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Review: 100 Sonnets – Love and Demise

May 29th, 2007 · No Comments

Layne Thrasher about writing his debut book:

Writing is not always peacefully releasing. Sometimes the words haunt, keeping one awake at night until they are released on the piece of paper where they live and breathe and ultimately die if not remembered.

I picked up my copy of the “100 sonnets – love and demise” in the bargain bin. There’s an occasional sparkle here and there, a couple of verses that are really good. It would have been much better if he wasn’t a slave to rhyme – some of the stanza jar, but they still rhyme.

It’s been a long, long time since I read really good poetry, discounted or not.

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Debt Consolidation Loans Lead to Even More Debt

May 28th, 2007 · 2 Comments

File this under “Weird, but True”. According to an article on the UK Personal Loan Store, more than 50% of the people who use a debt consolidation loan actually end up with more debt than they started with. Not that I am thinking of getting a debt consolidation loan – but the recent trends in borrowing in the UK show an alarming rise, and things are about even with the USA, for long the consumer debt champion of the world.

…a number of people use consolidation loans to pay off credit cards, but once the balance on the credit card is cleared it is all too tempting to rack up debt on it again, which is what many people tend to do. The average consolidation loan in the UK is for £16,459 but the survey revealed that even when given the opportunity to do so most people will not pay off the loan early.

The article on loan consolidation quotes a survey by as the source for the data. If you are in the market for a debt consolidation loan, make sure you read the best practices for debt consolidation, which basically says it would be wise to use a lending broker in your search for a consolidation loan since they would have access to the widest range of loan providers. Also remember that the poorer your credit is, the more likely you might end up with a secured loan, as opposed to an unsecured loan. Defaulting on your payments will then cause the property which was the collateral to be seized by the lender. As a final tip, read the responses to this question – some very nice tips there – between the tips they have all aspects of debt management covered.


Retailers Vs. Resellers, Cost Comparison

May 27th, 2007 · No Comments

There are lots of websites where you pay less than retail prices to get your electronic gizmos, sports equipment, digital cameras – well just about anything. There is even a site called Dont Pay Retail though it is for the Australian market. So how do all these merchants that show up in a price comparison at sites like actually manage to cut costs so low?

For one, there is a heavy markup on the price by the time it hits the shop floor. If the price the retailer paid for a product is, say $100 per piece, the “retail price” at which it is sold will be a minimum of $160. Yes, that is a 60% markup. And that is the minimum – much higher markups exist in real life. So the resellers who sell stuff after buying them in bulk can still make a profit by selling the same product for $120. However, they might be paying $110 per piece since they don’t buy in the huge volumes retailers do. Add to this the savings resellers pile up in terms of renting commercial space, decorating the store, hiring the foot staff, the cashiers, the parking space etc, as compared to the retailers and it all makes sense. Oh, and I did not come up with this stuff all by myself. I found an article that explains the cost difference between retailers and resellers at the blog for the don’t pay retail website:

You decide where your money is going.
Do you like the flash associated with a retail store?
The friendly floorstaff, the neatly presented product displays?
Is the warm cushy feeling worth the extra money?
We didnt think so.

The common retail myths listed at dont pay retail makes for good reading too.

What would suffer, you ask? Customer service, if the reseller decides to save even more money! So get started with one small purchase with a reseller and call them up and see how they follow up on a request. What is the wait-time on the phone? How courteous are the phone staff? Are they willing to let you customize your order after it has been placed? These are just a few of the things you should watch out for when ordering the first time. I personally have stopped buying stuff offline, especially electronic goods. Earlier today, I wanted a 2.5″ inch hard drive to USB connector to retrieve data from a dying laptop hard drive. I stopped by at Radioshack, willing to pay up to 150% of the price I can get online, but you know what, that cheap piece of equipment – a couple of cables and connectors – was selling for $25 at radioshack, when I can easily find offers that sell the same thing for $6 or less online – this deal on slickdeals for example. So that is a 400% markup. You must be nuts to shop retail anymore, really – unless you are really in a hurry.

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Web Page Monitoring for Sites Without Feeds

May 27th, 2007 · No Comments

Web sites that don’t provide an RSS feed with updates annoy the hell out of me. I mean, do they think we are still living in the 90’s or what? I have been searching for a solution that tracks changes to web pages and automatically notifies me of the change through email. I finally found a great solution: changedetect – webpage monitoring services. They offer a one-click webpage monitoring system:

No logins are required to setup web page monitoring with ChangeDetect…
In fact, you do not even have to visit the ChangeDetect website at all…
Just surf the web as you normally do and, with one-click, monitor your favorite web pages and save as you go.

It is totally free, and has some really cool change monitoring features – my favorites are auto-login and support for https websites too. So you can monitor protected pages which require a login. The benefits of changedetect include improved privacy and a highly adaptable feature set. This is a LOT more than what I was looking for, and amazingly enough, it is free! They also have an extensive list of frequently asked questions for all of your questions.

I really love it when someone takes a tool beyond being cheap hack to a well-document, feature-rich utility like I wonder why I never heard of it before or read about it. Hope this article comes in handy for others who are looking for a similar tool.

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How Ringtone Websites Profit, and How You Can Find a Good Deal

May 27th, 2007 · 2 Comments

There are many websites that allow you to download ringtones, and most of them offer a free ringtone as soon as you sign up. So how do these companies make a profit?

Selling ringtones and call-back tones (which is what your callers hear when you haven’t picked up the phone yet) is a $2 Billion market in the US alone! Most of these websites are affiliates for some other business that makes their bread and butter selling cellphone services, like ringtones. These services often have tie-ups with specific cellphone carriers, such as T-mobile, or Verizon. Now the way they make money is, somewhere in the subtext of the agreement you hurriedly click through on the way to downloading the free ringtone, you agree that the company will charge you for a monthly subscription through your carrier. That’s right, even when they don’t have your credit card, they still can charge you through your phone bill. The carrier profits, the company selling the service profits and the website which sent you their way profits.

You can also profit – the trick is, instead of fishing for free ringtones, if you really are interested in getting a great ringtone, sign up with a good ringtone download site, and be aware of the subscription. After you get the ringtones that you need – maybe within a day or a week or even a month, just call your service provider, or the company you got the subscription from to cancel the subscription – of course, to do this, you need to write down or otherwise remember the details of the subscription and also find out before signing up what the exact procedure for letting go is. Most service providers allow you to cancel by sending a text message with “quit”, “stop”, “cancel” or “unsubscribe” in the message. For example, if you sign up through my ringtones hub, you will be getting the service from Blinko, and their terms clearly mention how to manage your subscription:

For help, text “HELP” to 42222 at anytime. To cancel your service, text “STOP” to 42222 at anytime. For questions, please contact Blinko’s customer service at or call 1-800-971-2271.

Find these things out before you sign up. Knowledge is Power – know what you are doing, and don’t be a jackass by expecting the world for free.


The Vagaries of Online Dating

May 27th, 2007 · No Comments

Cupid had been kind to me, but the kindness was conditional. My “date” has left me high and dry after the first two dates, leaving me at the mercy of online dating services. I picked a couple based on their online dating reviews and much hilarity ensued :) Read on for details…

I had written about cheap date ideas in this connection before. That date went well, we went to a mall and window shopped, had ice cream, saw a movie and it actually turned out to be not so cheap, but what the heck, it was fun, nevertheless.

So its been two weeks since I went out with someone, in spite of giving online dating services a shot. You won’t believe the kind of stuff that happens online. I thought I had a date, and ended up with what can mildly be described as an “Escort” service – if you see what I am talking about. My first mistake was that I let on too much information about myself. Including my phone number. Big mistake. I also let the online wooing drag on too long. She was nice and polite and we were chatting and stuff. It was when it came to setting up a face-to-face meeting that she was kind of reserved. Then she told me we could meet at her place. You NEVER do that – you always want to meet someone in a public place. These are just a few of the tips for online dating that I found handy. Then she called me – well, only thing is, it was she who called me, but someone who knew her – promising to set up that first meeting “at my convenience” at my place. I ran, like hell. I got a couple more calls from the same number but I knew better than to pick them up, of course.

I will save myself the trouble of writing about the disadvantages of online dating since someone else already has. The first one – trading off honesty for attractiveness is the one you really have to account for. I try not to embellish my profile with half-truths and lies, but it is a difficult thing to do – everyone else seems to be the coolest person you ever would meet! Anyways, “True” and “Engage”, both of which are free signups from the reviews site seem promising. I got a couple of responses, but you know how it is – once bitten, twice shy. I just have to take it easy, and be on guard.

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‘Cause Work Sucks!

May 26th, 2007 · 1 Comment

Work Sucks is all kinds of awesome. Finally I found a type-in domain name that is actually what the domain name promises. Like they say, if you are a “go-getter” you’d have to go and browse somewhere. Work sucks is for slackers. They’ve got office videos, though I sort of wish they’d just cull the best from youtube and post it there more frequently. There’s the store which asks you to “Check back soon for more random items you can’t afford not to buy” to deck up your sucky workplace, I guess.

There’s also a daily crossword that I will be visiting often.
Before I leave you to browse the site, here’s 5 ways to decrease you productivity – what can I say – its not often that I spend a half hour at a website, randomly browsing. So when work sucks, head to work sucks.

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LG’s Prada Touchscreen Phone

May 25th, 2007 · No Comments

The world’s first fully touchscreen Phone is not the iPhone (which I wrote about earlier). It is LG’s Prada phone.

LG Prada Phone
Image Credit: Mobile Phones

Ooh, doesn’t it look sexy? The phone is limited to tri-band GSM 900/1800/1900 with EDGE data, and so will not be too popular in the US from the get-go. It’s smaller than the iPhone and it has a 2 megapixel camera (with Schneider-Kreuznach lens and LED flash). It is also Bluetooth 2.0 enabled (what phone isn’t eh?). It’s already listed as a top-seller at the UK mobile phones site. It totally sucks to be in the US of A, for those of you who are there. First there was the Nokia N95 which became popular in Europe way before it was launched in the US, and now this. The US has some serious technology lag, except when it comes to junk like the PS3 which hit the stores in the US first.

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Pachelbel is Everywhere: Pop Culture Meets Classical Music

May 25th, 2007 · No Comments

The above video, recorded live at Penn State, is by comedian/musician Rob Paravonian, who has been a favorite on the Dr. Demento Show. He shares his frustration at having Pachelbel’s Canon in D major follow him everywhere. Everywhere.

Everyone including U2, Greenday and other pop music icons recycle the same chords and progression – don’t believe me – watch the video. It is amazing to think that it never struck me – I love the Canon as much as any ordinary classical music geek, but failed to see it all around me, all the time. Since I saw the video, I have picked up the annoying habit of trying to find chordal similarities between pop/rock songs and classical pieces. Annoying habit, I must say.

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Delicious Pecan Pie

May 25th, 2007 · No Comments

Pecan Pie

I made some pecan pie yesterday – it turned out okay. Alright, I have to admit that the first time I got it totally wrong, and had burned cinders to prove it. This time it turned out fine. I don’t remember where I got the recipe from the last time, but this time I got it from this Christmas recipe list. I know, it’s nowhere near Christmas, but I wanted my pecan pie desperately enough to go looking.

I think I will go back to foodclassics recipes again later – one real neat feature they have is that you can print your recipes out on – hold on – index cards! The printouts can be 3×5 or 4×6, or of course your regular Letter size. Index cards are sturdy enough to suffer the kitchen battering I subject my recipes to. Well, but we detract from the topic of the post, which, of course, is the pie. I have lots of it left over, and now that the urge is satiated, I am wondering what to do with whats left over.

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