A woman's romance with motherhood, green living, finance, and this heady thing called life.
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Thursday, March 01, 2007
Review of the Box.net Widget
I must confess how much I love widgets. Especially one that is black and streams videos, podcasts, and pictures. It looks way cooler than the Flickr one you see on my sidebar, the Box.net Widget
is sheer poetry.
That said, the usability of the site can be improved. It was not immediately intuitive how to add and move pictures and videos around, and how to create a widget. The option Options should be removed from the dropdown bar as users have to click twice to use its functions.
There are also several technical issues that are most likely due to Flash and Java. My videos don't seem to be playing in the Box and the buttons and fields appear unlabelled. For the same reason, it is very much slower to navigate and use than other photo and video sharing sites.
Still, I'll be sticking with this for a while. It's a fantastic product and I expect a much higher uptake once the bugs are ironed out. The Box's interface is simply beautiful and beauty is what attracts people to add them to their sites.
This review was based on a one-time user experience, just as a regular user would use it. Many thanks to Box.net for this cool widget and for the kind sponsorship.
The Serenity of a Child's Bedroom
Only since Jack was born did I become enamoured with the idea of decorating a room for him. Pregnancy books wax lyrical of how mothers in the 8th month of pregnancy obsess over getting things in order for their baby's room. But since Jack had no room to speak of, throughout my pregnancy, I was simply more concerned about eating and resting.
I've been tasked with the job of reviewing the kids furniture
section of Great Priced Furniture
and I can't help but swoon over the lovely quaint range of armoires and Jessica McClintok Heirloom Beds
The site is logically categorised by manufacturer and type, accompanied by pictures of their furniture, which fully decorated, shows to full advantage how their range fits in your home. There are ample descriptions and specifications for each piece and the all-important, availability.
Their children's furniture is how I always imagined children's furniture to look like. Looking at their beautiful range reminds me how tender the feeling of having a child is, and how much I want to see Jack in a room of his own. I think I'm going to go hug my baby now.I wish to thank the kind sponsors Great Priced Furniture for allowing me the pleasure of reviewing their wonderful site. It was sheer delight.Technorati: review
, children's furniture
A sea as large as the Arctic has been detected under Beijing. Wondrous stuff.
It brings to mind the science fiction novel Abduction
by Robin Cook where explorers find an ancient civilisation below the sea. Living so deep in the planet, the virtually immortal and way technologically superior inhabitants were safe from natural disasters that caused a series of mass extinctions throughout the ages. This caused them to be a very peaceful civilisation, of course, until present-day humans came to disrupt that serenity.
Despite how ludicrous the story turned out to be in the end, it is still a fascinating premise.
The Dire Straits of Being in Debt
One of the primary responsibilities of being the COO of a home is to balance the budget. This includes paying the bills, managing the investments, maintaining good relations with our vendors and suppliers, negotiating the best deals for purchasing products and services, planning vacations (if any), and human resource management (of the King - yes, inspired by Gwen Stefani's).
So if we get into bad debt, it is my fault.
In this day and age with the easy accessibility of credit, too many people get into bad debt (debt that does not bring you any assets - no, cars are not assets). Only when you do the sums will you realise how frightening compounding interest grows your loan amount.
I feel that anyone who has gone into bad debt should be required by law to go for credit counselling
and debt management
Often, loans roll over to exponential amounts that can cause sufficient stress to break up relationships and poison families. Those in debt sometimes turn to loan sharks or feel that suicide is their only option (consider the 40 year old guy who killed himself to feed his kids from his insurance payout, which didn't happen in the end!). Others consider filing for bankruptcy or consider bankruptcy alternatives
Regardless of what the situation is, if you are in debt, please seek help. It's a terrible place to be and you shouldn't be alone.For more information, please visit our sponsor CareOneCredit's excellent resource library.Technorati: finance
, money management
Mephala's Tips for Buying a Laptop
Yes, this is my mission for the month of March. The I.T. Show is looming and I am frantically researching the prices and models so that when the time comes, my hands will be all over the lovely machines.
Since this will be my sticky and guide for myself, I present to you, Mephala's Tips for Buying a Laptop
.1. Decide what you want your laptop for.
Is it for work, school, design, gaming, or just surfing and email? Each function requires a slightly different configuration.
If you need it for work or school, you'll probably carry it around. So portability is a concern. You'd probably want to look at the laptops with a weight under 2.5kg (including battery pack - ah this they don't always tell you in the specs).
If you want it for design, get one with a large screen and the best graphics card you can afford.
Similarly for gaming, you'll want a large screen (minimum 14" - come on, how are you going to PvP on a 12") and a good graphics card.
In fact for the above two categories, get a desktop if you can afford the space and don't need the portability. The price you pay for a laptop can buy you two desktops already. Or else just get an external 20" screen. I have one. It is very very nice. :)
Finally, for just surfing and email, and probably photo storage, get a basic model.2. Decide on a budget.
Sigh... this is the part when reality bites. Perhaps I should retitle this, "decide on a realistic budget".
Laptops are expensive. As mentioned before, you can get 2 desktops for the price of 1 laptop, and usually with similar specs.
But there is nothing like a laptop nice and warm on your lap, beside you while you sleep, and greeting you with a startup when you wake.
Okay, I digress.
Yes, decide on how much you can afford and then match it to your needs.3. Do some research.
So now you know roughly what you want, visit some review sites to see what you can get for that price and range. Then isolate your selection to let's say 3 models and search online to see what peeps are saying about them. Read in particular what users say.CNET ReviewsEpinions4. Go touch them.
This is what I call the "touch test".
With technology, you can read the reviews and be absolutely certain you want something but then at the store, when you handle it for the first time, you become sorely disappointed. It is almost like having an online romance (not from personal experience but I can relate) and then meeting that person IRL.
Anyway, be prepared for this shocking experience. I did so with my first digital camera purchase. I spent a month and a year deciding to get the Canon A70 but the moment I touched it I cringed. It felt so heavy, chunky, and plasticky. Vincent immediately passed me the Panasonic Lumix F1 and the moment I touched it, I was in love. Never mind I never read a word about it before the "touch test". I bought it and spent many wonderful months with it.
I digress again.
Okay, so head to the store and touch the laptops. See if you like how the keyboard feels when you touch it. See if you like the touchpad or prefer the pointer (little nub thing). See if you like how it looks in real life.5. Sleep on it.
If you have some self-control (don't worry if you have none - I buy my tech stuff on the spot), sleep on it and see if you can sleep at all. If you can't, get up and surf a bit, look at its picture, and return to get it tomorrow.
When you are there, see if you can haggle for extra bits like DVDs, SD card readers, a mini-mouse, and other peripherals. And then pass them to me.Technorati: tips
Free 2GB Secure Online Storage!
Oh sweet! I was just thinking of how else I can back up my stuff when I stumbled on IDrive-E Online Backup
. They give free 2GB for storage online. No strings attached.
A friend of mine who is a hardcore techie told me that they don't make computers the way they used to anymore. We gave the computers of old a moment of silence and he proceeded to tell me why. They're not made to last anymore. Components are more fragile, especially hard drives. So much for storage huh, he grumbled.
It got me thinking how else I could store my precious photos, poetry, articles, websites I had archived over the past few years, now precariously and rather haphazardly kept in various CDs (which have not been examined for scratchage) and two old hard drives which are still working. I am hesitant to delete Jack's photos and videos from the 1GB card in my phone.
So the timing couldn't be more perfect!
Storage is an iffy thing. Even keeping stuff offline can be hazardous to fire, mold, angry cats, curious babies, and fastidious husbands. I've lost 2 years of work from a crashed computer which I lazily forgot to back up.
With the IDrive-E Online Backup
, you can do a remote backup in a simple drag and drop interface, and this part I like: it has enhanced security with 128-bit SSL encryption on transfers, 256-bit AES encryption on storage with a user-defined key. It doesn't get more secure than this.
I'll post a review on TechBot
after a couple of weeks of test running it. If you have any questions, visit their FAQs
and then go download
This post is kindly sponsored by Pro Softnet Corporation which is the makers of the cool IDrive-E. Thanks for the 2GB!
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Grandma Steals CNY Goodies
My 97 year-old Grandma has been sneaking into the CNY goodie area and gobbling up a ton of goodies in plain sight. She's completely mobile, very fiesty, has all her own teeth, and very protective of Jack.
She really shouldn't be eating this stuff as she's diabetic although the strict diet she is on can't be very tasty. Lately she smiles quietly and helps herself with the grub. I swear there is no doubt Tuxie is her grandson!
Meanwhile, she just offered me a love letter after stuffing herself with several and some CNY cookies. :pTechnorati: family
Before I became a Mom, I'd happily wear my acuvue contact lenses
everyday. It feels nice to have clear vision all day instead of my rather studious-looking pair of spectacles on my nose. These days I barely have the time or energy to comb my hair. Nonetheless, on weekends when we go out I try to use my dailies
I do have rather dry eyes
, especially after working on the computer all day and surfing on my mobile phone in the evenings while nursing baby to sleep. In fact I think my eyesight has deteriorated since I gave birth! The funny thing is, when I wet my lenses, pop them it, the lens seems to lubricate the eye and retain that lubrication so through the day, my eyes feel more moist. A real curious phenomenon. I wonder why.AC Lens
has a pretty good resource on eye care and a neat forum. They stock my daily lenses as well and the prices are pretty good. Check out their Ask a Doctor
section and stop by their Contact Lens Forums
. I should try to ask them about my weird moist-with-lenses-eyes and a few questions I have on Lasik.This post was kindly sponsored by the good people of AC Lens, who have generously provided an excellent information resource on eye care and concerns for everyone.Technorati: resource
, personal care
Too Many Companies Are Like Bad Marriages
Aye, I can relate to that. Back in the day when customer service officers actually picked up the phone not a machine, customer care actually meant that, manuals were actually useful, and companies actually bothered about you after you paid them.
Service standards range from excellent to downright awful these days. The experience of shopping should be just that: an experience. For someone who associates a purchase with the whole experience, sometimes it can put me off buying something if the service staff is rude, never mind aftersales care. Plus, the word service means to help. Very often it is overlooked.
Creating Passionate Users
said it best:
It's been said that the secret to a good marriage is... don't change. In other words, be the person you were when you were merely dating. Don't stop paying attention. Don't stop being kind. Don't gain 50 pounds. Don't stop flirting. Stay passionate, stay sexy, stay caring. Answer their calls. Unfortunately, too many companies are all candle-lit dinners, fine wine, and "let's talk about you" until the deal is sealed. Once they have you (i.e. you became a paying customer), you realize you got a bait-and-switch relationship.
I think the problem is that companies have forgotten the golden rules of social responsibility and maintaining good relationships. It's all about the bottom line now. Service staff are underpaid and overworked. No wonder they have no incentive to be nice, particularly if there have been difficult customers in the house.
It's easy to cite it as a work ethic issue. Japanese and Taiwanese service staff are some of the best I have ever encountered. I cannot say for sure how much they are paid but it certainly is in their work ethic to be polite.
Can we say conclusively that it is an issue about poor working conditions? There is only one way that change can happen, as with all other changes. From top down. Management has to treat their service staff well, train them to treat us well, so that we have a good buying experience.
But until companies are willing to expend the resources to lead the way, we'll be better off buying selectively.
, customer service
, work ethic
Print From Your Phone! Yes, Literally.