Friday, December 29, 2006

Housework cuts breast cancer risk

New evidence shows that housework reduces the risk of breast cancer.

Yeah, this is going to go over real well.

"Honey, you missed a spot over there. Hey, I'm only thinking of your well-being!"

Thursday, December 28, 2006

You just know it isn’t your day when…

…you get drunk and unknowingly slap the undercover air marshal sitting next to you on the plane!

Celebrity deaths in 2006

I had forgotten some of the famous (and not-so-famous) people who passed away in 2006. Here's a list compiled by Fox News through the passing of James Brown. Ironically, Gerald Ford is not on the list (at the time I post this).

PayPal introduces a "virtual" debit card

When I logged into my PayPal account the other day, I was introduced to a new service they are offering. It’s called the PayPal Virtual Debit Card. The service is in Beta and seems to be the answer to concerns people have about buying items online.

Once you sign up for the service, you are asked to download a small program that resides on your computer. When you are on a merchant’s website and are preparing to check out, a small window pops up alerting you that you can use your virtual card. You then have to log in to PayPal and your account number is automatically entered into the merchant’s check-out screen. (This is according to the demo. I have not yet downloaded the program!) The account number for the virtual debit card changes all of the time and cannot be reused. This is one of the safety features that should appeal to buyers. Even if someone stole your account number, it cannot be used again.

The virtual card is a MasterCard-branded card.

Now that I am an eBay seller, I have a balance in my PayPal account that I can use elsewhere — even with merchants who do not accept PayPal. I’m curious what other card issuers will do.

First update: After posting this, I read other articles and discovered that this is not a new concept. American Express used to offer this to their customers, but apparently discontinued it. Others have stated that PayPal offered a virtual debit card before and has either enhanced it or chose to simply reintroduce it.

Second update: I downloaded and installed the virtual card last evening. I haven’t used it yet. What should I buy!?

I want my Gdrive!

The first rumors of Google’s Gdrive began early this year. In March, Google confirmed that Gdrive did, in fact, exist. Now, as we enter 2007, where is it?

Gdrive is suppose to be the answer to online storage. It will give us the ability to save important documents, photos and other digital files. Imagine copying your photos onto Gdrive and then accessing them from your laptop. Imagine backing up important Word documents.

Analysts and tech writers are guessing that Gdrive will become available to the masses sometime in 2007. The amount of available storage and the pricing levels (assuming there will be a cost for higher amounts of storage) have not been announced. Gmail currently comes with just over 2 gigabytes of free storage.

I want it!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

eBay "Map It"

eBay has added a new feature (or at least it's new to me!).

Called "Map It," you can search for items near where you live (or anywhere, for that matter). The default setting is 25 miles from your residence.

You can occasionally negotiate with a seller to let you pick an item up instead of paying to have it shipped. I recently did that with a camera I sold. The buyer drove about 40 miles to pick it up. Saved him about $20.

Microsoft sending out new Ferraris!

It appears that Microsoft is following Sprint's footsteps and sending free laptops to select tech bloggers with the new Vista operating system pre-loaded. According to several bloggers, Microsoft's PR firm sent out notices that they would be receiving an Acer Ferrari 1000 laptop with Vista Ultimate (the high-end version of the software).

Apparently there are no strings attached to favorably review Vista and the blogger is not required to return the laptop.

[Note: Earlier this year I was part of a Sprint program and was given free use of a cell phone for six months.]

Hey, if anyone from Microsoft's PR firm is reading this, I can be "bought" too!

President Ford passes away

I woke up this morning to the news that former President Ford passed away overnight. While not surprising due to his recent ill health, it's still sad to know that we've lost another former president.

It reminded me of when I saw him in person.

President Ford was one of three presidents I've seen in person. I saw President Nixon speak on the University of Nebraska campus when I was a student in 1971. And from a great distance I saw President Clinton jogging along the Potomac River (accompanied by security and an ambulance!) when I was on a D.C. river cruise in the early '90s.

Also in the early '90s, I was in the Palm Springs area for a business conference when I worked for Home Savings. I was flying back to Chicago and was at the airport seeing off one of my work colleagues before my plane was scheduled to leave. Because of the constant warm weather in Palm Springs, you climb the stairs and board the plane from the outside. My colleague boarded the plane and I was watching all of the other plans land and take off. Meanwhile, the plane just sat there past its scheduled departure. Finally, two limousines with American flags drove right up to the plane. Several large men got out of the first limo and then an older man got out. It was Gerald Ford. He was on his way to a speaking engagement and was flying commercial, albeit first class!

Imagine being on an airplane with a former president!

Friday, December 8, 2006

Selling addiction

OK I admit it. I've become addicted to eBay.

More specifically, selling on eBay.

I've had an eBay account for several years but was only a buyer. I don't really buy too many things -- mainly books and DVDs. I recently decided to sell my almost-new cellphone. I still had the original box and packing materials so I gathered it all together in a nice pretty package and decided to take the eBay plunge.

I spent a few hours researching prices and went ahead and set up my selling site. Within a few hours of posting the item, someone used the "Buy It Now" feature and snapped it up. Within minutes, my PayPal account showed I was paid...and I was hooked!

I've sold about a dozen items so far. Besides the cellphone, I've sold books and even a few year's worth of my old Civil War Times Illustrated magazines from the '60s and '70s. I've figured out how to pay for shipping and print shipping labels from home. I even went to OfficeMax a couple of weeks ago and bought a mechanical shipping scale.

It's a fun way to make money off of things you no longer need.

Saturday, December 2, 2006

First snow

Saturday morning

We had our first snowfall of the season early Friday morning and had blizzard-like conditions until early afternoon. I took this backyard photo very early Saturday morning with the sun just starting to appear.

It's always nice and peaceful early Saturday!