Wednesday, September 26, 2007

miscellaneous product recommendations

Net10 and Tracfone phones rock, especially if you don't talk over 200 minutes per month on your cell phone -- and you won't pay all those extra taxes and surcharges that drive your cell phone bill from $60 per month to $66 per month. GrandCentral rocks and lets you answer and receive calls at any numbers you tell it to ring; so when someone calls, you can answer either your cell or home or office line, as they all ring. Skype rocks; pay $30 annually and make all the outgoing calls you want for free to the US and Canada.

Autopage 420 car alarms give two-way remote alarms so you know up to a mile away if your car is being broken into. That way you can run to your car and get shot by the thief.

Those nice-looking Apple Cinema displays that my friends were drooling over a couple of years ago proved to have lots of problems; the HP 24" LCD that I ended up buying instead of an Apple is just as good in my opinion (I used both over a period of six months) and was less expensive. I am up to my fourth Powerbook since they came out with the present Titanium/Aluminum design and they have been completely reliable.

If you are green or thrifty, then using anything other than rechargeable NiMh batteries is ridiculous. They hold a charge for a long time now and have more power than alkalines.

If you want to get email addresses for your small business, group, family, whatever, in the form "xxx@commandoes.com" -- such as norb@norbertwu.com, office@norbertwu.com -- it used to be a bit difficult, and now it is easy. Google Apps will do it for you. I moved my entire office's emails to Google Apps Mail, and it works just the same as when I had to pay a web hosting service to administer my emails. Far less problems so far; Google's spam blocking is better, and I have no instances where mail just disappears and I do not receive it (a huge problem with my other service, which just junked emails with invalid return address like "noreply@xxx.com"). I can access my emails using a standard email program like Outlook or Apple Mail, or use Google's web-baseed interface. I forward all emails to another Gmail account so have an archive of all past emails.

If you invest, then Bank of America is not a bad second place for an account. If you have $100K in assets in an investment account, you get a free American Express Accolades card, which supposedly lets you get into all kinds of airport lounges and has other benefits. If you have $25K in banking accounts (be sure these are not accounts that sweep funds into an investment account), then you are a Premier customer and get a Premier banking officer. This allows you to get 30 free stock trades per month. Also, BofA's investment arm has many mutual funds that are NTF (no transaction fee) such as SLASX and T. Rowe Price funds -- mutual funds that I was interested in, but had transaction charges through my main brokerage.

As a BofA Premier client, all banking fees are waived -- I never pay any account fees, monthly minimum fees, wire transfer fees, etc. But you do need to keep a $25K minimum in a CD, checking, and/or savings account.

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