Thursday, May 29, 2014

Making a grocery price book

I'm pretty fortunate in that I was taught how to shop for groceries at an early age. The importance of comparing unit prices instead of package pricing is something I've always known and it's helped me comparison shop for the best prices while staring at a shelf of a hundred different size containers of the same product.

The unit price comparison goes out the window, though, when comparing items between stores. It's all too easy to say, "I think the other store had this cheaper," or "This looks like a larger package than we usually buy, so that's probably why it's more expensive," or "I know we usually pay $10 for this product, but how much do we usually spend per ounce?"

Saturday, May 17, 2014

My advice for a Disney vacation

As a Disney annual passholder, I often get asked for advice on visiting various parks and how to make the most out of a Disney vacation. So here are some thoughts on the matter:

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Roku 3 and finally giving up on Media Center

It's finally happened. I have abandoned Windows Media Center as the primary TV system in our house. It's sad, really. Media Center is easily one of the best products Microsoft has ever created, but fell victim to changing company focus. As Microsoft's living room priorities shifted to the XBox, the idea of a Media Center PC was abandoned.

This isn't the first time I've written about this. From my initial review of Media Center in Windows 7, to my thoughts on how my children will watch TV as they grow up, to my first thoughts of giving up on Media Center, this has been a topic on my mind for a long time.

A little over a year ago, I wrote that I was getting a Roku streaming box and experimenting with abandoning Media Center for good. That didn't happen. The Roku experiment didn't work very well for a number of reasons. Netflix wasn't as nice as it was on Media Center, Plex had trouble streaming a number of our movies, and on the whole, we all got frustrated with it and went back to the tried and true Media Center.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

My thoughts on Disney World's new Magic Bands

Disney World announced their new ticketing system last year, and part of that new system included Magic Bands, which are bracelets that park guests wear instead of carrying a paper ticket. The bands didn't become widely available until last month, with only guests staying at certain Disney hotels getting them until now.

Last month, annual passholders finally got a chance to order the bands, and just last week, they were made available to general day guests. Hotel guests and annual passholders get the bands for free, general admission day guests have to pay $13 extra.

As annual passholders, we got our bands a few weeks ago and have used them several times now around the parks. Here are my thoughts.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

My thoughts on fitness trackers and why I'm selling my Fitbit

For Christmas this year, I got my wife a Fitbit Flex activity tracker. If you're not familiar with it, the Fitbit is a personal fitness tracking device that you wear on your wrist. It uses its several sensors to track things like steps walked, distance walked, calories burned, active minutes, and sleep cycles.

At CES this year, fitness devices were a big deal with everyone from Epson to Sony announcing their own version of personal fitness trackers. They're all a bit different and some do more tracking than others. But they all follow a similar theme: wear this device on your wrist to get information about your body and your activities.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

My Late-to-the-party Pebble smartwatch review

I've always been fascinated by the concept of smartwatches. The idea of wearing a tiny device on your wrist that is capable of doing more than simply telling the time seems almost like science fiction, but it's hardly a new concept. The infamous calculator watches of the 80s and 90s are the most well known example, but there were others, including Casio's camera watches, one of which I actually owned briefly.

Today, we are in the midst of a new smartwatch craze, which most people agree was started by the Pebble. I've been wanting a Pebble watch since they began their kickstarter campaign nearly 2 years ago. Since then, they have released the watch in new colors, and have started selling it on Amazon and at Best Buy. Other smartwatches have also entered the picture over the past two years, with Samsung's Galaxy Gear being the most high profile. But there are others, including the Qualcomm Toq, the MetaWatch, and the Martian Passport.

In the world of rumors, LG is widely expected to announce their own smartwatch at CES next week, and there continue to be rumors that both Apple and Google are working on their own iWatch and Nexus Watch, respectively.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

CryptoLocker, the new PC virus threat

This may seem a little bit of fear mongering, and it totally sounds like those old emails we used to get forwarded from grandparents, but this one is pretty serious and I felt the need to share it.

It's called CryptoLocker and it's essentially a virus that gets on your PC and then demands money to remove it. There's a great article about it on Ars Technica that explains it in more detail and includes screenshots. It was also discussed on the this week's episode of TWiT (jump to about 30 minutes in to hear just that part).
Some important notes:
For now, this only affects Windows. If you're using ChromeOS or a Mac, you're safe. If you're using your phone or tablet, you're safe. Any files you have saved to Google Drive, Dopbox, Gmail, etc. are safe.