Buying a Car: Save Money

We all use them we all ride in them and we all at some point must purchase a new one. Yes buying a car is one of the hardest purchases to make, besides a house, in your life. When I purchased my first car, at age 18, I knew very little about the process. Fortunately for me I had a great friend that worked a car dealership to guide me through the process.

 

It is much easier now to research your car than it was when I bought my first car. The Internet can provide you comparisons, interest rates, car values, and even guides on what to do. The problem I have with these sites is the shear amount of information they throw at you all at once. The information is great but when paired with sponsored advertisements it can make the whole process seem counterproductive.  What is a guy or girl to do to make the whole task of buying a car easy? Well as a former Professional Auto Sales Associate I can recommend very few guides as they never give you the exact information you need. The recommended guide below does make it easy and even provides a check sheet so you have everything you need before you buy.

If you are interested in a great Car Buyers Guide written by an industry professional then follow the link below. Oh and this guide is absolutely FREE.

Free Car Buyers Guide Download .PDF
 

 

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Songza, I want to……..

Everyday I use my Windows 8 personal computer as my stereo during parties and work, and as my mood enhancer when I want to kick back. I recently downloaded Songza from the Microsoft Store for free.

songzamarketplace

My first experience with it was amazing. I selected workout music and was greeted by the theme songs to The Karate Kid. Not everyone works out on their treadmill to 80’s movie soundtracks, although you should try it, but Songza has given us the option.

songza settings

Categories are displayed by tasks often corresponding with the time of day. In the settings you can change your time of day to suit your mood.

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After choosing the time of day and task, you’re given a few options of music. Select a playlist and start it up.

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On the left side of the page is the current artist information along with skip, pause, and dislike/like options. On the right side you will find more playlists similar to the current playlist.

Music is different for everyone, but with this application I felt I could tailor my music to fit all my moods and tasks. Try it out! Comments are always welcome.

DIY: Create an Image (ISO) for Back-up/Recovery in Windows 8

Since recovering my Windows 8 personal computer I looked into options for backing up my Windows 8 installation in case my hard drive fails.

After some digging I found out how, like in previous editions of Windows, you could create a system image to save to USB, spare hard drive, or DVD. Using a Windows 8 bootable USB, DVD, or CD you can access the advanced recovery options included in Windows 8. Then, much like using a system restore point, you can use your image back-up to restore your computer.

When I created my image (ISO) for back-up, I used a USB flash drive, although you can use another hard drive or DVD. I had minimal desktop applications installed when I created the image, and it still had a file size of 4.7 GB. The size of the image will increase dramatically with larger desktop applications installed.

createfolder

1. First you need to decide where you would like to save the Windows 8 image. I chose to use my hard drive and then later copy it to a USB flash drive. So select the drive you wish to save the image on and create a folder. I named mine “windows8image”.

note location

2. Make a note of the file path to the folder you have just created, you will need this later.

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3. Drag your mouse to the lower right corner of your Windows start screen. When the search option appears on the right hand side, select it.

search cmd

4. Type cmd in the search box, with apps selected.

run cmd as admin

5. Right click the cmd on the left hand side of the page. At the bottom of the same screen you will see the option to run as administrator. Click it.

create image

6. You will see the command prompt open on the desktop. From here you need to type -Createimage C:\Windows8image . (Replace “C:\” with the file path you chose and “Windows8image” with the file name you chose.) The second part of this command should match up with where you would like to store your image, the folder we created above. (Your file path may not be the same as mine) After entering the command, press enter.

createimage2

7. A system message will display saying “Initializing” then “Creating Snapshot”.

writing image

8. Finally it will say “Writing Image” and show the progress as a percentage. This does take quite a while to do. It took my computer approxamatly 45 min to 1 hour to complete. (It can take much longer.) After completion, you can close the cmd prompt window and check the folder we created earlier. It should contain your back-up image.

Now your system image can be used for emergency back-up. I encourage everyone to take some time now to do this so you can avoid headaches later in the event of a hardware failure. Comments are always welcome.

DIY: How to make a Windows 8 recovery boot disk (on USB, CD, or DVD)

Recently, I became the proud owner of a computer that refused to load my Windows 8 installation. Since I hadn’t created a recovery disk to access the advanced recovery options included in Windows 8, getting my computer up and running again took what felt like an eternity.

After fixing my problem I decided to take some time to ensure access to the advanced recovery options in the future. The following DIY guide shows you how to make a Recovery Disk using a CD, DVD, or USB flash-drive.

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1. First drag your cursor to the lower right hand corner of your Windows 8 start screen, look for the search option on the right hand side of the screen. CLICK IT.

recovery drive search

2. Type “recovery drive” in the search box, select Settings underneath the search box, and CLICK “Create Recovery Drive”.

recovery drive next

3. After clicking the Create Recovery Drive, a window on the desktop will appear. In this window it says “Create Recovery Drive” CLICK NEXT.

connct usb or make dvd

4. Another window appears asking you to connect a USB drive with at least 256 MB of storage space. To make a Recovery Disk with a USB drive just CLICK NEXT. If you are using a CD or DVD, continue to step 5.

5. To make a recovery Disk with a CD or DVD, CLICK “Create system repair disk with CD or DVD instead”.

create disk

6. A new window will prompt you to select your DVD-R or CD-R drive. After choosing your drive, CLICK “Create disk”.

Should you need to use your Windows 8 recovery boot disk (USB, CD, or DVD) enter your computer’s bios settings and enable the first boot device to CD, DVD, or USB. The bios setting can normally be accessed while the computer is starting up by pressing “DELETE”. Comments are always welcome.

Naked, Afraid, and Sunburned: Where’s the Sunscreen?

As I stepped outside today (someone has to take the trash out), I felt an ever-so-pleasant warm California sun on my face.

This got me thinking about a recent show I started watching on The Discovery Channel. The new series “Naked and Afraid” recently had one of the contestants wishing that the sun on his face, or rather his entire naked body, was not quite so warming.

As you can clearly see in the video, the contestant, Jonathon, is fair-skinned and mentions his concern with burning at the start of the episode. This is what happened within a few hours on that beach.

I don’t know about you, but that looks like it hurts to me. This eventually got me thinking about sunscreen types and strengths. So in order to avoid this

and this

I did some research to break down the basics for you.

Sunscreen has been around for thousands of years. Ancient people often used jasmine and olive oil to protect their skin. In 1938, Franz Greiter, an Austrian chemist, developed the first commercially available sunscreen. Today we have an array of brand names, types, and ratings for sunscreen.

If you’re anything like me, you probably want to know which sunscreen is the best for you. I’m going to break it down for you easily so you can protect your skin.

Today there are two main types of sunscreen: physical and chemical. Chemical sunscreen absorbs the sun’s ultraviolet rays, and physical sunscreen, or sunblock, reflects ultraviolet rays.

Physical sunscreen blocks and reflects both UVA and UVB light and normally contains titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. Physical sunscreen tends to go easier on people with sensitive skin allergies.

Chemical sunscreen normally absorbs UVB rays. Although some have chemicals to absorb UVA and UVB rays.

Another option is a broad-spectrum sunscreen which contains both physical and chemical ingredients for increased protection.

Now what does this mean in layman’s terms? UVB rays cause those awful sunburns while UVA rays contribute to premature aging and long-term damage to your skin. There is one more thing to consider when purchasing that sunscreen: SPF.

Sun Protection Factor, SPF, is a rating system developed in the 60’s to rate how long your skin will be protected from UVB rays. There is no rating system for UVA rays currently.
Essentially, to determine your protection you should use this formula:

minutes till you burn without sunscreen x SPF number = approximate max sun exposure time

I burn very quickly, no thanks to my fair skin, in about five minutes in direct sun with no sunscreen. So if I use an SPF 30 sunscreen I can expect about two and a half hours of protection (5 minutes X 30 SPF = 150 Minutes). SPF numbers above 30 tend to have skewed results and do not dramatically increase protection.

Just as a reminder, even with proper application of your chosen sunscreen, prolonged exposure can cause burns and long-term damage to your skin. So here are a few tips for those long days at the beach.

– Reapply according to the sunscreen’s label, especially after sweating and water exposure.

– No sunscreen can protect you if you miss a spot while applying it. (Don’t forget those ears.)

– Apply 20 to 30 minutes before going into the sun for better results.

I hope this broke down the basics for everyone. I personally use a broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF 30 and reapply every two hours and find it works great. Please remember even if you don’t feel burned and choose to go without sunscreen, those darn UVA rays will damage your skin. See you outside in the sun. Comments are always welcome.

Underrated-Neglected-TV Series that are worth a watch

It’s the middle of the morning, evening, or night and boredom commences.

If you’re anything like me you have exhausted your DVR and cable guide. So what do I do? I login to my Netflix only to encounter the daunting task, especially when I’m already bored, of picking a show to watch.

Well I’m here to help preoccupy that fifteen, thirty, sixty minutes of time you need to fill. All of the following shows contain light-hearted comedy. The best part is they all can be found currently on Netflix. Please enjoy.

1. Firefly

Five hundred years from now, a ragtag crew aboard a firefly spacecraft tries to survive. The crew travels the outer rim of the galaxy while avoiding danger, earning a living, and evading the Alliance. I love this; it’s SciFi meets the old west. This series is what launched the movie Serenity.

2. Rules of Engagement

Couples and singles encounter all kinds of complications in life regarding dating, marriage and commitment. This show always puts a smile on my face. If you are up for laugh after laugh this is a great show to watch in your spare time. Maybe it is David Spade or Patrick Warburton, who voices Joe Swanson on Family Guy, but this show gets a thumbs up from me.

3. 18 to Life

Two families come together after their son and daughter run off and get married. The newlyweds must navigate all the quirks and obligations of marriage. Anyone who knows someone that was married at a young age can relate to this and laugh at the same time.

4. The Finder

A war veteran, who suffered a brain injury, gains the ability to see connections between events, people, and objects. This comedy was sadly cut short with the loss of Michael Duncan Clark but is an amazing watch.

5. Dead like Me

Georgia Lass, the main character, is killed by a falling toilet seat from a space station. Her humdrum life is turned upside down as she finds out she is now a reaper. This one has a little bit of this and that which all comes together in a great watch.

What Underrated-Neglected-TV Series that are worth a watch have you found on Netflix? Comments always welcome.

The top 10 Horror movies that you really should watch

As a fan of the horror movie genre I am always on the lookout for interesting new/old films. Over the past few years I have found quite a few horror movies that definitely make me think twice about walking around my house in the middle of the night.

So what makes up a good horror movie? Well, some would say awesome blood and special effects. For this blogger, a movie has to go deeper in order to pique my interest. I prefer to avoid the remake of the common slasher films and storylines that, let’s face it, can easily be figured out at the start of the movie.

Perhaps my favorite part of horror movies is what I refer to as the fake out. At this point you know something strange or scary is about to happen, like when a character is slowly opening a door while home all alone in the dark. Instead of a climax there ends up being nothing there to be scared about. With good lighting and music, the fake out is accomplished very well in many films, keeping the movie watcher enthralled with suspense.

Most of the following have interesting twists that I haven’t seen before along with well-paired suspenseful music, dark lighting with visibility, and twisted endings or open-ended conclusions.

1. Insidious

A fantastic story of a family that moves to a big house where their son has a mysterious accident in the attic. He falls and ends up in a coma that doctors can not explain or cure. Soon after, the family starts seeing apparitions in their new house and moves to a different house only to find the problem has followed them. Out of options, they bring in a medium and ghost hunting team to investigate. The medium explains their son is stuck in a place called “The Further”. The Further is a place where the mind leaves the body, through astral projection. The family must send someone to retrieve their son from The Further so he can regain his physical body. I personally love the twist of using astral projection in the film.

2. Death of a Ghost Hunter

Carter Simms is a well-known ghost hunter contracted to perform a paranormal investigation on a haunted house. Carter Simms, a cameraman, a medium, and a reporter undertake a three-night journey through the haunted house. This movie may not contain all the special effects, but it keeps you on the edge of your seat.

3. Sinister

After moving to a new house, a true crime writer finds old 8mm home movies about the story he is currently researching. The movies suggest they are of a serial killer whose killings date back to the 1960’s.

4. The Ring

A mysterious videotape, which causes death to anyone who sees it, is investigated by a journalist.

5. The Grudge

An American nurse becomes the target of a supernatural curse that puts a person in a powerful rage before killing them and spreading to another victim.

6. Paranormal Activity

I don’t think I need to describe this one, if you haven’t seen this one yet get on it. Everyone needs to feel the fear of getting dragged out of bed in the middle of the night by an unknown force.

7. The Blair Witch

Film students go missing in the woods after investigating the local Maryland legend of the Blair Witch, and all that is left is the footage they shot. This was very forward thinking when it came out in terms of story telling style.

8. The Shining

A family, while staying in an off-season hotel to do some work, experiences a spiritual presence and sees horrible scenes from the past and future. This movie sparked my interest in horror movies from a young age after watching it.

9. Mama

Lucas and Annabel are overjoyed to find, and raise, his young nieces that were lost in the forest for five years. How did they survive and were they alone?

10. Darkness Falls

A spirit begins to take vengeance out on a town that lynched her 150 years ago. Her opposition is a child who, having survived her wrath in the past, is now grown up and back in town.
This one is a creative spin on the tooth fairy.

I find it so hard to limit myself to 10 movies, but these movies are a great start for a fright night movie night any day of the year. Most of the films can be found quite easily. I personally have watched quite a few on this list through Netflix or Redbox. What are some of your favorites and why? Comments are always welcome.