but I can't, because that's pretty much what it is. Enter any kind of search word having to do with your job interests as random as "bread", "manager" and "blue" turned up job offers in places as diverse as Maine, Virginia and Tennessee. You can also search by location (via state, city, zip code and region), salary, company, posting date and many more. An advanced search option gives you even more choices to refine your search for optimum results. finds all of these positions by constantly reviewing virtually all job posting websites available and harvesting them for your review. New sites are added all of the time and checking back reguarly will reveal new positions and opportunities for you. The best part? Say it with me now: It's free.

Man, how I love that word.

Friday, August 6, 2010

A quick tip!

I'm going to try to include these quick tips on a roughly once-a-week basis. They're little tech tidbits designed to make your life easier and simpler.

Here's today's tip:

If you ever get an error message on an electronic product of any kind and are curious about what it means or how to deal with it do this: copy the error message exactly and go to and enter the message exactly into the search window. Press "Google search" and you should see thousands of results that define and explain the error message so you have the knowledge to know what to do to hopefully eliminate it.

How to Stay Focused When Buying a Digital Camera and Develop Your Consumer Skills

My dad takes pictures. A lot of them. For years he used a Sony digital camera that recorded images onto a mini-CD. After 10 years, it was getting pretty tough to find mini-CDs anywhere (BTW, it was tough to find them in the best of times).

So, he started looking for a replacement camera and was met with a dizzying array of choices- should he go for a lot of megapixels or is a big zoom the way to go? Are those cheap cameras any good? What's the difference between XD and SD camera memory? What is metadata anyway?

The first step is to decide what you want the camera to do for you. Are you shooting the grandkid's little league games where fast moving images are a priority or are you looking for pictures of grand vistas while on vacation? Does it need to be tough and waterproof? Are interchangeables lenses important or is small and thin what you're looking for?

The answers to these questions will help you to concentrate your thinking towards a specific type of camera so you can start to shop for something in your budget that meets your needs. The good people at has prepared a helpful article that explains what the terms and the technical specs on a digital camera means and how they apply to your real world use. You can find it here.

To compare and to see real in depth camera reviews with technical jargon galore, go here to DPreview. While based out of the UK, the cameras they test and review are the same ones available here in the USA.

The reviews can get a bit geeky but they're easy to decipher and include dozens of helpful sample photos that allow you to compare and see actual picture taking results. It's worth a look once you get down to your two or three finalist cameras.

Say Cheese!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Setting Up a Wireless Network is Not Brain Surgery...More Like Removing a Sliver

My sister-in-law was walking around her house the other day, showing off some new furniture to my wife. She went from the living room to the upstairs guest room and boasted about this floral pattern and that wood grain on that table- blah, blah, blah...(I'm not a furniture guy and had soon mentally tuned out with a glassy eyed stare). The thing is, my sister-in-law lives in Texas and we were 1,200 miles away.

So how did she walk all over the house showing off the new couch and upstairs lamp? She used a laptop computer and a wireless network. The laptop has a built-in camera and she pointed it at each object and described it to my wife as she walked from place to place. The wireless network allowed her free reign to go anywhere she pleased and to maintain a clear connection to the internet.

Wireless networks are now very common and it's easy to put one in your own home. There are many quality manufacturers and the process of hooking one up has been developed and tweaked to be as easy as possible. As proof, here's a video for one such maker, Linksys. This isn't an endorsement of Linksys, but an example of one popular product and how easy it is to set up and use.

By the way, wireless networks are more secure and reliable than ever. With a few clicks, it can be virtually impossible for someone to use your wireless setup for nefarious purposes.

Soon it will be possible for you to talk to my wife and show her your new carpet- in every room. Um, is that that the phone ringing? I gotta go now...

Monday, August 2, 2010

Let's Save the Economy and Spend Some Money!

I've decided that economy has taken long enough to recover and it's time to take the reins and fix it ourselves. To that end, here are some websites to save you money while you spend money. There are thousands of sites like these, but I can vouch for these specific sites as I've used them myself.

The first is a site called This site continually lists bargains and deals, coupons and other deals that will save you money on products you need. During the holiday buying season, this site morphs into another site called "". They dig around and find early releases of the infamous Black Friday sales that most stores have the day after Thanksgiving. Whatever the name, this site can save you money.

The next site is I can't explain the unusual name, but I can explain the great deals. The hook here is that one product per day is offered at an incredible price. This site may take some persistence because it may be days before you see a product that grabs your attention, but when an item appears that you need or want, grab it, because you may not have another chance to get it at the same low price. It's worth checking every morning for the best deals.

Newspapers are struggling and one of the reasons is Think of Craigslist as online classified ads. You can look up your town (or thousands of towns across the world) and look for deals on cars, apartments, furniture, pets, jobs and anything else you can imagine. You'll be able to sift through the ads by price, date, photos, keyword and find the item you want at the price you need. Like paper classifieds, it's in your best interest to tread carefully and inspect all purchases before buying.

Great deals take a little effort. Money is hard to come by these days and a little effort is nothing if it keeps bills in your wallet and change in your pocket.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The EVOlution of Android phones.

Ever since the Apple iPhone hit the shelves a few years ago, other cell phone makers have been scrambling to catch up and to get some of that (profitable!) smart phone pie.

Palm tried and got swallowed whole by Hewlett Packard, who bought them out after the Pre sunk like a stone on the unforgiving river of the cell phone marketplace. Microsoft tried and died and are reloading with the upcoming Windows Phone 7. Others have come and gone with the fickle whims of the buying public.

Android was introduced by Google less than two years ago and has gone through numerous updates, tweaks and improvements. Finally, the app store has exceeded 50,000 applications, the software has matured and the phone hardware can now do the heavy lifting required by savvy users.

One of the latest phones to hit the market is the HTC Evo. A smartphone in the mold of the iPhone, the Evo takes advantage of the 4G ("G" means generation) wireless phone system in place in many major cities across the country (but not all- some towns are still making due with the "old" 3G system).

It still works just fine with 3G, however and the screen, functions, apps and all of the other bells and whistles promise to provide consumers with a legitimate option to the iPhone, which has taken its lumps as of late.

For some, an iPhone is all they'll ever need. For others, an iPhone is not an option- whether due to personal choice, work requirements or cost. For those folks who choose to take another path, the HTC Evo is a good place to start shopping.

PCWorld has a review of the Evo here.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

An iPad competitor for $150! No. Wait. Really?

Yep. Well- kinda. Sort of. Not really...well OK, it kinda is.

The Augen Gen Touch is a 7" screen that is loaded with Android software (Google's answer to Apple's iPhone software) and it retails for about $350 less than the Apple. This means that you could buy 3 Augens for the price of ONE iPad. It has a few basic apps pre-installed and allows you to go to the Android apps store and browse/buy more than 60,000 additional apps (some free, some cheap, some pricey).

How can they do this? I don't know, but the screen is smaller and Android is pretty much free to developers. I originally saw this in a Kmart Sunday ad on my kitchen table and thought it would be a joke, but there is a video review of the product over at Engadget and it seems to have a fairly positive opinion of the device. The review isn't written by Engadget staffers, but by a Engadget reader who submitted his own video. He turns on the Augen, performs a web browse and even shows his iPad next to it for comparison's sake.

Does it work? It seems to work just fine, but with the caveat that $150 won't buy you the same speed and battery life of an iPad. But for the money, it seems to be a decent buy. Don't expect grantite-like build quality or a glass screen- that costs money, my friend. But, if the video review is any indication, $150 might just get you something that works OK.

And for many of us, that's money well spent.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Cracked- not for the faint of heart!

After working in news for the better part of 20 years, I've always thought the audience was treated like a bunch of seven year-olds. Any "bad" words or stories that might "offend" the delicate sensibilities of the viewer was avoided like the plauge.

Then, along came shows like "All in the Family",  "Family Guy" and "Saturday Night Live" who assumed the audience was smarter, more mature and capable of accepting grown up concepts and encountering the occassional bad word used within the context of the storyline.

The humor website Cracked is like that. Written to the mind and sensibilities of those over 16, this website is definitely not for anyone who has yet to shave. Not at all offensive, it insteads assumes the reader is not a prude and is open to hilarious examination of history, pop culture and other news topics that need a good lampooning.

The articles and essays contained within the site are often short and breezy, but they're not above dropping a grown up word here or there or discussing a topic that some might consider for mature audiences. Rarely does the site stoop to poop jokes or to the lowest common denominator, instead they choose to write to a level of intelligence that assumes the reader has something more than a 12th grade education.

If you like your humor smart, to the point and free of political correctness, then the Cracked site is for you and you should make the jump to it here. However, if this kind of humor is not your cup of tea, then maybe this site is better suited for you.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

I'm back and let's get to it.

After a nasty virus attack and some work issues have been ironed out, I'm finally back up and running.

Work has quieted down significantly and the new computer is like having a new car, although the pine tree air freshener keeps slipping off of the monitor.

Anyway, I have a new service for you and it's free! Well, it's not really new, but it is an amazing service that makes you ask, "Why didn't someone think of this long ago?" Google Voice is a new way to get and handle telephone calls and the messages people leave that you may or may not get.

For instance, most of us have a work, cell and home phone number. GV allows certain callers to ring through to all three phones at once.

Don't want that ex-girlfriend to call anymore? GV can block them.

What about messages? If you ask it to, GV will email you a text version of the voicemail recording.

There's a great video explaining all of this at that explains it better than I can write it.

No cost, tons of options and the ability to improve your life? Ain't technology great?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Is your Windows software not performing to your standards? Go here for help!

Most of us have Windows. No, not the "look through" kind installed in the wall of your house, but the kind installed in your computer at this very moment. Windows is often seen as a kind of voodoo that "just makes stuff work". But, it's not really that at all- instead, think of it as a tool that allows you access to the information you desire, like an interstate highway. As such, you have the ability to use it as you will, picking and choosing how you use it instead of it using you.

With this unusual philosophy, you now have the mindset of making your Windows program do what you want it to and the site that will help you to achieve this is called Paul Thurrot's SuperSite for Windows.

Thurrot is a nationally known Windows expert whose site is a deep internet encyclopedia of all versions of Windows, tips, tricks, fixes, finessing, reviews, optional additions, Microsoft's other programs and even a sprinkling of Apple news too.

The good news is that this site is written in monkey simple English that makes concepts and step-by-step instructions easy to comprehend and follow. If you can't get your Windows question answered here, then you probably have no where else to go- it's that good.

The site is here.
He also has an entertaining website for those of you looking for something slightly more in depth and technical. Go here to download and hear it.

Monday, April 5, 2010

"What kind of payments you looking for?" - a guide for auto shoppers and those who love cars

I hate buying a car, which is weird, because I love cars themselves. I used to dream of '64 1/2 Mustangs, '70 Chevelles, AMC Javelins with a 401 cubic inch big block and even came thiiiiiiis close to buying a 1967 VW Karmann Ghia (but that's a long story).

One site I found combines a love of cars, trucks and all things that go zoom plus extensive and accurate pricing, common sense buying tips from former auto dealers and hundreds of reviews of the latest models. The name of that site is, oddly,

Long term tests, video reports and opinions from loyal readers all combine to provide the reader with an enormous amount of information for the potential auto shopper. This is the site to go to for the uninformed or new car buyer. the site is split into a drier, factual half and second half that has the look and feel of some of the country's most popular enthusiast magazine.

Drive over to Edmunds now and get ready for new entertaining ride.

Monday, March 29, 2010

More iPad iQuestions and iAnswers for iYou

One of the very firsts posts on this blog dealt with Apple's new iPad. Think of it as an iPhone about the size of a magazine and able to do everything an iPhone can do, except phone calls. Very few people have held one or used one or even really know what one really does that a laptop or smartphone can't do.

Now, Apple has started letting some of the answers leak out about their new baby and most of it is amazing and techno-marvelous. On April 3rd, the Apple drops from the corporate tree to the American public and time and the consumer will decide if a screen-only device is capable of capturing everyone's imagination and hard-earned dollars.

Now Yahoo! has seen the iPad and developed a blog posting to answer most of your questions and mine about this new device. Questions range from "what is it?" to "what the heck can I do with this thing?". As far as blog posts go, this one is pretty long, but that's good news because that means there's alot of info for you (and I) to discover. check it out here.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The air filter to the widget is experiencing a backflow error resulting in a non-functioning Gangley circuit.

The title of today's posting makes no sense (because I made it up!) and for many of us, we all get the glassy-eyed stare when our geek friends start talking about computers and using that confusing geek-speak with terms like ICQ, OpenGL and the ever popular Telnet.

Rather than hearing nothing but the mystical rambling of this computer voodoo, instead, go to the good people at to look up your tech friend's "that must be made up" computer term.

From Access to Zettabyte, most of the words that fly over your head and mine are simply and clearly explained. Bookmark this page for later reference, so when your kids or the family nerd start spouting off about his new Gnutella system (I did not make that word up, go ahead and look it up yourself) you'll be able to have some idea about what they're speaking about.

Click here to better define what I'm talking about.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Amazon ain't just a river in Brazil

Begun by Jeff Bezos who was so broke at the beginning he used a door for a desktop (legend has it he still does), the company began in the mid-1990's as a book store, offering millions of titles.

Today, has grown into an online shopping giant, with hundreds of thousands of products (millions?) for sale. Not just books anymore, although those are available still, but music CDs, videotapes and DVDs, software,consumer electronics, kitchen items, tools, lawn and garden items, toys & games, baby products, apparel, sporting goods, gourmet food, jewelry, watches, health and personal-care items, beauty products, musical instruments, clothing, industrial & scientific supplies, groceries, and more (my fingers are cramping from writing all of these!).

Shipping is often little to free and prices are some of the lowest you'll find anywhere. Selection is virtually limitless and the customer service is world-class. Chances are, if you're looking for a rare, hard to find Hungarian widget with floral decoration, Amazon has it in five colors.

Click on the link to go shopping now.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Is there an app to tell you what an "app" is? Or what's an app store? There is now!

Here's a fun fact: there's a program that allows you to use the camera on your cell phone to take a picture of the barcode on a product. The phone then accesses the internet, searches for that exact same product elsewhere - for a cheaper price- and notifies you in seconds where to get and the address of the store. Pretty cool app, isn't it?

An "app"? What the...
When you hear someone talk about an "app", they're really talking about an application- a software application. An app is really no more than a micro-sized software program usually designed for a smart phone (iPhone, Android, Blackberry, etc.) that performs one highly specific function like providing restaurant reviews, a fun game or something more practical like an appointment reminder. They cost everywhere from zero (free, free, free!) to hundreds of dollars, although the majority are less than $20.

So, where can you find these wonders of technology and how do you buy some? The guys over at will explain it all. Turns out, buying and installing an app is straightforward and quickly done, although you must be careful- collecting apps can be habit forming!

Click here for the explanation.