Saturday, October 29, 2011

How the Internet Began

This appears to be by an anonymous author, but is worth reading.

(With a hat tip to Bruce Supowitz.)

In ancient Israel , it came to pass that a trader by the name of Abraham Com did take unto himself a young wife by the name of Dot. And Dot Com was a comely woman, broad of shoulder and long of leg. Indeed, she was often called Amazon Dot Com.

And she said unto Abraham, her husband, "Why dost thou travel so far from town to town with thy goods when thou canst trade without ever leaving thy tent?"

And Abraham did look at her as though she were several saddle bags short of a camel load, but simply said, "How, dear?"

And Dot replied, "I will place drums in all the towns and drums in between to send messages saying what you have for sale, and they will reply telling you who hath the best price. And the sale can be made on the drums and delivery made by Uriah's Pony Stable (UPS)."

Abraham thought long and decided he would let Dot have her way with the drums. And the drums rang out and were an immediate success. Abraham sold all the goods he had at the top price, without ever having to move from his tent. To prevent neighboring countries from overhearing what the drums were saying, Dot devised a system that only she and the drummers knew. It was known as Must Send Drum Over Sound (MS-DOS), and she also developed a language to transmit ideas and pictures - Hebrew To The People (HTTP).

And the young men did take to Dot Com's trading as doth the greedy horsefly take to camel dung. They were called Nomadic Ecclesiastical Rich Dominican Sybarites, or NERDS.

And lo, the land was so feverish with joy at the new riches and the deafening sound of drums that no one noticed that the real riches were going to that enterprising drum dealer, Brother William of Gates, who bought off every drum maker in the land. And indeed did insist on drums to be made that would work only with Brother Gates' drum heads and drumsticks.

And Dot did say, "Oh, Abraham, what we have started is being taken over by others." And Abraham looked out over the Bay of Ezekiel , or eBay as it came to be known. He said, "We need a name that reflects what we are."

And Dot replied, "Young Ambitious Hebrew Owner Operators." "YAHOO," said Abraham. And because it was Dot's idea, they named it YAHOO Dot Com.

Abraham's cousin, Joshua, being the young Gregarious Energetic Educated Kid (GEEK) that he was, soon started using Dot's drums to locate things around the countryside. It soon became known as God's Own Official Guide to Locating Everything (GOOGLE).

That is how it all began. And that's the truth.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Replacement Ink and Toner Cartridges for Printers

Ever since King Gillette invented the safety razor along with its replaceable blades in 1903, companies have been seeking the holy grail of an ongoing replacement market for their products. So it is with the lowly inkjet printer (and to a lesser degree with the laser printer). The idea is to sell the main product, in this case, the printer, for a reasonable price and then make the big money by having a monopoly on the replacement cartridge market. So be it for HP, Canon, Epson and the rest.

But, it doesn’t have to be. There are a lot of companies out there that will sell you replacement ink and toner cartridges (or refill kits) at a much lower price than the original equipment manufacturers. The problem is separating the wheat from the chaff.

Today, I would like to introduce you to a company that sells high quality products for a reasonable price and stands behind its products.

I found more than ten years ago. I was searching for reasonably priced ink  replacement cartridges for my original Epson printer and came across Source4ink. I ordered a sample package of a few cartridges and was wonderfully surprised with both the price and service. The cartridges were delivered within days of the order and worked very well with my printer. I have continued to use this service with few problems. Nearly all of the cartridges ordered worked in my printer, and when they didn’t, for whatever reason, they were quickly replaced with no questions asked.

A few years ago, my original Epson printer finally gave up the ghost, and since I had struck up a professional relationship with Ray Diaz, the founder of Source4ink, I got in touch with him for recommendations for a new Epson printer. He quickly guided me toward those he thought would service me best, and with his guidance, I ordered my current Epson Stylus NX510 scanner/printer, and a round of ink cartridges  to work with it. Again, the price was right and I have been merrily printing ever since.

Ray told me that he started this company in late 1999, after the typewriter and office machine repair business he had started while in high school began petering out, as users simply began replacing their machines rather than repairing them.

Just to give you an idea of the price differential, here are the current prices for the ink cartridges for my printer (it uses TO69 cartridges): at Best Buy, color cartridges cost $14.99 ea, while black ink cartridges are $16.99. At Source4ink, color or black cartridges cost $15.99 for a twin pack ($8.00 ea), or if you buy two twin packs, they are $12.95 for the twin pack ($6.50 each cartridge). (Shipping is free for orders over $55, or $4.95 for smaller orders and are sent by First Class or Priority Mail. Toner orders are shipped by UPS ground.)

Saving consumers and businesses money on printer supplies online since 2000, Source4ink has earned an outstanding reputation for excellent customer service and the highest quality printer supplies at deep discount prices.

I highly recommend this online source for your ink and toner replacement cartridges.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Converting 35 mm Slides/Negatives into Digital Images

I went to college in the mid-1950s, got married and began raising my family in the late 50's and 1960s and so, like many others at that time, my camera of choice was a 35 mm. I took hundreds of pictures and slides. The photos were mounted into albums, but the slides were stored in a shoebox, especially once the slide projector got thrown out, as I expect happened with many of you of an older generation.

A few years ago, I decided that it was time to put my slides (and some of the negatives) into my computer, so that the family could enjoy them once again. My wife and I sorted the slides into the years that they were taken (beginning with my college days and our honeymoon) and I went online and purchased a slide converter – actually a digital scanner (a VuPoint that sells for between $70 - $100 at Heartland America). You place a set of 4 slides at a time into a holder and feed that into what is basically a digital camera that takes a picture of each slide (or negative) – in about 3-4 seconds and converts the slide into a digital image that is transmitted to and stored in your computer.

In this manner, I was able to scan over a hundred slide images into my computer. The quality was pretty good, but the scanner came with a photo shop-type program, called Photo Impressions 6 from ArcSoft, that can be used to really enhances the quality of the photos.

A scanner, either stand-alone or as part of an inkjet printer, can serve the same purpose for photographs, either black & white or in color. By scanning the photos into your computer, you can than manipulate them in a similar fashion, as described below for the digital photos made from the 35 mm slides and negatives.

Photo Impressions 6

I am very impressed with this photo shop-type program. It is extremely easy to use and can do a variety of jobs in fixing up low quality photos. In the editing mode, you can auto-enhance the photos,  eliminates red eye, crop and straighten the photos, and enhance sharpness, color and contrast and even blur the background. You can also do small retouches, ie, remove dust particles, or other marks.

I checked online and it is still available – either by purchase or in some cases even as a free download. I suggest you Google the program and take a look for your personal use in fixing up any photos on your computer.

In my case, I found that Kodacolor slides aged better than Kodachrome and to show you, here are a couple of digital images taken from my slides. The first two are Kodachrome images of my then  wife-to-be and I taken in 1956 just prior to my Military Ball (I was in ROTC in college.), while the third is a Kodacolor shot of my wife, Elly, and our daughter, Lori, when she was about one year old in 1960.

Elly in 1956 at UMASS before the Military Ball

Elly & Irv in 1956 at UMASS before the Military Ball  

Elly & Lori in Philadelphia in 1960

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Re-Selling/Recycling Gently-Used Electronics

I recently wrote about how to go about recycling non-working electronic devices (bring them to Best Buy). Today, I’d like to tell you about a number of sites that will pay you to turn in and recycle “gently-used” electronic devices. (With a hat tip to Joe Riess, president of NSCS, who told me about them.)

There are several online sites (and even some that are in local stores) that will pay you for your gently-used electronic devices. Among these are Gazelle and NextWorth.

In researching these sites, I found an article about them that was published last February in USA Today. Let me quote from that article:

“Major retailers, such as Target (TGT) and RadioShack (RSH), are buying back products from customers in-store and offering credit toward purchase of new products. The retailers are working with a handful of websites that hunt for used gadgets, including NextWorth, Gazelle and CExchange. And there are dozens of other sites looking to snap up old gear, such as or

Buying back products from customers "drives traffic into the store, and helps tell that we're a place that can provide value above what you could find at another retailer," says Rob Dunlap, RadioShack's divisional merchandise manager. Target works with Boston-based NextWorth to handle the re-selling of the products that are traded in. NextWorth then turns to traditional online outlets such as eBay (EBAY) and Amazon (AMZN) to re-sell the gear. There's a robust market for those used goods.

The reason is simple. Because the full cost of a 16-gigabyte iPhone 4 is usually subsidized by the carrier, the smartphone costs far more than the $199.99 that most customers pay with a two-year contract. A recent iPhone 4 is worth more than $300 to $350 to resellers, who can turn around and sell it again for $400 or so, says NextWorth founder Dave Chen.

Gazelle, which is also based in Boston, buys back products from consumers on its site and at, Costco, Office Depot, Kmart and Sears, with branded sites.

It, too, plans to expand to an in-store operation with one of its brick-and-mortar retail partners this year. It declined to say which partner, although it had two in-store trials with Office Depot last year.”

So, if you have an electronic device that is still working, but out-of-date, and you want to recover part of its value, look into a few of the above sites that I have mentioned.

How Does it Work?

In the case of Gazelle, the online site describes the company as a “re-Commerce Service” that helps you sell and recycle your used electronics. Whether you want to sell a cell phone, laptop, or any other of the more than 250,000 products they accept, Gazelle can help.

What Happens When I Sell My Electronics?

Once received, your used cell phones and other used electronics are inspected to make sure their condition matches your evaluation. Then they send your payment. The process takes about a week once they receive your box.

What Does Gazelle Do With My Used Electronics?

At Gazelle, we believe electronics recycling begins with reuse. We extend the lives of used electronics by selling them through retail and wholesale outlets. Items without value are responsibly recycled.

NextWorth works in a similar fashion.