October 19, 2014


If you follow Apple announcements then you've heard the brouhaha about the iMac with 5K Retina display (5K, 5K!, which is one more K than 4, starts at $2,500) and the iPad Air 2 (thinner, lighter, more powerful, starts at $500). But there never is any brouhaha about my favorite compromise that will put a real Mac on your desk for as little as $500: the Mac mini. This is what I have, but my model is a year old. It's not as powerful as an iMac.

Processor speeds:
Mac mini1.4GHz2.6GHz2.8GHz 

iMacIntel HD Graphics 5000Intel Iris Pro GraphicsNVIDIA GeForce GT 750M graphics processor with 1GB of GDDR5 memoryNVIDIA GeForce GT 755M graphics processor with 1GB of GDDR5 memoryNVIDIA GeForce GTX 775M graphics processor with 2GB of GDDR5 memoryNVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M with 4GB of GDDR5 memory.NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M with 4GB of GDDR5 memory.AMD Radeon R9 M295X with 4GB of GDDR5 memory
Mac miniIntel HD Graphics 5000Intel Iris Graphics 

Base prices:
Mac mini$499$699$999 

But I'd guess that if you don't know how much power you need, then an iMac is likely to be more than you need, unless, of course, you are modeling global weather or nuclear warfare.

Yes, the display, keyboard and mouse are extra on the Mac mini, while they are included with the iMac, so you've got to add that cost to the Mac mini. But that's actually another advantage for the Mac mini. You've got a wide range of products and prices to shop from. When you need to upgrade either your display or your CPU, those are separate purchases, but with the iMac the display and CPU are all one unit. If you need to upgrade or replace either, you've got to purchase both.

Small side benefits nobody ever mentions are that the Mac mini is more portable and more easily physically secured - unplug it, lock it in a drawer. Try that with an iMac.

Still, there is that 5K Retina display (with "organic passivation" - a new term to me that I plan to misuse as often as possible). If you're a professional photographer or if you've got the money to spend to impress friends, then get it. Here's a soft video (no real tech, but lots of gee-whiz) that I believe will play only in Safari or on an iOS device. Hey, Apple writes the rules, not me.

permalink | October 19, 2014 at 07:01 PM | Comments (1)

October 10, 2014

Sale On GoPro Hero3+ Black At Costco

If you've been lusting after a 3+ Black, the introduction of the 4 has brought you a deal. Costco is selling a Hero 3+ Black for $350. It comes with a few basic mounts, the waterproof case (of course), and an additional battery (total of two batteries). The battery alone costs $18. This is basically the same kit that B&H is selling for $400 ($418 with the extra battery).

The Hero 3+ Black was the top-o-the-line GoPro until they brought out the Hero 4 last week. Nearly all of the impressive GoPro videos that you've seen over the last year have been shot with a Hero 3+ Black. It's a great camera - and now cheaper. The list price of the Hero 3+ Black was $400 and the new 4 Black is $500. I wouldn't expect new Hero 3+ Blacks to go much (if any) lower. They sold well so there are probably no warehouses awash with old 3+ Blacks.

The holidays are coming and if your kids don't have to have the very latest thing, they can have last year's very latest thing at $50 off.

SD card required and extra. But Costco's got a deal on those too. Get the 64 GB microSD card. Get two, they're cheap.

permalink | October 10, 2014 at 06:35 PM | Comments (0)

September 4, 2014

Grilled Cheese?

You are so behind in your technology if you still actually grill your grilled cheese sandwiches. You need a Boska Holland Toastabag (only $9.94 for a set of 3).

This smart little video will answer almost all your questions:

Unanswered question deserving some research: what happens if you put a couple of scoops of ice cream in the bag and toast that? Do you get ice cream that's crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside?

The real advantage, as I see it, that will appeal to the young single man (which seems to be their target audience) is that any grease that drains off the item being toasted stays in the bag so that you can pour it out and onto your food, assuring that you will always get your daily need for fat.

permalink | September 4, 2014 at 11:23 AM | Comments (0)

July 5, 2014

The Desert Hot Springs Walmart Petitions

Rumors of petitions abound, but just try searching for them. Even knowing they are at Change.org doesn't help. A search there for "Desert Hot Springs" turns up all the names of people from DHS who signed other petitions, but not any Walmart petitions. Even Google can't find them. Fortunately another search engine (Michael Burke) told me where to find them.



I could spend a very pleasant afternoon helping both petitions by picking at their flaws, but I'll only say this:

The pro petition doesn't use the words "Desert Hot Springs" so using the most obvious search term will not help anyone find it.

The anti petition describes the large number of shoppers and the increase in traffic so magnificently, it makes it sound like one giant gold mine of economic recovery for this city. Send me to the yes petition.

permalink | July 5, 2014 at 04:06 PM | Comments (4)

July 1, 2014

Get Your Sugar On

Jack's Wholesale Candy Warehouse has moved to new, larger digs at 777 S. Central Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90021. Wholesale prices, but open to the general public. They even have free parking. If you want to shop for candy by color, they make it possible. (I want all my candy to be leopard-spotted.)

And, they've got a Facebook page.

permalink | July 1, 2014 at 02:26 PM | Comments (0)

June 18, 2014

A Change At Apple

Has Apple ever before now introduced a cheaper, less powerful version of a computer? They have now. The newest iMac is $200 cheaper at $1,099. It's been reduced from the 2.7GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 with Turbo Boost up to 3.2GHz to the 1.4GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 with Turbo Boost up to 2.7GHz.

You can compare iMac models here. The hard drive is cut from 1Tb to 500GB (for $50 they'll upgrade it to 1TB).

permalink | June 18, 2014 at 10:00 PM | Comments (0)

Amazon Fire Phone

Amazon has introduced its Fire Phone.

I've watched the videos and read down the long page of features and it sure seems to do a lot of nice stuff. If only it had some way that you could make it connect to another device at a great distance so that you could, I guess, talk or sump'n to the person who has that other device. That'd be neat, but I guess that's some crazy futuristic thing we have to wait for.

Here's the product announcement video. The contrast between the excitement level of an Amazon audience and an Apple audience is really striking.

The phone appears at the 14-minute mark.

permalink | June 18, 2014 at 08:35 PM | Comments (0)

May 29, 2014

"Is that communism?"

That's the rhetorical question asked by TheStreet in reference to (get this!) Costco.

The Glassdoor survey of Costco wages show a pretty flat salary curve, with pay ranging from $10-$23 an hour for cashiers and just $22-24 an hour for supervisors. No position averages much more than $22 an hour, but none averages less than $11 an hour either. Even the guy who checks your receipt and the woman who sells the cheap hot dogs take home a decent wage.

Yes, every time I see that case full of big roasted chickens at only $5 each I say to myself, "This must be communism!"

The article says cashiers at Sam's Club are paid as little as $8/hour while supervisors get an average of $25/hour.

Here are a few of the Costco wage ranges listed in the Glassdoor survey:

  • Cashier: $10 to $22
  • Supervisor: $20 to $24
  • Food Court: $10 to $15
  • Pharmacy Tech: $12 to $22
  • Pharmacist: $58 to $62 (this is the highest pay at Costco)
  • Cashier Assistant: $11 to $13
  • Cart Pusher: $11 to $12
  • Hearing Aid Dispenser: $23 to %$30
  • Licensed Optician: $23 to $28
  • Meat Cutter: $22 to $24
  • Meat Wrapper: $10 to $14

North Korean Chicken
This is what a communist chicken looks like. It takes one Supreme Leader and two high-ranking military officers to kill a communist chicken.

permalink | May 29, 2014 at 11:59 AM | Comments (0)

April 29, 2014

Apple Breaks

Breaks with tradition, that is. For as long as I've been using a Mac, the base price for the cheapest laptop has always been $999. As technology advanced, Apple just kept improving it to hold that price. But now, now for the first time, Apple has dropped the prices of MacBook Airs by $100, across the board. The cheapest is now $899. This is despite the fact that they have upgraded the processor.

For $999 you can get the 13-inch Air. The top o' the line Air, 13-inch with 256 GB drive starts at $1,199. Naturally, you will want to double the RAM to 8 GB for $100 more. You can also get a faster chip ($150) and double the storage ($300).

They really like that 100 number at Apple, because they dropped the price in the UK by £100 which is $168.31 today. The starting price there is £749 which equals $1260.64, so no need to rush over there to try to score a bargain.

permalink | April 29, 2014 at 01:46 PM | Comments (0)

April 2, 2014

Are You Not Getting Enough TV?

Amazon Fire TV, available now, $99.
A chart comparing the Fire TV to Roku, Apple and Chromecast prepared by Amazon, so we know it must be complete and accurate.

permalink | April 2, 2014 at 02:28 PM | Comments (1)

March 30, 2014

A Distraction

I just found out about an entertaining little controversy that can momentarily distract you from stories about Crimea, Afghanistan or the Affordable Health Care Act.

There's this Ford ad for its electric model:

BTW, French snails produce an excellent manure.

permalink | March 30, 2014 at 12:43 PM | Comments (0)

March 23, 2014

Empty Handed and Too Early

Zappos thought a couple of sparkle ponies showing up empty handed and too early on the Black Rock Desert playa would help sell shoes.
Zappos on the Black Rock Desert

The Man burns in 160 days.

permalink | March 23, 2014 at 06:26 PM | Comments (0)

March 17, 2014

Commercial Drone Deliveries

QuiQui says they will start [no date specified] delivery of drugstore items (even prescription drugs) by drone in the Mission District in San Francisco. You will place your order via smartphone. When the drone arrives with your delivery it will signal your phone, you will walk outside, and with your smartphone order the drone to drop your delivery. "Drop it, drop it boy!" The drones will never fly lower than 20 feet, so either the drugstore will pack it so it can land without breaking, or you will catch it on the way down.

The only prank thing that I can think of right now for this system is to spot someone sitting outside who looks like they'll stay put for a while. Either sidewalk dining or a homeless guy on the sidewalk is what I'm thinking of. Phone in an order for something nice - candy maybe. When the drone arrives above that person, it calls your phone and you order it to drop the load. Do it right and it could be a sort of automatic piñata thing.

Or when there's one of those big street fairs going on (like Folsom), you could have drones dropping all kinds of fun stuff all over the place.

permalink | March 17, 2014 at 12:42 AM | Comments (0)

February 6, 2014

The "IKEA Effect"

Studies suggest that people will pay more for an item they have to put together than for a ready-made item.

I especially enjoyed this comment:

Americans love the IKEA store because it's like a Las Vegas casino version of a Northern European Socialist Utopia. It gives us the naughty, illicit thrill of pretending, for a few hours, that we're living in a rationalized economy where everybody is happy to participate in manual labor and nobody goes without coffee and cinnamon rolls.

permalink | February 6, 2014 at 10:09 PM | Comments (0)

January 24, 2014

One Drive-In Movie Theater To Be Re-opened

It's the dual screen Paramount in (where else?) Paramount.

7900 All America City Way.

Here's a link to the Paramount Swap Meet.

permalink | January 24, 2014 at 10:21 AM | Comments (0)

January 23, 2014

Superman's Underwear

Naked Releases Space Age Silver Underwear With Anti-Odor and Cooling

Naked® Underwear Brand Launches product with X-Static® Silver Fabric, Proven Effective by Olympic Athletes, US Special Forces, and NASA Astronauts

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - Jan 23, 2014) - Naked® Brand Group Inc. ("Naked" or the "Company") (OTCQB:NAKD), a global lifestyle brand, is pleased to announce the release of Silver, an innovative new collection of performance products.

The Silver collection - consisting of a boxer brief and v-neck t-shirt - is created with X-Static®, a high-performance fabric, which helps regulate body temperature and provides anti-odor and antimicrobial protection within the garment. X-Static® fabric contains 99.9% pure silver woven into the garment's nylon threads, which naturally deters odor-causing bacteria, wicks away moisture, is anti-chaffing and naturally cooling. The benefits of the fabric have been proven by Olympic Athletes, US Special Forces and NASA Astronauts. Naked is changing the way that underwear can be worn.

Naked President and CEO Joel Primus states, "Whether you're in the middle of an intense workout or an arduous long-haul flight, Silver underwear will keep you feeling fresh. We're not saying that you shouldn't change your underwear, but with Naked® Silver, you can get away with wearing them a whole lot longer!"

From Naked's first seamless construction microfiber product to the new Silver collection, the brand has continued to evolve its line for the modern man. Naked's products are constructed to not only suit a man's lifestyle through attention to aesthetic, fit and comfort, but also to make it better by creating products that are game changing-which has been achieved with the Silver collection.

Naked's Silver collection will be available at select Nordstrom locations this November and will retail for $38 for the underwear and $54 for the t-shirt. The Silver collection is now available at select Nordstrom locations and at Naked's online store at www.thenakedshop.com.

Is there some fine print that gives a legal definition of "a whole lot longer?"

permalink | January 23, 2014 at 09:40 PM | Comments (0)

January 15, 2014

Comparing Mac Pro To A Windows Machine

Stephen Fung maxed out a Mac Pro and tried to build a Windows PC from available components to match. The highest price he could get up to for the Mac Pro up to was $9,599. The nearest he could get with Windows components had only 32GB of RAM because of the size of the board he chose (Mac Pro had 64GB), and he wasn't sure the 12 cores would actually work together. The price for the Windows result? $11,530.54 - or $12,330.54 if you used a different board so you could fit the full 64GB on it. The price is for parts only. It assumes that you would do the building yourself and your time is worth nothing. Since they didn't really build this thing, they don't know if all the parts are really going to work together as they would on the Mac Pro.

Then, the same guy took the most basic Mac Pro and tried to do the same thing. The Mac Pro costs $2,999 and has only a quad core, which can easily be matched in Window components. The Windows machine got 16GB of RAM while the Mac Pro has only 12GB. Total cost for the Windows machine would be $3994.65, built a bit better than the Mac Pro. The Windows machine would also be much more easy to upgrade, so you could keep it longer.

But the only people who need a Mac Pro are people who get paid to edit multiple 4K movies simultaneously. Very little software is written that can take advantage of the 12 cores you could put in a Mac Pro. The price spread between the top of the line iMac and the bottom of the line Mac Pro is $1,000...and you still don't get a display or keyboard with the Mac Pro. Mr. Fowler points out that in two years you can buy another iMac and your total cost is still less than an 8-core Mac Pro.

Here's what they used for a performance test: "We turned on video chats with Skype and FaceTime, loaded up TweetDeck and streamed 'Breaking Bad' from Netflix, all while exporting 200 gigantic photo files from Adobe's Lightroom." The Mac Pro took 7 minutes; the iMac 14.

permalink | January 15, 2014 at 09:32 AM | Comments (1)

December 20, 2013

Buy This Now

UFO-02 Detector, magnetometer interfaced with micro controller for detecting magnetic anomalies. Be alerted before they can even get their anal probe warmed up.

permalink | December 20, 2013 at 01:54 PM | Comments (0)

December 2, 2013

Amazon Drones

How Amazon imagines it.

How it might really turn out.

With current technology, delivery could be made to points within 10 miles of a fulfillment center.

I wonder if you get to keep that handy plastic box that your item would come in, or are they like those crates the post office has that you have to return. It would seem that the recipient of the package needs to have a secure backyard or, perhaps, balcony where the drone can drop the package. The package recipient would have to first indicate on a map the precise location of his backyard. If you live in a high-rise with balconies, Amazon would also need a view of the side of the building (something like Google's Streetview) where you would indicate your balcony. Or would the drone be smart enough to count the number of floors from outside the building? Maybe those customers without balconies or secure backyards could agree to leave a window or slider wide open for the drone, but that would create other security issues.

permalink | December 2, 2013 at 02:32 PM | Comments (2)

November 29, 2013

About That Walmart

I was wondering, when the proposed Desert Hot Springs Walmart eventually comes before the Planning Commission, if it would be within the city's powers to include as a condition of approval that they don't open their doors on Thanksgiving or the Friday after. It would be a public safety necessity, I would think.

permalink | November 29, 2013 at 05:46 PM | Comments (7)