Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The PS4 Doesn't Support CD Playback

Call me primitive, but I've still got a lot of CDs in my collection and I still play them from time to time. While doing some reasearch on the PS4 vs XBoX One debate, I discovered that the PS4 does not play CDs. Why is that? Well, one might be inclined to think that Sony wants to push their music loving PS4 customers into a Music Unlimited subscription. However, I've heard it said that in order to get a Blu-Ray drive to play CDs, you'd have to use two lasers: one for Blu-Ray and one for CDs. So, it seems like a cost-saving decision to me I think it was a cost saving and space saving decision.

Okay, fine, I can get behind that, I guess. CDs are a dying medium anyway. And, yet, the PS4 won't even support MP3 playback, so it's not like I can stick a bunch of songs onto a USB drive and play them from the PS4.  And forget about DLNA as well. Sony is supposedly going to add in support for these things eventually, but, as a guy who got a lot of uses out of his PS3, this is one issue that can tip the very shaky PS4 vs Xbox One debate squarely towards Microsoft.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Does Walmart's Savings Catcher Actually Work?

I'm sure you've seen the commercials for the Walmart “Savings Catcher” program. You basically use the program to scan your Wal-Mart receipts and have Walmart determine if you  could have paid less elsewhere. If Wal-Mart finds a lower advertised price in your area for any of the items you bought, they give you the difference goes on a gift Wal-Mart gift card (that can only be used at Walmart, of course). But does the Wal-Mart Savings Catcher app actually work?

I've been using the app on my Samsung Galaxy S4 since October 1st and I've already gotten a little bit of money back. Out of six receipts, Wal-Mart has refunded back money to me on three of them for a total of $2.21 after about $250 spent. Eligible products are currently limited to only grocery and health & beauty items and receipts older than 7 days are ineligible.

So, based upon my own experience, I'd say that Walmart Savings Catcher is not a scam and might actually be worth trying. Look at this way: You’ve already spent the money; why not see if you can get any of it back? If you have any qualms about whether or not Wal-Mart is mining your data with the app, you might want to avoid using Savings Catcher, as I don't particularly know how they store your receipt data and how long they keep it.

Another thing worth mentioning is that American Express and Wal-Mart have entered into a partnership for the Savings Catcher app. American Express has a prepaid debit card called Bluebird which Walmart sells for $5. If you have a Bluebird card and choose to put your Savings Catcher reward onto it, American Express will match the refund Walmart gives you which, in effect, doubles your refund. You can connect your Bluebird card to the Wal-Mart app, which then creates a sub-account to your Bluebird called "Walmart Bucks." The next time you go to Walmart to make a purchase and use your Bluebird card, it'll automatically use whatever's in the sub-account first, and then use your main account for whatever's leftover. And before you run out to buy a Bluebird card, you need to know that if you already have an American Express Serve account, you won't be able to get a Bluebird card.

Personally, I'm not a fan of the Bluebird card, so I won't be using it. The American Express reward matching is good through February.

What do you think? Has the Wal-Mart Savings Catcher app worked for you? Do you think it's a scam? Do you think it's just not worth it? Would you be willing to buy a Bluebird card so that you can double your rewards? Sound off below and share your thoughts.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Some Pumpkin Flavor Ideas

It's Fall and everybody is going pumpkin crazy again. And who doesn't  love a good Pumpkin Spice Latte from the local coffee shop? If you're in the mood for something a little different, yet still want that pumpkin taste, then you might try some pumpkin cider. I happened upon a few bottles of Sparkling Spiced Pumpkin Cider from Nature's Nectar. It's bottled by the Aldi corporation and, as far as I can tell, it can only be bought in their stores. A bottle will run you about two dollars.

Sparkling Spiced Pumpkin Cider comes in a nifty flip top which makes the bottle great for re-use. It's also non-alcoholic, although I'm thinking it would taste even better with a shot of rum. Or, you might toss in a shot of Jack Daniels, heat the whole thing up a bit and call it a "Jack O'Lantern". Here's the real kicker: Nature's Nectar Sparking Spiced Pumpkin Cider isn't really pumpkin cider at all. No pumpkins were pressed into juice in order to make this delicious concoction. No, Aldi pumpkin cider is just sparkling apple cider with pumpkin spice added. Had I not read the label, I would have had no idea because you can really taste the pumpkin in it. It actually tastes a lot like sparkling pumpkin pie juice.

Pumpkin Pie Pudding

If you're still in the pumpkin mood, then you might try making a little pumpkin pie pudding. It's a really simple recipe. All you need to do is whip up a package (5 1/10 oz) of your favorite vanilla pudding, add in a can of pumpkin (15 oz) and then add a teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice (cinnamon also works). The kids and I made this last weekend and it went over really well. For some extra fun, buy some popsicle molds from your local dollar store and put the pumpkin pie pudding in them. Freeze them for a few hours and you've got pumpkin pie pudding pops.

Monday, October 6, 2014

How I Fixed My HP 110 Mini

I bought my My HP 110 Mini back in 2009 and it has been a pretty solid netbook computer for several years now. I initially upgraded it from 1gb of memory to 2gb which made it seem to run Windows 7 quite a bit faster. About a year ago, I accidentally cracked the screen which meant that I could no longer use the display at all. I resorted to using the VGA output on the HP 110 Mini to plug into my TV so that I could use the free version of Hulu on it. Recently, however, I was able to find a replacement screen fairly cheap and decided to fix it. It was an easier process than I could have hoped.

There are a few video tutorials out there that will help you replace your cracked HP Mini 110 screen and they range from overly talky to completely useless. Personally, I think that, if you intend to replace your HP 110 Mini screen yourself, then using the official maintenance and service guide is the best way to go. Using the guide from HP, I was able to replace my screen in about 10 minutes. Before you begin, though, you'll want to make sure you have a set of precision screwdrivers because you'll be working with really tiny screws.