"Education is what remains after students have forgotten everything they learned in school." - Albert Einstein

Tuesday, October 19, 2020

A Home Inspection Checklist For The First-Time Buyer

Are You Ready for That First Step?

First Time Home Buyers House. You have probably heard it said many, many times before that buying a home is probably the most important purchase you will ever make. Never is this more true than when purchasing your very first home. Its purchase holds the potential to be financially rewarding or degenerate into a nightmare if unexpected problems are discovered after the deal is closed.

The time to find problems is before the check is written, and preferably even before an offer is made. Though most real estate agents want you to sign an Agreement to Purchase and have the home inspection as a condition of sale, it is much harder to walk away from the deal once that agreement is signed, even if the home inspection finds problems. Your best line of defense is always a professional home inspection, whether you have it done before or after you sign the agreement to purchase. However, there are a few observations you can easily make yourself to determine if you want to take that next important step.

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Monday, September 27, 2020

MagicJack: Lessons Learned

Still Great In 2010

MagicJack is not new. This little device has been around for a few years now, saving a lot of people lots of money on long distance telephone services. When I first heard about MagicJack a couple of years ago, I figured it was some sort of scam, or if not a scam, a service that just didn't seem quite legal. Well. it's not a scam and it is legal. After much thought, I finally decided to purchase one. Here are a few of the things I discovered about using MagicJack.

Living in Canada, I purchased my MagicJack online from a company in Hamilton, Ontario. The advertised price was $39.95 for the device and first year of service. Each year after the first would cost about 20 bucks. This is a little misleading as by the time you figure in shipping and handling and tax, the cost is a little over $65.00 for the device. I could have purchased the unit at a local tech store for about the same price. My MagicJack arrived in just three days. The confirmation email I received said 3 to 10 business days, so this wasn't bad.

The instructions on how to use the MagicJack are pretty simply. Just plug it in a free USB port on your computer and let it install itself. Takes about 3 minutes. You are warned not to interrupt it was it is loading. Though I'm not sure what would happen if you did, it seems like good advice. So just let it do its thing. It's also recommended that you use a USB port that plugs directly into the computer, not a USB hub. Though some reports indicate that a powered USB hub is okay.

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Thursday, September 2, 2021

Ubuntu

I Don't Get It

Every now and then I get the urge to change up my desktop and try something new. Recently, my laptop running Windows 7 crashed giving me a perfect opportunity to try Ubuntu. I did a search and found there was a relatively new version of Ubuntu released.  Great! I downloaded the latest version for desktops (there are versions for desktops, netbooks, and servers) and burned a CD. You can test the OS by loading it directly from the CD or by installing it as the main OS or side-by-side with Windows. After a quick test running it from the CD I decided to load it as my main operating system as my Windows 7 was already gone.

I was looking for a fast, clean and lean OS. I always liked the look of linux systems. The Ubuntu website boosts these very features:

"Super-fast and great-looking, Ubuntu is a secure, intuitive operating system that powers desktops, servers, netbooks and laptops. Ubuntu is, and always will be, absolutely free."

Ubuntu is certainly all that. And I would have continued to use it except for my biggest disappointment. Flash playback in full screen. Flash playback in normal mode plays fine, but playback is really choppy at full screen. I downloaded the latest Flash player with no improvement. I downloaded the previous version of Flash player as recommended on some forums, but still no improvement. After spending a couple of days browsing forums for a solution, I decided to throw-in-the-towel. Unfortunately, this was a deal breaker.

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Sunday, July 4, 2021

Optimizing the Acer Aspire REVO AR3610

I had the Acer Aspire REVO for a little over a month now. Right out of the box it actually runs pretty good. Note that I only use the box to stream TV and play movies. I'm not into gaming, so that was not a priority at all. For someone who in into heavy gaming, there are better boxes out there. For my purposes, the only files I had problems with were the MKV files, which after doing some googling I managed to get it working quite well. However, even after uninstalling everything I didn't want, I still found that simple procedures like opening up the file explorer was taking more time that it should. I like to run my machines lean and fast. So, this weekend I decided to reformat the hard-drive and reinstall Windows 7.

Reinstalling Windows 7
The Aspire hard-drive comes pre-formatted with three partitions. One partition holds the system recovery, one the system boot information and the third stores all the files and OS. I wanted to recover the space used by the system recovery and boot partitions. In order to do that, you have to boot the system from the Windows 7 install disk. As the Aspire does not come with an optical drive and I don't have a USB optical drive, I needed to setup the Windows 7 install files on a USB stick. It's easy enough to do, but you have to have an original Windows 7 install CD and the Aspire doesn't come with one. Luckily, I do have one I purchased. You can find instructions for creating a bootable USB install disk at Into Windows.

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Friday, May 28, 2021

Celebrity Wallpaper of the Month

I ran across this website that has lots of great celebrity wallpapers. Enough to change your wallpaper everyday for years. The site is www.WallpaperBay.net. Here is a blurb from there welcome page.

Welcome to WallpaperBay.Net, the online place to find over 35.000 female celebrity wallpapers. We have wallpapers of more than 700 celebrities from USA and around the world. All the hot female celebrity wallpapers are in 1024x768 resolution. Just click on the first letter of the celebrity name above to see the available wallpapers.

Here is one of my favorite wallpapers. It is of Eliza Dushku. Just click on the image to download.



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Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Acer's Aspire REVO

First Impressions

After spending the last year or more hooking and unhooking my laptop to the TV to watch movies and stream TV shows, I decided to get a computer dedicated to that particular function. My only criteria was that it had to be at least as powerful as my laptop, used a small footprint and came with an attractive price tag (under $400.00). I spent a few weeks looking around at a few boxes until I stumbled upon the Acer Aprire REVO. It seemed to fit all the criteria. As far as footprint goes, it's about the same size as my Bell 2-wire modem.

Before buying, I did a little bit of research on the product. The predominant feature of the unit was the NVIDIA Ion processor. I have to admit that I don't keep up with the latest hardware available. A NVIDIA Ion processor sounds good. The NVIDIA website describes the processor as:

"Next-generation NVIDIA® ION™ graphics¹ energize your PC with over 10 times the performance of integrated graphics. Go beyond simple Internet browsing with a media-savvy ION GPU. Experience full 1080p video on sites like YouTube HD or from Blu-Ray discs. Play the most popular PC games like World of Warcraft or accelerate popular video and photo apps, boosting performance of editing and converting videos, face tagging photos, and much more. Only ION delivers the Windows 7 Home Premium experience including the rich 3D user interface. NVIDIA ION packs a premium graphics punch at a fraction of the size."

Reviews I have read seem to suggest the processor does well with video after a little tweaking, but not so good with heavy gaming. Not to worry. I'm not into gaming.

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Monday, May 17, 2021

Real-Estate Agent Called...

I did a home inspection yesterday for a couple in Chatham, Ontario. The couple obviously wanted to use their own home inspector and found me on the internet. In fact, when they first called, there was no one in the office and they left a message. Usually when that happens, they end up calling whoever is next on their list. I called back about a half hour later and got their answering machine. I left a message and figured that was the last I would hear from them. But, they called back about a hour later. Obviously they wanted to use me. Great. We booked the inspection for early Sunday morning.

Saturday afternoon, their real-estate agent called. He just wanted to check on a couple of things and discuss the property. I always find it interesting when this happens. He said he wanted to make sure that I was certified and was bondable, which I am to both. It also appears that the sellers don't want to negotiate on anything the home inspector might find. And, he, the real-estate agent, wouldn't be at the inspection in the morning. Apparently, he doesn't like to work on Sundays, especially when the property is out of town.

This is what I find interesting. What makes the real-estate agent feel that he needs to "look into" the home inspector that the buyers decide to use. Would he also look into their lawyer and mortgage broker? I don't think so. Obviously I wasn't his choice. He would probably prefer to use someone who would ensure the sale of the house went easy, and since the sellers don't want to negotiate, his recommended home inspector wouldn't find anything to damaging to the sale of the house. That's my opinion. Other than a support beam beginning to rot and a couple of leaky pipes, their wasn't too much else wrong with the house.

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Wednesday, April 28, 2021

What Makes a Home Inspector Good

What makes a home inspector good? That will depend a lot on who you ask. For sure the home buyer or seller will have a different point of view compared to a real-estate agent. The home buyer wants an inspector that is going to be honest about the house they are considering to purchase. The buyer wants to know if there are any serious flaws with the house, and issues with the structure, roof, basement. How is the electricity and plumbing? Are there going to be any surprises when they move in. Is the furnace going to break down in the dead of winter? Will the air conditioner work when needed most in the heat of summer?

Sometimes the home buyers expectations of the home inspection are unrealistic. Sometimes they expect to find out everything that ever was wrong with the house. Sometimes they expect to find out everything that ever was done to the house. Sometimes they expect the home inspector to see through walls. And sometimes they expect the home inspector to be a fortune teller.

Above all, the home buyer expects the home inspector to give an honest, trustworthy opinion about the present condition of the property they are about to purchase. To the buyer, that is what makes a home inspector good. Often this goes directly against the desires of the real-estate agent!

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Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Outlook 2010

New Version Scheduled for Release June 2010

A new version of Microsoft Outlook is scheduled to be released on June 15, 2021 While this may or may not be of interest to you as a user, if you are one to send out email newsletters as part of your business, it's arrival is certainly anticipated. There's been a lot of speculation as to whether this edition of Microsoft's email client will change the way we design for email. Did Microsoft take the concerns of the web community and the fixoutlook.org movement to heart and make any of the suggested improvements. What's in store for us with this new release? Is it better or worse?

Well, there is some good news and some bad news. The good news is that nothing has really changed. The bad news is that nothing has really changed. Just like its predecessor, this release of Outlook will be using Word to render HTML emails. According to Microsoft, who said they are listening to the web / internet community, it was just too late in the development cycle to make any real significant changes to the product. Perhaps next time.  Dev Balasubramanian, from the Outlook team, has been quoted as saying:

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Sunday, March 14, 2021

Hippopost

Send Your FREE Printed Postcard Today

Now for something completely new and different. Hippopost™ is an exciting new web-2-mail marketing platform that transforms consumer correspondence into social marketing opportunities. Automatically create and send FREE personalized printed postcards using your own photos. There are three ways to send your postcards:

  • HippoMobile: use your mobile smartphone
  • HippoSocial: using your Facebook account
  • HippoOnline: using the online interface

HippoPost takes care of all the printing and mailing.

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