You can have any color you like as long as its cheap

1 11 2014
White is cheap.

White is cheap. Turquoise is expensive!

Google Chromebox is one of the cheaper computer options. One would expect the devices to be very utilitarian and no nonsense. However fashion has its price even with discount hardware.

At the time of writing a white HP Chromebox at $136 is $36 cheaper than a turquoise one with identical hardware inside. Why would someone looking for a cheap computer pay $36 for a color? Take a look at the Amazon listing and see what happens to the price when you select different color options.

Here are are the color options with pricing

White $136.76
Black $166.54
Turquoise $173.60

I’m all ears, let me know why you think this is!





2013 in review

1 01 2014

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 11,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.





Best Buy’s 30 day price guarantee is the real deal.

22 07 2012

My New TV

Recently I purchased an LED TV at Best Buy for $999.99. The price was competitive with Amazon.com so I went ahead with the purchase and was told that there is a 30 day price guarantee anyway. If I see it cheaper somewhere else within 30 days I’ll get the difference back.

6 days after buying the TV I see it at Sam’s club for $968.00!! I took a snap of the price on the shelf with my droid 3 and ran on down to Best Buy.

The customer service rep was quick to point out that Sam’s club model number was slightly different to the Best Buy model number and I thought , here we go I’m getting nothing. I purchased Read the rest of this entry »





Correcting TurboTax Update Error ‘File cannot be found in cabinet file TurboTax.cab’

11 02 2012

Should you receive the following error during TurboTax Program Update

Error after rebooting PC and starting TurboTax 2011

You find yourself unable to open the program anymore to get any further help or updates. The only way to correct this problem is download a manual update file from Intuit’s website. Be sure to pick the correct year and computer operating system. In my case this was 2011 and Windows.

After running this manual updater TurboTax operates correctly once more.

This tax season has been technically challenging. I first discovered that H&R Block TaxCut software did not support electric vehicle credits. I got a refund for TaxCut and purchased Turbo Tax instead. Then my install of TurboTax failed, requiring some fancy foor work to overcome until Intuit posted a resolution. That was followed by my return being rejected by the IRS because TurboTax did not submit all pages of a multi part form, that was part of my schedule C filing. The most recent update failed as described above, but I finally overcame what I hope to be the last hurdle to getting my $7,500 tax credit for the Nissan  LEAF I purchased last year.

I have re-transmited my taxes via e-file once more and await the response from the IRS.

 

 

 





Thanks to TurboTax – IRS Reject my tax return

6 02 2012

IRS Reject my return - click to enlarge

This is the first year I have e-filed. It may be the last.

I submitted my return Saturday February 4th and the IRS rejected it Sunday evening. The reason given is that all parts of a multiple page form were not submitted. Intuit have acknowledged that their software is faulty and I will be able to resubmit on the 10th February, maybe.

The software doesn’t indicate which form is faulty. There is a  support page at Intuit’s website where you can register for email updates as the problem is worked by them.

It maybe a happy mistake after all, I thought of another deduction I can claim that I had overlooked, it won’t amount to much, but every bit helps.

TurboTax Support Page





TurboTax 2011 Unrecoverable error – The Better Fix

4 02 2012

Click to enlarge

Turbo Tax 2011 has had problems installing on some Windows 7 computers. They have identified the problem is caused by corrupt versions of Arial and Verdana fonts on some Windows 7 systems.

Intuit have posted some rather long winded and complicated instructions that help recover from the problem. The average computer user would have problems following these instructions. Even worse than that, the fix does not work for all  instances of this problem. The fix did not work for me.

I found a much easier procedure for fixing corrupt font problems on a windows 7 computer, after which TurboTax 2011 installs just fine.

If you get the unrecoverable error installing Turbo Tax 2011 do the following to fix the problem.

Click on Start and then in the search box type

c:\Windows\Fonts\Arial.ttf
(be sure to hit enter after typing this in)

Then click on the ‘install’ button.

Click Install to recover corrupt font

 

Repeat the procedure for the Verdana Font.

c:\Windows\Fonts\Verdana.ttf 
(be sure to hit enter after typing this in)

and click the instal button once more.

TurboTax 2011 should now install without problems.

This fix should work for Windows Vista systems as well, though I haven’t verified it does.





Overcoming TurboTax 2011 Unrecoverable error during install

16 01 2012

Click to enlarge

I got TurboTax this tax season but was greeted with an error message before I could even get the install past the first step. TurboTax  reports an error

Turbotax installation has encountered an unrecoverable error. Would you like more information on this error?

Clicking on the more info button take you to  an Intuit knowledgebase, where they acknowledge that this error occurs sometimes and one can register to be informed when a a fix is posted.

(Update 2012-02-04 Intuit have indentified the problem – read more here)

I really needed to get a jump on my taxes this year. H&R Block Taxcut software did not contain the forms necessary for me to claim my Electric Vehicle credit, so I turned to TurboTax only to get this error. Rather than wait for Intuit to post a  fix, I overcame the error by installing the software instead onto a XPMode virtual machine. If you encounter the TurboTax error and have Windows 7 Professional or better then XP Mode is your workaround.

To install XP Mode Read the rest of this entry »





The Power of CraigsList – Car Sold in Under 24 Hours!!

15 08 2011

Click to Enlarge

Car listed 5pm Saturday evening, sold 2pm Sunday afternoon!! Wow!!

Did I list it too cheap? Not according to Kelly Blue Book. I achieved very close to private party value inside a day.

When I purchased a new car, the dealer offered me $1,200, CarMax offered me $2,000. I knew my car was worth more. So I listed on Craigslist. I got a call the next morning and had cash in hand by 2pm the same day. Oh and I got a whole lot more than the measly dealers offered.

The purchaser said he didn’t even use craiglist to find it, he simply did a search on a 3rd party site and found it. There are several 3rd party search tools, such as SearchTempest that improve the search results.

I’ve never sold anything on CraigsList before, I’ve tried several items, but with very little interest. On eBay motors I would have had to pay all sorts of listing and selling fees. Craiglist just works, and for free :-)

 





Sprint Overdrive 3G/4G Mobile Hotspot by Sierra Wireless

6 04 2011

Hotspot Dashboard - Click to Enlarge

Sprint offer a wireless hotspot device for their 3g and 4g networks. I took a device on evaluation from Sprint recently and tested how well it worked at my home. My address is not listed as supported for Clearwire wireless internet, which is the same network as the Sprint 4g devices use. So I was interested to see how well it would work.

AT&T DSL Speeds - Click to Enlarge

First I tested the speed of my AT&T DSL broadband as a comparison between wireless and land-line capability. My DSL is marginal where I live (which seems to apply to any service I have looked into). DSL Download/Upload speeds achieved were 2.35 Mb down and 0.32 Mb up. Pretty pedestrian by today’s broadband offerings and demands from services such as Netflix streaming.

Sprint 3g Speeds - Click to Enlarge

I then switched on the Sprint Hotspot device. It sync’d using 3g only. Power cycling didn’t encourage it to connect to 4g at all. Maybe my home is just too far out. The speeds I got with Sprint 3g are 0.33 Mb Down and 0.24 Mb Up. Very slow indeed. I got much better speeds using my Droid as a tethered modem using Verizon wireless 3g network.

Perturbed by the very slow speeds I decided read the manual and discovered where the factory reset button is. Being an eval unit someone ahead of me may have set some weird and wonderful setting. After a successful reset and reboot the device immediately connected to the 4G network. I checked the firmware, it is up to date, all it needed was a factory reset.

Sprint 4g - Click to Enlarge

The signal strength varied between 20% and 40%, so my address is clearly marginal for Sprint. I tested the performance and got 4.92 Mbs Down and 0.92 Mbs Up. Much better and superior to my AT&T DSL. This is fast enough to support HD quality movie streaming from Netflix and others. I am due to get uVerse installed in a few days so will update this post with those speeds as a direct comparison.

The hotspot device can be used as a Wifi hotspot supporting up to 5 clients, or as a tethered device. The management console is clear and easy to use. I was able to change from WEP encryption to WPA2 easily enough, the unit rebooted after this change and worked just fine.

I switched on GPS location to see how that would work. The unit consistently failed to get a GPS lock inside my home. My Motorola Droid never has issues, so the GPS sensitivity for this device seems poor.

The device looks like a hockey puck, is reasonably light and is easily thrown into a laptop bag. It uses a universal Micro USB charger, so you don’t need to carry its charging cable/wall plug if you already have one for your phone or other device(s). As standard the device comes with a quick start guide. To get the full manual, one needs to download this from Sprints support website.

Compared to Verizon wireless LTE, the Sprint network is a step behind in terms of raw speed. Reports of 10Mb down and 3 Mb up on Verizon LTE hotspots reveal that the Verizon 4g is a step above the older Sprint/Clearwire 4g. Speed isn’t everything though. Verizon put a 10GB monthly cap on their hotspot devices, Sprint’s claim to fame is that their unlimited means truly unlimited. So if you want to stream Netflix movies and therefore consume large amounts of bandwidth, the Spring hotspot device makes better financial sense.

If AT&T U-verse disappoints, I will seriously consider a Clearwire modem or this 4g hotspot from Sprint. As much as I like LTE from Verizon and already being  a Verizon customer, the 10GB cap would be way too restrictive for my home internet needs. Sprint have made the right choice in not placing caps on their wireless service, no one wants an unexpected bill at the end of the month because you used ‘too much’ bandwidth. 10GB is hardly classifiable as hogging bandwidth in this day and age. A 10GB cap on a individual smartphone sounds OK, but on a  hot spot, it’s outlandish. Congratulations to Sprint for getting this right, shame on Verizon.





Nissan LEAF Test Drive

27 03 2011

Nissan LEAF during a test drive. Click to enlarge

On March 26th 2011 Nissan held a test drive event for their all electric car, the Nissan LEAF at Franklin TN.

The Event

This was a source of disappointment. Nissan set up a series of tents on the Parking lot of their Headquarters in Franklin TN. It was a cold and damp day and the tents had no form of heat. Punters had to be content wearing multiple layers of clothes as they listened to a sales pitch and lined up to drive the LEAF’s. I had a 1pm appointment time scheduled. Other than quick registration, the appointment didn’t assure you of a  place in line or any priority, one lined up with walk-ins. The ‘refreshment’ lounge consisted of a cup of instant coffee and a packet of cheez-its. It made me feel the event was done on a tight budget. The guy delivering information about the car and the logistics of the event was both upbeat and informative. He was the only spark of life I saw that day.

Nissan LEAF Battery Pack mockup - Click to enlarge

The LEAF reservation system

I am on the list of 20,000 people who have first refusal on a  new vehicle. I have not taken advantage of this since I would never buy a  vehicle without seeing it in person and have a test drive. I also Read the rest of this entry »