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Swimming In A Sea Of Orange Construction Barrels

April 29th, 2010 by Rose

OK, first an intro. My name is Rose, I’m Steve’s wife and I thought maybe I’d start doing a post from time to time. Hey, us girls need a voice too! So, here goes, my first post!

Happy Orange season to everyone!

Up here in northern OH we have 4 seasons just like everyone else. Although ours may not have the same name as yours. We have Almost Winter, Winter, Still Winter, and Construction.

So, Steve and I went out to lunch the other day and we noticed that the orange construction barrels are starting to pop up like tulips in an asphalt garden. Thousands up here in our area.

Don’t you just wish you were the one the that came up with the design and patent?  You be sitting on a beach in warm weather drinking Margarita without a care in the world.

Have you ever been so blocked in by construction barrels that you feel like a mouse running in a maze trying to find your way out of your own street?

See, one of our favorite lunch places has almost become totally impossible to get to.  Unfortunately for the owners, that restaurant needs to be taken off the list until fall.  I guess come fall it will feel like a whole new place to grab lunch.

Not that I am rushing to get through summer.  I am not sure where you live, but our weather is crazy.  One day it’s nice and warm and we are wearing shorts and the next day you are digging out the winter coats again.

So let me know how your area is.  Are you getting stuck at home or driving an extra half an hour just to get to your destination?  Or just simply put-  do you feel like a mouse stuck in the maze of orange barrels?


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Technically Vegas

April 23rd, 2010 by Andy

Recently, I took a trip out to Las Vegas with my folks and my fiancée, just the same as we do every year. It’s kind of a birthday present to me as I tell everyone to forgo any kind of gift each year in favor of money for me to blow at the tables or on some secluded video poker machine that’s strategically placed near where the wait staff comes and goes to get drinks. We tool around the town, we eat all kinds of amazing food and by the time our trek is over our legs have to be carried home in a wheelbarrow, which one can imagine isn’t terribly easy…

Our quest is not purely one of wealth seeking, though, as we all go out there expecting to thoroughly lose our asses. Inevitably, though, someone always comes out a wee bit better than everyone else each year. Last year was my turn ($800 on a nickel poker machine); this year was all my father.

See, while video poker is our gambling game of choice we  usually we intersperse our playing with some real-life interaction at the three card poker tables. Personally,  I find them to be the best places to find unique people to chat with and since the game itself is pretty simple to play, it allows me to people watch.

This year, we didn’t sit at one.

I shouldn’t say that, actually. This blog entry is actually kind of about the three-card table we DID sit at. The only three card table at the Golden Nugget without a dealer.

Now, I love Freemont Street, but aside from the gigantic television screen awning, I never expect to see anything of high technology down in the old part of town. That all changed this trip when we saw a model, bathing suit and all, staring blankly out into the ether from behind the gloss of a flat-screen television set. Around her were seats bordering another TV screen that lay flat on top of a table marked with all the familiar bet zones.

What we were looking at was an unmanned, virtual three card poker machine.

I understand that they’ve been around for awhile now, but I still almost teared up. Yes, there’s no substitute for human interaction, and to be honest, I enjoy ribbing a human dealer for not giving me the cards I want, but to see something that looked like it was straight out of Bladerunner installed on a casino floor gave me hope that maybe someday I’ll actually see my first flying car or android walking down the street.

Okay, maybe not that much, but it’s a start!

Naturally, I had to play it, so my father, fiancée and I all popped in $20. The virtual bimbo behind the screen perked up, looked towards a seat where no one was sitting and started to deal out the cards. I looked up and could have sworn I saw her wink at my father, but as it turns out it was just the video skipping every time a new action occurred.

In other words, some bugs still needed to be ironed out. Still, we were playing, and having a good time. That is, until I realized my fiancée had been having a panic attack because she had no idea what a “three card poker” was. I guess I was just so blinded with technological excitement that I didn’t hear her say “Baby? Andy, honey? I just lost another $20… What do I do now? I think the computer dealer person just flashed a pistol at me…”

So, being the awesome future husband I am,  I decided to stay out a couple hands to give her a lesson on how to properly lose money. She’s pretty sharp, so it didn’t take long, but it brought to mind that maybe my technologically unsavvy father could probably use a refresher too.

Shows me how much I know…

I looked down at his total winnings, blinked a couple of times and figured that over here, no lesson was needed.  Off of a $20 bet my father was bordering on almost a grand in hand. He was spanking high technology! Maybe it was beginners luck; maybe it was just his year, but it did well to encourage me that when it comes to electronics, my dad’s okay. I’m rather proud of him, actually. There were no “What button do I push?” lessons, no “I just don’t get the controls” gripes or anything! Just “I’m gonna win. You gotta  problem with that?”

So to any of our younger readers with a tech green mother or father I say: Help them experiment! Just because they can’t use a laptop doesn’t mean that they won’t kick butt on a Nintendo Wii or virtual three card poker machine! You never know, they just might be your lucky charm in sin city!


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Are You Addicted To Your Phone?

April 23rd, 2010 by Steve

Well are you?

If a text message comes in, does your world immediately grind to a stop so you can read it?

If a call comes in at a bad time (say, while you’re on a roller coaster), can you marshal the strength to ignore it, or will you succumb to the siren song of your ring tone?

When you sit at a restaurant waiting for lunch, is the urge to check your e-mail so overwhelming that, to quote the Borg (Star Trek) “resistance is futile”? (Never mind the fact that you just checked it before you left)

I see it all the time – smart phone addiction. And I truly think most people don’t even realize they’re addicted. (Isn’t denial the first symptom?)

Who am I to preach about this? I’m an outside observer to the smart phone world, much to the annoyance of anyone who tries to contact me regularly. Although I have a Droid, it doesn’t rule my life. In fact, most days it’s a coin toss as to whether it’s even with me (frustrates the snot out of my office staff, but hey, that’s what I pay ‘em for).

On those occasions it does find a place in my pocket, I am just as likely to ignore an incoming call as to take it (hey, if it’s important they can leave me a voicemail).

Again, just ask my staff to call me sometime :)

Overall, I participate in less than 20 cellular calls a month and between my two hands I have enough fingers to count the number of text messages I thumb out each year. I will admit to using it to check e-mail, but that’s mostly when I’m on the road and don’t feel like booting up my laptop.

Mostly I use it as a portable computer – I have a handful of apps that help me with my business, exercise (GPS distance tracking), and my photography. But even those don’t enjoy regular usage. The phone is a tool, that’s all. I use it when I need it.

However, I think a growing majority of people have started to think of their wireless phone less as a tool and more as a form of addictive entertainment. After all, when was the last time you saw a 22 yr old girl driving alone without a cell phone stuck to her ear? A unicorn running down the freeway would be more likely.

Just sit back next time you’re at a restaurant or the mall and observe what happens when people have more than a minute or two of downtime to kill. Heck, you already know what happens – the phone comes out. They may send a text message, they might play a game, maybe check the latest news (you know, in case something earth-shattering has happened since they last looked – 5 minutes ago) – ANYTHING to keep from being the slightest bit bored for 30 seconds.

Seems like startlingly high percentage of people simply can no longer cope unless they have something to keep them entertained. And phones do this exceeding well. Too well in fact.

Case in point -Do you fly? Ever notice what happens when the plane lands? A hundred cell phones spring to life. Text messages are zipped off, Twitter and Facebook are ablaze with accounts of the flight, restroom lines, etc., calls are made, and you can almost feel the collective sigh of relief from the addicted. Ahh, my phone is one again…

Let’s look at the types of addiction:

First off, there’s the text addict – easy to spot due to the large, overdeveloped thumbs and the tendency to look ever so slightly cross eyed.  The  “Bliiip” of an incoming text message is like crack cocaine to ‘em. There’s no way to resist, and they wouldn’t want to try.

Personally, I’d like to grab their phone at the moment of notification. It would be interesting to see how long they could resist committing some kind of felony against me to get their phone back. I mean, is the message coming across really that important? Does it really demand the amount of urgent attention it seems to get? Really? I’m a firm believer that 90% or more of the text messages that scamper across cell phone screens are pure fluff. How do people get so terribly addicted?

Then there’s the internet junkie. They spend hours at a time on the computer at home, so these internet-enabled smart phones are a way for them to leave the house without developing those embarrassing withdrawal symptoms. They are in an unending loop of constantly checking sites for the latest news, sports, weather, forum updates, and who knows what else. Sure, if they’re visiting WorldStart we can forgive ‘em, but if not, what could possibly be so important that it commands so much of their attention?

Speaking of the internet group, there’s a sub group of Facebook and Twitter fans that seem to think the world actually cares that the $20 hamburger they just scarfed down at Disneyland gave them heartburn. I think I speak for everyone when I say we can live without every detail of your life. Really, we can.

Hmm.. Who’s next? Oh, yeah, the game crowd. They are forever downloading this game or that game, and tend to play any time there’s a few spare seconds to kill. Talking to them is a real pleasure, isn’t it?

You: “How’s it going?”

Gamer: “Huh?”

You: “I asked how it was going.”

Gamer (fingers scrambling around screen): “Sorry?”

You: “Forget it”

Oh, yeah, almost forget – the cell phone addict group. The ranks of this group are shrinking by the hour, but there are still a few holdouts completely fascinated by the fact you can make phone calls from just about anywhere with your phone. And they take advantage of those unlimited minutes at each and every opportunity. Unfortunately, those opportunities do don’t disappear once they are inside a public bathroom stall. Maybe I’m spending too much time on the road lately, but bathroom stall teleconferences are starting to get tiresome.

OK, OK, maybe I’m being a bit harsh (still not backing down on that bathroom thing though), and although It seems like I’ve taken the long slow backroad to it, I am coming to a point.

Aren’t WE supposed to be the masters of these things? Aren’t they supposed to be at OUR service?

Of course, these phones CAN and do make life easier, and I’m glad to have mine. However, I don’t I like what they’ve done to people. It’s amazing to me – people spend all kinds of time planning a vacation, a getaway, or an outing – only to spend it ignoring everyone and everything around them so they can play with their stupid phones.

I’ve literally watched people in a national park stroll by an amazing vista, completely absorbed with what was on the screen of their phone. Earbuds in place, eyes glued to the screen, missing everything happening around them.

Last time I checked, life was for living, not for sending text messages.

So, if you think you might be addicted, try this – leave your phone at home for a week. If that sentence seems about as outrageous as me suggesting you swan dive from an 80 foot cliff, you my friend are addicted to your phone. Seek therapy.

I promise you, there’s more to life than what’s contained in that little 2×3 inch screen of yours. Take a week off and check out the real world. It’s the best, most immersive, life-like 3D experience you’ll ever have.

So, what’s your take on all this? Have I taken one too many dives in the shallow end of the pool or am I right on the money?

Or did I lose you back there at the hands of an incoming text message…


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Saving The Earth, One Piece of Paper At a Time

April 22nd, 2010 by Gary

Today is Earth day and its all over the news and the blogs.

I think it’s a little funny that it takes a special holiday for some people to think about saving our planet. Why can’t everyone save the planet every day? It seems like being eco friendly is becoming more of a mainstream idea lately and I think that’s great!

So, instead of me telling you what I’m doing today to save the planet, I thought I would tell you what Worldstart has been doing every day to lower our impact on the environment.

As a .com company and an online store, we have some unique opportunities to to cut back our eco impact on a daily basis. One of the ways that we have been doing this is by reducing the amount of paper that we waste.

If you have ordered from our online store in the past, you may have noticed that we don’t mail invoices with our packages. When you order from us, you receive an email with your invoice and your package is shipped with only a shipping label on the front.

Worldstart ships thousands of packages a year. By not shipping invoices with our orders, we do our part in stopping the destruction of forests for the making of paper. We also reduce the overall cost of shipping a package and pass that savings on to you.

Another thing you may have noticed is that many of our software titles are shipped as “cd only”. We work with our suppliers and publishers to receive our products with as little packaging as possible. From the way we see it, there is no point in having all of that packaging when really all you need is the disk. If the packaging is not necessary with a product, we would rather not have it produced for us.  Again, reducing our impact on the planet.

On top of our packaging efforts, we also do the normal stuff that you would expect from nearly everyone these days. This includes recycling any cardboard and paper products that we do use and shutting down all un-necessary computer systems during non-business hours.

As you can see, there are a lot of little things that can be done to save the planet on a daily basis. Now, let me ask you. What are you doing on earth day (or any day) to help save our planet for the future?


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2 Years To Make 1 Minute Of Video!

April 14th, 2010 by Steve

Hey, this is pretty cool.

You know that new series, “Life” that the BBC produced? Discovery Channel has been dropping the collective jaw of their viewers with it for a few weeks now, and it’s probably some of the most amazing natural history footage ever to dance across your HD screen.

Anyhow, it’s chock full of time-lapse sequences that are nothing short of stunning. Watching it, you assume that, sure, it took some work to do it, but there’s once sequence in particular that took 2 years – yes 2 YEARS – to produce.

And we have the video to prove it! OK, we have a link to the video:

Trust me, it’s 10 minutes of your life well spent. So, check over the cubicle, make sure the boss isn’t looking, and give it a gander. The amount of work, time, and manpower they utilized for a one minute sequence just blows the mind.

All I can think is that they must REALLY make some big bucks with this stuff to afford to pull it off. Is that too capitalistic of me? Anyhow, give it a look and leave a comment to let me know what you think.


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WorldStart Gets Social

April 13th, 2010 by Gary

Hi Everyone, Gary here again to tell you about some new and exciting stuff going on at Worldstart.

We have some great new stuff, but we need your help! Let me explain the new stuff, then I’ll get to my desperate plea for you assistance :)

First, and most importantly, Worldstart is now on facebook!

We have some really cool features that we have built into our facebook page that we think you will just love! If you have a facebook account, just click on the “find us on facebook” button that is on the right hand side of your screen. If you don’t see it, you can just click here. Once you get to our brand new facebook page, click the button at the top that says “become a fan”.

So now, that you’re a fan (you did it, right?), let me tell you some more about how our facebook page works. Whenever we write a new tip, or post a new blog post, it will appear on our facebook page. If you are a fan of worldstart on facebook, the new tip will show up in your news feed. This way, you can keep up to date with all of our freshest stuff. Pretty cool, huh? You can even comment on our posts and tell your friends about the ones you like!

And that’s not everything! We have a lot of really cool stuff this is coming soon to our facebook page. We hope to have pictures, video and facebook-only deals that no one will want to miss out on!

Secondly, Worldstart is also on twitter!

Do you have a twitter account? If you do, following worldstart and keeping up with all of our newest content is simple. Just click here and choose the option to follow us.

We really look forward to bringing some exciting stuff to our new facebook and twitter pages. This is a totally new way to share our content with the world.

My desperate plea for you assistance.

Like I said above, we need your help. The only way that we can get facebook fans and twitter followers is with some help from our biggest fans. If you love worldstart (you do love us, right?), help spread the word about our new facebook and twitter pages!

After becoming a fan on facebook, please tell your friends about us by clicking the “suggest to friends” link on the left side of our facebook page. On twitter, you can tell others by using the “mention” option on your twitter page.

We’ve never tried anything like this before, so I really hope that it works. With your help, we can really get this moving.

Thanks for your help and enjoy.


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Sorry, You Really Don’t Have An LCD Plasma TV

April 9th, 2010 by Steve

You know, thinking about it, I suppose it’s the TV manufacturers that need to take the blame for this one. Yeah, maybe better nomenclature is called for. I should write someone in Japan about it, but since the only thing I know how to say in Japanese is “Full Impulse Mr. Sulu!”, I guess I’ll go ahead and rant to you instead (your lucky day :) )

Anyhow, here’s the deal. You don’t have an LCD Plasma TV.

You really don’t.


Just the other day, I was talking to a friend who was super-excited about his new TV. With a blissfully ignorant twinkle in his eye, he exclaimed that he just purchased a 48″ LCD Plasma HD TV!

I couldn’t resist, so I asked, “Well, which was it? LCD or Plasma”

“It’s an LCD Plasma!”

Ahh, here we go again. Why can’t people get this right – it’s one or the other, never both. So, after some help from my good friend and technical adviser (he’s got a funny name, Google something  or other) we discovered that what he actually had was a nice Plasma TV. I made some comment suggesting he avoid outsourcing his mind to the boys over at Best Buy in future and checked out the new set.


To help you, dear reader, avoid a similarly embarrassing situation with your tech friends, I thought I’d help set the record straight. After all, telling a tech person you have an LCD Plasma TV is like telling a motorhead you have a nice new Corvette-Pickup Truck in your garage (there’s a sad image).

First off, let’s talk about the 3 major formats. All are HD to varying degrees (that’s another article), and they include Plasma, LCD, and DLP. Sorry, LED is NOT a format, it’s a backlight used in the new super-thin LCD TVs. Samsung introduced the name seemingly to get a good laugh from confusing people even more.

So what’s the diff?

Frankly, not much anymore. Plasma & LCD like to hang on your wall and dangle the rat’s nest of wires normally reserved for the back of the TV under the set for everyone to enjoy.  DLPs want a traditional TV stand and for you to sit directly in front of them. They are all Hi Def, and (when hooked up properly) all look great.

Sure, in the past there were significant differences. For instance, plasma TVs had the nasty habit of letting images get “burnt” into them. Hope you like that CNN news ticker, cuz you’re gonna get to live with it next time you watch Survivor. Of course on the other hand, LCD sets had a painfully slow response time – you could watch a player go for the hoop and see where he was, where he is, and where he was about to be – all at the same time. It was like having a TV from the 4th dimension!

At any rate, all these little, we’ll call them “deficiencies”, have been weeded out for the most part. So, bottom line is unless you’re really anal about it, you can’t go wrong no matter what you get.

Oh, and then there’s the forgotten format – DLP. This technology is still a projection style TV  (it’s the one with the mirrors, if you remember those commercials from a few years back), but offers HD that’s easily on the level of plasma & LCD TVs – but for less money.

Sure, you can’t hang it on your wall (not sure that’s actually a bad thing), you do occasionally have to replace bulbs, and if you’re too far off to the side the picture it isn’t the best, but hey, other than that it rocks. I actually have a DLP in my basement that cost about 1/2 the price of a similar LCD or Plasma, and the picture looks more natural and less digital to me. Still sharp as anything else, just the movements of the folks on the screen look more “life like” to my eyes.

Oh yeah, LED TVs. If you see one of those super-thin LED TVs, they are actually an LCD TV that uses LEDs for a backlight source instead of the traditional cold cathode fluorescent lamps used up to this point. Tricky tricky.

Oh it gets better…

Since it’s still an LCD set, you end up with – ready for this – an LED LCD HD TV.

Say that 3 times really fast.

What’s the lesson here? Several things I think:

1. LCD & Plasma TVs, while they both look cool hanging off your wall, are NOT the same. Referring to your new set as an LCD Plasma TV is a “nails on a chalkboard” experience to a technical kind of guy. Use that information as you will.

2. DLP TVs are cool, you gotta give them a chance.

3. There are too many abbreviations to memorize when buying a TV

4. Never tell a geek you got a new TV unless you have the label handy as a cheat sheet

5. I apparently have too much spare time on my hands.

~ Steve

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Who Needs To Walk Anyways?

April 7th, 2010 by Gary

I’m really into cool new technology, so when I saw this today, I just had to share it with  everyone.

Pretty cool, huh?

So sometimes I get really wrapped up in this stuff and totally get sidetracked from whether it’s really useful or not. I guess that’s the reason I’m writing this post.

There are a few of these personal transportation devices on the market. The most popular one being the Segway.  While all of these little things look impressive, are they really practical? When would they actually get any use?

I couldn’t imagine using a Segway. They are bulky and most likely don’t transport well. The only place to really use one would be around the house or locally since I’m not willing to buy a rack for my car (which BTW would look ridiculous since I drive a little sports car).

On the other hand, this device made by Honda looks a little more portable. It looks like I could just put it in my trunk and take it wherever I want. I could use it at the mall or the park or on vacation. It just seems more usable.

I’ll leave this open to you. What do you think about these personal transportation devices? Are they the future of movement or just a stupid gizmo that no one will actually use?


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I Make My Own Extended Warranties

April 2nd, 2010 by Steve

Know what I hate? Stepping in a fresh land-mine my dog just left in the yard. Know what I hate even more? When I try to make a purchase at a local store and they try to pressure me into some extended warranty.

Drives me insane. Makes me want to order everything online.

You know the story. You’re trying to buy an expensive this or that, you’ve finally made the decision, and then they drop the bomb on you:

Clerk: “So, I’m sure you want the extended warranty with that, right?”

Me: “No, really I don’t.”

Clerk: “Well, you know this is a pretty expensive TV you’re getting here. Service calls for a set like this are going to be a minimum of $400. You never know when something is going to go wrong, lots of complicated electronics in that baby.”

Me: “Hmm, I thought this was a pretty reliable brand of TV, but with all this talk of imminent breakage you’ve got me worried now. I mean, a year from now will I be sitting on the couch, corrupting what’s left of my intellect with yet another episode of The Simpsons, only to have the set burst into flames – effectively sentencing poor Homer to a fiery death?”

Clerk: “No, no, that’s not it at all. It is a good set, we haven’t seen any problems, it just”

Me: (interrupting) “Huh, maybe I should switch to SpongBob, since that all takes place underwater. Do you think that would be safer in case of some kind of spontaneous plasma TV combustion event on my wall?”

Clerk: “What the?  Umm… Sir, all I’m saying is that it’s an expensive set and this is cheap insurance. I’d sure get one if it were mine.”

Me: “Well, looks like PT Barnum was right after all.”

Me: Clerk: “Huh?”

Me: “You know, a sucker being born every day and all.”

Clerk: Dumb stare

Me: “Look, think of it this way. You want me to pay 1/3 of what the TV is worth for the warranty. Next time I buy another cool something or other, that guy will want me to pay 1/3 of the price for an extended warranty – and on and on.

Now, to my way of thinking, instead of buying all these extended warranties just “in case” something breaks, why not keep all that extra money for myself. Sure, maybe one day something will die, but hey, I won’t care. Know why?”

Clerk: “Umm why?”

Me: “Cuz I’ve saved so much money by NOT buying any of these silly warranties I can easily afford to just replace whatever it is that broke and still be money ahead on the deal. Plus, I don’t feel quite so violated when I walk out the door with the set, ya know?”

Clerk: “But, ummm, this is an expensive TV…”

Poor guy never did understand.

~ Steve

(The people and appliances in the above example are purely fictitious and any resemblance to obnoxious customers, sleazy ignorant clerks, or expensive TVs is purely incidental. No TVs or extended warranties were purchased during the writing of this article.)


PS – You know, your comments are always welcome, so don’t be a stranger!

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And The Winner Is…

March 31st, 2010 by Steve

OK, last week we told you we were going to give away a SanDisk 8GB Flash Drive. Well, we want to congratulate Gail S. From NY – You won!

And, well, if you’re not Gail (or not the right Gail), then sorry about that. I know, I know, you’re probably thinking we don’t love you but that’s really not the case. It was a random computer drawing and all.

So, if you lost, it might be payback for all those times you said bad things about your PC. Karma’s a bitch, even when it’s digital.

Since everyone seemed to have a pretty good time with this, we’re going to do another give away next month. Not sure what it’s going to be yet, so you’ll have to stay glued to the blog to find out.

By the way, if you were one of the folks who really needs a flash drive but didn’t win, not only are you in the majority, but you may still be in luck.

As fate would have it (hmm), our sister site Big Daily Sale just sold out of their first product today and they are featuring 8GB PQI Flash drives for 18.99! So, if you thought you were stuck paying $70 at Best Buy or something, you’re not.

Thanks again to everyone who entered – keep watching, we’ll do it again soon!


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