Cricut Explore Air 2 and Cricut BrightPad

Well, it happened sooner than I was expecting. I got a Cricut Explore Air 2, and it came with a free Cricut BrightPad from Michaels.

I mentioned in my last blog post that a friend had given me a Cricut Personal, which is basically one of the first electronic Cricuts ever made and that I wanted to buy a Cricut Explore Air 2 eventually, either by my birthday, or by Christmas.

I got an email from Michaels telling me about their new sale, and it said all of the Cricut stuff was on sale, so I clicked their link and discovered the 6″x12″ cutting mats for the Cricut Personal was $5.99 for 2 mats. I told my life partner the next morning that I wanted to go buy a pack of cutting mats and a new blade and on the way he asked how much a new Cricut was and I told him it was on sale and you get a BrightPad, but I don’t want him to buy it for me, and he said “Well, you might as well just get the latest one, I know you want it because you keep telling me what you can do that you can’t do now.”

So, now I have a Cricut Explore Air 2 and a Cricut BrightPad. I’ve been pretty busy making boxes and cards and their matching envelopes. I also bought some vinyl and iron on vinyl from Amazon so I can make more than just things with paper.

One thing to note about the cartridges that I bought from eBay is that if you buy something that has been used, there is a good chance that person has already linked the cartridge to their account, so you will be wasting your money on the cartridge if you are using it with a new Cricut. It will still work on the old Cricut, but if someone has already linked it, you are wasting money. I bought 2 cartridges from eBay, Creative Everyday Cards and Sweet Tooth Boxes. I was able to link Creative Everyday Cards because that one was brand new, but Sweet Tooth Boxes was already linked to someone else’s account, so it’s literally useless to me. Those patterns are available for Cricut Access, which I am using their trial right now and will probably continue to pay for every month, but if I quit using that, I won’t have access to those cut files.

I love my new Cricut Explore Air 2 and Brightpad. I’ve already made a thank you card for the person who gave me the original Cricut, plus I’ve made 2 Easter cards and 2 boxes for chocolate, one of which matches the thank you card.

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Scan Your Barcodes and Save Meals with Noom

noom scanner

Did you know that with Noom, you could scan barcodes from the boxes of food that you eat?  Two people have told me that they didn’t even know you could scan the barcodes to enter the food that they eat for their meals.

Yesterday I was talking with someone on Facebook and she told me that she had no idea, so I took a screenshot like the one on the left in the image above, and told her to look at the buttons below “Add Food Item” that say Dial, Scan and Saved.  I told her that all she has to do is click Scan and the image to the right will come up.  It scans the barcode and this was the result of the barcode you see in the picture.  “Weight Watchers Smart Ones Classic Favorites Three Cheese Ziti Marinara” for 300 calories.

I have known about it since I first started using Noom because the scan button is in plain sight, so it was a no brainer to me.  That’s not meant as an insult by the way, I just see things more than most do.  I am very visual, I look at everything.  Have you seen the show The Mentalist?  I’m like that guy, I look at everything.

Did you also know that you could save your meals too?  When you enter certain items like for example, if you are making a peanut butter and jelly (or jam) sandwich, you scan the bread, the jar of peanut butter and the jar of jelly or jam, but you don’t want to have to do that every time you eat a sandwich, so after you enter all the information, click “Add to Saved Meals” at the bottom and type PB&J, so the next time you eat that, just click “Saved” at the top and find PB&J, click it and it will automatically add it for you.  It’s really that easy.

So there you have it, the barcode scanner and saving meals with Noom.  You’ve been looking at it everyday and you didn’t even notice it lol.  I hope this helps.

EverQuest 2

The name you all know and love “Xanapus” comes from the original EverQuest.  It was a game generated name, but it was originally spelled Xandapus.  I played that character for a few days and was told I better start all over because I didn’t put the starting points to “int” (intelligence).  When I deleted the character, I went back into character selection and tried it again, but it wouldn’t let me use the name again.  I had gotten a little used to that name and I didn’t want to have to change it, so I just dropped the “d” and I became Xanapus.  That was June 29th 2002.

I quit playing EverQuest a few years ago after playing for 6 or 7 long years.  Day in and day out 16 hours a day non stop playing.  It took a serious toll on me because I didn’t know what else to do with my life.

Why did I spend so much time on the game you ask?  Well, I am legally disabled so what else is there for me to do?  I can’t stand for more than 10 minutes, I can’t lift boxes, I can’t even bend over out of fear of my back locking up on me, which happens more frequently than you think.  I am in constant agony from my back because I have Degenerative Disc Disease in my lower spine.  So I can’t work, I sit at the computer which also sometimes takes it’s toll on my back so I have to be careful to be as comfortable as I can.

So recently I had started to get lonely for the game so I decided to download it again and set up my account for $14.95 a month and get back to the daily grind.  I began playing a newbie character who was level 12 I believe, and got him into his mid 40’s in just a few short weeks, but I wanted to play my old guys like Xanapus and Perceus again.  I did, or at least tried to, but I found myself bored again already.  I decided why not try out EverQuest 2 and see what’s going on there, I had to get a memory upgrade, but I started playing it and I got that spark back because this is a whole new game with all new graphics and all new zones and all new adventures.  That is what I missed the most, was the adventuring.

I was having fun, but since the game was free I started to notice all of the restrictions for free players.  I figured, if I want to play this, I gotta pay the money, but I don’t want to have to keep paying them just so I can get a backpack or so I can do this or that, so I changed my subscription with EverQuest 1 to a station pass for all of the Sony Online Entertainment games for $19.95 a month.  Now for only $5 more, I can play all of their games, like Star Wars, DC Comics and whatever else they have.  That’s a way better deal if you ask me.

So this is great.  I can finally stop obsessing over who in the news is calling who anti-gay slurs and who is trying to take away my right to marry, now I can focus on actual fun, something that will give me a few hours a day to escape the real world.  Think of it as a vacation for my brain lol.

I took this video tonight in EverQuest 2 of me flying a Griffin.  Pretty cool mode of transportation if you ask me.  Anyway, till next time.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SttQ1wd1pEo

Roku 2

Roku has finally come out with a next-gen version of the Roku internet tv streamer and it is smaller than before.

Now let me see if I can remember how it was before because they don’t have their older models on their site anymore.  The cheaper one did not have HD at all, it was for older model tv’s.  The 2nd one was XD and the 3rd one was XS.  I remember that much.  The XD and XS were the only 2 that had HD in them.  I bought 2 of the XD’s because the only difference between the XD and XS were that the XS had a USB on it so you could hook up a USB drive for looking at external images and/or videos.  I forget what else but it wasn’t that much else.

They have added many more features to the XS now which makes me want it more than the XD.  Like the old XD had wired and wifi internet connection and now only the XS has that.  Well, when I bought the 2 XD’s in January, I had so much trouble with the wifi that I had to plug it in to the router with the wire.

I have several blog posts about the Roku.  The first one was about the Roku and about how I was going to buy it.  Internet TV.  Then We are officially switching our cable and I remember how excited I was that I was going to be saving SO much money every month by not having to pay for cable.  I was mislead into thinking that even though everything else was going to be like DVR where I’d have to find what to watch, just like I do on the internet, I’d also get live news.  (Roku didn’t mislead me, Chips family member did.)  Well, that wasn’t right and Darrin didn’t like that very much so we kept our cable.

Then I said I won’t miss my shows but I found out that was a total lie because there were only a few shows on Hulu Plus that they allowed you to watch on your TV.  In fact, I would end up having to watch 95% of my shows on the computer anyway.

Just before we got our Roku boxes I was starting to question my decision; Is getting the Roku was worth it.  Then the next day they came and I posted this: Our Roku Boxes Arrived Today… They’re Going Back Tomorrow.

The main issue that I had with the Roku boxes was getting them connected.  It took a long time to get them online with my wifi and when I finally did they were only on for 30 minutes before disconnecting.  I had spent several hours on the phone getting them turned on, even changing my router settings and everything and still nothing but problems.

They said I had 30 days to return them and of course they went to the post office the next day.

I was really sad because I really thought it was going to be such a cool thing but it turned out to be really disappointing to us.  Darrin likes to watch the news as it happens, not as it happened yesterday.  And with the Casey Anthony trial, he wanted to see all of that unfold as it happened.

So I was getting the Roku for the wrong reasons.  I was getting it so that I could save money on my cable bill because I was paying $110 for it every month and if I switched to Roku I’d only have to pay $8 for Netflix and $8 for Hulu Plus.  Well, the Netflix was a good thing but the Hulu Plus wasn’t.  The Roku has hundreds of channels (or websites) to choose from but the issue is still the same, no live anything.  If I cancel my cable I need to have something that is live, even if it’s streaming live tv from the net, I don’t care.  Roku doesn’t work that way.

I do recommend the Roku 2 only if you do not plan on canceling your cable.  It is not a cable replacement but an addition to your cable.  That is ok.  You can choose the different boxes that they have.

If I were to buy this again, which I am seriously thinking about, I would go with the XS version only because I really need to know that if my WiFi doesn’t connect, at least I can plug it in to my router.  Also, check it out, they’ve added games to it.  I also like that USB port.  My tv has an SD card but not USB so that would be cool to add.

If I didn’t care about the cable (wire, not cable tv) so much, I would buy the HD because it has everything else I need minus the 1080p which doesn’t really matter to me because most everything that is on the internet is not 1080p anyway, even Hulu+ and Netflix.  So the middle box doesn’t really make sense to me.

I am not so jaded by my past experience with Roku that I would slam them and say they have a horrible service because the problem I had was a minor technical problem with the wifi.  The service they provide is awesome.

I think the Roku is such an awesome piece of technology and I say go for it, buy it.  It works great and if really have to have Hulu then you can also do the PlayOn thing which means your desktop computer has to be super fast and you won’t be able to use it anymore since it is now your tv’s server lol.  I can’t do that because my computer isn’t fast enough.

I’m seriously thinking about it but that is off in the future because I’m too broke right now.  Maybe I will wait until Christmas when I might have the money.  But until then, I can hook my CR-48 up to my tv to watch videos, which is what I have been doing.  It’s not great but it’s something at least for now.

If I were to rate the Roku I would give them 5 stars.

Cleaning the Back Yard

We were supposed to have family visiting us in early March but they postponed until late March.  Then they made it early April, postponed 1 week then again.  Basically, I’ve been frantically cleaning until I hear of the postponement over and over lol.

The house isn’t that bad but you know, it’s the little things here and there.  Nooks and crannys that you don’t think about but it’s the first thing that draws their attention and they bring out the white gloves type of thing lol.

So I moved on to the side patio, back patio and back yard areas.  Got the side patio and back patio cleaned out but it’s the yard that really needs to be cleaned.  I had a lot of trash in all of those places because we never use them so all of the boxes that I don’t feel like breaking down when I get packages and when we got our tv’s ended up there.  Also, some stuff got ruined in the recent rains and well, needless to say I have a lot of trash.  Our trash only gets picked up once a week so I have to wait to clean some more.

Our back yard doesn’t have any grass and the orange tree is growing out of control but what I would like to do is clean it all up, prune the branches on the tree and put grass out there then I can clean up the lounge chairs (sand, prime and repaint them and buy some garden cushions for them) so that I can sit out there.

My Nook works in the sunlight and I think that will make reading it so much easier if I’m reading it outside instead of inside.  Also, it will give our dog Flower a chance to do what she loves to do in the summer time which is sun bathe.  She loves to lay out in the sun.  I can see her laying on a lounge chair in the back yard lol.

I think that if we had a nicer looking back yard we might have BBQ’s back there where we can invite friends and family over for lunch or dinner or something.  Then we can all sit in the chairs in the sun or in the patio under the awning.

Since I have a lot of work ahead of me this is just a dream for now.  But like I said, I can’t do anything until the trash gets picked up so I can add more to the cans.  Same with the green cans.  I can’t add any of the orange tree branches to a full can so this will be a dream that will take weeks, maybe even months to fulfill.  But I want it to happen so it will… hopefully.

:Cue Cat

Do you remember the :Cue Cat?  It was made in the late 90’s by a company called Digital Convergence and was given away for free at Radio Shack in the early 2000’s.  When they first came out with them I got one and installed the software that came with it and had a jolly good time scanning boxes of cereal and cans of Chef Boyardee and my soda.  But that became boring after 5 minutes and it sat there plugged in for months until I decided it wasn’t doing me any good at all.  I unplugged it, removed the software and put it in a drawer never to be seen again.

Today I was sitting here and I saw it sitting on a shelf and I thought, I wonder what good that thing is anymore, should I just toss it or what?  Then I got to thinking, I kept it all these years because it scans bar codes, I wonder if it still does that but for other things like placing things on eBay or adding books to my Anobii account.

I did a little Google search and I actually found more information than I thought I would about it.  Apparently people were upset that the Cue Cat was sending information to Digital Convergence every time you used it and someone hacked it and made it impossible for them to get any information.  They found out and tried to sue that person but ended up going out of business instead which is why the software doesn’t work anymore.  You can’t use the software on the cd because it doesn’t have a website to connect to anymore.

But it still works, if you have a Cue Cat plug it in and try scanning something into Notepad.  You will get some long numbers because it’s made to send encrypted code to the Digital Convergence software to bring up a website.  You can’t use the software but the scanner works and there is a website at LibraryThing.com that can read that encrypted code to add your book to their website.  Although I tried it and only 5 out of 32 books would scan properly.  So my search continued.

I found the CED Magic website which gave me a bit more help with a program called CatNip which will remove that encryption from the bar code information so you can get the proper numbers to scan.  I tried it and it works.  I went to Anobii and scanned a book and it automatically added it to my bookshelf.  I removed it of course because that book was already there.

What I want to use it for is so that I can add things to eBay without going through the hassle of having to type everything in.  Even the bar code itself, I’d rather just swipe the bar code, since I already own a Cue Cat, then just go from there.  Darrin owns hundreds of LP’s and wants to sell them on eBay but figured it’s such a hassle typing in all that information.  Now it’s easier.

I don’t buy physical books anymore since I own a Nook so I really don’t have a need to scan book bar codes for Anobii but you never know what might happen in the future.  I might get a bug up my ass and want to scan all of my books, dvd’s, cd’s, and pc software bar codes for a catalog program lol.  Crazier things have happened.

Well at least if you have an old Cue Cat that you got for free 10 or 11 years ago, you can take it out of moth balls and hook it up again and scan to your hearts content lol.

Our Roku Boxes Arrived Today… They’re Going Back Tomorrow

It was on Christmas Eve, more than a week ago when we were told by Chips family members that we should cancel our cable to get an Xbox to watch Hulu and Netflix instead. I researched my options and found Roku. I researched to find out if it was worth it and when I thought it would be, I rushed Darrin into making the decision to buy some Roku boxes, 1 for each TV in the house so that we would get a $10 discount per box.

I waited on pins and needles all weekend until they finally arrived this afternoon with the regular mail and was like a kid opening up his Christmas presents.

I opened one of the Roku boxes and connected it to the living room TV because I wanted the living room to be the first room that was connected with the Roku so Darrin would have it to watch when he got home. Problem… it wouldn’t connect to our network.

I brought it into the bedroom so that I could at least connect it with the network cable because I figured that maybe it needed to be connected with the wire first, then I could get it connected wirelessly. I get it connected and updated and all seemed fine but when I tried to get it to connect with the wi-fi, it just wouldn’t work.

So I got on the Roku website on the laptop and go to the help page to chat with a technician who can help me figure it out. We’re chatting for maybe 1 hour and 45 minutes and I lose the connection to the internet which means I lose the chat with “Sam”. I reconnected the laptop to the Verizon 3G network because I wanted to make sure I wouldn’t get disconnected again. I had to wait 20 minutes to talk to another person, I told them I was talking to Sam but he was already with someone else so that person tried helping me.

Another 45 minutes later and I finally figured it out, got it online then went into the living room and hooked the other one up to the tv and it connected without much trouble at all. I say thanks and goodbye to the person I was chatting with and I think I had a good 30 minutes to play with it when all of a sudden my internet goes out.

The problem is, “Sam” had me change my network name, the channel it was connected with,change it from WPA2 to WEP, change the password and everything. Now, nothing will connect. I spend the next 2 hours by myself trying to get it all back online.

This just isn’t working out so I unplugged both Roku boxes, roll up the AC wires, tie them up with the twist ties and put everything back in their boxes and spend another hour trying to get the network to work again and it did. I tried going back to my original settings but it just didn’t want to connect.

How I got the Roku boxes connected is with the mac address. I had to force the network to only accept the devices with their mac address. I’ve never had to do that before. I have connected my PSP, Nook, Chips computer and the CR-48 Laptop to the network and have never once had an issue with the mac address so why would I ever think that the Roku boxes would need me to do that?

So the Roku boxes go back tomorrow. We have to call the phone number and tell them that it just didn’t work out for us and we’re returning them. They give us a 30 day money back guarantee minus the shipping charges.

You know, I got to thinking, I can’t live without live TV. We need to be able to see the news or weather alerts that scroll on the top of the screen. It’s just not for us, we like it the way it is, no need to change it. Someone wise said to me on Twitter today “*whistles the old familiar tune* Why fix what ain’t done broke…..*snorts*”. It’s so true. And our system of watching TV on cable wasn’t broken, switching to the Roku only, now that’s broken.

I looked at Hulu plus and they only had maybe 10% of the shows that I watch. I installed PlayOn.tv and it ran so slow on the Roku because my processor wasn’t fast enough. It would’ve been ok for me if that worked but it didn’t.

I am not saying the Roku is a bad product but it just doesn’t work for me. It most certainly doesn’t work with my network but getting rid of cable and going with internet tv is just not what I want now. I still can’t afford $110 cable but we’re going to look into thinning out some of our services to make things easier on me.

I am not going to keep Hulu Plus after my 30 day trial is over nor am I keeping Netflix because I just can’t afford to have this additional expense on top of my cable. I will continue to use regular free Hulu if I miss a show but Hulu can’t replace cable for me.

Who knows, maybe one day I might get an Xbox or a PS3 or even a Blu-ray that will connect to Hulu and/or Netflix. If that day comes then it will be a nice addition but not replacement.