Friday, April 29, 2016

Are Extended Warranties Worth It?

Extended warranties are for suckers, so I always thought.  Yes, I've bought a few and regretted it.  So perhaps net/net they are for suckers.

Today I love them.  

  • My oven broke yesterday with a "cannot communicate" error. I didn't know oven's communicated, maybe I need to start talking to it.  
  • I went to start my car this morning and it wouldn't start. Charged the battery and it still won't start (I'm guessing the alternator but hey, I'm not good with cars!).

I'll pay $75 for my oven to get fixed no matter what is wrong.  I'll pay $100 for my car to get fixed and no charge for the towing.  So no matter what happens, I'm out $175.  Unless the part is not covered (battery is not covered but that should be not much more than $100).

Even if I pay a little more year round for these warranties than I get in real dollars, the peace of mind of knowing how much it will be is worth something.  Even better, I don't worry if they are ripping me off, that is someone else's problem who will fight for me if something goes wrong.

The last extended warranty I bought just expired on my wife's 2008 minivan. I got more out of the warranty than I paid for that warranty.  It was a hassle though since I bought a 3rd party warranty from warrantydirect.com.  The benefit is I could take my car anywhere. The problem is they were a pain to deal with for the dealer and added delays in the process. They did, however, come through for me and lived up to the contract.

My oven is under warranty with most everything else in my house from ahs.org.  I had to work through customer service on an issue recently for a plumbing problem, but they came through and did the right thing.  My Dodge Journey is under warranty directly with Chrysler which means I have to take it to the dealer (not convenient) but everything is so much easier other than getting there and back (towing is included thankfully!).  I have a lifetime warranty (seriously) and pay $100 per incident for as long as I own my car (rental car and a few other things expire at 100,000 miles).
I bought my chrysler warranty from http://www.chryslerwarrantys.com/ and saved money while getting the same coverage. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

You are probably doing damage with your prescriptions

I was disturbed when someone I know recently threw out old prescriptions.  When I learned of it, I asked if they realized the damage old medicine can do.  The answer was no and it reminded me that many people probably don't realize to take special care to dispose of your old prescriptions.

There are 2 main options.  The first is hold on until a collection is done in your area (usually 1 time per year in my area.  

Saturday, April 30th is national drop off day.  

Click here to look up a drop off location and get rid of those prescriptions!


If no medicine take-back programs or DEA-authorized collectors are available in your area, you can also follow these simple steps to dispose of most medicines in the household trash:

  • Mix medicines (do not crush tablets or capsules) with an unpalatable substance such as dirt, kitty litter, or used coffee grounds;
  • Place the mixture in a container such as a sealed plastic bag;
  • Throw the container in your household trash;
  • Scratch out all personal information on the prescription label of your empty pill bottle or empty medicine packaging to make it unreadable, then dispose of the container.



Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Blogging everyday is hard but shows promise

I have now blogged most every day for 2 weeks.  Some days it is really easy because I have time.  I have learned that I always have something to say but I'm occasionally hesitant to share it because I want to make it so good that I hold on to the thought for later.  My hope is that I will eventually come back to those larger thoughts and blog about them.

In the meantime, I find forcing myself to blog every day (at least weekdays) has been useful for me. Much like having to present a topic to an audience creates a deeper understanding of the content, blogging every day has helped me think more deeply.


Monday, April 25, 2016

A good ROI for investments

A few years back I tried out lendingclub.com as a way to invest money that would have otherwise sat in a CD.  I did not invest a lot, but enough to see how well it would perform and I'm glad I did.  The returns have been less than the stock market but have been far better than a CD and with similar risk.

I'm not a brilliant investor by any stretch but if you have a few extra dollars around, you might want to look at lendingclub.com.  If you click the link and sign up, I'll get $25 but don't worry about me. Feel free to take any great offer you can find.

For me, my return was a little over 6% for the last few years.  Hard to beat.




Thursday, April 21, 2016

How old is old?

My father is as active today as he ever was.  He travels the world, excercises, reads, watches grandchildren, teaches, and the list goes on.  By age many people would consider him old. Fortunately for me, he is not old.

I saw this AARP youtube commercial this morning about millennials describing old.  A bit hokey at first, it turns into a great 4 minutes of video.

My favorite line in the video that I think is very true: "When people start stopping, that is when they start getting old".  My dad hasn't started stopping yet and is an inspiration to me.


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Stop making excuses

4/19/16 honoring Brooke Kelly Pasch
I made excuses for years.  Mary (my assistant years ago) kept pushing me to stop making excuses.  She kept setting an example for me.  Mary gave blood. Consistently.  So I finally did.

Now, I give blood consistently.  Now, I want you to stop making excuses.

Giving blood is:

  • Scary for many first timers
  • Time consuming
  • An amazing gift
You don't get a tax donation. You don't get a thank you from the person who gets your blood.  You don't get paid for giving blood.  

You really don't get anything for giving an hour of your time.  You don't get anything for your pint of blood.  

Fortunately, someone else does get something.  Someone gets to live another day or longer. Someone gets a better life.  

Even if you believe in Karma, don't give to get.  Give because you can help someone.

Yesterday, I gave again. Every time I give, I do so to honor Brooke Kelly Pasch.  My hope and desire is that I'm giving blood that will help another person impact the world in a way that Brooke did.  If you can, give blood.  Someone needs it.






Tuesday, April 19, 2016

7 Reasons I chose OneNote over Evernote

Last week I blogged about sticking with Evernote rather than OneNote due to the web clipper.  @Onenotec on Twitter helped me see I was missing something and I've now fully moved to OneNote.

I blogged about this today at Promo Marketing where I blog every 2 weeks. The original blog is below as well or you can view at:http://magazine.promomarketing.com/post/7-reasons-switch-evernote-onenote/


I’ve been a user of Evernote for more than three years, but I’ve become fonder of OneNote lately. In case you don’t use either, both do a great job keeping notes organized without multiple Microsoft Word documents. Most Microsoft Word documents end up cluttering your hard drives and the content is hard to find, especially for notes.
If you haven’t started using either, start with OneNote instead of Evernote. If you are an Evernote user, take a look at these reasons that I think make it worthwhile to switch to OneNote, and decide for yourself which is right for you.
1. Price
OneNote is free and doesn’t limit features to only paying people.
2. Text Recognition in PDF Files
Evernote premium (paid) offers this, but it is included with OneNote. Searching in OneNote will search all notes, including the PDF text.
3. 15 GB of Storage Included
Evernote only offers 60 MB in the free plan. If you use Office 365, you can use a full TB. (Although, if your notebook exceeds 15 GB, you might be storing more than you should!)
4. Formatting
OneNote provides “Word-like” formatting. One of the most frustrating things about Evernote is the horrible formatting. If you want any formatting beyond the basics, you are out of luck. OneNote feels very similar to using Microsoft Word.
5. Audio Recordings Linked to Notes
If you record audio in a meeting and type notes, the audio is linked to where the note was taken. So, if you read a note that does not make sense, click the audio and you can hear what was said at that moment, making it much easier to get clarity on any note you missed. It is an extremely powerful feature for people who want to record meetings.
6. Video Annotations
You can embed the videos in your notes rather than just audio. So, at the PPAI Expo, you can take a recording at a booth and enter it directly into OneNote. Evernote only allows for photos and audio.
7. Stability
I don’t think Evernote will disappear, but I do think it is extremely challenged to make money, and thus I don’t know if its product will improve. It pretty much has been the same for the last three years.
For those of you who aren’t using either, some of my favorite uses for OneNote (or Evernote):
  • Taking notes at trade shows
  • Storing travel-related confirmations
  • Clipping articles and blogs I might want to read again or read later
  • Writing drafts of blogs
  • Storing important emails
I am a big fan of the clipping tool in Google Chrome for my notes. I’ve been using the Evernote Web Clipper for so long that I have a great collection of all sorts of articles. OneNote Web Clipper’s article view gives you the functionality you need for clipping text from Web pages into OneNote.
Remember, OneNote is free and far more powerful, but it still has a learning curve. In fact, because it has so many more features, you might find Evernote easier since it works pretty well for basic notes.
If, however, you are finding yourself somewhat limited by Evernote, give OneNote a try. If you like it, Microsoft offers a tool to import all your old Evernote files. I used it—it took about an hour to convert almost 2,000 notes, and did a fine job.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Product review - BC5704 Power Tech Backpack


My good friend Jennifer Mason from Sweda saw my old backpack and sent me a new Sweda backpack.  If you are like me, giving up your comfortable backpack is hard to do.  I'm all for change, but not when it comes to my backpack!

Nevertheless, I gave it a shot because I like Jennifer and I really needed a new backpack.  I've only used it for about 1 week at this point and I have found many things to like about the Power Tech Backpack.  A few things I don't like as well, but plenty to like.

Strong & Durable
This backpack feels soft to the touch but also has an incredible amount of padding. I feel like you can throw the bag 20 feet with a laptop and ipad inside and the contents will be safe.

Built in Power
This backpack comes with a very powerful 6000 mAH charger and cable.  Sure, you can sell them seperately but this is a nice feature with built cord keeping capabilities to keep things neat. My backpack always gets messy so I like this feature.  This adds cost to the item so it's an important feature to highlight how valuable the charger is.

Pockets
Lots of pockets and places to store things.  Lots of them.

Compact & light
This backpack does a nice job of keeping the contents compressed so that it fits in smaller spaces.Feels good on the back.



http://www.swedausa.com/main/default/ProductsDetail.aspx?id=2158

Those are the things I like the most about the backpack.  A few things that aren't as good (but shouldn't keep you from buying or selling it) are in order so you know this is an honest and unbiased review.  I wouldn't be me if I didn't tell you the whole truth...

  1. Zippers are stiff.  After a few uses they are still stiff but they do seem to be loosening up.
  2. Very tight to get stuff out.  Again, getting looser with use, but starts very stiff. Part of the trade off of having it be a compact backpack.
  3. I prefer a black backpack to grey for personal preference but the grey really allows the G! logo to stand out so it's a great branding opportunity.


All in all, I give it 4 stars out of 5.  It's a higher price point so it's going to be targeted to people who have a larger budget and want to provide more than a backpack.




Thursday, April 14, 2016

Why I gave up on OneNote - Updated - Maybe Onenote afterall!

OneNote included with Office 365 and has great formatting, so why did I drop it and go back to Evernote?

Well first of all, I still love one note.  It's a great note taking tool and has far more features than Evernote.  But, it doesn't have the key features I need.

The main feature I use evernote for is clipping articles and emails.  OneNote has this feature but for some strange reason converts a webpage to an image instead of keeping the text.  Why, I have no idea. but this one feature alone is the primary reason I am sticking with Evernote.

So for straight note taking, Onenote wins.  But for the way I use notebooks, Evernote wins.  I tried using both because I thought I could use evernote for clips and onenote for note taking. but that became confusing and didn't add value.  So I'm back to Evernote only until Onenote web clipping improves.

UPDATED - 4/16/16

After tweeting this article and tagging onenote, they pointed out (quite nicely) that the article clipping feature does what I was looking for.  I have added back the plugin and am going to give it another try.

At this point, if you are considering changing, you might want to take a look at the article feature first. I still wish this was the default OR they would let me change it to the default.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Wasted energy

When things don't go well, people get upset.  When people get upset, people spend time and energy trying to keep others calm.  That energy is wasted.

You can't always prevent problems so how you react is up to you.  Will you cause people to scurry to make you happy, or will you allow them to react properly?  If people are afraid of you, they will almost always try not to get in trouble.  If people know you respect them, they will work to solve the problem.

Allowing the problem to occur is the root cause and we must do all we can to prevent problems.  Then again, if you spend too much time preventing problems, it's tough to move things forward. Allow for small mistakes, but if you find too many small mistakes (or heaven forbid a few big ones), stop and ask yourself what needs to be done.

Stop wasting your energy overreacting and you'll save everyone else's energy too.  If you have to overreact to get people to do the right thing, you probably have the wrong people.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Why I still use MyfitnessPal AND MapMyFitness

I lost about 30 pounds using Myfitnesspal thanks to recognizing just how many calories I was putting in my body.  The app alone wasn't enough, I had desire and this was a tool (I'll say it until I can't speak any longer, technology is just a tool, you have to use it right).

Beyond the app and my desire, was a friend and colleague David Kennealey who still to this day beats me up over the sugar content I put in my body (and beer content as well).  David is a key reason I still log in every day (340 days today!) because I know he is watching me.  I don't completely log everything like I used to do, but that daily check in reminds me to watch my calories.  Some days I put in everything, other days it's breakfast and I get lazy after that. But I still think about what I'm putting in my body.

I also use MapMyFitness which I have very few "friends" that use it. I use it not because of the accountability to friends, but it is a great app for tracking my runs and it synchronizes with myfitnesspal making it easier to keep up my diet.  It's not the best running app, but it is pretty good.

I had fitbit and loved the community but keeping 3 apps current was a pain. I also hate wearing anything on my wrist. I tried a samsung watch and I liked that, but the apps were not compatible with myfitnesspal.

Once I hit a full year of logging in every day to MFP, I'll probably stop.  I almost made it last year but was out of the country and could not log in. I thought I did but it did not synch so I had to start over.  If I gain weight, I'll be back on but otherwise my MFP days will be less rigid but I'll remain more active than most.

Perhaps I'll find the perfect app and get rid of MFP and Mapmyrun.  I'll miss the community though. I'm sure David will find a way to bust my chops no matter what.


Thursday, April 7, 2016

My favorite travel mug

I get my share of SWAG or promotional items.  I have quite a few that I really cherish whether it's my backpack, my umbrella, or any other item.  One item, however, I use quite often is my vacuum tumbler (AKA travel mug).

I've had this mug for almost a year now and I love it.  I can bring my coffee in my backpack and be 100% sure not a single drop will leak (unless I forget to close the lid!).  Plus, if I get busy and don't start drinking it for an hour or longer, it's still hot.

I am obviously a huge believer in the power of a promotional product and some deliver more value than others.  This travel mug has served me well and I enjoy looking at my company logo every day.  A full year and the logo still looks great.

I'm amazed at how hot my coffee remains hours after pouring it.  Most days, I can easily revisit my coffee after lunch and it's still hot (not as hot, but still more than warm).

I give this vacuum tumbler my full 5 star rating and love it.  Thanks to Jon Norris for setting me, and a few of my colleagues, up with this great mug.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Don't perpetuate false information!

At least once a week, usually more often, a friend of mine will post something that supports their viewpoint.  Sometimes the post is so obviously incorrect, I take the moment to google for more information.  Usually, I can find the truth in less than 60 seconds.  Sometimes it takes a few minutes and on a very rare occasion I learn that the post is at least partially true (I cannot stress how rare this happens).

What harm does it do to post something incorrect?
Given how often incorrect information is reposted, it does a lot of harm.  In some cases, it's relatively harmless like the picture posted by a friend who believes this is an actual photo from the Hubble telescope.  No real harm done except to their reputation for accuracy which I will apply to future posts from them.

But what about my friend who posts that Bible's aren't allowed in school?  That creates a real issue and tension that is not useful.  What about the time Obama didn't salute a Marine?  Well, it's partially true but he did shake his hand.  Despite what some email says, George Bush did not wave at Stevie Wonder and his IQ is not the lowest of all presidents ever.

Misleading pictures and information used to be something we had very little choice but to believe.  Now, we have a chance to verify information.  Sure, some things are harder to grasp. Global climate change is over most of our heads so we tend to choose to believe based on our bias because the facts are so confusing.   Yet, some things are SO simple and obvious.

Please do me and everyone else a favor and stop posting things that are false.  It takes away from how smart you are and reduces intellect everywhere.

Perhaps even join me in my quest to politely help friends and family learn the truth.  When you find a clearly false post, link to the facts and encourage them to take a quick look because you know they wouldn't want to spread false information.

At a bare minimum, please look at snopes.com before reposting. www.snopes.com is pretty good about catching the most obvious false information.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Really amazing service from Vornado

I bought a vornado fan 2 years ago.  I lost the remote at some point and stopped using the fan.  It's starting to get warm again in Florida and my office tends to warm up faster than the rest of the house and adjusting the fan would require me to get up and walk 2 feet...

On a whim, I decided to email vornado to buy a replacement remote.  Their response delighted me and has made me a fan of the company.

My email was replied to pretty quickly asking for my model number and shipping address.  It stated "we will send you a replacement remote at no charge".

4 days later, I received a remote in the mail. No shipping charges. No remote charges. They even included a battery (the battery is coin battery which is not something people usually keep at home).

When I get service like this, it creates a lasting impression on me.  I will definitely buy another vornado if I need a fan based on this experience.

How will you treat your customers so great that they think of you every time they need to purchase what you sell?  You can't be average, you have to exceed expectations.


Monday, April 4, 2016

I loved FIOS and now I am forced to switch to a horrible company called frontier

I have been a happy Verizon Fios customer for 4 years since moving back to FL.  Last week I was notified my tv, phone, and internet had been sold to Frontier communications.

No big deal to me. I figure everything will be nearly as good and the hiccups won't matter because I mostly use Internet and they won't dare mess that up.  I rarely watch TV or use the phone.

Last night, I tried to watch Better Call Saul on AMC using my AMC app.  I logged in with FIOS and was told I had to login with Frontier credentials. So I created my credentials and tried again.  Nope.  In fact, Frontier is not even an option on the AMC app.

So I call support thinking there must be something I am missing.  The first person I get is horrible.  Every time I restate the issue about the app, she proceeds to confirm I'm having problems with my cable box.  After 15 minutes of this, she finally agrees to transfer me to customer service.  After 20 minutes on hold, I get another uninformed representative who does the same thing and proceeds to tell me to unplug my cable box.

So I ask to speak to a supervisor.  The supervisor is equally uninformed and does not understand the AMC app or watching TV via apps at all.

I'm completely ok with issues and not having things my way.  I would even be ok (upset, but realizing business is business) if Frontier could tell me that I can't watch AMC any longer.  I would probably still switch to Bright House, but I would not complain about it.

The service people and the lack of information on the web site have me very worried about my upcoming experience with Frontier.  If I don't get a better sense soon, I'll be moving to Bright House and likely encouraging my neighbors to do the same.  I don't want to wait around for bad service when something goes wrong.  It's one thing I loved about Verizon, they have great products AND great service overall.

The above is my experience, but I'm not alone.  Google "Frontier Communications Complaints" and wow!

Friday, April 1, 2016

Divoom AuraBox - My review

Received a customized Divoom AuraBox as a sample.  We (Geiger) sell these but we don't list them on our website because we haven't yet determined if they are a product we want to feature.  We limit our products on our websites to products and vendors we believe offer good value.

My Divoom AuraBox arrived in a nice package and I was excited to open it and use it.  I immediately plugged it into my computer speaker jack to see if it could replace my existing external speaker.  Nope. It requires power.  So I charged it and then left it plugged in.  Nope.  My other speakers work fine via the headset jack. Strike 1.

Tried to find support to see if I was doing something wrong.  Found FAQ but no help. http://www.divoom.com/support/faq.html. Strike 2.

Downloaded the app and connected AuraBox to my android. Worked fine.  Yet, I was not excited about having a bright clock with notifications sitting at my computer.  So while this is not strike 3 for me, it wasn't a win either.

After writing the above, I was sure I had overlooked something. Sound quality, something.  So I charged in and plugged it back in the headset jack on my laptop.  A hissing sound came on.  Moved cables, tried plugging into different ports. Nothing.  The hiss/buzz continued.  This makes the speaker unusable for me. Strike 4.

The logo for is on the speaker which is on the backside of the device. The lights are intended to be the front side. So this is a nice subtle placement but I'm not sure it will get the visibility I would want from a promotional product.  The imprint quality is very nice.



Bottom line. The setup of this device left me frustrated. The sound quality and light features are nice for people who want that.  I would avoid this product as a promotional product and find something that will leave the customer with a better experience.

If you want to buy one for yourself after reading my review, be my guest.  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B011R7ALW6/.

For me, I'm sticking with my Mini Boom for now but looking forward to getting my new Amazon Tap next week!