American Idle

It's kinda like American Idol, but only if you sing my posts out loud.

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Location: Hamilton Square, New Jersey, United States

Tax guy, host & producer of the Consumerism Commentary Podcast, former co-host of the Wall Street Journal E-Report

Thursday, July 09, 2009

TomTom coupon FAIL

A couple of weeks back, I received notification from TomTom...the GPS I use...that there was a new Homer Simpson voice that could could be downloaded. Apparently, Homer would now be able to guide me on my journeys. Being a long time Simpsons fan, I was intrigued. I checked out the website and they wanted $12.95 for it. Fair enough, but given my current employment situation, not a purchase I could justify. So I forgot about it.

Then, yesterday, I received an email from TomTom that they would send me a $10 coupon if I went out to my online TomTom profile and verified my personal data. Seeing an opportunity to purchase Homer's voice for $2.95, I did as they asked. As promised, my $10 coupon was emailed to me this morning. Since I figured this seemed too good to be true, I double checked the legalese on it, and saw "Product purchase total must exceed $10. Coupon must be used on" Perfect.

But redeeming this coupon didn't go as I had hoped. When I went out to TomTom's website, clicking on the Homer option forced me to launch the TomTom application on my computer. Sounded right to me, since that's how I manage the content of my GPS. So the checkout procedure continued via the application. But when I got to the final credit card step, there was no option to enter my coupon code. Being a trusting guy with some programming knowledge, I figured that when they wrote the app they probably overlooked the coupon redemption option. So, with no way to continue this transaction with a $10 savings, I contacted the TomTom help desk. The rep I talked to was confused about the coupon and said he wasn't aware of any promotion. After putting me on hold to talk to someone, he came back and told me that there was a "misprint" and that you can't use the coupon for downloads, only accessories that can be shipped. He then told me if I went to the legal section of TomTom, I'd see that. I let it drop because I didn't feel like pushing this further for a $13 purchase. But I'll say this.

  • If someone screwed up a coupon, whatever was issued should be honored at face value.
  • Don't tell someone to go out to the legal section for more info if that caveat isn't even mentioned on the coupon.
  • TomTom left a sour taste in my mouth
You can see the coupon here to see exactly how it was worded.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Don't call it a comeback

Hey. Remember this? Looks like it's coming back in WSJ Radio podcast form. Stay tuned. Literally.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

How to get around Flickr photo protection

Ever find a cool photo on Flickr, but when you went to save it you only wound up with a useless (and oddly named) spaceball.gif file in your directory?

Here's how to get around photo protection on Flickr using Firefox. (IE directions may differ slightly)

  1. From the page with the protected photo click on "View", then "Page Source".
  2. Do a search (ctrl-f) for "jpg". Look for a string of text similar to "". This is actually telling you the location of the file on the Flickr servers.
  3. Open up a new tab or browser window and copy that text into the URL line. Don't hit enter just yet.
  4. You should see two occurrences of "%2F" in the text string. Replace them with a forward slash (/). The text should now look like """. Hit enter. You should now see the protected photo and be able to view it normally.
In addition, depending on how the person uploaded the photo, you may be able to view larger sizes. Try these tricks.

The "original" is usually the largest photo available. To view the original, place an "_o" after the file name and before the ".jpg". (ex. instead of 1234.jpg, try 1234_o.jpg) If that doesn't work, the next best bet is the "large" file. Try "_b" instead to view the large size (ex. instead of 1234.jpg, try 1234_b.jpg)

Sometimes the "_o" and "_b" work, sometimes they don't. Again, it depends on how the person uploaded the photo.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Apparently, I've been incredibly boring recently

...the truth is, the free time just isn't around anymore. Or at least, when it is, I just haven't prioritized my blogging duties.

So let's briefly recap my last few months. The bosses at work decided they only needed four shift managers, not five, to operate our 24x7 environment. As a result, my Mon-Thu 2PM-Midnight schedule became Tue-Fri 6PM-4AM (with alternating Fridays off).

While this isn't a full blown "3rd Shift" schedule, it may as well be. I come home at 4:30 AM, fall asleep at 5:30, get woken up at 6:30 AM by the wife's alarm, sleep intermittently until she's finished getting ready and leaves for work at 8, wake up again at 11, do my internet routine, eat lunch, fall back asleep at noon, wake up at 2:30 PM, shower, pick up kids from grandmom's at 3:30, come home, eat, leave for work at 5:15. Rinse, repeat. The one redeeming item is that her mother's been sleeping over on the nights I work, taking over the nightly baby feedings from us. Without her, I'd probably sleep even less.

And when I *am* off, I find myself trying to adjust to a normal sleep schedule, which still doesn't happen. Because I've agreed to baby duties until 3 AM due to my night owl schedule, I still sleep for about three hours before getting woken up to feed Grace.

As for semi-interesting things going on in my life, let's hard drive died on my 4-year old computer about two months ago...the first time that's EVER happened to me. Apparently, freezing the hard drive has worked wonders for other people, but not for me. I bought a hard disk enclosure (that allowed me to connect it to another PC via a USB cable), froze the hard drive for three days, kept the whole damn enclosure in the freezer while I had cables running out of it to my wife's laptop...all to no avail. So I've spent the last couple of weeks of free time configuring my new computer to try to get it to the same standards as my old PC. It's amazing how much crap I had installed on there that was essential to my needs. And none of it games either.

Speaking of games, I finally got around to moving my Xbox back into my basement. It just wasn't getting played upstairs, plus I had no hard-wired network connection to hook it up to. I think I went, like, six months without being on Xbox Live.

So, uh, that's pretty much it. Matt's turning three on Friday and we're heading up to the Berkshires next week for our annual foliage trip. If I'm lucky and if I actually get a @#!*% internet connection, I may post about it.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

No matter how futuristic sci-fi movies are supposed to be, something always dates them

I'm well overdue for a post here, so I'm going to offer up a profound observation.

No matter how futuristic a sci-fi movie or TV show is, they're always somehow dated by the era it was created in.

Although this is nothing new, it really hit me while watching Star Trek IV the other day (a movie I TiVo'd since I haven't seen it in its entirety since it was released). It didn't matter if they were in the 23rd, 24th, or 80th century. Shatner's toupee and Catherine Hicks' hairstyles were pure 80's. And if you go back to the beginning of Star Trek and look at the episodes...particularly the "hippie" episode, you realize it's a parallel time line. It's like at some point in the future, history will repeat itself chronologically in the form of bad culture and bad hair.

Other examples off the top of my head:

  • Mark Hamill's hair in Star Wars. Fortunately, no known culture had Princess Leia's "cinnamon bun" hairstyle, so I can give them a flyer on that one.
  • Logan's Run. Were we supposed to be doomed to wear bad, oddly striped jumpsuits in the late 90's?
  • Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. Please, PLEASE tell me that Earth will not be once again populated by a society that finds disco roller-skating entertaining. I mean, seriously, I swear these horrible scenes are why you don't see this show in syndication.

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