Sunday, June 22, 2008

In this economy, should we lay our gadgets down?

As always, I had a thought provoking conversation with a friend of mine (she likes to remain anonymous) about ways to save costs. She said she is going to remove the data portion of her cell phone. With a home office, one at work and a laptop, why is she paying almost $40 a month for the data when she doesn't use it because it is so expensive? I thought that idea was ingenious.

We both agreed to place a moratorium on gadgets. Ouch. For me that is a sacrifice. Next thing you know she will suggest I remove my high speed access from my phone line. The plaintive howling you hear in the distance is me.

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Tuesday, February 5, 2008

When You Need Spanish Right Away

Here in Los Angeles, if you need to communicate in Spanish you usually don't have to look far to find someone who is bilingual to assist, but what about the times when no one is around? Let me cut to the chase:

Today, my gardener and I had an interesting exchange. He's new so I always have to remind him who I am on the phone. I had received a notice from DWP. In order for the meter readers to do their jobs I needed to clean out some pretty extensive bird droppings that they did not want to wade through. I had asked the gardener to hose the area down once each month as part of our agreement. When we set it up it was with a lot of hand gestures but over the phone is another matter.

The two key words are "bird" and "droppings." Growing up, I learned "caca" and "mierda" for the obvious, but that couldn't be socially correct. But, what is "bird?" (Pollo doesn't count. That's chicken.) While Rafael waited on the phone, I ran to and typed in "Bird." The answer came back "Pajaro." That's right! I remembered from 8th grade Spanish. I studied Spanish from 7th grade through Senior Year in college and spent a trimester immersed in the language in Bogota Colombia, but if you don't use it, well, you know the rest.

I typed in "Droppings." Nada. Rafael was still hanging on. I explained to him "las cosas dejan por los pajarros." "Huh?" he said in the universal language. He called his teen-aged daughter to decipher my broken Spanish but she was too busy to come to the phone. He said "I'll be there Friday." I am sure, hoping for luck with my sign language.

But there are forums at the site in which you can ask questions (after a free sign up). I posted an email with my question and in a few minutes I had my answer from a lady named "Cherry": "There are several that you could use: 'excrementos fecales de ave' or 'heces de ave.' Ave is 'bird' or you could also say 'pájaro,' " she explained.

Armed with this knowledge, now I can get the DWP off my back. But I will return to because you can learn Spanish (or re-learn) at their site with a daily tutorial. Buena Suerte!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Do I have to give up my rabbit ears?

At midnight on February 17, 2009, all full-power television stations in the United States will stop broadcasting in analog and switch to 100% digital broadcasting. Digital broadcasting promises to provide a clearer picture and more programming options and will free up airwaves for use by emergency responders.

What is the TV Converter Box Coupon Program?

Congress created the TV Converter Box Coupon Program for households wishing to keep using their analog TV sets after February 17, 2009. The Program allows U.S. households to obtain up to two coupons, each worth $40, that can be applied toward the cost of eligible converter boxes.

A TV connected to cable, satellite or other pay TV service does not require a TV converter box from this program.

Consumers have a variety of options. Options to explore include:
  1. Keep your existing analog TV and purchase a TV converter box. A converter box plugs into your TV and will keep it working after Feb. 17, 2009, or
  2. Connect to cable, satellite or other pay service, or
  3. Purchase a television with a digital tuner.

Have more questions? Visit our FAQs for more information!

How do I request a coupon?
Between January 1, 2008 and March 31, 2009, you can request a coupon while supplies last in one of four ways:
  • Apply online
  • Call the Coupon Program 24-hour hotline 1-888-DTV-2009 (1-888-388-2009). Hearing-impaired consumers can use our TTY service by calling: 1-877-530-2634 (English/TTY) or 1-866-495-1161 (Spanish/TTY)
  • Mail a coupon application to: PO BOX 2000, Portland, OR 97208-2000. Download a Coupon Application here.
  • Fax a coupon application to 1-877-DTV-4ME2 (1-877-388-4632)
This info was found here:

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy 2008! What did you get for Christmas?

As we navigate through a new pile of boxes dotting our living room floor (from Christmas,) I wonder what did you get for Christmas? Is any of it above your comprehension?

We got a DVR and we haven't set it up yet. Whoever wrote the instructions has us so twisted we gave up. We have yet to call the "Don't take this back to the store" number packed with it.

Tell me, what has YOUR experience with Christmas gadgets been?

And here is this week's tip: I found a site in which everyday people like you and me explain the current products on the market. If you are in the market for something, give them a try! They have actual video explanations of how they work. I was in the market for a webcam and I enjoyed seeing the features of the three models I had not considered. I think I am going with Logitech!