Aarrgh! Amazon Prime Price Increase

Amazon Cloud Player

I am not very happy that Amazon is increasing the price of Amazon Prime. The service which offers free streaming movies, Kindle books and free shipping on all Amazon.com orders ups its price from $79 to $99 per year. OUCH!

I have a few months to think about this. Hopefully they will come up with some kind of early renewal at the current price. We can hope.

Here is the email I got from Amazon.com today:

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AMAZON.COM
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Dear Customer,

We are writing to provide you advance notice that the price of your Prime membership will be increasing. The annual rate will be $99 when your membership renews on June 4, 2014.

Even as fuel and transportation costs have increased, the price of Prime has remained the same for nine years. Since 2005, the number of items eligible for unlimited free Two-Day Shipping has grown from one million to over 20 million. We also added unlimited access to over 40,000 movies and TV episodes with Prime Instant Video and a selection of over 500,000 books to borrow from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.

For more information about your Prime membership, visit our Prime membership page at http://www.amazon.com/prime.

Sincerely,
The Amazon Prime Team

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© 2014 Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. All rights reserved. Amazon, Amazon.com, the Amazon.com logo and 1-Click are registered trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. Amazon.com, 410 Terry Avenue N., Seattle, WA 98109-5210.

Posted in Amazon, Internet, Movies & TV, Music, News, TV, Video | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Top 10 Apple Products I’m Not Getting For Christmas

Apples-540

Since I have not posted to this blog in some time, I decided to wrap up 2013 with some of the recent products Apple introduced or still have in their line-up as we head into the new year. Surely most everyone and anyone who already owns an Apple product will want to get another one or upgrade a Macintosh computer or iOS device to the latest version.

I’ve considered several Apple products over the past calendar year, and it looks highly likely that I will not be getting any for 2013. However if I did here are my quick and dirty top 10 countdown of Apple products that I would like to get for Christmas.

#10. Apple OSX Mavericks – This is probably one of the easiest and definitely most affordable product Apple has offered this year. The latest operating system is available to all for the very low price of “FREE” as in “free beer”, “free for all”, free, free, free. Mavericks is the latest and greatest in a long line of OSX software. It works on almost all Intel Macs introduced since at least 2007.

Despite the free price, I haven’t downloaded Mavericks yet. Reason? I like 10.6.8 “Snow Leopard” a lot that I run on my main production 15 inch MacBook Pro, that I’ve had since late 2009. Maverick’s most likely candidate is my 13 inch 2011 MacBook Pro which I only recently upgraded to Mountain Lion.

I may install it next year, or get it if and when I buy a new Mac.

#9 Apple iPod Classic – The 160 GB iPod Classic can hold up to 40,000 songs. I have 16,000+ tracks in my current iTunes library. None of my current Apple iOS devices have enough capacity to hold them all. The iPod Classic is on Apple’s potential endangered species list… which means it may go out of production after 2013. I guess I should get one soon.

#8 The Beatles Bootleg Recordings 1963 – This is not an official Apple product, but it is allegedly being offered through the Apple iTunes store for a limited time as a download to fulfill some kind of copyright obligation so that the tracks, long bootlegged by Beatles fans for decades, do not fall into the public domain. Hence this new release being offered through Apple. 56 Beatles songs in many different versions, almost all of which you have heard many times before. $40. I may get this.

#7 Apple iPod Touch 5th Generation – This one has been out since last October, 2012. In October 2013 the line-up was freshened up with a new OS (iOS7) and new colors. I have the iPod Touch 4th generation, 64 GB model. I love it. The only compelling reason for me to get the iPod Touch is to get the better, 5 megapixel camera. The thing I love the most about the iPod Touch series is that it is just like the Apple iPhone except it doesn’t have any of the phone functions. Thus, I avoid any and all monthly phone charges. Frankly I am not a cell phone user and have never owned such a device in my entire life.

#6 Apple MacBook Air – The MacBook Air is 2.8 lb. laptop that costs at least $999. It has all of the features you’d expect to find in most Apple laptops… cool design, cools apps, Mavericks OSX, instant wireless networking and more. The main reason why I have not gotten one is that I found a cheap knockoff earlier this year called the Samsung Chromebook that does some of the things the MacBook Air can do (mainly surfing and working with web apps) while not exposing your data to vulnerabilities such as hardware loss or theft. Plus the Chromebook was only $249. I feel much more confident traveling with a cheaper network computer vs. an expensive Apple laptop.

#4 Apple iPad – I recently checked out the new Apple iPad Air with Retina Display. It’s nice, light and bright. If money was no object I’d probably would have gotten this tablet shortly after its release this past October. For the longest time I was thinking about the iPad Mini. However I like the bigger screen. So maybe next year.

#3 Apple MacBook Pro – Currently Apple makes 3 models of MacBook Pros, all of which can be store bought or custom configured at the Apple Online store. I own two MacBook Pros. I am very happy with them. However there is always the possibility of upgrading to a newer, faster, sleeker platform. The latest 13 and 15 inch MacBook Pros which were upgraded this year feature all retina displays. They are thinner, lighter, sleeker than their predecessors and contain all of the latest Apple technologies that you can find including wireless networking, thunderbolt, SSD drive options, plenty of RAM memory, OSX Mavericks, Apple iWork software and more.

However as has been the case since the first Retina MacBook Pros introduced, the 2013 models feature no onboard optical drive or wired ethernet.  The lack of optical drive I can live with since I already own an external USB DVD burner. I find the lack of built in ethernet alarming since I feel more secure on my home wired network vs. being on wifi all of the time, especially when it comes to banking and online shopping transactions.

The only Mac in this series that still has an optical drive and ethernet is the old form factor 13 inch MacBook Pro. Perhaps I may get this.

#2 Apple iMac – For the longest time I have avoided the iMac. The main reason being that I never liked “all in one” computers that Apple has offered through the years. I soured on all-in-ones since owning a Mac Plus computer (my first Mac) in 1988. That first Mac Plus broke twice during my ownership as the built-in power supply went bad and cost me $200 to repair each time.

I soured on those and for the next several years went the modular route with the Mac IIsi, Mac Centris 650, Quadra 610, Power Mac 9500, Powercenter 150 Mac clone and finally a Quicksilver Power Macintosh G4. I loved and still like the modular desktop Macs because of easy expansion, upgrades and repair.

I did return to “all in ones” with a lineup for Apple laptops that include a 700 mhz Apple iBook and 2 Apple MacBook Pros.

Recently I was in the Apple Store and drooled over the new flat panel display iMacs. Both the 27 and 21 inch models are vary impressive. The retina display is stunning. The specs are not bad either:

Gigabit ethernet, SDXC card slot, 4 USB 3 ports, 2 Thunderbolt ports, keyboard, mouse, 802.11ac Wi-Fi wireless networking, IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n compatible, Bluetooth 4.0 wireless technology, Factime HD camera, graphic card options, can be built to ordered with up to 16 or 32 GB of ram, option of standard hard drive or solid state, and more. See the Apple page for specs.

The iMac in any size would certainly beat my MacBook Pros in terms of picture quality and screen space. Work area would be larger, movies, video, photos and everything else will be richer, stronger, more colorful. OK. I am nearly sold. Perhaps next year, and maybe even the next bump up in model. Who knows. iMac definitely looks like a winner.

iMac2013

Above: Apple’s 2013 iMac.

#1 2013 Apple Mac Pro – The ultimate Christmas gift or purchase for any Mac user or fan is the new Mac Pro. The thing just became available through the Apple online store this past week, December 18. You can buy the base model Quad Core and Dual GPU with 12 GB of memory for only $2999.00. The next model up is the 6-core and Dual GPU featuring 16 GB of memory for only $3999. From there on out you can configure this bad boy with all kinds of options ranging from more RAM to bigger, faster, better storage  (256 GB to 1 TB of flash memory), graphic cards, Thunderbolt or 4K display, input devices, and many software packages.

This is not a Mac for the faint at heart or feeble in finances. If you go all out you can be spending up to $14,000 and maybe more for this. It depends what you want to do with it. Certainly while it can do casual web browsing, playing of all types of media and simple word processing or spreadsheets, the Mac Pro is definitely for the power users… gigantic ad agencies cranking out high resolution print and online advertising, publications, movie production studios and scientific organizations.

Still it may be a fun Mac to own if you got the bread. I and most other people don’t. But we can all dream. That is what Apple is all about, making your computing dreams come true.

Mac Pro is a Speedster - MacWorld | Mac Pro is Beautiful | Mac Pro First Impressions | Unboxing the New Apple Mac Pro | Apple Mac Pro | Mac Pro Specs |

Merry Christmas.

Posted in Apple, Computers, iMac, iPad, iPod, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, Technology

OSX “Mavericks” Coming Soon

Installing dev preview 4 of osx...

MacObserver.com reports that Apple has released the “Golden Master” on OSX 10.9 “Mavericks” to developers. A golden master release means that the next version of OSX is imminent… possibly in the next few days or weeks. More than likely before the month is out.

If you haven’t purchased a copy of “Mountain Lion” (Mac OSX 10.8), now is definitely the time to do it. Head over to the Mac App store and get Mountain Lion before it disappears.

After using Mountain Lion for several weeks I can say that this release is quite stable and usable. Apple has had a year to perfect it.

Mavericks will be a new ball game, and while it will probably work just fine on most modern Macs, like any new OSX release 10.9 will probably have its share of teething problems. I am not upgrading until later…. much later.

Posted in Apple, Mac OSX | Tagged , , , , ,

Why You Should Upgrade to Mountain Lion Now

Mountain Lion App Store

Apple’s current operating system, “Mountain Lion” (OSX 10.8.x) is an endangered species. Apple is on the verge of releasing its newest and latest version of OSX called “Mavericks” (10.9.x).

Once this happens, Mountain Lion will more than likely be completely deleted from the Macintosh App Store.

Granted I have never been an early adopter of any OS. However after being a longtime user of OSX 10.6.8 “Snow Leopard”, I finally decided to upgrade one of my two Snow Leopard Macs by purchasing and installing Mountain Lion.

Mountain Lion can only be purchased from the Mac App store online if you have a Mac that runs 10.6.8 or higher. The OS costs only $20 and is a worthwhile investment.

Once you purchase Mountain Lion you can immediately install it on your Mac or use one of several options to store it on a local hard drive or flash media stick. Your purchased copy of Mountain Lion is also kept in the Mac App store under the purchases tab at the top of the window for download later. Be mindful that Mountain Lion is a large 4GB download.

The main reasons for purchasing Mountain Lion now is:

  • Having the option now of upgrading to Mountain Lion if you are still using Snow Leopard (10.6.8) or Lion (10.7).
  • Always having a file copy of Mountain Lion stored online or on local media. This will come in handy should you need to restore or even upgrade another Mac to Mountain Lion.
  • Will be good to have if you are one of those people who like to buy used Macs and do a fresh install of the OS.
  • Apple allows you to install Mountain Lion on as many qualified Macs as you own, including those used Macs you may buy in the future.
  • Another good reason to upgrade to Mountain Lion now is that the latest release (10.8.5) is probably the most stable and has been around long enough for Apple to work out all of the major bugs.

Hurry! Your time to purchase Mountain Lion if you haven’t done so already is now. In a few short days or weeks, Mountain Lion will likely be gone from the Mac App store and replaced entirely by OS X 10.9 “Mavericks”. You have been warned.

Posted in Apple, Mac OSX | Tagged , , , ,

Be Careful When Accessing Public WiFi

Safeway Internet Lounge

Places like Safeway offer patrons access to a public wifi network.

My workplace IT department recently issued this memo regarding access to public wifi systems. It is good advice that goes beyond my workplace and something you should think about. My comments to the memo appear in blue.


If you’re traveling this summer, chances are you’ll encounter a Wi-Fi hotspot (network) or two.

Wi-Fi in airports, hotels, train stations, coffee shops, and other public places can be convenient, but they’re often not secure, and can leave you at risk.

Whether you’re entertaining the kids by streaming a video on a tablet, downloading new travel apps on your smartphone or even taking your tablet poolside, there are precautions you should take to make sure your personal information is safe.

First and foremost, connect with care. If you’re online through an unsecured network, you should be aware that individuals with malicious intent may have established a Wi-Fi network with the intent to eavesdrop on your connection. This could allow them to steal your credentials, financial information, or other sensitive and personal information. It’s also possible that they could infect your system with malware. Any free Wi-Fi should be considered to be “unsecure”. Therefore, be cautious about the sites you visit and the information you release.

STOP. THINK. CONNECT. 

Here are 6 tips to remember when using Wi-Fi:

• Keep an updated machine. Having the latest security software, operating system, web browser and apps can help protect you from the malware and other threats you may encounter when using Wi-Fi.

• Don’t assume that the Wi-Fi connection is secure. Many hotspots don’t encrypt the information you send on the Wi-Fi network.

• Do not log into accounts, especially financial accounts, when using public wireless networks. Logging into my bank and other financial accounts is a big no-no, not even on my own wifi network at home. Whenever I have to do banking, Paypal or buying stuff online from Amazon or iTunes, I always log in with the Mac that is connected to my wired home network. Never WiFi.

• Do not log onto sites that don’t seem legitimate, (clues could include the URL being misspelled, or not matching the name that you were given by the place of business). It’s not uncommon for cybercriminals to set up a Wi-Fi network called “free Wi-Fi” in airports, hotels, and other public places. This is something you want to take note of and follow all of the time.

• A cellular 3G/4G connection is generally safer than a Wi-Fi connection. I have never owned a cell phone and nor do I plan to get one at anytime soon. However, I do subscribe to a 3G MiFi service from one of the local cell provider. I can access my own hotspot with a variety of devices. Still yet, I don’t do online banking or other financial transactions with it.

• Consider turning off features on your computer or mobile devices that allow you to automatically connect to Wi-Fi.

The following are public WiFi spots in Honolulu that I trust and use. As I have said though, I don’t do any banking or financial transactions on these.

McDonalds – all McDonalds restaurants in Hawaii have free public WiFi

Starbucks – I have used these on occasion, but frankly I am not a coffee drinker.

Barnes & Noble – I have used this on occasion, Ala Moana Center location.

Safeway Supermarkets –  Some of the newer stores in Hawaii have WiFi.

Apple Store – All 3 stores in Honolulu have WiFi as I would assume they are nationwide.

Hawaii State Legislature – State Capitol Building, Downtown Honolulu

Hawaii State Public Library System – all of the State’s public libraries have free WiFi for patron use. Must have a library card in order to access.

There are more public wifi hotspots through Hawaii at various hotels, small businesses and other public places such as parks.

Posted in Computers, Internet, Networking, Tips, WiFi | Tagged , , , , , ,