Play Star Trek 25th Anniversary In Your Browser along with 2500 other DOS Classics!

    Oh the days of DOS games…how I miss thee.  There were so many sweet PC games back in the day, and they were always so much cooler than the old console games.  It was kinda like cable TV shows compared to Network TV shows.  There was always that feeling that PC games could get away with way more, and it was totally true for a while. I was reading the Washington Post today online, I came across an article basically announcing that the Internet Archive had made 2500 DOS games available online for free to play in browser.  This is amazing.  Cruising the overwhelmingly large collection of sweet games, including the classic Oregon Trail, Leisure Suit Larry, and Doom, I was lucky enough to find Star Trek 25th Anniversary which is pretty much awesome.
    The games take a minute or two (depending on your connection) to load, play seamlessly right in your browser with the ability to go right into full screen mode.  Your days of boredom are over!

Beginner Guide to Cutting the Cord

    Three years ago when I purchased my house, we signed up for Direct TV.  As time went on, it would eat away at me that I only watched one thing on it.  All of those channels that I would never ask for if given the choice, and nothing worth watching.  I had to get rid of it.  Almost $80.00 a month was just being thrown out the window.  I just wanted to pay for what I wanted, but of course that isn’t an option.  Or is it?  With a little effort, you can get the exact set-up you want, and tell your TV provider to piss off.


What To Think About When Deciding If This is For You.
    You all know what you watch.  You know what’s important to you and you all have your shows.  Or maybe you watch sports religiously.  You may have a local team that you watch that they only show on cable.  When you make this decision, you have to break down what you watch, and figure out other ways to watch them.  In this article, I’m going to go over the options you have, explain ways around local blackouts, and a few other things.
What You Will Need.
   The best way to watch content without owning a video gaming system or connecting a computer to your television is to own a streaming device.  There are loads of them out there including the Amazon Fire Stick, Google Chrome-cast, Apple-TV, and my personal favorite – The Roku.  There are several versions of the Roku out there and it is relatively inexpensive.  The Roku 3 was rated the best of all streaming devices.  It is the most expensive model, but it is a super powerful little box capable of streaming content from Apps, streaming local content on your network, and even has a USB input to play video files right from an external hard drive.  This feature is the best.  You can literally connect your digital library right to this little box.  Amazon has this device at the lowest price of $84.99.  The Roku will allow you to stream content from Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, and literally hundreds of other places both free and paid.

The Content.
   I don’t watch many TV shows, but the shows I watch are all on Hulu Plus.  The service is dirt cheap and they offer you a 2 week trial for you to decide if the shows that you watch are on there.  They also host a variety of obscure movies that are interesting.  Hulu is 7.99 a month.  
   If you are an Amazon prime member, they provide a TV streaming service that might possibly be the best of the three (although some months Netflix has better content.)  Amazon prime is $99.00 and includes the streaming service, free 2-Day shipping, a streaming music service, and over 500,000 free e-books.  If you order from Amazon regularly, its a ridiculous deal.
   Netflix is probably still the king of streaming services hosting award winning original programming along with a gigantic library of films and complete TV series. Netflix is 8.99 a month.
   For most people, their TV viewing could be satisfied by using any of the 3.

Sports.
   This is probably the biggest deal-breaker for people.  How will I be able to get my sports?  This will depend on what you watch, and what teams you watch.  Most major league sports offer online packages.  If you are a fan of your local team, this could be a problem.  Instead of doing a broad generalization, let’s break it down by some of the more popular sports.
Football:  The good thing about football, is that if the team you love is your local team, you will be able to see it on local television.  Digital Antenna’s are available on Amazon which allow you to play the games on your TV in HD and they are super cheap.  Most of them are barely noticeable.  If your team is out of market, it gets tricky.  If you live in an apartment building you can qualify for the Direct TV streaming Sunday Ticket.  Unfortunately if you are a fan on an out of market team, there aren’t many options and cutting the cord might not be the best move for you.
Hockey:  If you are a fan of hockey, both of a local or out of market team, you are probably well aware that 99% of the games are on cable.  The cool part is there isn’t a TV service like Direct TV monopolizing the content.  Game Center Ice is 100% online and the Roku even has an App for it so you can watch it right from there in HD quality depending on your broadband.  I know what your thinking.  What if you love your local team?  It’s blacked out.  VPN services are available at a low cost and allow you to spoof your location so that they think you are somewhere else.  This allows you to get around the black out.  There are two ways to do this.  A VPN on your computer hooked up to your TV or a DD-WRT router set-up.  I get into VPN services in general on Episode 1 of my Podcast.  Check it out below:

Next week I am going to do Episode 3 of The Super Sweet Podcast where we will discuss the DD-WRT setup in more detail. Basically, it’s programming your wireless router to constantly be connected to your VPN, so that all of the devices that connect to it can utilize it. This is ideal for sports packages. I will get into how to acquire a DD-WRT router, how to flash your existing router (if compatible) with the DD-WRT firmware, or how to buy one already set up and ready to go with no hassle.  Remember, I’ll be talking about this stuff like an average guy.  You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to learn about this stuff, just a little time and research.

Baseball:  Baseball is the same as Hockey and it also can be streamed on the Roku.

    As you can see, there are some things to think about and consider when deciding if this is for you.  Once you get your set-up up and running, its extremely liberating.  You are paying for what YOU want.  If you have any questions at all, send me an email at:

I will read all questions on the podcast as well as in an email response.  If you haven’t checked out the Super Sweet Podcast, check it out.  If you are a beginner techie, nerd, geek, or new dad – this show is for you!  Now available to subscribe to on itunes.

The Sony Incident

    Oh what a world we live in.  If you haven’t been following the most embarrassing story of the year, you probably are now with the recent announcement to pull “The Interview” from being shown on Christmas day.  I’m not sure anyone saw that coming.  Or maybe you did?

    With the incredible damages that have been done to Sony, one would wonder whether or not, the “Interview” was worth everything terrible that had happened to Sony.  Leaked emails burning bridges with major stars, medical records of every employee stolen along with a class action law suit to follow, racist conversations leaked from corporate leaders regarding the president, and 5 major films leaked prematurely including Brad Pitt’s “Fury’ which hadn’t made it to the theater yet before being downloaded over a million times.  This was truly a mega-disaster.  100 Terabytes is a breach unheard of.  To cap it off, today Sony announced that they won’t be releasing “The Interview” thus caving in to ‘Terrorist” threats.   
    With some time to think about this response, I decided that I wasn’t really surprised by it.  Sure, everything about the situation is unethical, but the contents revealed from this company is alarming.  Are we just supposed to pretend that we didn’t see it?  Howard Stern stated on his morning show, that this was a terrorist attack and that it was no different then 9/11.  He said that the media should be ashamed of themselves for reporting on the hacked information, an that we should all unite together as a country and strike back at these terrorists.  He said we were “attacked.” As a listener of his show for my entire life, for the first time, I thought he sounded like an idiot.  Sure, innocent people had their personal information stolen.  But where were these comments when Home Depot and Target were hacked.  There we none.  Now that its happened to Hollywood, we are supposed to get all up in arms?  There is a reason why Sony went after news outlets and threatened them with lawsuits if they did any further reporting on the breached info.  Sure, they didn’t want everyone to know that the company leaders exchanged black jokes about our President, or they didn’t want the salaries of their workers posted for the world to see.  They didn’t want comments made about major actors being made public.  All of this is obvious and not that surprising.  Oh I forgot to mention their plan to destroy the Internet.  I forgot that little detail.
    Leaked emails revealed the MPAA plans to pay elected officials to attack Google.  The MPAA has been after the internet for years stemming back to 2011 with the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), a dangerous and deceiving bill to combat piracy.  Fortunately it was shut down thanks to the great internet blackout when over 7000 websites protested by shutting their services down.  Wikipedia stated that they had successfully reached 162 million people with their banner to fight this issue.  It was a legendary day for the internet that paid off immensely.  The MPAA has not given up and their lawyers are turning their focus to attacking the DNS (Domain Name System) that directs traffic across the internet.  This was one of the practices included in the SOPA bill, and now looking for a way to practice this in existing law, working with ISP’s like Comcast to see how the system could work technically.  If it does work, this could be the key to the MPAA’s long standing goal blocking sites from delivering content to the U.S.  At the same time it also threatens the basic engineering of the internet.
   A memo commissioned by the MPAA in August proposes a legal case for blocking infringing sites from the DNS entirely.  It would be the equivalent to wiping out addresses and phone numbers from a phone book.  This powerful new tool they are working on would essentially threaten ISP’s with potential secondary liability if they do not cease connecting users to infringing sites.  This wouldn’t fully block users from reaching “infringing” websites as they could still use a DNS friendly server, but it would make it much more difficult for the casual user to find the sites.  Sounds reasonable?  Think again.  A system like this would make it extremely easy for anyone to knock a site offline with a fake copyright claim.  The MPAA’s legal argument is that the DNS records are acting like a directory or index rather than simply routing the data.  If this holds true, the DNS links could be subject to the same take-down rules used to wipe torrent searches from Google links.  It would make it as easy to remove an entire website as it is to remove a video from Youtube.  Sure, there are easy ways around any of these tactics for someone that wants to use a little effort.  VPN, Tor, and typing the address directly into the address bar are a few, but the goal of the MPAA is to stop the majority of the people, people with “101” knowledge of the Internet.
    The DNS system is already a security issue as it stands, exploited by hackers to hijack websites and any authentication measures like DNSSEC would quickly run into issues under this new MPAA system.  If users leave standard DNS servers in search of pirate sites, it would essentially create an underground DNS market, exposing people to unknown security risks.
     Above all this represents another massive attack on the open Internet by an individual corporate interest group.  The hack on Sony may be looked at by some as a “Terrorist” attack, but if you look closer, it’s just a greedy corporation being outed for doing (and planning on doing) a bunch of terrible things.  I”m not sure I feel all that bad…
     Protect the Internet at all costs!

Good Read: "When Google Met Wikileaks"

    In 2011, Julian Assange sat down with Google’s Eric Schmidt and a few others and debated technology, politics, their impacts on different societies, and the tech solutions endangered by the global network.  Each man gave their own drastically different perspectives on issues.  “When Google met Wikileaks” isn’t exactly a “book”, but more a well documented transcript of their encounter that Assange wanted the world to read.

   The reason this book exists was because of the “betrayal” Assange claims, which had happened after the two sat down.  It was the billionaire leader of the world’s largest information mega-tron verses the truth exposing Wikileaks founder. Assange states in the book that Schmidt said to his face that he is “obviously sympathetic” to Assange’s “vision.”  Schmidt then when on to write his 2013 book, “The New Digital Age” where he linked Assange into a group of “Terrorist Hackers” and also referred to the success of Wikileaks as “unfortunate.”
  
    These actions by Schmidt are essentially what prompted Julian to release this book where he skilfully discredits the views represented by Schmidt in “The New Digital Age.”  The beginning chapters of the book are brilliantly written calling out Schmidt and Google as being appendages of the US Government, successfully supporting each claim with detailed footnote after footnote.  The Electronic version of this book is way better as it makes reading this book way easier.  The large quantity of footnotes in this book would be difficult to follow in print.  The electronic version allows you to soak in everything with a simple click as run into each footnote.  Every claim Assange makes is greatly supported with actual facts and documentation readily available for anyone to go read.  Some of the details of Google’s relationship with the Government is alarming (especially the close relationship with Hillary Clinton.)  This book was a great insight into the intimate relationship between Washington D.C. and Mountain View, California.

This book is a must read for anyone interested in the digital age, politics, and Wikileaks.  The transcript of their conversation was compelling and there isn’t a moment in the conversation where Assange loses a step.  This was one of the most interesting reads since Julian’s, “Cypherpunks: Freedom and Future of the Internet.”

Don’t forget to check out the Super Sweet Podcast, my new weekly Podcast where I discuss the same types of topics discussed in this blog.  Episode 1 is available right now.  Have a listen and tell me what you think!

Buffering is Bullshit. Get VPN.

    So much is happening these days with video streaming services and ISP’s.  They are at each others throats, blaming each other for terrible speeds/buffering issues, with the real loser being the consumer.  Its obnoxious, but there is a way around it.  VPN.
The Verge published a great article a few days ago with video of a guy visually showing you the difference in speeds both using a VPN, and when your not using a VPN.  If you are unfamiliar with what a VPN is, it is basically this:

There are loads of benefits to having a VPN.  One is protecting your IP address.  Your IP address is your digital footprint and personal identifier.  When using a VPN, you can hide this information from websites you visit.  If you live in a country that regulates internet usage by forcing censorship with firewalls, stealth vpn can free you from that nonsense.  VPN can also hide your activity from big brother.  Its your business, keep it that way.
    Lets get back to that article I was referring to.  All of the ISP’s are messing with streaming services, and no matter how much you bitch, there isn’t anything you can do.  Or is there?  When using a VPN, your ISP doesn’t know that your watching Netflix.  If it doesn’t know, it can’t throttle you.  Some bloggers may argue that there is no difference, but I disagree.  A writer on Verge also subscribed to this theory.  Watch this experiment:

I have seen the same results from personal experiences.  Those who argue this theory, also make mention of low quality or free vpn services which are no good.  If you are going to go with a vpn, I highly suggest using Torguard.  Torguard offers a few different products, all very useful depending on what you’re looking for.  I currently have a vpn through them, along with a torrent proxy.  The speeds are fantastic, and I have had nothing but good luck with them.  I have used STRONGVPN as well, but cancelled.  The service was decent, but they were expensive and made it difficult to switch locations by tacking on all sorts of charges.  Torguard makes it easy.
There is one more thing you may want to do when considering a VPN company to go with.  Torrentfreak wrote an article this year called “Which VPN Services Take Your Anonymity Seriously? 2014 Edition.”  They contacted loads of VPN providers asking them their policy on “logs.”  Basically the only evidence possible that can be used against you when using a VPN.  Torrentfreak asked the following questions to these providers:

1. Do you keep ANY logs which would allow you to match an IP-address and a time stamp to a user of your service? If so, exactly what information do you hold and for how long?

2. Under what jurisdictions does your company operate and under what exact circumstances will you share the information you hold with a 3rd party?

3. What tools are used to monitor and mitigate abuse of your service?

4. In the event you receive a DMCA takedown notice or European equivalent, how are these handled?

5. What steps are taken when a valid court order requires your company to identify an active user of your service?

6. Is BitTorrent and other file-sharing traffic allowed on all servers? If not, why?

7. Which payment systems do you use and how are these linked to individual user accounts?

8. What is the most secure VPN connection and encryption algorithm you would recommend to your users?

Torguard answered the questions if great detail.

1. TorGuard does not store any IP address or time stamps on any VPN and proxy servers, not even for a second. Further, we do not store any logs or time stamps on user authentication servers connected to the VPN. In this way it is not even possible to match an external time stamp to a user that was simultaneously logged in. Because the VPN servers utilize a shared IP configuration, there can be hundreds of users sharing the same IP at any given moment further obfuscating the ability to single out any specific user on the network.

2. TorGuard is a privately owned company with parent ownership based in Nevis and our headquarters currently located in the US. Our legal representation at the moment is comfortable with the current corporate structuring however we wouldn’t hesitate to move all operations internationally should the ground shift beneath our feet. We now offer VPN access in 23+ countries worldwide and maintain all customer billing servers well outside US borders.

We would only be forced to communicate with a third-party in the event that our legal team received a court ordered subpoena to do so. This has yet to happen, however if it did we would proceed with complete transparency and further explain the nature of TorGuard’s shared VPN configuration. We have no logs to investigate, and thus no information to share.

3. Our network team uses commercial monitoring software with custom scripts to keep an eye on individual server load and service status/uptime so we can identify problems as fast as possible. If abuse reports are received from an upstream provider, we block it by employing various levels of filtering and global firewall rules to large clusters of servers. Instead of back tracing abuse by logging, our team mitigates things in real-time. We have a responsibility to provide fast, abuse-free VPN services for our clients and have perfected these methods over time.

4. In the event of receiving a DMCA notice, the request is immediately processed by our abuse team. Because it is impossible for us to locate which user on the server is actually responsible for the violation, we temporarily block the infringing server and apply global rules depending on the nature of the content and the server responsible. The system we use for filtering certain content is similar to keyword blocking but with much more accuracy. This ensures the content in question to no longer pass through the server and satisfies requirements from our bandwidth providers.

5. Due to the nature of shared VPN services and how our network is configured, it is not technically possible to effectively identity or single out one active user from a single IP address. If our legal department received a valid subpoena, we would proceed with complete transparency from day one. Our team is prepared to defend our client’s right to privacy to the fullest extent of the law.

6. BitTorrent is only allowed on select server locations. TorGuard now offers a variety of protocols like http/socks proxies, OpenVPN, SSH Tunnels, SSTP VPN and Stealth VPN (DPI Bypass), with each connection method serving a very specific purpose for usage. Since BitTorrent is largely bandwidth intensive, we do not encourage torrent usage on all servers. Locations that are optimized for torrent traffic include endpoints in: Canada, Netherlands, Iceland, Sweden, Romania, Russia and select servers in Hong Kong. This is a wide range of locations that works efficiently regardless of the continent you are trying to torrent from.

7. We currently accept payments through all forms of credit or debit card, PayPal, OKPAY, and Bitcoin. During checkout we may ask the user to verify a billing phone and address but this is simply to prevent credit card fraud, spammers, and keep the network running fast and clean. After payment it is possible to change this to something generic that offers more privacy. No VPN or Proxy usage can be linked back to a billing account due to the fact we hold absolutely no levels of logging on any one of our servers, not even timestamps!

8. For best security we advise clients to choose OpenVPN connections only, and if higher encryption is called for use AES256 bit. This option is available on many locations and offers excellent security without degrading performance. For those that are looking to defeat Deep Packet Inspection firewalls (DPI) like what is encountered in countries such as China or Iran, TorGuard offers “Stealth” VPN connections in the Netherlands, UK and Canada. Stealth connections feature OpenVPN obfuscation technology that causes VPN traffic to appear as regular connections, allowing VPN access even behind the most strict corporate wifi networks or government regulated ISPs.

The complete article can be read here.  StrongVPN gave an evasive answer at first which made me not want to use them.
    I’m going to continue this series throughout the month, sharing how to configure a router for your home to be permanently connected to a VPN, how to set up a torrent proxy with uTorrent, and how to take almost any router and flash it with DDWRT which will allow it to be permanently connected to VPN. 

Winamp Theme Ubuntu!

   It’s 2014 and things have changed with how we listen to music, in fact, some aspects of the way we now listen and consume music have almost gotten wacky.  Nobody buys a CD anymore, vinyl records are coming back strong, and services like Spotify offer millions of users instant access to most music in seconds.  But if you’re like me, you probably have albums that are still not on spotify, so you still use a music player.  Also, if you are like me, you like to kick it old school and rock nostalgia whenever possible.  Back in the 90’s, we rocked out our monster speakers with Winamp.  If you have Windows or Mac, it is still available.  If you are using Ubuntu, you are out of luck, unless you want to run it in “Wine” which sort of blows.  Fortunately, like almost everything in Ubuntu, there is always a way to get the same experience!
Audacious, is a music player for Linux which can offer that to you.  It’s free, open source, and very quick. Here’s how we do it!

To install Audacious, just fire up your terminal and enter:

 sudo apt-get install audacious

Next, head over to this site and grab the winamp classic skin, then just extract the winamp folder right to your desktop.  There are other ways to do this, but I’m just going to use the easiest way for new users.  After you have you winamp folder extracted to your desktop, open a terminal and enter:

sudo nautilus /usr/share/audacious/Skins/

What this is going to do is open up the folder that your skins are housed in.  Then just drag the winamp folder from your desktop into this one!  You should be set.  Open up Audacious:

 

Looks super boring right?  Click “View” at the top and select “Visualizations.”  This should open the settings panel.  The drop down at the top labeled “Interface Plugin” will now have an option in it for “Winamp Classic Interface.”

 Just select which one you want, and get busy!

 

 Check out my shop at supersweetshirts.com for totally awesome t-shirts that you will find nowhere else!

Film Review: "The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz"

   I’ve been waiting for this film since the day I heard it was being released.  You may have heard of Aaron Swartz, and depending on what you have read and what source you read it from, you may have a radically different opinion then someone else.  Aaron was a brilliant kid and deserved to have his story heard.  This film does a great job of doing what the rest of the media failed to do.
   “He was the internet’s own boy, and the old world killed him” said a friend of Aaron Swartz.  I found this film enraging.  If I didn’t have a wife and a kid, I would be way more active in being a pain in the ass to our government.  At 35 years old, I have a wonderful wife and a fantastic little girl, so my passion for life is devoted to them above and beyond.  But there is a part of me that wants to be a defender of the Internet and to fight for free information.  That part of me is obviously not going to surface because I don’t want to get myself into trouble.  Aaron Swartz is a true hero and his true story is told in this film.
   When Aaron was 12 he developed a version of wikipedia (before wikipedia) that was so cutting edge, his teachers thought it was ridiculous.  They were obviously wrong.  At 14 he developed the standards for RSS.  He was so ahead of everyone else, that when he spoke in front of an audience at this young age, people found what he said captivating and that it made sense, but that they couldn’t not laugh as 80% of his head was hidden behind his laptop screen when he spoke.  He was a young kid with a vision for things internet related that the rest of the world just didn’t get.

   As Swartz got older, his focus became more political.  He became obsessed with freedom of information, primarily publications of academic research, and the fact that it should be available to everyone.  Instead publishers have taken documents and journals funded by tax dollars, and charge ridiculous amounts of money to access them.  In the end, Aaron hacked into MIT’s academic database and downloaded millions of articles with the intention of making them available for everyone.  Soon he was the victim of an “example” being set by our government during a time when legit black hat hackers were getting busted simultaneously.  He did the wrong thing at the wrong time.  The government was set on killing this kid no matter what his intentions were.  This film catches the raw emotions of his family, friends, and colleagues as they all look back on Aaron’s life during this time.
    I highly suggest watching this film. You get a really good look into this kid and his life.  The films touches on his analysis of a reading and collecting court documents that had case decisions that went hand in hand with benefiting major corporations.  You may go into this film thinking that your are about to watch a film about the kid responsible for Reddit.  You will come out of it knowing much more.



Home Postage Service: Crash Course.

   If you haven’t been reading this blog, when I’m not making ridiculous shirts, I dabble in the technology.  One of the things I am quite fond of is Ubuntu.  It’s hands down the greatest.  If you don’t feel like spending over a thousand dollars on a Mac and becoming a slave to the genius’s, its a great OS and gives you the opportunity to learn the in’s and out’s of an open source OS while at the same time containing user friendly basics.  It’s great. But enough about Ubuntu, this is about home postage services like Stamps.com, Endicia, and Pitney Bowes.  Honestly, I hate the concept that our own US postal service doesn’t allow you to print first class mail or first class international mail on its website.  It’s complete bullshit.  Instead the postal service is in bed with these other companies making it so that if you need to print anything other than Priority mail or Express, you will need to join one of these sites, pay a monthly fee, and also pay for the postage.  Again, it’s total shit.  When I sell from my ebay or etsy store, that cost is configured into the final value fees I pay with each sale, so I can print this type of postage within their sites.  If I sell anything on my main website, I am shit out of luck and need one of these services. 
   When I was a windows user for many years, I was a stamps.com customer.  It wasn’t a service I was nuts about but it worked for what I needed it to do.  They made you install their software to be able to print anything.  The software was horrendous and looked like something you ran on a 1995 Gateway Computer. It crashed constantly and was terrible at telling you if you were doing anything wrong trying to print postage.  It was terrible but I learned how to use it on the rare occasion that I needed it.  Well I got to the point where I switched over to Ubuntu, and what do you know?  Stamps.com ancient software does not run on Linux.  Having faced this issue with my tax software, I did some research.  Unless I wanted to install a virtual OS, it wasn’t going to run.  So I went online to cancel my account.  Of course you can’t cancel on the website, you need to call so that some asshole can try and convince you to stay.  Luckily my reason was pretty cut and dry, there would really be nothing to argue….so I thought…(I’ll get to that later).   Stamps.com business hours were closed during this so I was going to have to cancel the next day.  In the mean time, I joined Endicia.  This service was a little cheaper for what I needed, $9.99 a month.  Endicia was extremely annoying right out of the box!  I signed up for my account, downloaded the horrific software (actually worse than stamps.com) and tried to log in.  I was greeted with “Account not active.”  No further information mind you, just “Account not Active.”  So I called the tech support line.  After waiting about 10 minutes on hold, the customer service rep told me my account wasn’t active because my IP address wasn’t coinciding with my home address.  You know…..because businesses don’t use VPN’s for security, or travel.  Ridiculous.  Also, they didn’t like the password I chose (a valid excuse).  My problem is more with the fact that instead of prompting you of these issues, they give you a generic message and no details!  At this point I was livid and extremely annoyed.  After that was all squared away, I finally logged into the ancient software and tried to print an international label.  I was then greeted with yet another error message.  This time it was just some weird codes, etc.  Again, no real reason.  I used the online tech support via chat.  The representative was such an idiot that I quit the chat session and canceled the account.

  I decided to try one more option.

    Pitney Bowes offered something that was truly cutting edge compared to the other services.  Something unheard of.  A web based client.  No ridiculous software to install.  It was a few dollars more expensive a month but they also throw in a free USB scale which was awesome.  I badly wanted a web based service, so I signed up.  I had a few minor hiccups signing up, but nothing major.  Basically after I signed up, it wouldn’t let me add funds to buy postage.  This was fixed with a quick phone call.  All in all the service works great.  I got my scale in the mail insanely quick and the interface looks like something you would see in 2014 not 1995. 
    If you get stuck having to use one of these services, I highly suggest Pitney Bowes.  The others were so bad in so many ways, that it amazed me that they were even in business.
    This should technically be the end of this post, however I still needed to cancel my stamps.com account.  I called them up during regular business hours.  The poor bastard on the phone tried to use all of the lines provided for him to keep me as a customer, none making any sense at all as my sole reason for leaving was because they wouldn’t provide linux support.  He finally put me on hold for 15 minutes while he “went to check something out” quick.  When he returned, he sounded confident, “Do you have explorer?”  I chose not to scream, and politely said “No, but I really just need to cancel this now please.”  Finally I was able to.

Prentious Product Review: "Harry’s Razors"

   I have not done a blog in quite some time, mainly because I barely have time to breathe.  I have returned to do a review on a product I bought listening to an ad on a podcast that I listen to.  I’ve seen similar companies advertised, like “Dollar Shave Club”, but that to me always sounded like a lower quality product.  It might be great, who knows? I just know that, for me, it came across as a cheap product from the advertising.  So for my entire life, I’ve used “Gillette” Razors.  Occasionally when I didn’t feel like draining my wallet buying them, I would go and get the knock off brands, which were still expensive, but not THAT expensive, and they aren’t very good.
   When I heard the ad for “Harry’s”, it came across as a great product.  A classy advertisement, about this blue collar razor company making a great product at a lower cost.  Plus at the time, I had a coupon code that got me a free 4 pack of razors, which if they were “Gillette”, would have cost me $12.49 at the store.  So I went onto “Harrys.com” and read a little about the company.

3

    Pretty much when I saw this, I knew I had to try it out.  This guy looks awesome, and the company looked awesome.  The website is incredibly well done and loaded with information on the product.  The pricing, even better.  If you go online, I’m sure you will find a coupon code to use, but basically this is what I got.

One of these packs of razors was free with the coupon code.

The packaging was super impressive!  The product was attractive and slick.  I was really impressed.  The shave? Terrific!  I found that I barely had to push down on the razor.  My beard hair is intense.  This razor mowed through it like a knife in warm butter. 
    So what was the cost of this? The handle was $10.00 which comes with one razor.  They allow you to choose from a variety of colors.  They also have more expensive handles ranging from $10.00-$35.00.  The blades start at $8.00 for a 4 pack, and then get lower (cost per blade) the more you buy.  The best part?  Free shipping.  Straight up.  Harry’s rules.  When I first ordered these, my wife rolled her eyes and said “pretentious”….. Is it? Maybe? Or is it just flat out smart.

Yeah……smart.

Cheers!

BombFell to the Rescue.

    It’s been so busy lately.  There was a time when days dragged, but now they go by so fast, that it’s impossible to get everything done!   I rarely write about other clothing companies, but its fair to say that this one isn’t exactly a direct competitor of mine.  I’m just like everyone else that buys stuff from the Super Sweet Shirt Company.  A t-shirt and jeans kinda guy.  I haven’t really changed that aspect of me, but occasionally I need wear something a little more on the dressy side.  I cant wear a Steven Seagal shirt to dinner, or family gathering.  I can’t take my wife to dinner wearing a Death Wish shirt.  If you do want some of those things, I suggest you head over to supersweetshirts.com, but if you are in desperate need of some fancier clothes, head over to Bombfell.com.
    These days, I’m so busy with work, making shirts, raising a kid with my beautiful wife, and working on the house, it’s impossible to find the time to find some nicer things to add to my wardrobe.  Bombfell takes all the effort out of it.  You basically sign up, tell them a bit about yourself, what kind of clothes you wear, and what you hate, etc.  They then assign you a stylist.  That’s right. I have a stylist.  After you do all of this, in a few days they will tell you what’s coming your way.  You can select the types of things that you are looking for them to send you (pants, jeans, shirt, dress shirt, etc.) Once you see what they have chosen, you can decide weather or not you want them to mail the stuff to you or if you want something else.  Once you get the clothes, you can try them on, if you hate them, they pay for the return shipping, and the return supplies are all included.  It’s pretty awesome.  They sent me 4 things, the first, a pair of grey chinos.

This isn’t me.

   I was looking forward to getting these.  Once I put them on, I stood proudly in front of my wife, showing her how they fit.  She was just staring at my mid-section and then pointed out that the pants gave me male camel toe.  I looked down, and sure enough they did. Dammit.  I like the pants, but I wasn’t going to be able to make male camel toe look fashionable.  These had to go back.
   The next item was the “Ben Sherman CLASSIC GINGHAM MOD SHIRT.”  I liked the look of this shirt when they told me it was coming.  The fit was perfect, they nailed this one.
   The final two items where “Mavi Matt Mid Rise Straight Jeans” and my favorite, the “Original Penguin FULL-ZIP MOCK-NECK CARDIGAN”

Both of these items fit incredibly well.  The jeans especially.  Normally I wear a 34, which every time I buy myself a pair of 34’s, they are tight.  These fit awesome.
    My first experience doing something like this was great.  I know what you’re wondering, “Is it expensive?”  Its not bad.  When I first looked into something like this I tried Trunkclub which was a similar service.  I received a call from one of their stylists who told me the clothes ranged from $100-$300 per item.  That was way out of my range.  Bombfell is more like $60-$100.  Basically your paying the ticketed price on the clothing, (where as normally you could get it at a department store on sale.)  You basically pay the full retail price and that’s how the stylist gets paid.  It’s a price I’d gladly pay to not have to put any effort into getting some nicer threads.  Definitely something to think about if you have something coming up where you need a few fancy clothes.

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