Technology


All This Technology is Making Us Antisocial

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7 Tips for Online Shopping

7 Tips for Online ShoppingI never buy anything unless I really, really need it. Most recently that's meant biking gloves and a rake. But my wife was recently in need of maternity pants, and hit the web in search of a deal.

Here are her 7 tips for online shopping, which originally appeared on her wonderful new blog.

  1. Make sure you’re on a legit site. This is an obvious one. If you’ve never heard of that company before, do some looking around first. Also, keep in mind that some vendors have different US and Canadian sites. This could change some of the inventory and shipping costs.
  2. Find out the shipping options and costs. If the vendor is local, you might even be able to pick it up yourself to save on shipping costs. Also, consider the shipping couriers they use, e.g., Canada Post, UPS, FedEx, USPS, etc. If duty and handling charges are involved, these prices may vary depending on the courier.
  3. Find out the exchange/return policy and costs. There are some sites that offer free exchanges and returns, i.e., you don’t have to pay for shipping costs. There are also some that allow these transactions at stores so you don’t have to go through mail. Just make sure you don’t get stuck paying to return something. Most of the time, the initial shipping costs aren’t refundable so why would want to pay twice?
  4. Look for coupon/promo codes. RetailMeNot is a good site to check. Retailers also use social media to push promo codes, so check their Twitter feeds or Facebook pages.
  5. For clothing or shoes, try it on in a store first before purchasing online if possible. If you can’t, look for reviews. They will tell you if things fit small/large, the quality of the item, etc.
  6. Pay with a PayPal account. It’s free and it offers a good purchase protection for buyers.
  7. Check your payment account regularly, e.g. credit card statements or PayPal. Thankfully, my account has not been compromised with all the online shopping I’ve done, but it’s always good to check. Also, it’s good to verify the purchase charges.

Happy and safe shopping!

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Winamp, it really whips the llama's ass! (But no longer)

Winamp, it really whips the llama's ass! (But no longer)After 15 years, Winamp is shutting down. I actually wrote the obituary for Winamp back in 2004 when it was widely beleived AOL was abandoning the player, but it seems I was 9-years early.

Winamp was my preferred player for MP3 files for years because it was so light on its feet. Before the bloat set in, there was nothing faster. I miss the old Winamp.

If you're running Windows, you can still download the old bloat-free versions of Winamp here.

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Feedly Wins My Google Reader Heart

Feedly Wins My Google Reader HeartBack in March, Google announced they were shutting down Google Reader on June 30. I'd call myself a power user of Google Reader, so I started looking at alternatives.

I'm pleased to announce that Feedly has won the battle to replace Google Reader. In fact, in some ways, Feedly is actually better than Google Reader. I'm using it in the browser as well as the Android app.

feedly

And, if you want Feedly to look and bahave just like Google Reader, there's a Chrome extension called GGReader that will turn Feedly into a Google Reader clone.

But Feedly on its own is just fine. Which Google Reader alternative are you going with?

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Unable to Log in to Google Analytics and Adwords? Disable Adblock

Unable to Log In To Google Analytics and Adwords? Disable AdblockI was having issues logging into Google Analytics and Google Adwords this week.

This is what I saw when I logged into Google Adwords.

adwords

This is what I saw when I logged into Google Analytics.

analytics

I logged out and back in, I restarted, I tried different machines with different operating systems and cleared my cache and deleted all my cookies. None of that worked.

Finally, I disabled AdBlock, a Chrome extension I use to hide ads. Voila! AdBlock was the culprit.

This is something I only started noticing this week. I believe it's part of Google's war against ad blockers, which I'll bet costs Google millions and millions of dollars every year.

If you're having the same trouble logging into Adwords or Analytics, now you know what to do.

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My First Gmail

My First GmailIf you're a Gmail user and you visit this page, you'll get an error message and Gmail will redirect to a page that shows the oldest messages from your account. This is the oldest message from my account:

gmail

Gmail was launched on April Fool's Day of 2004 and that first email I sent from Gmail is dated June 12, 2004. That means I didn't get my invitation for over two months.

I'm willing to bet one of you was using Gmail before me. Does anyone have an earlier start date with Gmail?

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The Problem With Texting

The Problem With TextingMy brother likes to text. I'm far more likely to get a text from him than an email or instant message, and there's no fear of getting a tweet or Facebook message from him, as he outright rejects social media. He texts me.

I'm not a big fan of texting. I use several devices throughout the day, including a PC, laptop, tablet and smart phone, and an email or Google Chat gets to all of them immediately. A text only goes to one of them.

So email me or Gchat me if you need something. Got that, broseph?

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Google Search Keeps Getting Better

Google Search Keeps Getting BetterI just Googled 'leafs'. Here's the top half page of the results.

Screen shot 2013-03-18 at 5.16.18 PM

Probably the top 10 questions are answered without requiring any further clicking. There's details of the last game, the next game, the current standings, the championship seasons, current news and more, all served up before we even get to the organic site ranking.

Google may be cancelling their awesome RSS Reader and unsure exactly how to slay Facebook with Google+, but they sure have search figured out.

Do any of you use a search engine other than Google by default?

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Google Reader Alternatives

Google Reader AlternativesGoogle is shutting down Google Reader, their RSS reader I use several times a day. I'm sure I'm not alone. Just about every blog, news service and site I follow has an RSS feed I subscribe to in Google Reader.

As a power user and super fan, this decision by Google is disappointing. I've got four months to find a solid Google Reader alternative.

I've already started test driving The Old Reader and feedly. I've got to get used to the differences, but both look like viable alternatives to Google Reader.

If you know of a good RSS reader I should try, please let me know in the comments. Google Reader will be missed.

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Installing Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) on My HP TouchPad

Installing Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) on My HP TouchPadIn July of 2011, the nice people at HP gave me a TouchPad Tablet PC. Here's something I wrote about it then. It was is a nice piece of hardware with great sound running webOS, but by August of 2011, HP had discontinued the TouchPad. Early sales results indicated it wasn't the iPad killer they hoped it would be.

That meant the only tablet I own runs an OS without many apps. If you think BB10 is missing some key apps (and it is), you should peruse the app selection for the TouchPad. As a fan of the Android OS, I wanted to run Android on my HP TouchPad so I could enjoy the same system and apps I enjoy on my Samsung Galaxy phone.

The answer was CyanogenMod 10, which has brilliantly enabled me to run Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) on my TouchPad. Fantastic installation instructions are here should you own a TouchPad and want to give this a shot. It's pretty easy as my girlfriend and I had it up and running in one afternoon.

TouchPad running Android

I'm very pleased with my new Android tablet. Jelly Bean is great.

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