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Passing the Sniff Test

October 22nd, 2012  · stk

Passing the Sniff Test -- Scott & Rachel are replacing their broken Lumix DMC-TZ5 digital camera. They can buy it locally for $349 CAD, but know they are cheaper in the States. They almost pulled the trigger on one for $162, but the company - smarttechcases.com - turned out to be a SCAM. Find out more.

SmartTechCases.com Scam

British Columbia - NAFTA woes continue for Scott & Rachel. While backpacking in Cape Scott two summer's ago, the Lumix camera they loved (Leica-lens, 10X optical zoom), popped out of it's soft case, landing hard on a wooden bridge. It wouldn't work any more. They took it to a camera repair shop, but thought the $180 repair bill was a tad expensive.

Fast-forward to this summer, when they had an amazing kayaking trip in Johnstone Strait. They missed lots of great wildlife shots, because they lacked a good digital camera with a decent zoom lens. The decided that they would bite the bullet and purchase the latest Lumix camera. (Updated to a 20X optical zoom - same weight and form factor, plus a few other goodies - GPS, touch-screen menu).

They've highlighted the disparity in digital camera prices between the United States and Canada. First with their Casio EX-Z875 digital camera and again with the Lumix DMC-TZ5 that broke.

Today, this latest Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS20 camera is "on sale" at their local Canadian Future Shop (if money weren't an object, they could drive right down and buy the camera, today and be instantly gratified knowing that they got it on sale). The sale price is $349.99 ("Save $30" the online advert says).

Knowing that they could probably buy the camera in the States for a lot less money, they headed to their friendly shopping bots and gave them a spin. Actually, it was their head that spun, when they saw a Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS20 camera on sale through a Yahoo e-commerce vendor (SmartTechCases.com) for $160. Wow!

To learn how cheaply they were able to buy this camera (and how they were almost swindled out of nearly $165) ... read on brave consumer ...

The Deal & the Scam

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Updated: 1-Nov-2012
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Ghost in the Machine

January 9th, 2009  · stk

For the second time in five years, my computer bit the dust. This time, however, armed with a "Ghosted" image of my operating system, it was a snap to start over with a clean install of Win XP Home Edition. Learn how Norton Ghost can allow you to laugh at viruses, corrupted system files, driver problems, malware and software conflict. Reimage your system drive in 10 minutes flat.

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A new computer is a bit like the attic in a new home - shiny, clean and empty. You are happy. You begin to fill it with your belongings and life is good.

As time passes, you store more items into your now, not-as-new attic. Finding things becomes more difficult. The attic is filling up and you're running out of storage space. Bugs, water leaks, the kids and other things are randomly damaging some of the items you've stored. Tools and appliances no longer function properly when you pull them from storage and try to use them.

"It worked last time," you think, "What happened?" Frustrated, you throw the item away, go down to the store and buy a newer version, perhaps by a different manufacturer. At least this new one works.

More time goes by. You take a Saturday and instead of having fun playing with your family, or going golfing, you spend the entire day cleaning the attic and organizing it. You throw away some items, reorganize contents of boxes, re-label others and generally shuffle things about. You feel good about it, in the end, and the result is that the attic functions better.

More time trickles by and you now realize that the attic is getting cluttered again. You think, "Didn't I give up a weekend to organize it, not so long ago?" Discouraged, you devote another weekend. Soon, "organizing the attic" becomes a regular, unwanted and unrewarding chore.

"Couldn't I just throw this out?" you ask yourself, looking at some loose parts to the dim light. "Better not, they might be an important part of a favorite game, useful tool or something. I might need it later."

Bugs, dust, mildew and chaos creep into your, now old, attic. You pull out your hair. The attic isn't even much good for storage anymore. It's messy, you can't find stuff and you can barely walk around. Most of what you pull out, no longer functions properly. Aaargh!

You realize you need to start over and you fantasize about a new, clean storage space. "Wouldn't a clean, new attic, filled with things like my (now old, moth-eaten) vinyl record collection, be great? (Since it's your fantasy, the record albums aren't old any more, they're in the same condition they were when you first stored them).

This scenario may be a fantasy for your attic, but it can be reality for your - similarly afflicted - computer.

Unlike your attic, you can start over with your computer's operating system. Just like it was 'brand new'. Remember? Bug-free, clean and functioning? Better still, you can also have spanking new copies of the programs you use, the settings you've tweaked, your bookmarked favorites, special fonts, treasured pictures, important documents and other precious data.

Best of all ... you don't have to spend days laboring to reinstall Windows (and the billion updates that came after). Nor do you have to reinstall every program, re-tweak the settings (if you can even remember where they are), or installing hardware and their pesky drivers. In less than an half an hour, in most cases, you can 'start over' with a 'brand new' computer!

Sound too good to be true? I'm here to say it's possible. All you have to do is purchase and use a disk imaging back-up program by Symantec called "Norton Ghost".

Reimage using Norton Ghost

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Updated: 30-Mar-2009
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Future NOT Very Friendly

November 21st, 2008  · stk

We've experienced over a week's worth of poor customer service and technical support, courtesy of our phone and high-speed internet provider - Telus. In the past 7 days, we'e been "off-line" for over 96 hours and had so much static on our basic phone service, that we were worried about contacting 911 should the need arise.

Telus Customer Service: Not helpful, not prompt, not reliable, not honest ... and well, not a lot of very good things.

thumbs up Telus: The Future Ain't Friendly

Two separate phone problems last week left us without an Internet connection for more than 96 hours and with a static-filled (essentially unusable for voice or Internet) line for 48 hours. Calls to Customer Service and Technical Support resulted in a run-around where we were put on "hold" for extended periods of time, disconnected, told placating lies, asked to perform silly "tests", or given wrong information ... all of which left us frustrated and without timely resolutions. Aaargh!

A week ago last Thursday, there was an Internet service outage in our rural neighborhood. It started about dinner time. As it turned out, a "Stinger Card" had to be replaced. It was no big deal, as these things happen from time to time. What was unusual, however, was when the "Stinger Card" was replaced - around noon the next day - Internet service was restored to everyone - except us.

Were we unlucky or was there some other problem? It took another day and a half of frustrating telephone calls to Telus customer support and technical support to answer that question ... and to get our broadband Internet connection functioning again.

Then, on the following Tuesday - after only two full, trouble-free days - our phone line suddenly became static-filled. The Internet was up & down more times than Paris Hilton on a Friday night and the voice quality so horrid, we couldn't communicate on the phone. We worried what might happen if we had an emergency! (FYI - We live rurally, so going "next door" takes a great deal of time and there's also no cell-phone service here ... we rely on our phone.)

Mpre xb0#t "wiy Telus s8cks" ...

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Updated: 21-Feb-2011
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Timberlands U-Cut

May 25th, 2008  · stk

Yesterday, Scott spent the day cutting a cord of wood at an Island Timberlands clear-cut. It was hard work, but for $30 a cord, who could resist? Find out more

A Chainsaw, Cord-of-Fire-Wood-Cutting Day

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We heat our home with a wood stove. Last winter wasn't super cold, but it did seem to linger and we were scraping the bottom of the wood shed by the time warm spring weather finally arrived. We're already thinking about building next year's supply, but not eager to shell out approximately $170 per cord. When Travis called to say that we had an opportunity to cut our own fire wood for $30 a load, we changed our family's weekend plan, so that Scott could participate.

Alex and I woke up at 6 AM on Saturday, tended to the chickens, fixed a fresh, fried-egg breakfast and then headed over to Travis' house. Alex stayed, to play with Miki, while Travis and I headed up to a clear cut area behind Chase River, to chainsaw up a bunch of fire wood.

The land is owned by Island Timberlands and for a handful of days this year (6) it is opened up to the public, so that they can cut fire wood. The "U-Cut" program is unique and (as far as clear-cutting can be considered environmentally friendly) it is a beneficial way for the timber company to get rid of unwanted timber. (Normally, such timber is heaped into a great big pile and burned).

Neither Travis, nor myself, have been on a timber land chain sawing trip, so for us, it was a new adventure!

To read more about our chain sawing, sweat dripping day .... read on ...

Read full story...

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Updated: 2-Jun-2008
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Creating Keepsakes

May 19th, 2008  · stk

When I went to renew Rachel's subscription to "Creating Keepsakes" magazine, I discovered that the publishing company - CK Media - is duping subscribers into believing they're getting HUGE "Insider Savings" on rates, when instead, they're paying MORE! This adds up to a couple of million dollars in extra revenue. I'm holding the company to task on it. Find out more

Magazine Unethically Dupes Subscribers

thumbs up creating keepsakes - CK Media

Creating Keepsakes (published by CK Media) lies to customers about HUGE "Insider Savings" on magazine subscription renewals. Instead, existing customers pay up to 25% more for renewals than brand new subscribers pay! Subscribers are left wondering, "Where are my HUGE Insider Savings? This is how I'm valued as a customer?"

Rachel enjoys scrapbooking our adventures, big or small. She's put together some really nice layouts and our shelves are slowly being filled with 12-inch by 12-inch binders, each holding stunning and creatively designed pages. It's a hobby, a creative outlet and it's been fun to watch her skills and pages improve over time. We enjoy pouring over the old memories, reliving the joy, adventure and good times. The scrapbooks are a treasured family heirloom.

For Mother's Day, last year, I bought Rachel a 12-month subscription to a magazine called "Creating Keepsakes", published by CK Media. The magazine is all about scrapbooking. She draws a lot of inspiration from looking at the featured designs, staying on top of new tools, styles and scrapbooking trends. She really looks forward to the magazine arriving in the mail each month and it's been a wonderful gift.

When I went to renew her subscription this Mother's Day, I happened to discover that existing customers pay up to 25% more to renew their subscription than do brand new customers who are signing up for the first time. This doesn't seem right. You'd think that CK Media would reward existing subscribers, eh? What's worse, is that they flat out lie to their customers, stating on the magazine subscription expiration notice:

LAST CHANCE FOR INSIDER SAVINGS ... ACT QUICKLY ... you can still maintain your insider status which entitles you to take advantage of HUGE SAVINGS and home delivery at no extra cost!

We've all seen these magazine subscription renewal forms, right? "Act Now" ... "Hurry" ... "Huge Savings" .... "$70 off of news stand prices" ... etc. I've never looked to see if it's a better deal than what's offered for new subscribers ... until today.

To follow the trail of magazine subscription enlightenment, subterfuge and *gasp* bold-face lies ... read on brave magazine subscribers ....

Read full story...

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Updated: 21-May-2008
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