Do You Need the Latest Cell Phone?

Let’s talk about cell phones.  Today’s generation take them for granted, they've never been without one.  If you’re older you’ll probably agree it’s the greatest invention of our time.  Get your mail, text your friends, get on the Internet, ask Siri or Google anything and you have an answer instantly!  The whole thing is utterly awesome.  And don’t forget the camera.  Some of the latest phones take amazing photos and thank goodness the teens have their selfies!

After starting with several iPhones, I switched to Samsung and have had 4 of them, all Notes.  I believe the Samsung is a much better phone than the Apple.  That’s my opinion and it’s kind of like “Ford or Chevy.”

Now let’s talk some common sense.  Do we need the latest version every year?  I’m the first to admit that for years I’ve been one of those people, cause I love technology.  There were major advancements during those growing years, but it seems that has leveled off.  The days of camping all night around the block at Best Buy to purchase the latest and greatest iPhone are dwindling down.  People are keeping their phones longer.  Apple has been the all time marketing king!  You were nobody unless you had the latest release.

My current phone is a Samsung Note 8.  My first interest in a phone is the camera as I’m a photographer.  I passed the Note 9 and waited for this years Note 10+ as many improvements in the camera are being touted.  Since I’m currently laid up from a total knee replacement I’ve had plenty of time to research and watch reviews from experts on this latest from Samsung.  They are raving about the vivid screen, better battery life, and the versatility of many camera lenses. 

Now is when you have to use some common sense.  The price tag for the phone I’ve waited for is $1,100!  So, I started asking myself some questions.  Are these improvements worth this high dollar?  One of the selling features this year is the ability of using the stylus to activate the camera.  Big deal!  They changed the command button to the other side, some getting used to.  They did away with the headphone jack,  which eliminates the use of my push button selfie stick.

Research has shown that people are keeping their phones longer and getting off the “must have upgrade train.”  I’ve changed. Count me in!

Here’s a thought.  If you’re thinking it would be nice to have a new phone but at the same time thinking the one you have is doing a good job, why not just buy a new case?  Treat yourself to one for $20-$40.  It will have a whole new look and you just saved yourself lot’s of money, and the headache of setting up a new phone! 

So you purchase a new case, your phone has a brand new look, now here’s a few Hints to maximize your phone's efficiency! 

Texas Roadhouse

It’s been a long time since we visited a Texas Roadhouse.  We recently moved to a new area and one of those is close to our home.  Since our move we have visited there a few times with friends and I can”t say enough about the food and the outstanding service.

I have never written about a restaurant before but we’ve been so impressed that I just have to mention it.

On our last visit we ordered from the “Early Bird” menu.  It takes place from 3 to 5 pm.  For $9.99 you have a choice of some delectable dishes plus two sides.  I ordered a sirloin steak, with a baked potato, a salad and a glass of wine.

The waitresses that we’ve had have been more than friendly and that’s what makes a great atmosphere.  Before dinner eat up on a bucket full of peanuts and throw the shells on the floor!  Fun place and every half hour or so the servers do a line dance.

What would be a negative for most people is that my steak was not tender and even hard to cut.  I wasn’t going to say anything because I was already full.  One of my friends mentioned it to our waitress and soon I was delivered a new steak, roll with butter, baked potato with the trimmings, all boxed up to take home.  That really surprised me and what  I call exceptional service!

Texas Roadhouse Corporation is headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky. The chain operates about 563 (June 2018) locations in 49 U.S. states (no location in Hawaii) and in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, the Philippines, Mexico, and Taiwan.

Now that’s a lot of restaurants, so there’s bound to be one near you.  Next time you feel like eating out, give Texas Roadhouse a try.  I think you’ll love the experience!

Side dish:  I am not in any way associated or being compensated by this corporation for this post.

Keep Your Spirits High & Your Attitude Positive!

For years everywhere I go and to the people I meet my standard line is “Are you doing good today?”  It’s amazing how many answers I get!  All kinds of people whether it’s at McDonald’s, Walmart, the grocery store, gas station, or any other place that you can think of, give all kinds of answers.

What prompted me to write about this was a trip to McDonald’s today to get a couple of egg McMuffins and two Mocha Frappe coffees for breakfast.  When I got to the pay window I said what I always say and the young ladies' answer was, “Oh, I’m okay I guess.”  Sure we might be having a bad day, but don’t broadcast it!

Before I get to what I replied to her, let me say that McDonald’s Mocha Frappe coffees are out of this world.  Better than Starbucks at a lower price.   Got to admit it’s a high temptation not to have one every day!

So I looked at her and said, “You know what?  You have a nice job for a great company, get a weekly pay check, you’re not in a hospital, and it’s an awesome day!”  She smiled and said “Thank you for that.”  I hope maybe she felt just a little bit better.

I’ve often wished I could go into companies and give seminars to the front line employees.  You see, it’s the first person you meet when you walk into any establishment that determines the atmosphere.  Most front line employees don’t realize that they represent the entire company from the CEO on down!

Here’s an example.  You might visit a restaurant with really good food and mediocre to poor service or choose a restaurant with decent food and outstanding service.  Which one would you prefer? I’ll choose the best service. I love when I meet an enthusiastic waiter or waitress. It makes the whole experience so much more fun!

How about a sports bar.  You go in, sit down at the bar and the bartender is energetic, and say’s “Would you like what you had last time?”  Would you go back?  Sure you would, it’s like Cheers, where “Everybody knows your name!”

Today we live in a predominantly negative society.  People are in a hurry to get nowhere!  People are constantly on their cell phones.  We need to bring souls back from cyberspace and into reality!  Put down that phone!  Engage in healthy conversation and enjoy the people around you!

When you woke up this morning, whether you’re the Pope, a King, a Queen, rich or poor, God gave each one of us 24 hours.  How will you live each minute of today? Do you really want to be negative?

If each one of us would greet every person with a smile today we will have created a happier corner of our world!

Hints & Tips for Everyday Life

We are living in an age of “High Tech!”  Computers, laptops, smart phones, smart watches, smart
homes, smart cars, and the list goes on.  With all this wonderful technology sometimes it can be a
little frustrating as problems present themselves.

I’ll pass along some hints and tips to help you keep your life running with a little less stress!

Computers have been around for years but we still have problems keeping them from hiccupping!

  • Download & install the free version of CCleaner.  https://www.piriform.com/ccleaner/download
    Run this program everyday to delete unused and no longer needed files.  Just click “Run Cleaner”
    in  the lower right corner.  It will find these files and delete them automatically, then close the program.  It is suggested to uncheck “Cookies” before you run the program.

  • Download & install the free version of Malwarebytes.  https://www.malwarebytes.com/mwb-download/ This program searches for Malware and Spyware that can infect your machine.  This stuff is “picked up” by visiting certain web sites. After installing and opening the app, click on Settings, then My Account, and click on “Deactivate Premium Trial” then click OK.  Now click on the scan button. Hibernate any files that it finds.  Do this every two weeks, or more often, if you have the free version.  The paid version gives you 24/7 protection and warns you immediately if you visited a harmful web site.

  • Defragment the C: drive once a month.  Desktops can be set to run automatically once a month, but your computer must be on at that time.  Laptops must be defragmented manually.  This operation is a must! A lot of people are not even aware of it and it is the biggest reason why computers run very slow.

  • If nothing happens when you open your browser to get on the Internet, unplug your modem and router, wait 30 seconds, then plug them back in.  Wait 1 minute, then try again.  If you’re still having problems call your tech person, or your ISP provider.

  • Back up you email contacts, pictures, and documents to an external device, such as a pocket drive or external hard drive.  If you don’t do this and your computer crashes all will be lost!

  • If you see a message on your screen that says you have a virus and to call an 800 number, DON’T DO IT, because this is a scam.  Simply X out and reboot your computer.

  • If someone calls on the phone and says he’s from Microsoft and that you have a dangerous virus, HANG UP, THIS IS ALSO A SCAM!  If you continue the conversation he will talk you into letting him in your computer.  He’ll tell you that he’s looking for the solution, but what’s really happening is your personal information is being stolen!  Then you’ll be asked for your credit card so he can fix your supposed dangerous virus.  Now you’ve been had! 

  • Don’t let anyone take remote control of your computer over the telephone!

  • If you don’t recognize a person’s name in an email, don’t open it, just delete it!

  • Be careful what you post on social media and beware of ads on Facebook some ads are scams.

  • The Internet sees and records everywhere you go and everything you click on, so use discretion, and stay away from nasty stuff!

  • If you are purchasing a product on the Internet be sure the web address begins with https.  The “s” means it is a secure site.

Smartphones have been around for a few years now, are getting more sophisticated by the day, and
most of us can’t live without them!

  • Think twice about purchasing insurance for your phone.  If you drop it and break the glass most insurance have a $200 deductible. There are many places that will replace the glass and other damage for only $99.  (See “A Hot Cell Phone Tip” in my Blog post below.)

  • Use a protective case on your phone.

  • Most people have hundreds, perhaps thousands of photos on their phone and if your phone crashes, there goes all your photos and personal data.  Use a back up method!  If you don’t know how, ask your carrier for help.

  • All phone apps are not created equal.  Use caution in downloading apps as some can be scams.

  • Use caution about giving out your cell phone number!  Social media will try to entice you in giving them your number for reason of increased security.  Not a good idea!  Keep in mind that Microsoft, Google, and Facebook want to know everything  about you!

  • DON’T TEXT & DRIVE!  Is texting while driving worth a trip to the morgue? Thousands are losing their lives or being seriously injured because of their cell phone addiction. That text or a visit to Facebook can wait until you are parked!  Listen up…If you’re driving at 70mph and look at your phone for only 5 seconds, it is the equivalent of driving the length of a football field blindfolded! 

General Tips:  In addition to the things we’ve discussed, a person must be constantly diligent
regarding personal safety every day.

  • Personal safety means protecting yourself from “Identity Theft.”  It’s better to use a credit card rather than a debit card.  Fraudulent use of a credit card can be easily be rectified by your bank, as fraudulent use of a debit card can wipe your account dry and take much longer to get settled.

  • Don’t advertise on social media that you are on vacation unless you have a good home security system, as thieves monitor these conversations.  It’s better to talk about your vacation when you get back home.

  • Be at home and watch closely for packages to be delivered as thieves will follow delivery trucks.  This is especially true during holidays.

  • Be aware of your surroundings at all times.  Women are more vulnerable than men.  When leaving a store or the mall be aware when walking to your car.  If you see a man sitting in a truck or car next to where you’re parked use caution or return to the store.  Use caution when returning home after dark.

  • Tailgating while driving seems to be prevalent in our society.  For most people it is very aggravating to look in the rearview mirror and see someone right on your bumper.  Refrain from hitting the brake or using some kind of gesture because of “road rage.”  Let the moron go around!

I hope these “Tips and Hints” will make your life a little more comfortable.  Enjoy this day!

More About America

What is the future of our Country?   Hatred, violence, road rage, the  list of negatives is endless, and a government that’s completely out of control!  Protestors are protesting everything.  Join the crowd, carry a sign and yell profanity. Let’s throw rocks, destroy property, because we want everything for free! That seems to be the norm.  Every day since Donald Trump has been in office, the media has had a frenzy over Russian collusion.  Stop it already!

The Government has been shut down because of the horrific number of people entering America illegally.  This isn't the first time for a shutdown as this has happened before under other administrations. When is Congress going to stop fighting like cats and dogs and get something accomplished?  We elected them to be responsible, ethical, disciplined, and to represent the American people, but that's not happening.  Today's Congress should be ashamed for acting like a bunch of pre-schoolers!  Certain people in Congress are bringing America down and individual citizens feel that don’t have a voice.

Now here’s the latest fiasco.  New York has passed a law that a full term pregnancy can be aborted!  If you were born at 5:05 am they can kill you at 5:04 am.  This is pure craziness, and it’s murder!  New York does not allow the death penalty but it’s okay to kill babies.  Remember a man named Adolf Hitler?

College professors today are brainwashing our young people with the ideology of socialism.  They are graduating and then turning against their parents and the rest of us who have been engrained all our lives with conservatism and free enterprise.

May I quote something that I read on social media.  “All across America a quiet rage is building against the assault upon American values.  More so than ever in the history of America, the concerns and patience of its people are being tested, tried, and attacked by a group of elitists that are hell-bent on the destruction of this Country.  REFUSE TO REMAIN SILENT!”

Your Cell Phone

Can you refrain from texting while driving?  Or how about in church, during a meal at home or in a restaurant?  It's a fact that more people today are killed, or severely injured, by driving while intexticated than while intoxicated!  Currently 47 States have "No texting while driving" laws but that doesn't seem to stop most people.  No text is worth a funeral!   Are you one of those souls that your cell phone is chained to your hand 24/7?  If so, it is highly suggested by psychologists that you spend more time in the real world than in the cyber world.  When you spend more time on your phone than conversing with friends, you're telling them that whoever you're texting is more important than who you're with. Technology is wonderful, but we must not become a society of zombies!

This was not an Adventure!

Kind of funny how you can go months, or maybe years, without a memorable mishap.  I just had my adventure  as you can read below, and my wife just had hers!

She has been sewing all her life and enjoys doing alterations for her friends.  She’s outstanding at her trade and she receives joy from her different sewing machines.

Sewing MachineSo, she’s altering a dress when a snag occurred and is trying to rectify the situation when she accidentally engages the foot pedal.  Her hand is in the wrong place and the needle goes into her fingernail and all the way through her finger! 

I’m in my studio editing a photo that I had just taken, when I hear this blood curdling scream.  I rush to her sewing room where she had just pulled out the needle, but in her panic some of it broke off in her finger.  We go to the kitchen where we both try to extract it with tweezers, but to no avail. 

It’s off to the nearest urgent care facility about 10 minutes away where we spend the next two hours.  X-rays were taken, but the end result is the Doctor says she should be seen by a hand surgeon as he thinks the needle is stuck in the bone.

Next stop Banner Boswell Hospital Emergency room where they are expecting us.  We carried in information from the Urgent Care Doctor and the X-rays.   It’s amazing how crowded emergency rooms are today, but even with her pain and anticipation of what was next, we both realized how lucky we are compared to others with lots worse conditions.

SurgeryFirst a person who takes your vitals, then back to the waiting room.  When you’re called in you follow another person down a very long hallway to your room.  We were lucky #33.  Another person comes in to ask a bunch of questions, then a nurse to take more vitals.  Finally we see a Doctor who assesses the situation,  and he leaves.  Time goes by when he returns and administers Novocain shots.  Minutes vanish and he returns again to extract the needle.  It didn’t take long for a sigh of relief and a big smile to appear on her face.

We leave the hospital, pick up a prescription for an antibiotic, and get home at 10 pm.  Seemed like a long time and it was since the incident happened at three o’clock, and now it was time for a glass of wine!

Life is good, but you never know when the unexpected may happen!

Everyone Loves an Adventure…Maybe!

CamperWe love to camp, and since it’s so hot in Phoenix during the summer we camp a couple hours North in Arizona’s high country.  The temperatures there are always 25-30 degrees cooler than in the Valley.

On a recent trip we camped with several other couples and after four days everyone had to return to Phoenix for work including my wife.  I decided to stay up there in the wilderness by myself, baby sitting our campers until everyone returned a few days later.

RZR on the TrailOne afternoon I went for a ride on our all terrain vehicle (RZR ATV) and rode many off road trails.  This probably isn’t the smartest thing to do by yourself, but it was daylight, I had plenty of gas, water, and other supplies in case of any trouble.

At one point I decided the drive to Long Lake which was about 22 miles from our campsite.  I got about half way there, but made the decision to return, get the truck and make the trip, timing it so to get some sundown photos of the lake.

For some unknown reason, maybe intuition, I made sure I was well supplied.  Threw in a blanket, a case of water, a sandwich, an energy bar, flashlight, my 38 pistol, and of course my camera equipment.

So about 5pm, off I went heading Northbound on Forest Road 211 (Long Lake Road).  I felt more secure in the truck and it was an easy ride for the first 12 miles.  Pretty soon the road became narrower and rocky and about 4 miles South of Long Lake the road became one lane and very muddy.  Before entering the mud I could see tracks where at least one other vehicle had travelled recently and figured if they made it so could I.

That was a mistake because once in the mud I was committed.  No turning back.  I had brand new tires but they were city tires and certainly not made for a muddy trail.  It was very slow going slip sliding all over the place, and at one point I thought I was going to end up in a pond next to the road.  The truck quickly became a master painting of mud!  This couple of miles was a little exhausting, but finally hit solid ground and made it to the Lake.  It was now about 6 pm as I swung around in the driver’s seat to dismount the truck and take a couple of photos.  My foot hit the muddy rail and off I went to the ground wounding my right arm in the process.

CordThe skin is torn off and it’s bleeding at a good rate.  In the  truck we had some McDonald’s napkins.  I pulled the skin flaps back over the wound and covered with the napkins.  To keep them from falling off I wrapped a cell phone charging cord around and tied a knot with my left hand and my teeth.

I’m not the least bit interested in taking photos now, just want to get back to camp.  I drive away from the lake, but I don’t want to drive back the way I came fearing getting stuck in the mud.  I picked up my phone and asked google for an alternate route.  She took me down the same road but only for a few blocks then told me to turn left on forest road 69.  The site ahead was a relief, a dry decent looking reddish colored road.  After a short time she told me to make a hard right turn on forest service road 69B.  Now my trust is solely in the hands of a strange, but soothing voice, and I complied.

It wasn’t long before realizing this was the second mistake of the trip as it’s now nothing but a skinny ATV trail in the middle of nowhere!  The GPS is telling me that Route 87 is some 8 miles ahead, but it’s now 6:30pm and I’m now thinking of approaching darkness.  The trail is rough, the truck is bouncing on rocks and small boulders.  At one point I have to cross a creek with a foot of flowing water.  With 4 wheel drive engaged I cross safely and am now climbing a steep rocky hill.  Once on top I’m in a clearing with a canyon on my left and a meadow on the right.

WaterI  stop, take some deep breaths, drink some water, take a bite of the energy bar, but waste no time in continuing on what seems like a path to nowhere.  Creeping through hills and valleys and at another plateau I stop and don’t see the trail anymore.  Is this it?  I reconcile myself to the idea that I might have to spend the night.  The comforting thought was that I’m secure in the truck with plenty of supplies.

I slowly plunge ahead, finding the trail again.  It’s slow going in the rough terrain, and the clock is creeping toward the hour of darkness.  Soon the GPS is telling me that I only have two more miles to go before I drive onto a paved highway.  It’s hard for me to believe that it’s only two miles because where I am is like driving somewhere in Africa.

It’s starting to get dark as I finally reach route 87.  I feel like I’ve been on a roller coaster, my mind is foggy, my arm is painful, and I’ve never been so happy to see a highway in my life!  Now for the laugh of the year.  This soothing female voice soon tells me that in one mile I’ve arrived at my destination.  This point she called home is a pull off on the highway.  I sat there for a moment relieved, amused and soon realize that I’m heading for Winslow, Arizona.  I make a U turn, head South and arrive back at camp after 8 pm.  There is no moon, it’s pitch black and this was a 65 mile big circle adventure from hell!

WoundBack in the camper I try to administer first aid.  The napkins are stuck to the wound and as I pull them off some skin flaps end up in the napkin.  Suck it up buddy, you’re home safe and sound!  Have a drink and relax!  Not having any pads in our first aid kit, I used gauze and tape for the night.  The next day I drove two hours round trip to Wal-Mart in Payson and bought pads.  Of course removing the gauze ripped open the wound again!

A couple days later everyone shows up and one of my friends, a retired fire fighter/EMT, tends to my arm with many applications of Betadine and new dressings.  This was truly a week to remember, considering a couple nights before my ride a heavy thunderstorm ruined our Arizona Cardinal tent.  And that night while texting my wife back in Phoenix, she is sitting in the dark trying to find flashlights and candles because of a three hour power failure.  

Sometimes in life fate plays an important part.  It was ironic that only the day before I sat in our camper and read a National Geographic book on survival.  That book has been in our camper for a couple of years, what made me read it then? It covered dozens of scenarios, and the main thing that I leaned, in any situation, is to stay calm!   That thought resonated the strongest when I thought the trail ended, and I might have have to spend the night in total darkness, somewhere out there……

                                                              (You may click on photos for larger view.)

MEMORIES

Most of us really don’t think about how we look until we get older.  It’s then that we realize how we’ve changed throughout the years, and those years bring back memories!

Gary KSTT 1957 - 6x8Here’s what yours truly looked like in the late 50s when I was a disc Jockey on KSTT in Davenport, Iowa during my junior and senior years in high school.

Those were the days of Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper, Richie Valens, Pat Boone, The Everly Brothers, Chuck Berry, Paul Anka, Debbie Reynolds, Rickie Nelson, The Diamonds, Johnny Mathis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Patti Page, Fats Domino, The Four Lads, The Ames Brothers, Little Richard, Gene Vincent, Guy Mitchell, Doris Day, Dean Martin, The Platters, Perry Como, Andy Williams, Bill Haley & The Comets, The Chordettes, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Teresa Brewer, Vic Damone, Don Cherry, Jerry Vale, The McGuire Sisters, Johnny Cash, Peggy Lee, Frankie Lymon, Nat King Cole, and many more!

Twenty years later from 1977 to 1987 I DJ’d part time on WEMO, East Moline, WQUA & WMRZ in Moline, Illinois.  My last gig on WMRZ was an oldies station and our mascot was a 1957 Gold Chevy.  That was pretty cool!  The really cool thing was we were playing all the music that was popular way back in the 50’s plus all the hits from the 60’s and 70’s.  A lot of that music has never died!

Capt Gary WQUA-BWIn those later years we listened to Connie Francis, Brenda Lee, Bobby Rydell, Leslie Gore, Frankie Avalon, Dion and the Belmonts, Roy Orbison, The Ventures, The Drifters, Sam Cooke, Marty Robins, Chubby Checker, Conway Twitty, Steve Lawrence, Charlie Rich, Four Tops, Rolling Stones, Temptations, Roger Miller, Beach Boys, Sonny and Cher, Jay & The Americans, Tom Jones, Beatles, Supremes, Herman’s Hermits, Marvin Gaye, Gary Lewis, Del Shannon, Simon & Garfunkel, Carpenters, BJ Thomas, Neil Diamond, Jackson 5, Bobby Sherman, John Lennon, Creedence Clearwater, Ann Murray, Chicago, James Taylor, Spinners, Delfonics, Glen Campbell, Aretha Franklin, Guess Who, Stevie Wonder, Tony Orlando, Bread, Frankie Valli, Eagles, Neil Sedaka, Elton John, Captain & Tennile, Barry Manilow, Oliva Newton John, Paul McCartney, America, Michael Martin Murphy, Linda Ronstadt, Barry White, Earth Wind & Fire, 10cc, Styx, Gladys Knight, Orleans, John Denver, Leo Sayer, Bee Gees, Andy Gibb, Player, Chic, Meat Loaf, Queen, Billy Joel, Kansas, Rod Stewart, Donna Summer, Abba, Foreigner, O’Jays, Carly Simon, Dolly Parton, Commadores, Kenny Nolan, ELO, Hall & Oats, Jimmy Buffett, KC & The Sunshine Band, Alice Cooper, Kenny Rogers, Pointer Sisters, Supertramp, Barbara Streisand, Village People, Little River Band, Toto, and the list goes on!

Sorry if I missed one of your favorite artists or groups. As you read through the list of artists you remembered their songs, and some of those songs brought back memories.  When, where, and who you were with.  Life is made of memories. 

Gary with Mic-BWThe radio days are gone for me, but I still listen to all those oldies while working out at our fitness center. 

For the last 15 years I’ve still been behind a microphone giving technology and photo seminars in many cities.  Technology is fascinating as we think about advancement in the last 20 years.  It’s an industry on steroids!  Today we can’t imagine life without our cell phones.  The Dick Tracy watch in the comics years ago is now a reality and I’m wearing one. It does everything but make lunch for me and I’m working on that!

We talked about memories, and as I mentioned we change through the years.  How we think, how we act, and how we look.  I hope you have lots of memories!

AN OPEN LETTER TO MICROSOFT

I have experienced every Windows Operating System since the beginning of time!  Windows 95 was definitely the biggest splash!  Microsoft lit up buildings in London and New York with the 95 logo and it was a huge marketing extravaganza including the theme song from the Rolling Stones!

At that time I lived in the Midwest and remember driving to Chicago’s McCormick Center for the big event.  Windows 95 was the first real user interface.  Many versions have passed, some good and some not worth mentioning, including Windows Me and Windows Vista.  The OS that the world passionately embraced was XP which served us well for 12 years!

The last worthy OS was Windows 7, then came along Windows 8, a total disaster!  People were confused and frustrated.  The general public, most businesses and corporations refused to migrate.

Microsoft quickly upgraded to 8.1, but it wasn’t any better.  The biggest downfall was a new perplexing start button.  The system was really two, the Metro and the Desktop and did nothing but offer frustration.  In order to make any sense of it all you had to install a third party start button to regain any familiarity and unless you were pretty computer savvy this had to be accomplished by a technician.

Microsoft slowly woke up to the fact that they had a real loser on their hands and decided to totally skip the next progression which would have been Windows 9.

So here we are in 2018 using “The Revolutionary New Windows 10” as our operating system.  Tens of thousands, perhaps millions were forced to download and install Windows 10 whether they liked it or not.  This was performed with an intrusion of privacy and with no permission from the user!  We gave up Windows 7 and now are faced with a Mickey Mouse start button, and frequent system updates that often destabilize the OS.  It’s just not rational that people have to hire a technician to repair Microsoft’s updates.

I have installed applications on all my computers and on hundreds of customer’s computers to maintain ease of operation and enhanced security.  Namely,  CCleaner, Malwarebytes and  Classic Shell, which gave us an alternative start menu that we have been accustomed to for years.

Certain MS updates have removed all three of these programs.  Your answer maybe that those applications did not meet the criteria of your updates.  That would not be true as they performed to standards after reinstalling them.

Now, after almost a decade, the author of Classic Shell is giving up because of frequent Windows 10 updates which continually make Classic Shell unusable. 

Not only these problems, but now you have taken away Windows Essentials which included Windows Live Mail.  We have used your email program for eons and now you have left us with Windows 10 mail which everyone loathes!  Again, the user has to hire a technician to set them up with a new mail program.

Microsoft, we are pleading with you to supply us a start button that allows us easy access to the task at hand,  a credible email program, and to stop removing programs that belong to the user!

I wish I had a Giant Megaphone!

MegaphoneI wish I had a giant megaphone so I could loudly announce to everyone who owns a computer this warning.

If you ever see a message on your desktop or laptop stating that you have a dangerous virus and telling you to call an 800 number for the fix, don’t do it.  THIS IS A SCAM.  DO NOT CALL THE NUMBER!  Simply re-boot your machine and get on with your life.

Another scam that is prevalent today is getting a phone call.  The person will say he’s from Microsoft and
that you have a dangerous virus on your computer.  He’ll give you a real “snow job” in an effort to scare you and will ask for permission to get into your computer by installing a small snoop program.  Soon he will inform you that he has found the problem and for a fee he will fix it.  You give him your credit card and now you’ve been had!

In both cases the criminal’s object is to get your credit card number.  Once they do it’s a wild spending spree with your money!

Transformation of a Photo

20170929_101851In September we were driving on a country road in Wisconsin and came upon a small abandoned farm.  I took this photo of one of the buildings on the property.  This is straight out of the camera (Galaxy Note 8), with no editing.Touched up

I didn’t like the looks of all the
white spots so I removed them.

The large truck parked on the side of the building is also a distraction, so
Building without Trucklet’s edit in a bush. Now I’m thinking about giving this photo a Halloween look and fiddled around with some Topaz Labs filters, finishing with the texture effects filter.

So here is the final product.  Now it has that “Trick or Treat” look, but beware cause certain things do not want you to get your treat!

Halloween House

YOU MAY CLICK ON PHOTOS FOR A LARGER VIEW.

Think Again about calling Sears for Appliance Repair!

Whirlpool DishwasherVery bad experience with Sears! Dishwasher making funny noise. Called a supposedly trusted name in the industry for a home service call. Shortly after arriving, the man gave us an estimate of almost $500 to replace a part. I told him I could buy a new machine for that amount and declined the fix. He charged a $99 fee for the diagnostic and left within 5 minutes. Sears website said the time for repair for that part would be one hour, but his labor amount was to be $240! That is an outrageous hourly charge and in my opinion borders on fraud! Needless to say I will never do business with Sears!

Epilog: Purchased a new Whirlpool dishwasher at Spencer's Appliance for $599. Great store, friendly service, highly recommended! (Phoenix area.)

Is Your Cell Phone Hurting You?

Note 5-BlogTechnology has boggled our minds over the last twenty five years.  It’s moving so fast that it is truly an industry on steroids!  The most intelligent and creative minds have not envisioned where we’ll be even in the next five years!

The early eighties brought us the first home computers.  They were primitive with no hard drives, little processing power and a small amount of memory.  There was no internet as we know it today.

Just think what has happened since then!  Today our society is dominated by instant communication.  Technology has added new dimensions to our lives.  The Internet and our cell phones are the biggest contributor to that end!

The Internet has exploded with social media.  Facebook, twitter, and Instagram are wonderful but have actually become addictive in some people’s lives.  We have known addiction for centuries.  Alcohol, drugs, sex, gambling, shopping, and the list goes on. 

All of these technology innovations have enriched our lives, but like anything else there are down sides.  Texting is a good example.  Texting while driving has resulted in thousands of tragic deaths.   No text while driving is worth a trip to the funeral home!  This is a fact:  At 70 mph, looking at your phone for only five seconds is the equivalent of driving the length of a football field….Blindfolded!

Teenagers of today do not know life without cell phones.  Some people are now spending more time in cyberspace than in reality!  Society is loosing our social graces.  We’ve all seen Mom, Dad, and kids at a restaurant not saying a word to each other while texting away, or on Facebook the entire time, and that is sad.  It is an addiction!

This brings me to the point of this article.  “Is your cell phone hurting you?”  By this I mean are you turning people off by constantly having this device in your hand?  Do you sit in church with Facebook?  While having a meal with friends or your significant other do bring out your phone?  Think about this: What you’re implying is that who or what is on your phone is more important than the people you’re with!

Amazon Prime

I think Amazon is a great company and I love being an Amazon Prime member.  Let me tell you why!

When I first subscribed I thought all I was getting was free movies and free two day shipping on ordered items. 
AmazonSoon however, I was surprised to find out that for the yearly fee much more was included.  First, as mentioned, you can watch unlimited movies on your computer, TV, or other smart devices.  Second you can enjoy free streaming music on your computer or your cell phone, and thirdly you can install the free Amazon Photo app on your phone to instantly back up all your photos!

Today everyone in the world with a smartphone are taking billions of photos!  But the one big problem is that we are living in an age of lost photos.  People are carrying around hundreds and hundreds of pictures on their phone, and if the phone crashes, guess what?  Your prize photos are gone forever!  With the free Amazon photo app the minute you take a picture it’s backed up immediately to the cloud.  It’s free and it’s unlimited, and that’s great peace of mind!

Streaming music is another great feature.  Every kind of music you can think of.  I used to pay 99 cents or $1.29 per song using Apple’s iTunes.  Now I can download a whole album for free with my Amazon Prime account!  I love listening to a verity of stations while working out at our fitness center!

Netflix customers are paying $11.99 per month to watch movies, and that’s all.  Amazon prime is $7.99 per month for an entire package!

So, if you like watching movies, love listening to music, want all your photos backed up, and get free 2 day shipping on products ordered, sign up to be an Amazon Prime Member!  Oh, and did I mention that if you have the Kindle app on your device that you have access to over 800,000 free eBooks! 

Recently Amazon has added another new feature that saves you money.  They’ve installed lockers at various locations in many cities making it easy and free to return items.  Now that’s service!  You can sign up for a 30 day free trial here.

Rock Climbers

As a retired Jet Pilot it’s hard for people to understand that I’m scared to death of heights!  I have flown single engine, multi-engine, turboprops, jets, hot air balloons, helicopters, and gliders.  Even at 41,000 feet you have no sense of height sitting in the cockpit, but put me on top of even a small building and I’m petrified!

I’ve watched many documentaries of rock climbers ascending El Capitan in Yosemite, Mt. Everest, Denali and other high mountains around the world and sit there spell bound trying to comprehend what this would be like.

ClimberRecently we drove from Phoenix to Tucson to attend a concert.  The next day we drove up Mount Lemon which is over 9,000 feet at the summit.  This is a breathtaking drive as the long winding road and the scenery are astounding!

After a delightful lunch, with outside seating, we headed back down the mountain.  At about the 7,500 foot  level we saw this giant boulder protruding into the sky with a guy repelling down the side.  We missed his ascent to the top, but was able to grab this photo of his descent.

This isn’t Mount Everest but the danger of death still existed.  If something would have happened he would have fallen several thousand feet.

I have to admire people who do this and accept the challenge of risk.  This has to require great physical strength, nerve and stamina!

The Brian Wilson concert was awesome and we were honored to see him in his last concert tour and the Mt. Lemon experience and seeing this climber was certainly a bonus!

What will your next adventure be?  I guarantee mine will be photographing and not climbing!

An Arizona Icon

We moved to Arizona from the “Quad Cities,” an area on the Mississippi river which comprised of cities in Iowa and Illinois and is located about 150 miles West of Chicago.  It was a great place to grow up, located  in mid America, as it was not influenced by the cultures of the East or West coasts.  Life there just seemed more relaxed.

The last 21 years in Arizona have been delightful as we have fallen in love with the splendor and beauty of the this area.  I have been a photographer my whole life, but it became a passion when the digital age arrived, and there’s not a better place to practice this craft than America’s Southwest!

I have taken thousands of photos in many countries and maybe one of the most fascinating places is the “Gold King Mine” in Jerome, Arizona.  It was founded by Don Robertson many years ago who had an obsession with collecting old stuff.  I’ve been there many times and never tire of my visits.

DonI was honored in 2015 to photograph Don as he posed sitting on his saw mill.  Honored, because little did anyone know that he would pass away a few months later.

This man was the definition of a fascinating“character.”  Truly a western icon.  I had never conversed with him on previous occasions, I guess because it was almost like confronting a celebrity.  This time however when I approached him for a photo, he seemed very open to sit and chat which I found very enjoyable.  We talked about the simple life and the art of enjoying what you do.  The conversation made my day and will live in my mind as a very memorable experience!

There are many interesting articles about this man if you google Don Robertson.  You can watch a short video about him and the Gold King Mine here. 

If you live in or visit Arizona this is one of the places I would highly recommend, along with Sedona, the Antelope  Canyons, Horseshoe Bend (both near Page, Az.) and the Grand Canyon!

The Transformation of a Photo

The digital age ushered in a whole new meaning to the world of photography!  Gone are the days of dark rooms and taking your roll of film to the drug store.  In the 1990s digital cameras started very primitively. My first one was a Sony Mavica.  You slid in a three and a half inch floppy disc and it would take about a dozen photos at one third of a megapixel!

We’ve come a long way in a short period of time and today’s DSLRs are capable of shooting thousands of photos at 12, 16, 20, 24, 36, and 50 or more megapixels!  Incredible quality, ease of use, and instant gratification!  The really special thing about serious photographers is the ability to enhance their photos with sophisticated editing software.  Personally I enjoy this part as much as taking the photo!

Here’s an example of taking a ho hum picture and turning it into a handsome photo!  This one was taken a few years ago in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.  We had chartered a small craft to take us out to photograph beyond the port.  It was cloudy and hazy, but since we were on a cruise ship we had to make the best of it since we would be there only one day.  This was straight out of my Nikon D7000 camera.

IMG_2603

As you can see this is not much to look at.  Now I’m going to import it into the ON1RAW Photo Editor and play with some adjustments.  ON1RAW is new on the market and is very similar to Adobe’s Lightroom.  After several enhancements it looked like this.

IMG_2603 copy copy

Not bad, but I’m not satisfied with the sky as the upper left is over exposed.  Over the years I have taken a lot of sky pictures and keep them in a separate folder on my hard drive for occasions like this.  So let’s replace the sky, then add a layer of orange over the water as to show the reflection from the sky, and here’s the final photo.

2603 Edited

This is a far cry from the original and shows what can be done with some editing skill.  Some purists say that this isn’t ethical, that it’s not right to change what you originally shot, and to that I say “hog wash!”  That’s why today’s advanced photographers call themselves “Photo Artists.”  Every photo from any pro has been edited.  The only exception that I can think of would be a wartime photo journalist.

Now comes an even more exciting part of digital photography and that’s the tremendous advancements of cell phones.  Today’s smartphone cameras are capable of beautiful pictures and in some ways are almost equivalent to the “big boy” cameras.

Most people are happy with their photo results as soon as they look at it and post it immediately to social media.  Some of us however realize that it can look even better with a couple of minutes of editing.  Maybe the best phone photo editor on planet Earth is “Snapseed.”  I absolutely love this app!  It’s available for both iPhones, and Androids, and it’s free with no advertising!  Once you spend a little time with this app you’ll be amazed how you can make your pictures “come to life!”

A Hot Cell Phone Tip!

Broken iPhoneThis is something that will make your heart sink, when you drop your phone and it looks like this!  You’re lucky however if you have insurance with your carrier as it can be fixed.  But are you lucky?  I have been paying a monthly insurance fee of $22 per month for two phones.  That’s $264 per year.  I never read the fine print and just found out that you’ll pay a $200 deductible to get it fixed.  If a year has gone by you’re really paying $464, and if two years has elapsed you’re paying $728 to get it fixed!

So here’s what took place when this recently happened to one of our phones.  I woke up and realized there are cell phone fixit places all over.   So I took this terrible looking thing, that looked like it was doomed forever, to one of those places and had the LCD and the screen replaced for $99!  For those living in Phoenix, I highly recommend the “Talk N Fix” kiosk right next to the Apple store in the Arrowhead Mall.  I couldn’t believe the guy had it totally repaired in 10 minutes, and it looks and works like new!

Consequently I called Verizon and cancelled the $22 per month charge for insurance coverage.  There is one drawback however to not having insurance and that is theft or loss of your phone.  Since I’ve never lost anything important in my life it’s worth that risk for all the money saved.  Also you have a good chance of getting your phone back, if lost or stolen, with the “Find my Phone” app.

So, just passing this along in hopes it will help you save money, and we all want to do that!

The Marketing Genius of Apple

Arrowhead Apple Store

I took this photo of the Apple store at the mall near where we live.  I believe one of the reasons this  company has been so successful is the beauty of these stores around the world.  No other phone company has done this.  In my lifetime I have never witnessed people lined up to purchase their latest product, site unseen!  Much credit has to be given to the originator and founder of Apple, Steve Jobs one of the technology genius’ of our time.  No doubt about it, Apple is a great company!

With all this being said, is the iPhone the best smartphone on the market?  I don’t think so.  I’ve owned several of them and several Samsung Galaxy phones and believe the Samsung is far superior, for several reasons.  Let me give you just a few.

If you turn off your iPhone then plug it into a charger it will turn back on.  That’s dumb because it’s going to charge slower.

Each time you open an app on any phone it will stay open in the background, taking up memory and discharging the battery faster.  Shutting down all apps on an Apple phone gets complicated as most people don’t even know how and if they do you have to shut them down one at a time.  Dumb.  On the Samsung one click shuts them all down!  I do that several times a day.

When typing on the Apple keyboard you have to take another step to get to the numbers.  On the Samsung the letters and numbers are all on the same keyboard.  To me that’s huge!

On the Samsung phone you have a “back button” which lets you instantly go back to the previous page.  No such thing on the Apple, and that’s frustrating!

On the Apple you have to manually update apps, on the Samsung all apps update automatically!

On the Apple lots of functions have to be accomplished through iTunes.  Frustrating and dumb.  On the Samsung just plug it into your laptop or desktop computer and have access to all your folders.  Easily drag and drop your choice of music into your music folder.  Easily open photos for editing.

Finally, as a photographer, I think the Samsung camera is superior for many reasons that I won’t take the time to explain.

These are just a few reasons why I think the Samsung phone is a better product.  There are two things that Apple does have that I wish were on the Samsung however.  The mute switch on the side is very handy and a lot of people love Apple’s “FaceTime.”

Is anything in this world perfect?  No.  But my point here is that we all probably started with an iPhone and once accustomed to something we develop brand loyalty.  I’ve used the same deodorant for years, the same cologne for even longer.  Most of us won’t take the time to investigate something that maybe much better.

Just my opinion friends.  Kind of like “Ford or Chevy!”