Extra screen goodness.

I got a nice Acer 22” widescreen monitor at lunchtime today. Unfortunately I had to take back the 23” gateway monitor that just would not work. However the display on the Acer is stable and works great. I thought I would try my graphics card back in the computer too (I couldn’t get it to work with WindowsXP properly), so this evening I plugged it in, hooked up the new and my old monitor and now have a 1680*1050 and a 1280*1024 desktop. This is REALLY nice. Even with just the larger monitor I could browse the web and have notepad (or Live Writer) open next to a decent sized firefox window but now I am really spoilt. The only thing I have to work out is which screen should go where on the desk.

By using the dedicated card my System performance index has also gone from a whopping 1 (thanks to the lack of built in 3d graphics on the onboard vga controller) to an outstanding 2!

I went from 3.9,4.7,1.9,1,5.4 to 3.9,4.7,2.0,3.0,5.4

I can (if I really want) run the aero interface now. So far I’m not that impressed – the 3d flipping is painfully slow, but at least the aero peak functionality (the little icon to the far right of the taskbar now works). I do wish I could move this next to the start button though. Having said that, Windows-D still works to give me the same affect.

Sigma flash almost here….

The only downside with the various tracking systems that UPS,DHL and other companies provide is that they provide a tantalising glimpse into the fact that shipments are SOOOO close but not quite here!  I purchased a flash for my camera and got notice from UPS that it arrived in Columbus yesterday evening but I have to wait until Monday before they attempt to deliver it.  The weird thing is that I actually got the tracking information the day before UPS even had it in their online system.

Digital TV

A while back I applied for a coupon that would give me $40 off a digital tv converter box as the US is switching off analogue broadcasts on 17th Feb 2009. This is similar to the switch off that is happening in the UK at the moment but seems to be a staged process as opposed to one definitive date.
Anyway, the coupon arrived and I finally got around to going shopping for one. The coupon is for $40 off selected (low end) converter boxes but you would be very lucky to get one for $40. Most of them seem to be $49 or $59.
I went to BestBuy this afternoon and got the Insignia NS-DXA1-APT. About 10 minutes after getting it home I had 11 REALLY clear tv channels. The difference between tv on the standard rabbit ears aerial and the aerial with the digital converter is amazing. The picture is now very similar to the quality of the picture you’d get with cable.
A lot of the channels are broadcast in wide screen though, and then some of the commercials are broadcast in 4:3 format so you end up with a small picture in the middle of the screen with black bars all around it – however pushing the zoom button on the remote brings it to full screen (but you will loose some of each side of the picture).
The remote also has the ability to turn off the tv if it is supported (there are about 45 different makes supported) and there is a auto shutoff option too.
One other feature is analogue passthrough – by turning off the unit, the tv will continue to receive the analogue broadcasts which could be useful if your stations are still broadcasting in analogue only.
There is also a basic EPG guide that shows you whats on now and next – better than nothing but nowhere near as sophisticated as the EPG you’d get with cable.
If you are still using over the air transmissions for your tv then I’d highly recommend you apply for a coupon and get a box now rather than wait until Feb and this unit is well recommended.

Taxcut Premium, Federal,State and Efile for $20

Thanks to the Fatwallet forums, you can get Taxcut Premium, Federal and State and EFile for $29.99 with a $10 in store check. You can order this online at OfficeDepot and when you select in-store pickup the price drops to $29.99 – the rebate form is here. Unfortunately our nearest officedepot closed at the new year and the next nearest is 30miles away….now Staples price match so…….. not sure if they will honour this one – ymmv –Update Staples wouldn’t price match for me in Columbus Ohio as there are no office depot’s near by 🙁

Blockbuster price increase

Blockbusters are increasing their prices for their monthly dvd rentals by $2. We are on the $14.99 plan for two videos at a time and 3 instore exchanges per month. The $2 increase is not a lot but is a 13% increase. Strangely their email extols the virtue of their existing service but gives no details as to what extra benefits are available for the increased price. A temporary way around the increase might be to upgrade NOW to the 3 dvd’s at a time, 5 instore exchanges which is currently $17.99 and a 6 month prepaid subscription is available (but no discount). So for an extra $1 a month you get one more dvd in shipment at any time and an extra 2 instore changes.

More camera purchases.

What do you mean there is no chocolate cake left?I’m very pleased with the new camera purchase so far. Unfortunately the picture quality may go down a bit whilst I work out how to use all the new settings on the camera.  The first couple of shots I took outside the house I couldn’t understand why the camera was bleeping at me and then the photo was taken.  It turns out that the self timer was turned on and it was giving me 10 seconds to get into the picture!

I’ve also ordered a couple of extras to go with the camera, the rc1 remote control which enables you to take instant photos and 2 second delay photos with the remote. This will be useful for group shots and also for taking photos while reducing camera shake. I’m also getting a replacement  lens cap as the one that comes with the camera does not have a loop for attaching to a strap so I know it won’t be long until I lose the original cap. I’ve already purchased a 2GB Compact flash card from Bestbuy for $35 with the camera as they had a good deal on the card and was even cheaper than Amazon.  I went for the extreme version of the card as it twice as quick as the ultra cards at reading and writing, with quoted speeds of 20mb/s and speed is important when writing many pictures to the card in quick succession when using the multi shot mode.

I’m also hoping that the tripod quick release mount arrives in the post this afternoon – I ordered it on Sunday and it arrived in Dublin this morning according to USPS. This is slightly longer than I hoped for, one of the books I ordered from Amazon at the same time arrived on Wednesday (although as usual with amazon, the other books have not arrived including the one that really needs to be here.)

The picture of Kate is a reduced and cropped version after she ate some of Katie’s birthday cake. She’s looking a bit sad as all the cake is gone and she is suffering from a cold/fever/virus infection (but she did cheer up when eating the chocolate and icecream cake)

Canon Rebel XT Kit – worth getting up for?

BestBuy have a pretty good deal (or it looks like it to me) of a Canon Digital Rebel XT 8MP camera, 18-55mm lens, 75-300mm zoom lens, bag, battery and uv filter for $700 with a minimum of 8 per store, but you’ll probably have to get there at 3am to get the vouchers they hand out – OR you could just order it online for the same price. I am sorely tempted by this one as the camera is normally 550-600 alone. I’ll let you know what we decide!
Update You can actually get approximately $25+ off this price (on a subsequent order) by signing up for their rewards card. They are doing a holiday promotion gift package where you get $15 extra reward points (750) if you spend over $500 AND you get the original $10 reward for the first $500 and an extra 200 points for the next $200 – thats one less camera available for purchase 😉
Update 2 I went to the store Friday morning and purchased this camera. Then I had a horrendous time trying to get hold of someone to cancel the web order but I eventually managed to. Fortunately Bestbuy’s website have a feature where you can use the computer to call them so you don’t have to waste minutes on your phone plan.

Yet more issues with rebates!

This time, Microsoft sent a letter saying I needed to include the top of the box from my TaxCut purchase in order to get my $40 rebate. Unfortunately I already sent the top of the box from my TaxCut purchase. A reasonably quick call to the rebate line on 1 800 622 4445 got a new tracking id and the rebate approved. Apparently it’s all staple’s fault. How it can possibly be staples fault when its a Microsoft rebate I have no idea!
Now all I am waiting for is Microcenter to give me my Vista upgrade that I was promised.

Gigafast resolution

I heard back from the Better Business Bureau yesterday and it seems like Gigafast’s response to all the complaints is to ignore them – Gigafast have an F rating with them (which is not good!) with 67 ignored complaints. Fortunately on the same day, I received a cheque from OnRebate as Microcenter paid the rebate instead. So it’s a thumbs up for Microcenter – now all they have to do is respond to me about my upgrade to Vista that I was promised.

Bestbuy’s so called privacy policy

Today I got a spam mail from netgear which annoys me as they should know better, but unfortunately for Best Buy it went to an email address given only to Best Buy. Nowhere in the email does it mention Best Buy at all and I have never agreed to let Best Buy share my email address with third parties (and ensure this box is always ticked appropriately when conducting business with a company).
The annoying thing is that BestBuy’ s privacy policy states –

  • Best Buy does not sell or rent your personal information to third parties.
  • In limited circumstances, Best Buy may need to share your information with certain third parties.

I’ve sent an email to [email protected] to complain – will be interesting to see what they have to say.