Routine Order

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Online Shopping Cashback Deals in the UK

May 16th, 2007 · 1 Comment

Just a couple of days ago, I had written about cheap broadband rates in the UK. It gets even better – this cashback site promises better online shopping rates – even some broadband cashback deals. There’s €16 off on the AOL broadband plan.

If you like online shopping then you could save a lot of money. Who doesn’t like to shop online? Not shopping online is the equivalent of living in a cave these days. I wonder if there are any equivalent sites for the US. One online resource I use pretty regularly is Fatwallet – with its forums and the 1-3% cashback deals.
Cashing in has never been easier. These sites are win-win deals, for their effort, the maintainers of the site get rewarded, and you get money back for using the service.

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How to Tick People Off

May 16th, 2007 · No Comments

Instead of working.

# Leave the copy machine set to reduce 200%, extra dark, 17 inch paper, 99 copies.
# In the memo field of all your checks, write “for sexual favors.”
# Specify that your drive-through order is “TO-GO.”
# If you have a glass eye, tap on it occasionally with your pen while talking to others.
# Stomp on little plastic ketchup packets.
# Insist on keeping your car windshield wipers running in all weather conditions “to keep them tuned up.”

Reading it all the way to the end will be rewarding… there are gems like, “sit in your lawn and point a hair dryer at passing cars to see if they slow down :)

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10 Day Emergency Survival Pack Contents

May 15th, 2007 · No Comments

Wow, this is exactly the kind of thing that crosses my mind occassionaly but I never get around to doing. The process of learning what to do, what to buy, where to by it, and deciding which of the options in each case is better is in itself enough to keep from doing it.

Jeffrey Yago simplifies things a LOT in his very detailed article about how to assemble a 10-day survival pack of emergency supplies for your vehicle for only $25. You may need to replace and replenish the supplies, but all said and done, this is some information I definitely could use.

The two biggest complaints I hear from people when it comes to buying emergency supplies are the high cost for items they may never actually use and the need to replace out-of-date food that was never eaten. Yes, those tasty freeze-dried, ready-to-eat meals from most camping stores are expensive, and yes, many may never actually be used. But that is also true of buying a fire extinguisher, as you don’t intend to ever actually use it either, but it’s a real life saver if you do.

To address these high-cost concerns and the difficulty to locate camping stores that stock hard-to-find survival equipment, I decided to assemble a 10-day emergency food supply by shopping only in a typical chain grocery store, and I kept the total cost under $25. This is very cheap insurance if you travel through areas where you would not want to be stranded, and you will not be out that much if you have to occasionally replace items that have reached their expiration date.

Read 10 day survival pack for your vehicle for just $25 by Jeffrey Yago, P.E., CEM Issue #104 for excellent tips on what to get and keep in the trunk of your car to help you survive out in the wild for 10 days.

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Broadband Cheaper in the UK?

May 15th, 2007 · No Comments

There are some really cheap broadband offers in the UK – when compared to what I pay to Time Warner/Road Runner here in the US, the offers across the pond seem so much better. However, one thing I don’t get is if whether these deals are for DSL or for cable internet. I am somehow a little suspicious of DSL, and also, if I do get DSL then I will have to get a phone line on top of the DSL connection.

Another strange thing about the UK boradband market is that AOL seems to be a major player. If you were to compare broadband offers in the UK, you’ll see AOL offers competitive rates, and yet they are not the cheapest – this must mean that they have no trouble finding subscribers and that they can afford to quote higher prices. On the other hand, in the US, you will be hard pressed to find AOL DSL customers. Indeed, if you search on google for “AOL broadband“, the UK site shows up first, you will have to scan further down the page to even find the AOL US broadband link. Looks like AOL has lost and conceded the battle for broadband in the USA.

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Selectricity: Free Online Internet Voting Tool

May 15th, 2007 · No Comments

Now there’s free internet voting for everyone except the governments. :) Yes, you can hold an Internet election, for free.

Selectricity is an MIT media lab project that is in the incubator program. Right now it allows you to create quick polls which are fun and easy. Later, then intend to enable cryptographically secure, verifiable voting based election using different methods. This will enable organizations, individuals, families, and other groups of people to securely and confidently vote on the Internet and make decisions democratically.

What a cool idea! Any why it took so long for someone to think of this and implement it is a mystery.

Visit Selectricity, and give the quick vote a spin.

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Noureen DeWulf: Red Hot Indian

May 14th, 2007 · 4 Comments

Noureen DeWulf is the hot hot hot lady in Ocean’s Thirteen. It is said that she is part Indian, as in East Indian. Man does she look hot.
Noureen DeWulf

Here’s some more pics of Noureen DeWulf.

Here’s what Noureen’s got to say about being Indian:

Well, my parents are from Pune, India although I was born here in the US. I have a strong sense of my Indian culture, I can speak Hindi ,Gujrati ,and Urdu and I cook Indian food! I am proud of my background, I love being Indian. I love playing Indian roles Both dramatic and comedic ones. People ask me a lot if I get tired of playing ethnic characters, they ask me if I want to move away from it, but the ironic truth is, when I play an ethnic character I feel fulfilled on a personal level. I love my heritage both as someone who grew up as a Muslim and as an Indian—it’s part of who I am and I would never deny it.

What is it about South-east asian women that tickles my bone? I will never know. I wish there were more of them in mainstream hollywood. So too Lebanese and Middle-eastern women. Noureen DeWulf is definitely here to stay for a while. I wish I could see her in more movies. Someone please give Noureen an Oscar, so we can see her around more :)


Suing Uri Geller

May 14th, 2007 · No Comments

Uri Geller tried to take down some youtube videos by invoking the DMCA copyright laws. The trouble is, he wasn’t the “original” producer of the videos or anything like that. So he asked youtube to take down some videos that expose him, while he wasn’t the owner of the content. And guess what, youtube responded to the copyright violation notice (which, again, was unsubstantiated) by taking down the videos.

This boingboing article has the whole story and a link to the original video. As a bonus, the guy in the video also exposes “faith healing” – the kind practiced by some fringe Christian missionaries.

Now the EFF is suing Uri Geller for misuse of the DMCA.

I have always been a skeptic of the spoon-bending skills of Uri Geller, and thought in a wishful santa-clausy way that maybe paranormal mental faculties exist in some folks. After watching the video I am convinced that it is hogwash. If you see the video of James Randi going after Uri and others, you will see how he makes a ridiculous spectacle of himself on the Johnny Carson show at the height of his fame. He cannot do the spoon mending, or any mind tricks without his props. That makes him, what, a cheapo street magician?

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Why Bottled Water Sucks

May 13th, 2007 · No Comments

Upscale restaurants are up in arms against bottled water. It is easy to see why – it takes the equivalent of seven bottles of pure water to make one bottle of bottled water – bottled water costs more per gallon that gasoline at you gas station, and the environmental cost associated with the plastic bottle is enormous.

But the most convincing reason is that most bottled water is just your regular tap water, “purified”. This includes the leaders Aquafina and Dasani. Studies have been conducted that show that no one can distinguish between tap water and bottled water in blind taste tests. The corresponding difference in cost is amazing!:

Consuming the recommended daily dose of two litres of water per day from the tap at home costs $78 per year — as opposed to the $2225 a consumer would spend if they purchased that same amount of water in bottled form.

If you need further convincing to stop drinking bottled water, look no further than this wired slideshow about how “value-added” water includes such freaky products like water bottled to music or vedic chants!! The encouragement bottled water has received from the market is now creating new “products” like ready-to-make icecubes. Stop this madness, now, just purify your tap water with a charcoal filter and get on with life.

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Structured Settlements are Fascinating

May 12th, 2007 · 1 Comment

From a blog discussing a recent public interest litigation, I was led to look up structured settlements. According to law, when someone wins a legal argument and is awarded money as compensation, a structured settlements sees to it that some or all payments awarded by a judge or jury are made to the affected person over a long period of time. Simply put – instead of being awarded 1 million dollars – lumpsum – you will be awarded monthly payments of $1000 for 20 years or something similar. Defense lawyers aggressively seek these settlements since it is much more beneficial to the party making such payments. Often times, when the person receiving the payments dies mid-period, the rest of the money is pocketed by the person supposed to make the payments, thanks to legalese.

The same kind of thing also exist for some lotteries, usually called “payday lottery” or something similar. Now some folks might want the lumpsum amount, say for medical bills following an acciddent. After all, you cannot postpone your medical bill payments. For such folks, there are lots of SSQ providers, who take over receipt of the payments and pay you the money. The catch is that they discount the payment they make since the value of money decreases over time, and since they have to wait to get the money due to you – this rate is called the “discount rate” and this shows you how much your future value of cash flow is interest and how much is principal. In other words, you can sell your structured settlement and even comparison shop for better quotes. I suppose the firms that buy your structured settlement will benefit from the deal since they are, in a way getting more money for less money – they pay you less than the value of the settlement itself. Fascinating.

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The Price of Ink Cartridges

May 11th, 2007 · No Comments

Ever wondered why ink cartridges are so highly priced? On a per-pound basis ink is more expensive that Russian caviar. Don’t take my word for it – here’s PC World. Printer manufacturers have traditionally followed what is called the Razor Blade marketing philosophy – sell the razor cheap and price the blades higher than normal – the profits are higher from the supplies that go with the product – two or three years of it. Also, as the PC World article points out, the prices of printers have been falling so steeply that the price differential between the printers and the cartridges is diminishing so much that everyone is noticing it. Earlier no one complained when the printer cost $500 and the cartridge cost $30. Now the printer comes free with your whatchamacallit laptop. The cartridges are still $30. The number of rejects in the manufacturing process is also really high – so even if ink and plastic are cheap, cartridges aren’t cheap to make.

Interestingly, now Kodak is trying to play to the market by introducing printers that are more expensive than, say HP printers, but the cartridges are much cheaper – they think the consumers want that kind of change. You should check out that last link to the spanking new – that is a new blog by Walt Mossberg, Kara Swisher et al – all professional high-profile journalists. The blog looks really cool too. However, getting back on track, I really doubt if Kodak can really make up for cartridge profits with the higher price for the printers.

Last time I had to get a cartridge, I got a recycled cartridge, or should I say “refilled”? It worked just as fine, and maybe for just a long – who really measures how many pages you print with a cartridge?

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