Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Coolest Thing Since Sliced Bread!

Okay, I'll admit to being a bit of a Geek. Far from a Super-Geek - but hell, I live in the Silicon Valley (to say nothing of being married to an Electronics Engineer!) - so it's kind of a pre-requisite, right?

At the same time, I was still toting around (and relying quite heavily on) my old Palm IIIxe (10 years old with a monochromatic screen!!!). Yes, I got ribbed for that but I was staunch in my defense of the device: "It has my Outlook/Work Calendar on it and squawks at me when I have a meeting; It has this really cool [no-longer-supported] Diet Program on it (Complete with the USDA Nutritional Database!); and it's got about fifty-bazillion different Solitaire Games on it! It has *exactly* what I need!"

Nevertheless, I was suffering (more than a tad) from iPhone Envy :::sigh:::

Something about having the Internet at your fingertips 24/7 was stirring a lust, deep in my soul, that I simply couldn't deny! (No, I'm not addicted! Really!)

Of course, I wasn't jealous enough to fork-over a freaking fortune for a new phone! And certainly not envious enough to switch cellular providers! (*gasp!*)

Well, my Contract was nearly due for renewal and - lucky me - they were offering a pre-renewal Upgrade Special thingie-doo on new 3G Smart Phones, so I started surfing for more info - on my laptop, of course, because my antiquated Palm does NOT have internet access ("Oh the HUMANITY!!!"). I was pretty-much 99.9999% convinced that I wanted a Motorola Droid.

So then I toddled off to the local Verizon Store to take a look. I was a little apprehensive, at first because the place looks like it's *always* jam-packed with people - and I was expecting to get the Hard-Sell and/or Brush-Off if I wasn't prepared to purchase That. Very. Minute.

Fortunately, my fears proved to be (largely) un-founded. Well, I did get the Sales Pitch and Brush-off, but not in a Bad Way.

Yeah, I spoke to a Sales Rep for a few minutes - but no High-Pressure-Sales-Pitch. And yes, the Sales Rep vanished - almost instantly - when I indicated that I wasn't going to be making a purchase that day. But I did get the opportunity to play with the phone and they did answer my questions.

I did manage to Make an Adventure out of it, though!

Here's a little PSA for ya'all:

If you go into any phone store to "play" with a SmartPhone - DON'T log into email (or whatever) using a "real" personal account. Use one of your Garbage/Spam accounts!

So if you - like me - find that you accidentally left the "Remember Me" box checked, you won't leave ALL your personal (and potentially financial) information wide-open for the next schmoe who might want to play with the very same phone!

Yes, I stupidly logged into my gmail email using my "real" email address. The one that's linked to my online banking, all of my credit cards, most of my shopping sites (eBay, PayPay, countless others...), and also has a Google Checkout Account (with a Credit Card) linked to it. "D'oh!"

Yes, I logged out. But I didn't realize (at the time) that even when you close the browser, it still remains (logged-on) in the background. So even though I kept signing out and closing the Browser App - every time I brought it back up, it went back to my current emails and kept me logged in! AAAACK!!!

And, of course, since I'd already dispatched the Sales Guy when I said I wasn't buying today, it was damn-near impossible to flag anyone down to learn how to clear the cache!

I did drag someone over who hit some buttons and claimed that everything was clear. But then I pulled up the browser and - again - all of "my" stuff still popped up - as logged-in - on the phone.

Quite frustrating! And actually really unnerving - I DON'T want my credit card info out there for all the world to see!

I ended up coming straight home and re-setting my passwords. But I *still* wasn't comfortable that I'd rendered "my stuff" inaccessible through the "C'mon and play with me" Slut-of-a-SmartPhone at the Verizon Store!

So "Quick Study Time!" I pulled up the pdf of the Droid User-Manual and read-up on how to clear the browser, cache, cookies and passwords.

I hurried back to the Verizon Store and went back the same Demo-phone. I used my newfound knowledge to clear the cache, browser and cookies and double-checked to make sure that nobody could access my account which, unfortunately, became the default sign-in acct on the Google screen! But at least I confirmed that you *couldn't* get into it without the password :::Whew!:::

So there you have it! If you're gonna play with a Smart-Phone at the Cellular Store and want to play around with the browser and read your email - USE A GARBAGE ACCOUNT! And WATCH-OUT for that "Remember Me" box! Jeez!

That was a real Bone-head move on my part! D'oh! For a minute there, I was afraid that I was gonna have to BUY the phone that day. No - not just a new Droid - but THAT VERY PHONE!

So then I went home and surfed some more. Read lots of reviews. Read about ALL THE APPS you can get. No, not as many as Apple - but I like that it's Open Source and you aren't limited to Proprietary-stuff - like the Apple.

Side-Note: I really hate iTunes. Made the mistake of downloading it and bought a few songs - only to discover that I can't play them on any of my mp3 players - unless I burn 'em to CD/AVI/whatever first - then convert them back to non-proprietary mp3 format - what a PITA!

That was the point where I decided I really didn't care for Apple - for me personally (I know there are lots of BigTime Apple i-whatever fans out there and I am not dissing them, by any means! It's just not "my personal preference!") I'm fine with letting Apple forge into new territory and introduce New Fantastic Can't-Live-Without-It Technology. I'll also let 'em work the bugs out and wait patiently for the i-whatever Ripoff to come out, and buy it then!

And yes, I'll silently lust after it, in the meantime!

Anyhoooooooo... I did all my research and crunched some numbers. I figured I'd wait 'til my Contract was truly up (in 3 weeks) and save an add'l $50.00. But then it got all dreary and rained all weekend. And I got terribly bored. Couldn't go out and play in the garden. Nothing on TV. And every time I surfed the 'net, I kept coming back to the Droid-related sites.

Oh to hell with it! I transferred some $$ from my savings and headed out to the Verizon Store - AGAIN.

Meet Rosie:


I LOVE her!!! (But I'm still carrying my Palm Pilot!)

Saturday, April 3, 2010


Well, I fubar'd - badly!

Remember that pic of the melons and squash babies? Well, the soil that I used to pot them up in the Peat Pots was some kinda Super-Duper "Top-dress-your-lawn" kinda stuff that was infused with some sorta (undoubtedly SUPER-HIGH-NITROGEN) fertilizer.

I burned the babies and, well, they've all died. Booooo!

And I've run out of seeds!!!

I did ask my friend, P, if she had any leftovers (since we divvied up the seeds we bought last year). So if she does, I'll try again. But they'll have to be direct sown, I think.

I do still have several babies - still in the original Peat Pellets - Jelly Melons, Tomatoes, and a couple-three other things. But no honeydews, squash or pumpkins. Bummer!

Sadly, none of my gourds have sprouted either. Not really sure what I'm gonna do with gourds anyway - but it seemed like a cool thing to grow, out near the pergola.

So I'm still not sure what-all I'm gonna end up growing this year. I really would like to try Honeydew again, though. The first year we had the pool, I planted a honeydew vine next to the trellis that hides the pool equipment. We got melons GALORE that year. I mean, it was INSANE how many melons we got - and they were sooooo sweet and delicious! Ever since then, I've tried Honeydews again-and-again - and haven't gotten diddly-squat!

I've also tried cantaloupe several times and never got anything bigger than a softball (and just as hard!). So I've officially given up on cantaloupes. Watermelons - I've had weird luck with those. Invariably, the plants that survive end up trailing BEHIND some other, larger plant - and I don't discover the melons until long after they're no longer edible! So I've decided I'm not destined to be a watermelon farmer!

Pumpkins - never had any luck. But haven't tried all THAT hard. I hope to try again and maybe experience *some* success.

Pretty much, I stick with the Tried and True: Tomatoes, Yellow Crook-neck Squash, Cukes and Zucch's. I did grow some peppers last year, too. But I don't really like peppers - to be honest. So I pick them, say "Oooh, that's pretty!" then it sits on the kitchen counter 'til it gets mushy and ultimately ends up in the compost bin!

Anyhooooo... Suffice it to say, I *will* have a garden this year. I just don't know what-all will be in it!

I went out this morning and dumped a bag of Home Depot Steer Manure on the raised bed (after I yanked out the cool-season veggies and weeds). I need to work it into the soil tomorrow - and maybe dump a second bag - or dump a top-dressing of soil on top of that.

Next weekend is the Big Plant Sale!!! Santa Clara Master Gardeners has a big annual sale and P and I will show up, bright and early, with a flatbed cart even! I think it's a safe bet that tomatoes will be purchased. This year they've added other stuff (gourds!) as well. And I think I'll revive my Not-An-EarthBox Planter (referenced here)and try corn again. In fact, this year I think I'll even harvest it in time so we can actually EAT it (the planter worked great - I was just too dumb to know when to harvest!).

Anyhoooo... I'm really looking forward to the sale!

In other Yard News: Last weekend, Rog and I were down in San Diego. We sat outside, enjoying cocktails, one evening when Rog noticed they had Patio Heaters in the outdoor seating area. They weren't "on" (not needed!), but Rog opined that they were pretty cool. Particularly since summer evenings are pretty chilly here (avg mid-50's). I agreed and noted that they were "Very Expensive!"

Well, since I renewed my Costco Membership, I'm on their email list and - how fortuitous!! - it just so happened that they had outdoor Patio Heaters on sale for <$150.00 - delivered!!

I double-checked the price on these bad boys and found that Home Depot carries 'em for $399.00 (Ouch!!!). So I quickly logged on to Costco's site and ordered one!

$147.48 and less than a week later, we have an outdoor patio heater! I still had to buy a 20# propane cylinder (and gas), so tag another $50 onto that. But still - a helluva lot better than $399!

We put it together and fired it up. Works like a charm! Yup. Definitely a good investment, I think!

So here's my one photo for this post.......

Annnnd... Now we're talking about opening up the pool in the coming weeks. Yayyy!!!

Stay tuned for more Garden Updates!

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