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Why no Posts?

I have been out of my area for the past few weeks. I will get caught up on my writing, be sure to check back.

Are you forced to pay more for gas with a credit card?

Something that most people may not know is that companies like Visa charge merchants 2% for purchases made at the gas pump.

Z Gasco at Orange Grove and Oracle is one of a few offering the same gallon of gas at two different prices: $3.79 if you pay in cash, $3.85 if you pay with a credit card. 

Link: KVOA News, Tucson Arizona

Merchants are taking this a step further and charging the customer the extra 2% on the purchase.  This means that the price you see at the pump may not be what you are actually being charged for.   Some companies are countering this by offering discounts to customers whopay with Cash.  Not to mention that going inside to pay with cash increased the likelyness that you will buy a drink or other snack for the road.

Next time you go to the gas station, make sure and ask if you are being charged more for using your credit card at the pump.  Some companies are being forces to note the extra fee for credit card users; however some are still hiding under the radar and charging the customer unknowingly.

Comments welcome,


Google Trends – Hate Speech Symbols?

Google Trends is a great way to see what people are using Google to search for.  This comes in very handy for bloggers, because if you write a post on one of the top searches for the day; chances are you will get some traffic.  However, every-so-often, some strange things show up on Google Trends.  A few weeks ago the number one search was “what happens when inside of girl gets wet’.  The word on the web is that this started as ‘What happens when inside of grill gets wet’, but Google wanted to correct the statement.  Once everyone got word of what happened, the mis-search quickly jumped to the top of the list.  Today’s top trend is a little disturbing as well:

I’m hoping this is a Bloggle exlusive (even though I’ve not been blogging here for while). A strange symbol (swastika?) has just made it HOT on Google Trends. Why? Could be an example of Google ‘bombing’? 


Link: Strange symbols appear on Google

This goes to show that the top Google Trends may not always be accurate; but they do make good blog posts.  The real questions is, how do that many people know how to type that symbol?  It requires some work to be able to post it.


Comments welcome,


Why the MLB All Star Game is Still a Problem

In 2002, fans attended an exciting MLB All Star game where the National League and American League battled to a stale mate after 11 innings. Commish Bud Selig ruled it a tie after each team had exhausted their rosters. Fans were outraged. Bud Selig appeared to solve the situation a year later by making the All Star game count. The team from the winning league would get home field advantage in the World Series. Fans cheered Bud for the change. It made the All Star game seem more exciting to most people.

Not me though. Do you know why? Well, the managers have not changed the way they manage their All Star players. You still have only 1 or 2 players left that haven’t played by the 9th inning. Usually 1 pitcher is left as a reserve. I am waiting for the day when there is another tie and one or both of the teams has 1 pitcher left to use. The game will end up going into the 15th inning and the pitches on the pitchers arm is just racking up. What will happen then? Will Bud let the last pitcher on the roster throw his arm out? Will a tie be declared? Will one of the teams throw the game? Either way it’s the perfect recipe for another All Star disaster for Major League Baseball.

Windows Secrets Combines With ‘Gizmo’ Richards

If you haven’t kept up with Windows Secrets for awhile, you may not have been notified that Ian ‘Gizmo’ Richards, who produced his Support Alert newsletter, are combining. I personally dropped my subscription to Windows Secret last year, since I no longer found it useful. This was at about the same time that Fred Langa and his Langalist also joined Windows Secret. I had been receiving Ian’s newsletter in the interium.

I enjoyed Ian’s writings and felt that ‘Gizmo’ was a great source of reliable information. I also enjoyed his great web site in which I have found reviews of free software which have always been reviewed fairly and to the point. You can take a look here. The site is described as:

“A kind of Wikipedia® for Freeware”

There are a lot of great freeware products out there. Many are as good as or better than their commercial alternatives.  But with so many great free products how do you find the best?

That’s what we do at this site: in each program class we select the “best of the best.”

This is a community based site with over 60 volunteer editors. If you disagree with the editors’ choices please add your suggestions for the benefit of others.   

But I am now wondering if the ‘Gizmo’ web site will still be available. There was nothing in the announcement to indicate that the site would not remain.

Now, before you get the rope, I just want to say I have absolutely nothing against Windows Secret nor any of its staff.  I am just mourning the loss of the Langalist and now Support Alert.

Comments welcome.


Buy Now, Pay Later Without Credit Cards

62F5EAB8-3195-49BF-B8ED-4E126BC47F80.jpgAmazon.com has inked with Bill Me Later to pay for orders without using a credit card.

The first time you place an order on Amazon.com and choose Bill Me Later at checkout, you will be prompted to answer two quick questions and accept the terms. Bill Me Later will verify your information within seconds and your order will be shipped as usual. Later, you’ll receive, by mail, a bill from Bill Me Later. You may pay it in full without a finance charge or pay it off over time at an annual percentage rate of 19.99%.

Just be aware that Bill Me Later does perform a credit check and probably won’t offer an account to someone with poor credit.

Senator Phil Gramm’s Perspective: “Whiners”

It must be a new election ploy to connect with the voters. Former Senator Phil Gramm, an economic adviser to Senator John McCain, thinks that America is “a nation of whiners”:

“…In an interview with the Washington Times, the McCain economic adviser downplayed the economy — despite it having been the top issue of concern to voters in public polling for months. Gramm goes so far as to call the economy a “mental recession,” says that “We have sort of become a nation of whiners” and blames much of the hand-wringing on the perpetual scapegoat — the media.”

link: McCain Economic Adviser: ‘Nation of Whiners’

This may be illustrative of how ‘in touch’ politicians are with the economic struggles of the average citizen. The price of essential groceries soar at a rate that far exceeds any increase in the take-home pay check. That is assuming that there is employment and a pay check.

That whining that Senator Gramm hears may be the voice of the people telling the politicians that there are serious problems afoot. Senator Gramm’s name calling is dismissive. And obviously, he does not ‘feel our pain’. Surely Senator Gramm is perceptive enough to know that insulting the majority of American voters will garner more belligerence to politicians who seem blind to the day-to-day realities of the people.

Catherine Forsythe

Encryption Technologies In Vista Part I

Setting proper permissions is a good place to start when securing your Vista workstation, but you can go one-step further by encrypting files on your workstation. Encryption provides another layer of protection for information that must be kept private. Vista includes two encryption technologies, Encrypting File System (EFS) and the new Bitlocker, that when used together, provide a high level of storage security.

Bitlocker Drive Encryption is new in Vista. It is designed to protect a computer against data theft by encrypting the entire Windows volume. It ensures that your data remains encrypted, even if the computer is tampered with. For example, if a malicious user moves the hard drive to another computer, he or she will not be able to view the contents of it.

Beginning with Windows 2000, Microsoft built encryption capabilities into the operating system, and the encryption functionality has been improved in Vista. Microsoft’s EFS gives you the ability to encrypt data at the file or folder level.

EFS is a technology by which the files on the NTFS partition are encrypted to protect against unauthorized access. While share and NTFS permissions can be used to handle this task over the network, these permissions don’t protect the data in the event that someone has physical access to the server or workstation.


Help Available With Food Costs

I had no idea until a few months ago that there was a source available to everyone to combat the high price of food. This source has no political or financial restrictions. It does not require you to be a member of any church. It is not a welfare resource. You will receive approximately $70 worth of food for $30. The specials are a great savings as well.

The name of this service is Angel Food ministries. It is coordinated through local churches nationwide and works through sheer numbers. The more people who order the better the price they are able to negotiate through distributors. You will not have any particular religious denomination pushed down your throat. You simply go in and order, pay cash in advance, and leave. When you pick up your order you must have a copy of your receipt, arrive during the specified time (if you do not your order is donated as there is no way of freezing items that are not picked up), and bring a cardboard box with you to pick up your items.

We saw an immediate savings. The food was good and for the most part enjoyable. There were one or two items that we probably wouldn’t have chosen but we figured out a way to use them that worked for us.

Below is what the program is offering for August.

 A U G U S T    2 0 0 8   M E N U 

1.5 lb.     Ribeye Steaks (4 x 6 oz.)

5 lb.        Chicken Leg Quarters

28 oz.     Chicken Breast Nuggets

28 oz.     Salisbury Steak Dinner Entrée

32 oz.     Breaded Chicken Breast Filets

12 oz.     Smoked Sausage

16 oz.     California Blend Frozen Vegetables

16 oz.     Frozen Carrots

16 oz.     Frozen Chopped Spinach

10 ct.      Frozen Waffles

16 oz.     Bean Soup Mix

1 lb.        Rice

9 oz.       Instant Potatoes (14 servings)

15 oz.     Sliced Peaches

32 oz.     Borden Shelf Stable Milk              

One Dozen Eggs              

One Desert Item 

***One or More Specials Available Only with the Purchase of a Regular Box Above***  

You are free to purchase as many of the above regular boxes as you need. Once you have purchased at least one you are then free to purchase additional specials.  August specials are listed below:  

7 lb. Family Assorted Grill Box                  $20.00     

1.5 lb  Baseball Cut Sirloin Filet (4 x 6 oz.) (Thick-Cut)     

2 lbs   Juicy Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast     

2 lbs   St. Louis-Style Ribs     

1.5 lb  Hamburger Patties (4 x 6 oz.) 

AUGUST SPECIAL #2 4.5 lb. Steak and Meat Combo                   $20.00     

1.5 lb. New York Strips (2 x 12 oz.)     

1.5 lb. Bacon-Wrapped Beef Filet (4 x 6 oz.)

      1.5 lb. Bacon-Wrapped Pork Filet (4 x 6 oz.)

 AUGUST  SPECIAL #3 4.5 lb. Stuffed Chicken Breast Combo    $18.00     

1.5 lb. Cordon Bleu (4 x 6 oz.)     

1.5 lb. Broccoli Cheese (4 x 6 oz.)     

1.5 lb. Chicken Breast Kiev (4 x 6 oz.)

AUGUST  SPECIAL #4 Fresh Fruit and Veggie Box                       $18.00     

4         Red Delicious Apples     

4 lb     Bag of Oranges     

1         Cello-wrapped Lettuce     

1         Large Cabbage     

6         Russet Potatoes     

2         Cucumbers     

1         Cantaloupe     

1         Honeydew Melon  

Food Stamps (EBT) accepted

Again we found this program a great way to expand our food dollars during this time when fuel/energy costs are soaring and the price of food is rising accordingly.  

For information on how to locate a host site near you go to:


Another way to get an affordable, no pressure meal, is to check out local churches who offer weekday meals. These are often offered once a week at a donation price of under $2.50 a meal for those who can afford to contribute. For those who can’t there is no obligation to pay at all. In other words no one should have to go hungry even if they don’t fall under their state’s guidelines for food stamps.

Both of these opportunities exist for all and I hope that anyone out there in need of stretching their tax dollars will look into them.

Hybrid Gas Mileage: Has It Hit a Plateau?

When you look at the historical chart of hybrid gas mileage, you just have to wonder … when are the auto manufacturers going to take things to the next level? The Honda Insight, the earliest hybrid, was rated at 70 miles per gallon on the highway. Granted it was a wee little two seater with a three cylinder engine, but still … where are the OEM advances?

The answer, in short, is that the advances have already been made, but they aren’t for sale by the OEM manufacturers (not yet, at least).

Many folks lack an understanding of how hybrids fit into the big picture going forward. With a million Prius on the road, much of the general (non-hybrid driving) population is still unsure whether hybrid technology is a good bet.

Now if you’re a betting man (or woman) and you like to place a wager or two on the horses, you look to the papers for your research. On your way to the paddock, you’d open up your Daily Racing Form and check the past performances of the ponies in the next race.

If you’re considering whether a hybrid car is a good bet, you’d head over to Kelly’s Blue Book to check used hybrid resale values. If you were new to the game, you might be stunned.

In my area, a 2004 Prius with 60,000 miles has a KBB suggested retail price just one thousand dollars less then the original MSRP sticker. What other car could you have bought in 2004 and driven for four years (with excellent gas mileage) that retained that much value?

It gets even more crazy then that. I searched on AutoTrader to see what the local dealers were asking for 2004 Prius. There were just three Prius available in a 50 mile radius, at $21,900, $21,990, and $21,995, with mileage ranging from 56K to 77.5K.

Does two thousand dollars over the original list price represent irrational exuberance, or something worse?

As the latest generation Prius come off lease, a fantastic opportunity presents itself. We have the chance to dramatically increase the gas mileage of the hybrid fleet by upgrading these vehicles to plug-in hybrids utilizing Lithium battery packs to achieve a remarkable 100 MPG. This technology is here today and quite simply, it works.

How much would you pay for a car that got 100 MPG? Would you be willing to spend $30,000?

What if that car was a completely refurbished and warrantied used car?

Reference: Hybrid Gas Mileage