Another reason not to shop at Best Buy

March 16, 2007

Note: This post was migrated from my old blog software. It hasn't been cleaned up yet (and might not ever be). Don't be surprised if the formatting, links, images, etc... are messed up.

This came out a while ago. But it turns out that Best Buy has two versions of their website. A public one and one that is only available in stores. Seems that they advertise prices on their public website, but they have them at full price on the internal one. Here is a short blurb on it. I haven't shopped at Best Buy in a long time. This internal web site is another example of unethical business practices. I've got no problems with a company going after profits, but tricking and lying to your customers is out of bounds. Not that it makes a bit of difference to them, but my commitment to not shop at their stores has been re-enforced.


FinePix F30

March 16, 2007

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Anybody seen a FinePix F30 in action. Specifically, shot at a high ISO. I upgraded my point and shoot to a Canon SD600 a while ago because it had an 800 ISO setting. Unfortunately, the images taken at that range are almost not worth having. The goal, obviously, is to get a point and shoot that I can use without flash when I'm indoors and there is average lighting. The SD600 can't cut it. Other recommendations welcome if you have them.


gmail

March 14, 2007

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I've recently starting a migration over to gmail. I've played around with it on and off for a while but didn't make a move for two main reasons. 1) I'm a bit paranoid my email being used to send ads to me and 2) I didn't like the idea of using an unencrypted web page (once again because of my healthy paranoia). The ad thing is just on principal and is actually fairly easy to overcome with some hacks out there. The main thing was sending everything over the clear on whatever connection I happend to be on. If I only sent emails from home this wouldn't be a big deal, but I'm often on open wifi and various corporate networks. The good news is that it's easy to secure all your gmail traffic. Instead of using "http://mail.google.com/" you can simply use "https:mail.google.com/". As near as I can tell, your login is always sent secure, but if you start with the "https" all your correspondence is encrypted up to the google servers.


sub eMail addresses

March 08, 2007

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Someone needs to build a sub email address feature. Or, perhaps it would be called prelude. The way it would work is you have a base email address that doesn't actually receive any direct mail, but provides the foundation. To use the email service, you would simply apply a prefix to the foundation email address. It would be necessary to allow for this to be done on the fly. The server would simply forward all the prefixes to the proper foundation address. For example, a foundation address might be: asmith1@example.com Then, when you wanted to use an email address on a site you could do something like siteName-asmith1@example.com All the email from that site would be easily identified as coming from them. Especially useful in determining if they sell your address to third parties. The secondary benefit would be the ability to filter each email address individually. So, if you made one purchase from the site that you provided siteName-asmith1@example.com for and you no longer cared about getting their correspondence, you could simply tell the server to drop all the incoming emails for that address into the trash.


Firefox 2 spell check

March 07, 2007

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I moved to Firefox 2 a little while ago. One of the nicest features in it is the fact that it has spell check built into it now. So, when I write a blog post, I no longer have to use another application to catch all my stupid spelling errors. Very nice addition.


Buying cars

March 07, 2007

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A few years ago I checked out from the library one of the Motley Fool's (http://www.fool.com) books. I think it was The Motley Fool You Have More Than You Think : The Foolish Guide To Personal Finance. I first heard about The Motley Fool back in probably 1998 or 99. At that time, they seemed very much about helping consumers make smart personal finance choices. Now the big thing they seem to do is sell stock newsletters. This is kinda funny because if memory serves that's one of the things that they say never to do in the book I read. They still have what I think is a lot of good info, but it seems like they want to make a fair chunk of change as well. Anyway, one of the ideas that I like the best in the book was a technique they put forward for buying a new car. It turns out, they have the basic process on their site now too. It's pretty long and starts here. They talk a lot about research and prep which makes sense but the thing that was completely new to me is what they get to on step 12. Basically, instead of going into a dealership, you send faxes to a bunch of dealerships asking them to provide a bid for the car you want and provide them with a fax number to reply to. (I think this comes from the book which was done in 2001 or so. E-mail is probably just fine these days, but I'd use a throw away address.) I love this idea. I don't plan on buying a new car any time soon, but if you do, it's worth going over the process the Fool's outline to see if you want to give it a shot. My guess is that it would work like a charm. Not to mention the basic benefit of having to deal way less with the full court press sales pitch. Probably goes without saying that you will still need to be on your toes for all the other little fees and financing things they will try to get you on.


More about money

March 05, 2007

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I will likely be writing a lot more about money and finance. That may sound like a big turn off, but I encourage you to read and think about it and I'll give you my reasons why: 1) My mom is a widow and at age 58 she lost her job. Even though she has a masters degree and has been director of several different organizations, she was out of work for over a year and a half. Because she didn't have substantial savings, she could not afford to simply retire. In fact, I had to loan her money during the time she was out of work. 2) I believe the primary reason she is in such bad financial shape is that my parents (through no real fault of their own) never learned how to handle money in a way that provides for the future. 3) Since my dad passed away about ten years ago I've done and continue to do a lot of research about money and finance to make sure I don't end up in the same boat. 4) I want to share what I have learned in hopes that as many people as possible can avoid being in the same circumstance as my mom. The good news is that if you earn at least a decent wage the financial mechanics of ensuring you have enough money to take care of yourself and your family are relatively easy. The earlier you start the better, but it's never to late. I'm working with my mom now to help her get on a better track. The biggest rub comes in having the personal (or family) discipline to carry through with changing the way you think about, use and save money. If you are like me, a good strong motivational factor helps to maintain discipline. In my case, this motivation comes from my mom's situation on two levels. First of all, I don't want to end up in her shoes when I'm 60. Secondly, since I am an only child, there is a very real possibility that I'm going to have to provide for her at some point in the future. I don't normally post very personal entries, but my hope is that her circumstances provide motivation to anyone else who might need it.


Open Source Alt

March 04, 2007

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Happy day. I just found: osalt.com (Open Source Alternative). It has mappings between open source and commercial software so you can easily check to see if there is an open source alternative to an app you use. They seem to keep their alternative list paired down nicely. This is a great advantage as there can be a ton of alternatives to some of the more popular commercial applications. The problem is lots of them are dead projects that didn't get very far or are so "beta" to not really be useful at all. With luck, they will just maintain a list of the top alternatives.


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