Article, December 2007
The Deals Column
by Bob (the Cheapskate)Click, The Dealsguy
Greater Orlando Computer Users Group
firstname.lastname@example.org (click to email author)
I’m Excited About My New Toys
We wanted a GPS device with a 4.3" screen (diagonally), and a unit with better features. We finally chose the Garmin nuvi 660 because it announces your next turn (street name) well before you will turn, and again just before you actually turn. It has a bright screen and includes traffic reporting capabilities without purchasing an FM traffic adaptor, which is in the DC cord you get with it. 90 days of traffic reporting is activated when you register it, but after that, you must subscribe for that service ($60 per year).
The nuvi 660 includes Bluetooth technology for hands free use with your Bluetooth cell phone. MP3 file use is also included and it has an SD slot. It will also talk through your car radio. The 4.3" screen is easier to see and it was on sale for $599 at BJ’s Wholesale. Yes, I could have done much better on the Web, but I preferred to buy it locally for the ease of returning it if I so desired. A friend returned four before he settled on the Mio he kept. So far, we are satisfied in spite of two curious anomalies in the mapping that we encountered. MapQuest had given us worse in the same areas. I ordered a free CD to update the maps, but I’ll have to pay for updates in the future.
Another new toy; a Kwikset Biometric Smart Lock, is for our house door. The last few years we used a Kwikset pushbutton lock that we could press the buttons for a preset code and it automatically unlocks. It’s great if you can’t find your key. You can also use your key. We were happy with the ease of use, but along came the Kwikset biometric lock. Simply slide your finger across the sensor for it to automatically unlock the deadbolt.
It looks like a conventional lock on the outside, but with a small fingerprint sensor sticking down from the key cylinder housing. It is powered by four AA batteries and the fingerprint data is stored in flash memory. It also works with a key. The interior lock housing is larger, containing the batteries, electronics and the Lock’s programming screen. It can store over 50 different fingerprints and the lock administrator can limit the privileges of any fingerprint to a certain time of day, and even a day of the week; and can make another user also an administrator. Any stored fingerprint data can be deleted or neutralized. A great feature of any Kwikset Smart Key lock is that you can “re-key” the lock yourself in about 15 seconds, and without any disassembly. That worked great. It also resists criminal “bump key” methods known to defeat many locks. Many people aren’t aware that a clever thief can quickly and easily defeat most door locks using the “bump key” technique. Check: http://www.toool.nl/bumping.pdf for info.
If the lock would work as advertised, we would love it for its simplicity, but that hasn’t been the case. Often my finger works the first time, but not always and I must rescan several times. My wife has less success and “often” has to scan her finger several times, sometimes resorting to her key (and a few unkind words). Their telephone tech support was little help, although we couldn’t get my wife’s finger to unlock it at all until after they walked me through a setting change. Her finger now works, but not consistently. Their on-line tech support feels we aren’t scanning correctly, but we have tried the video’s approach and some other techniques with no improvement. We purchased it at Home Depot, but it appears they will get this very unreliable item back. Their Web site tech support was a joke and the English part didn’t work for me. I asked them to send a new sensor, but they said that would take at least a month. This product really tries your patience. There is an installation and programming video on the Kwikset Web site http://www.kwikset.com that makes it seem easy, but we’re giving up. The price at Home Depot is $199.95.
And A Good Time Was Had By All!
I attended the fall conference for FACUG (Florida Association of Computer User Groups) and it was nice to see everyone. Attendance was about average for their one-day fall event with 80 attendees from 29 user groups. Central Florida Computer Society (CFCS) was the host and the FACUG conference coincided with the CFCS 2nd annual Tech Fair, a two-day event featuring many great seminars and products with a host of local vendors selling their wares. The conference included breakfast and lunch and they kept you busy for the entire event, ending with a nice drawing for the FACUG event, and another drawing the next day at the Tech Fair. Unfortunately, the CFCS event was not well attended by their membership.
I also met APCUG president Jay Ferron and got some updated information from him. Nobody could be more positive about APCUG’s future than Jay.
Help For Cut & Paste
Flashpaste Professional by Softvoile is a utility that lets you type a boilerplate text, save it to a mini-database, and paste it automatically into any document, e-mail, Word document, Web page, chat, etc. Just click "CTRL-U" to pop up a dialog box where you pick the auto text you need and paste it into a document. "Click the "New Item" button and type in the name of the item, and then set its type folder to RTF or simple text. Just type the boilerplate text into Flashpaste and fill in all the fields without having to step out of the submission page several times. The record is then added to the tree of items in the Flashpaste main window."
The standard Windows clipboard keeps only the last copied text, but Flashpaste records all recently copied words, numbers and phrases allowing easy reuse and eliminating repeated copying and pasting. Flashpaste Professional helps perform a variety of tasks such as automatically inserting frequently used addresses, e-mail text blocks, HTML code snippets, words, phrases and paragraphs. Flashpaste can also create macros and strings that are either replaced or processed by an application. Using macros, you can paste current time and date, insert commands that emulate pressing the Tab or Enter keys, and more.
Download Flashpaste Professional using this link http://softvoile.com/download/flashpastepro.exe?s=ng9 (1.1Mb). Use the discount coupon (bcddc) that gives a 25% discount from the $29.95 list price. Offer valid till Feb. 01, 2008. A 30-day evaluation copy can also be downloaded. I’m not sure if it will be a fully-working version or if they will send you a key for the trial version. http://softvoile.com/ Visit their Web site for more information about Flashpaste features http://softvoile.com/flashpaste/?s=ng9.
An Interesting Freeware!
DVDVideoSoft Limited http://www.dvdvideosoft.com has updated its free software, Free YouTube to iPod Conversion and Free YouTube to iPhone Conversion. The free software enables users to download a video from YouTube and convert it to MP4 video and MP3 audio format for playing on an Apple iPod, iPhone, Sony PSP or cell phone. With just a few simple steps, users can enjoy their favorite online videos without having to sit in front of the computer.
Users enable Free YouTube to iPod Conversion and Free YouTube to iPhone Conversion by inserting a link into the program interface and clicking the 'download and convert' button. The software downloads a video in MP4 format or audio in MP3, which can then be uploaded to a portable player or mobile phone. The program also converts a Flash video file to MP4 video format.
DVDVideoSoft has already created a line of free tools: Free YouTube to iPod Converter, Free YouTube to MP3 Converter, Free YouTube to iPhone Converter, Free Video to iPod Converter, Free Video to iPhone Converter, Free Video to MP3 Converter, Free YouTube Uploader, Free Fast MPEG Cut, Free 3GP Video Converter and Free Video to Flash Converter. All their programs are absolutely free and run under Windows, including Vista. They say they respect the users' privacy and there is no spyware or adware. The programs are available in different languages, for example: English, German, French and Japanese.
Besides free downloads, the site provides many tutorials and guides. For more information and free downloads visit DVDVideoSoft at http://www.dvdvideosoft.com/free-dvd-video-software.htm. In addition to its software site, DVDVideoSoft runs a free On-Line Video Conversion resource VIDOKY http://www.vidoky.com, a popular video download site.
That's it for this month. I’ll have more new product announcements on my Web site (most not offering a discount). Meet me here again next month if your editor permits. This column is written to make user group members aware of special offers or freebies I have found or arranged, and my comments should not be interpreted to encourage, or discourage, the purchase of any products, no matter how enthused I might sound. Bob (The Cheapskate) ClickClick here to return to top
. Visit my Web site at http://www.dealsguy.com