Google Trends Review

There are tools that you can play with when you build a blog.  All this is designed to drive people to the page and hopefully see something that will bring them back and maybe even click on an ad.   You know, Beer Money…

One of them is Google Trends.  It looks a lot like Google but what it does is tell you how popular that search is by other people.   Basically what the neighbors are thinking.  Ever look at your dog and say “I wonder what she’s thinking”?  At least now you know how popular something is or what is going on in the world because you’re presented with the top ten search terms for the last hour or so.   For today 9/25/2009, when I clicked on this, the number 8 search was “Randy Quaid Arrest“.   I didn’t know he was arrested because that kind of news usually doesn’t get me to look at it.   I remember Randy Quaid from various movies and the first thought was Texas… they’ll shoot him.  But I was wrong and the Presidio County Sherriff’s Officers must have known him too.   Apparently, he was more calm than his wife was threatening and screaming like she was less than happy about it all.   Didn’t listen to the officers did you, Evi?   Tsk Tsk.   If it were you or I or any other “regular guy” I suspect you’d be going for a ride in the back of a Crown Victoria Police Interceptor after accidentally banging your head on the B Pillar… or worse.

At any rate, its amusing in a dry sort of way to look at the top 100 and find some quirk in our society that you hadn’t thought about.   Ok, I need to get out more…. but if you want to see the current top 100, click here.

Pompano Beach – Cheesesteak Experience Review

Cheese steaks in Florida?   Mushy bread, soggy rolls, weak or greasy steaks, amurrican cheeze?

Nope.   Authentic.  All the way down to the Amoroso’s Rolls.   And hey anyone back in Philly can youse send me a few? I’m missin’ dem!

Ok I’m getting  ahead of myself.   I was in Pompano for an interview.   It went really well… and it must have because it took three hours.   Seems like everyone there was from Philly in the office.   So afterwords I was thinking maybe to the Cuban place in Festival Flea Market for a bit of Pork.

Then it called to me with a sign from on High…

Amoroso’s Rolls!   Cheesesteak Experience!   We’re From Philly!

Could It Be? Did I really find an outpost of culinary goodness in the land where Wonder Bread is a good thing?   Ok, Its just one meal so I ordered a Combo #1, 6″ cheesesteak, With.   She said “Are ya from Philly” I said sure am!  “So you want it wit’, with Wiz and on an Amoroso’s Roll!”

Translation – With Fried Onions, Cheese Wiz, and on Heaven on a Roll…

YOU BET!  YUM!

So as I’m standing there in my Grey Interview Uniform, er Suit, I’m thinking that it can’t be as good as Jim’s on South, Genos or Pats in South Philly on 9th.  Guess what, Its the best I’ve had in years.  Certainly one of the best that South Florida has to offer.   The folks are from Huntington Valley and Oxford Circle who run the place and I felt like I was “home” listening to the woman bang the spatula against that big expanse of Stainless Steel that was covered by piles of fresh chopped sirloin cooked to perfection.  They even warmed the roll over top of the Steak like they used to do at Wombo’s at Ellisburg Circle back in the 60s and into the 70s before it finally closed.

Who would have thought that Food Court food would be so good!

Cheesesteak Experience in the Festival Flea Market, 2900 W Sample Rd, Pompano Beach, FL

I’ll be back!

Iguana on a tree

Iguana on a tree?  Yes, in South Florida we have Iguanas running hot and cold all over the place.   In fact anywhere south of the I-4 line you can see them, especially near water and vegetation.

In winter we have “Iguana Season”.   That’s meant cynically because in Cold Weather (under 50F/10C) their muscles get less efficient, they slow down and they fall from the sky.  Like apples (or oranges) in a grove, these prehistoric looking things simply drop out of the trees.   Believe me, finding a 6 foot long (nose to tail tip) Dragon of an Iguana looking stoned on the Pool Deck was a bit of a shock to me.   I picked that particular one up and dropped him in the trash bin and when he thawed out he came back alive and quite unhappy!

Now that I know what they do to my Bouganvillea, Hibiscus, and Gardenia, I wish he hadn’t survived.  They do not share, and will denude your plants.   Since there are no natural predators, you’re sunk if you don’t plant things they dislike.  If they shared I wouldn’t mind but literally they strip things down to sticks!

Woot Off and Woot Review

Today is a Woot Off.   Woot is a website that is an obsession with some and used to be with me.   When the site started it was a deal a day.   When the deal sold off that was it until tomorrow.   Tomorrow was midnight Central time, or 1AM for us on the East Coast.
As the site got more popular they tried something really quite intriguing called a Bag Of Random Crap.   There was a picture of the item on the page, and in this case it was a generic brown paper bag with a big yellow question mark on it.  Back then when it showed nobody knew what it was and some tried for it since it was $1 for one, up to $3 for 3 and $5 for shipping.   Total of $8.   Not a lot of money for a gamble and these “bags” could be anything.  I’ve gotten a few and got some very nice things in it.   Keep in mind, there are thousands of people looking for this item alone since some have gotten a 62 inch flat screen TV  while others have gotten a Mr T Record.   I got the record and while its not “nice”, I have it hanging on the wall since I Pity The Foo who doesn’t like a Mr T Record.   Great conversation piece and the rest of the things that came in the Bag Of Crap were certainly worth it.  It has been copied elsewhere on other sites such as www.yugster.com.
The Woot Off will have a “thermometer” on the top right of the page showing the relative number left of this item, Yellow flashing lights and a rather amusing description.   When this hits zero, the item is sold out and they’ll bring another one up so hit F5 like everyone else and see what the next one is.
There are a few problems with www.Woot.com and their woot offs.   First is that the woot off is a victim of their own success.   I’ve gotten items from the woot off, and find a better deal is on their closeout site which I think is linked on there somehow or just click here.   The Woot Off is one of those things where they sell weird items and sometimes discount, sometimes not, but you have to ask do you really need a packet of 2 more LED flashlights, a USB powered rubber bladed fan, or a Plasma Ball even if it is 1.99 plus 5 shipping for example.

I just can’t see how anybody needs a “Shun Ken Onion 9 Piece Knife Block Set” for 519.99 plus 5 shipping!  In This Economy?   Are you crazy?  If you do, I’m sorry, but you need some “adversity” in your life!

Second is about the site in general.   Right about the time that I heard they changed hands and were bought out by a Big Grumpy Corporate Organization they changed their way of looking at things.  They’ve decided that since they are the Woot Gods, they have the option to have your sale not go through and when you ask them about it be rude.   Well they ARE from Texas.   That IS the state that gave us not one but two Bushes, and neither were any good at anything they did.   I swear there’s something in the water in Dallas because everyone was driving around like Stepford Wives acting stoned in their happy little world.  I mean a state that turned Ann Richards out of office for a Bush has to have a population with a relatively low average education level.
Texas aside, they decided the last Bag of Crap to dump a lot of people who actually got the product (it takes some luck and timing to beat everyone else out) and cancel the sale.  For the Bag of Random Crap before they shipped out 1500 identical Bags of Crap more or less to everyone that won, thereby killing the Random Crap name, of ugly pink bags, cheesy hand held games, and plastic army men as a joke and be sarcastic about it in later product postings and in their blog.
I’d say watch the site for the entertainment value.  I do and its in my tabs for the daily surf since the descriptions are amusing, but don’t depend on it for value, don’t be obsessed, and do live a normal life – away from www.woot.com if you need to. 

Now I’m going to go shower before the next item shows up!

Microsoft Windows Virus Protection for Casual PC Users

In view of the new Clampi virus that goes after your financial information, this seemed timely.   I hadn’t heard of it before I started on this post, but I did and went through the steps below, myself.
When I lived near family I’d go home and visit my Mom, and my Sister and my Nephew.   They were not the most technical people, but understood that there were uses for a home computer.   I got my nephew started when he was 2 with a PC, and he had one ever since.  Mom really didn’t see that she needed to learn although she was curious and my sister was an occasional user.
On the weekends I’d come home, after the long Honey-Do List I’d sit down and see if their PC, my nephew’s mainly, was still working.   This was back in the days before high speed internet was widely popular and they were still on a modem.   Every time I’d sit there, I’d hear “It’s not working right, do you know what’s wrong?”.   Sure, the virus protection was turned off, and after a scan there were sometimes hundreds of viruses.
That a teenager (then) would have viruses on the machine didn’t surprise me, and many people have them without noticing.   I personally run a copy of Symantec Antivirus on XP, don’t bother with anything on Linux or Mac OSX because I don’t do anything even slightly risky there.
I do have a backup plan and here is my recommendation.   For now and into the immediate future what I do is on Windows based PCs to surf via internet explorer, and this is about the only use I have for IE, the following link:
That link brings up Microsoft‘s free scanner.  It does not work unless you go there, answer the questions and start the scanner yourself.   Its best use is an occasional use where “something doesn’t feel right”.
Start the link, I’ll wait…
There’s a lot of text on that page, but if you page down to the button “Full Service Scan” and click it.
There may be a click through “Service Agreement” signing all sorts of legalese rights away, and a good lawyer could get them back, so page down and click “Accept” and a small window should pop up.   If it doesn’t, check your pop up blocker settings and allow the site to pop up.
Make sure that the following boxes are checked:
Comprehensive Scan
Virus Scan
Spyware Scan
All boxes under Performance and Network Scan should be checked.
Under “Comprehensive Scan” there is a link saying “Select Folders” or Customize.  This will allow you to set the scanner to look at drives other than your C Drive.   I’ve got two drives, so I can click there to turn it on to scan them, but if you are like 95% of the people, that link should be unneeded.
This being web software the links may change, so you’ll want to try this out if you’re unsure of your current scanner.   It is free, Microsoft tries to keep it up to date, and they intend to include this in the next operating system I’ve been told, called “Windows 7”.   For those of us out there who haven’t gotten Win 7 yet, and as of this writing, it is not yet out officially, this exercise is a great backup.
Oh by the way, you may want to do this and leave the machine up over night or while you’re at work.   It takes a couple hours for my machine to do a full scan.  It isn’t so much of a “resource hog” that you can’t do other things, but you then won’t have to babysit.  I have it running now as I sit in my Ikea Poang chair and bounce.
It took my system three hours to get to the point that it was through churning.   It came back with a window titled “Results”.   I didn’t have any viruses, thankfully.   But what I did here was to click the boxes that said “Defragment your hard discs” and clicked Next.
When you’re finished the scan, the final window asks you to “Let Windows OneCare take care of your PC”.  That is not necessary.   Click on the link that says “Not Yet, I’m not ready”.  
Now you have the Summary.   Click to clear the box next to “Share information with Microsoft”.  I don’t THINK so.   I personally share as little info as humanly possible.   Make sure that box is cleared, then click on the “Next” Button.
After the window refreshes, you may close that window and any other window you like.  You’re Done.
And so am I.   CYA!

Italian Peace Flag

No, this is not a Gay Pride Flag.   This is an Italian Peace Flag.   PACE is pronounced Pah-Chay and is Peace in Italian. 
It is an international symbol that I was unaware of.  That is, I was unaware of until my former neighbour, a 90 year old Quaker woman who terrorized the Utility Boards in Philadelphia had one put up.  I was driving home and nearly lost control of the car.  Was she “Coming Out”?  No, merely stating her Proud Quaker Heritage and wishing Peace to all. 
Ruth Miner, you were a fascinating woman and made my life in Chestnut Hill more interesting.  Thank you!

La-Z-Boy Design Tool Review

In short, its a great planning tool and it is free.   Of course Lazyboy wants you to go to their site, see their furniture, and buy.  Some of their furniture is truly wonderful and well built.   Before we moved here to South Florida, we had a room full of the stuff that was 20 years old or more.   I could have repaired the furniture, but we decided it was time and bought more when we got here recently (see earlier post).

When the tool was put in at La-Z-Boy, they could have locked you into their own furniture only and in doing so gutted the utility of it.   That decision wasn’t made and it made it much more useable.   On the other hand, if you are considering new furniture, and La-Z-Boy is a possibility, I’d say go for it, and look at their offerings. 

All of Lazyboy’s current models are in the program, and you can pick and choose the ones you want to put in your room.   You define the size of the room, find the type of piece in pull down (Chairs, Tables, Couches and Sofas and so forth) then the piece you are looking for and their furniture is already defined.  Double click on the piece and it plops it down in your virtual room.   You can spin it around and place it where you would want it without even buying a stick of furniture or moving a piece in your own room.  Just take measurements of the room.

The next step would be to find all the pieces you have that are going to remain in the room, find similar pieces and size them to fit by dragging the edges so that your dimensions (Inches or Metric) fit.   Everything is drawn to scale, and all the particulars are saved for you so that at the end when you print out your plan if you like, you get basically a Pick List of items with the models and names intact.   

The fun starts when you have all the pieces in your room and want to try out alternate layouts.  Why move that big TV across the room when you can do it virtually on your PC?   I ended up spending about a day on the site after I had measured my existing pieces and laid them out just so I could place them in the room before we bought anything.   It saved me from making some very costly mistakes of buying furniture that wouldn’t have fit.   When I got it in the room, after delivery, I knew exactly where everything was to go and what the alternate layouts were.   

After I used the site, registered, saved my plans and printed them out, we got our furniture set up by the shippers and they’re laid out just like I had planned.   It made for a much easier design and layout and didn’t require the services of an interior designer.

Thanks, La-z-boy, you were a great help!