Cutting Back on Services

I’ve decided to cut back on a few things. I’m not broke, but I’m not exactly rolling in dough. I just think that there are a few things that I need to cut back on a few services that I don’t use as much as I used to.

Hulu Plus is one thing that is nice to have, but I don’t have that much time to watch it anymore. I started going to the gym, so that takes up my afternoons, and I haven’t been watching Hulu Plus as much as I would like, so that has to go. I didn’t exactly cancel my subscription, I postponed it for 12 weeks. My next billing date will be December 26th. I’m not sure I will have enough time to watch Hulu then, so if I still don’t have any plans to watch then I will just cancel my membership until further notice. I was going to cancel Netflix, but my partner says he watches Netflix, so that stays.

My website, this website, is one thing that I don’t use that often. When you have to force yourself to post something just to get your moneys worth, then is it really worth the money? I think not. No one ever visits my website anyway, so I really don’t see the point in keeping it. I don’t want to lose all my blog posts, so I’m going to copy and paste every blog post I’ve written here onto my xanapus.wordpress.com blog. I plan on keeping my domain, and it’s only $13 a year to have my WordPress blog redirect to xanapus.com. I think $13 a year is better than $144 a year. If I were still getting paid to blog then that would be one thing, but I’m not, so I have to make a change.

One more thing I am going to do is to stop paying games for in game money. Like The Sims FreePlay for example. This month I bought $20 worth of Life Points, then ran out and needed more to complete a quest, so I bought $10 more worth of Life Points and STILL didn’t finish the quest in time. That is $30 more that I could have used for groceries. So screw that noise. I’ve decided that when you have to buy life points to be able to finish a quest, then perhaps it’s time to throw in the towel on that game. I’m just not going to play that one anymore for awhile.

I’ve stopped playing with my PlayStation for several months actually. I’ll get on it every now and then, like I’ll get on it the first Tuesday of every month to see what games are free for PlayStation Plus subscribers. Since I haven’t been playing, I haven’t felt the need to buy new games or new add-on’s for the games I currently have or like to play.

I am still interested in reading more of the Pathfinder Tales books, but I will wait to buy any new books. I have a lot of eBooks that I haven’t even read yet, so I should probably focus my energy on reading those. To my defense, most of those eBooks were free, so I didn’t have to spend any money on those. A ton of them were Nook Free Fridays eBooks from when I first got my Nook, which was a long time ago lol.

I also bought the Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set and the Pathfinder Beginner Box, but haven’t had too much time to learn since I’ve been going to the gym. I will get to them, I promise. I just haven’t had the chance. I also don’t have a group of people willing to teach me or willing to learn with me. Hopefully that chance will come soon.

So there are a lot of things I am ready and willing to give up just because it’s unnecessary to have them. It’s nice to have them, but what good are they if I can’t enjoy them?

This is my notice that I am going to transfer all of my blog posts from here to WordPress and then cancel my hosting and redirect my WordPress blog to my domain. Let’s hope the transfer process is quick and easy.

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Nook HD+ from Barnes & Noble

Nook HD+ from Barnes & Noble

I love my Nook HD+.  I have been having so much fun with it since I got it for Christmas, actually the week before Christmas.  Yeah we don’t conform to the traditions of opening your presents on Christmas day, or even on birthdays.  We open presents the day we get them.  Screw tradition lol.

My Nook HD+ has a 9” screen, so it’s bigger than the Nook HD in the sense that it has 2 more inches, but I’m telling you that because there are certain apps that work with 7 inches, but don’t work with 9 inches.  Like The Sims FreePlay and Viggle for example.  The Sims FreePlay is downloadable, you just can’t play it because you get this warning when you try.

The Sims FreePlay

I am not sure if The Sims FreePlay will even work with a Nook HD 7” tablet.  I know it works with the Kindle Fire because I’ve seen people taking pictures and video of it on that device.  I’m pretty sure it was the 7”, so if it runs on the Kindle Fire 7”, then it probably runs on the Nook HD 7”.  If so or not, please let me know.

Viggle on the other hand doesn’t even show up in the Google Play Store, so they don’t even give you the option.  I know it works on 7” tablets because I installed it on my partner’s tablet to see if I could do trivia when trivia wasn’t giving me any points with my phone.  It installed and looked great too, but the trivia was not working on his tablet any better than it was on my phone.  Although, just because it installed on his tablet doesn’t mean I know if it will install on a Nook HD 7” tablet.

Facebook isn’t great on the Nook HD+ when you use the app.  Using the browser is so much better because you get the full website that you get on the computer, but the only problem I have is when I use another tab to visit another website, or even if I use an app, like if I go check my email, when I come back to the Facebook tab, it goes straight to the mobile version.  If I wanted to use Facebook mobile, I would just use the Facebook app.

The Twitter app that comes with the Nook HD+ from the Nook store isn’t updated, so it’s better to let Google Play update it.  It’s easy to use and if you have multiple twitter accounts, you can switch back and forth very easily.  It’s actually better on the Nook HD+ than it is on my phone.  When I am using @xanapus on my phone, then try to switch over to another twitter name, for some odd reason it switches me back to @xanapus.  It doesn’t do that on my Nook HD+.

I didn’t like the Google+ app on my phone and I rarely ever use it on my computer, but it is great on the Nook HD+.  That’s one of the social media websites that I wanted to start using more often.  It has a much better look than Facebook does in my opinion.  Google+ doesn’t force you to look at ads or suggested posts.

One annoying thing that I noticed is that when I am in my library, I scroll down to My Files and see there are 564 files.  How the heck am I supposed to weed through all of those files to get to the ebooks I have downloaded?  Well, I discovered that if you click the words My Files, it brings up a new window which shows folders.  They are in the Download folder.  I have 6 ebooks that I downloaded from the EverQuest Next website that are fiction based books based on EverQuest the game, but they are all in PDF format.  Ebooks that I’ve downloaded in ePub format will show up with my Nook books, but the PDF files don’t.  I did download an app called File Manager HD which allowed me to create a new folder in my download folder so I could keep the EQN ebooks in there to keep that folder more organized.

PicsArt Photo Studio is a good app that I use on my phone to add stickers and frames and text to my pictures, but it’s such a small screen that sometimes it’s difficult to see what I’m doing.  My Nook HD+ doesn’t have a camera, but I can use Google Drive to retrieve my files.  What I really like most is that I can write on the screen with this.  I can do that on my phone, but it’s too small.

Happy New Year 2014

Okay, so my handwriting isn’t the best, it’s even worse on paper lol.

ChromecastSome useful apps that come with the Nook HD+ include Netflix and Hulu+ and if you have a Google Chromecast, you can watch them on your TV.  You don’t even need to have the Google Chromecast app installed to use it.  I know this because I bought it for my partner and I couldn’t get it to connect to his tablet.  I connected it with my CR-48 aka Chromebook, then was able to connect it to his tablet.  I don’t have the app installed on my Nook HD+ or my phone, but the icon is visible on YouTube, Netflix and Hulu+.  I guess any Android or Apple device that is connected to my network will have that ability.

Of course, other good uses for the Nook HD+ is actually reading a book lol.  You aren’t limited to Nook books either, you can read your Kindle books plus your Google Play books.  In fact, if there is a service that sells ebooks, you can read the books you bought from them, including pdf files and ebooks.  Some writers only publish their ebook with Amazon KDP Select because they get more advertising, and if they chose KDP Select, they can only publish with Amazon for 3 months.  That’s why it’s good to use the Kindle on my Nook, because some ebooks aren’t available on the Nook.

One of the features that I do like is the Nook app “Your Highlights and Notes.”  If you do a lot of highlighting and like to add notes, this is a good thing.  It had all the highlights from the Nook for PC when I got it, but it didn’t show any text.  When I add new highlights, it shows the page number and the first couple of sentences that I highlighted, and if I left a note, it shows my note.  That makes it so much easier to find every highlight and every note on every ebook you own whether it’s downloaded or in the cloud.  Highlighting and leaving notes on my Nook WiFi was so difficult and as soon as I started reading another ebook, all of the highlights and notes disappeared, which was very frustrating.

There is also a Nook app called “Your Lookups” that shows you every word you ever had to find the definition for.  That does come in handy if you ever want to find that specific word again.  The list of words you looked up are on the left, and the word, the book you found it in, the page and the date and time you looked it up are on the right along with the definition of the word.  WOW!  Now you have a record of the date and time you learned a new word.

Anyway, these are some of my thoughts on the Nook HD+.  I like it a lot and I will get a ton of use out of it.  I still have my Nook WiFi and I don’t think I will use it as often for reading ebooks, but if the occasion ever arises when I go outside to read, I will be able to use it.

My Year In Review

my year in chalkboard

before and after morro bay 2013 was a very good year for me.  I started out not wanting to make a new years resolution out of fear of the disappointment that would always come from breaking it.  I decided to make one after a few days, and I stayed with it, well, until July anyway.  I said I wanted to lose weight and I did.  By July I had lost 70lbs with an android app called Noom, but then the weight stopped dropping and I gained 10lbs back, but fluctuated throughout the rest of the year.  I started out the year at 264lbs, went down to 194lbs and as of today I am 205lbs.  I will make another resolution to get back on my diet so I can get down to the weight that I wanted to get down to.  I know how to do it, I just need the willpower.

xray1 On March 16th I had an accident while riding the bicycle home from the grocery store at night and I broke my arm.  It was the ball of my left arm that fits into the shoulder socket.  I didn’t have a cast, instead all I was given was a sling from the emergency room.  By that time I had already lost 35lbs, and as you can already tell from the previous paragraph, the broken arm didn’t stop me from reaching my weight loss goal.

etsy banner While I was recovering from my broken arm, I decided that I wanted to start a new craft.  Well, it wasn’t really a new craft, it was an old craft that I learned when I was 9 and in the Cub Scouts.  I had some materials, so I wanted to use them up by making a couple of keychains.  I had so much fun that I decided that I wanted to learn a more complicated pattern.  I got so good at it and I was having so much fun that I ended up with about 40 keychains, so I opened up an Etsy shop.  I started out with keychains, and I added dangle keychain style earrings, studs and hoops and I already have plans on making and selling dream catcher earrings.

On June 26th, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled DOMA to be unconstitutional and Prop 8 was finally repealed.  HURRAY!  What a glorious day that was for the gay community in California.  In fact, 18 (or 19) states made gay marriage legal in 2013 and legal on a federal level.  The reason I said or 19 is because Wikipedia doesn’t include DC, but says eighteen states AND District of Columbia.  Whatever.  18 or 19, it’s still a huge victory for us.  Illinois is in that 18, but theirs isn’t legal until June 2014.

IMAG2002 In late July I started having pain in my parotid gland, which happens at least 2 or 3 times a year for I want to say the last 10 years, but I am not positive.  It’s been going on for a very long time.  The parotid gland is the saliva gland and for some reason the saliva doesn’t release into my mouth, instead something blocks the way and it swells up to the size of a golf ball or bigger.  I try to milk it so the saliva goes into my mouth, and that does work, but it hurts really bad.  The doctors usually give me an antibiotic and it clears up in a week, but this time it didn’t clear up.  My doctor sent me to an ear, nose throat doctor and to have an ultrasound which showed that I had a stone inside of my parotid gland.  The ENT doctor sent me to have a cat scan with contrast which showed that I had several stones in both of my parotid glands, but the ones on the right side were much bigger than the left.  I had surgery on November 20th to remove my parotid gland.  The area is still numb and I was told it will probably be numb for another couple or few months.  YAY!

My back has caused me tons of pain for so many years and this summer I finally found out what was causing it.  Apparently I have scoliosis in my spine.  I told my aunt about it and she told me that my great-grandmother was born with scoliosis and she lived her entire life with it.  I remember she had a hump on her back, that was the scoliosis.  My doctor sent me to physical therapy for a month and that halted the pain, but it didn’t correct anything.  I have an appointment in January to start treatment up again, and it’s a good thing too because the pain is already starting to come back.  My first treatment was a shock, no, seriously, they put these electrodes on my back and it shot electricity to my nerves to dull them.  They had me do exercises for half an hour and then they would give me a deep tissue massage. The electrode was only applied to me on the first visit, all the other appointments were just me laying on the table doing exercises and then massages.  The last couple appointments didn’t include a massage.

bread slicer pumpkin bread We went to a thrift store in October and I found a bread machine for only $6.  I can’t say I have ever had homemade bread before, like ever, so that was quite an experience.  I did learn that I was doing it wrong for a very long time when I had such a horrible stomachache which felt like I had a 10lb brick sitting in my stomach.  Apparently the bread was too dry.  I read the instructions.  It clearly stated that I was to use exact measurements, no more, no less, so I was only doing what I was told to do, but apparently rules are made to be broken.  Now the bread is light and fluffy and it actually tastes better than store bought bread.  My favorite bread to make is Spiced Pumpkin Bread with raisins.  Have you ever had a ham sandwich or a peanut butter and strawberry jam sandwich with pumpkin bread with raisins?  It’s quite awesome.  Although I will have to cut back on the bread when I start my diet up again.

We also helped feed a couple of neighbors for Thanksgiving and Christmas, which frankly is what the holidays are all about.  It’s nice to receive presents, but it’s even nicer to do a good deed for someone.  I guess those were our good deeds for the year.

Of course we exchanged presents.  I got a Nook HD+ 32GB tablet from my partner, and I gave him a Google Chromecast so he can watch Netflix and YouTube from his tablet, plus I got him Netflix.

I don’t know what will happen in 2014, but I’m sure it will be as memorable as 2013.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all!

Google Chromecast

Chromecast

I didn’t know what to get my partner for Christmas because he doesn’t seem to show any interest to anything.  Everyone has a hobby of some sorts, but not him, so buying presents is difficult.  Last month he bought a new tablet from Verizon and I remember seeing the ads for Chromecast, so I figured this would make the perfect gift for him so he could watch Netflix and YouTube on his HDTV.

Chromecast Icon CircledOf course when it came, I couldn’t get it working.  I thought the setup would be easy, but it was anything but.  His tablet recognized it, but wouldn’t connect with it.  I decided that he could use my CR-48 (Chromebook) to watch Netflix, so I installed the extension and it recognized the Chromecast and connected instantly.  I went back to his tablet to the Chromecast app and it was already connected there too.  Despite the fact that I never even installed the Chromecast app on my Nook HD+, I see the Chromecast connect icon on Netflix and YouTube.

When I bought the Chromecast through the Google Play Store, I read the reviews and saw a couple of people bitching about the fact that you cannot watch home videos or pictures you have taken with your phone or tablet, but I found that to be false.  If you own a Chromecast, when you go to the Google Play Store on your device you will see a category with apps made specifically for Chromecast.  There is an app called avia which says you can share your personal photos, videos and music on the big screen.  The app is free, but it might be limited because it says “In-app purchase of $2.99  gives you Chromecast support, casting to DLNA enabled devices, access to Dropbox, support for themes and removes all ads.”  As with everything in life, read the reviews and decide for yourself.  There is only one app that will allow you to share your personal photos and videos… for now.

Loading the Chromecast is simple.  When you want to watch something, just click the Chromecast icon so it streams to your TV, then hit the play button and it will automatically switch to the Chromecast.  When you are done, you will have to get the remote control that came with your TV to switch the input back to the cable.  It’s actually very easy.

It’s a great device for those who don’t have an internet streaming device like the Apple TV, Roku or a Blu-ray player, it’s also cheaper at only $35.

Here are a couple of screenshots of YouTube and Netflix with the Chromecast icon.

Chromecast YouTube Chromecast Netflix

Nook HD+ for Christmas

desktop landscape

I was totally not expecting this, but my partner bought me a Nook HD+ 32GB for Christmas. I was saving money to buy an Amazon Kindle Fire because I thought it was better than a Nook tablet. I had no idea that the Nook tablet had the Google play store now. So I changed my mind, but was still saving the money and was expecting that I would finally have the money saved by my birthday in June. I told my partner what I was planning, and I think he took that as a hint. It wasn’t, but hey, I’m not complaining lol.

I have a Nook WiFi, which is still very nice to have for when I want to read a book in the sunlight. That doesn’t happen very often, but it does happen. You can’t see a tablet screen in sunlight which is what makes a e-ink screen superior than a tablet in that sense.

I was saving up for the 7″ screen with only 8GB, but when we were at the Barnes & Noble store he saw the two screens next to each other and decided for me that the 9″ screen was better, and that 32GB would also be way better than only 8GB which I highly agree with. The price however was a huge difference. The 7″ tablet was only $129 and the 9″ was $179. I agree that the one he bought me is better though, and I probably would have regretted not getting the bigger one.

library portrait There was a problem with my new Nook though. The first day was okay, but the second day wasn’t. The screen started freaking out on me. It would move side to side on its own and it would drop app icons onto the desktop from the carousel at the top. It also went into my library and started downloading books and magazines from the cloud. I saw it in the Nook store and freaked out that it would start making executive decisions on what it thought I should start reading.

I called the store and tried to explain to them what was happening, but the tech didn’t get it right away. She eventually understood and walked me through resetting it to factory and told me if I had any more problems to bring it in for another one. It did, and so we went in the very next day. It was a good thing too because they were on sale, so they gave my partner the difference, which was $32. Not bad eh? Instead of being $179, it was only $149.

So yeah, the Nook HD+ 32GB was a very good thing. I’ve been putting my computer in sleep mode while I use the Nook as a computer. No sense in using electricity if I’m going to use a tablet instead of a computer. I am disappointed that I can’t play the Sims FreePlay on it though. I’ve been playing that on my cell phone for a year now and it gets frustrating when it crashes constantly. I would love to free up some space on my phone and play it on a bigger screen.

landscape book

I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to read books on the screen because I much prefer either paper or e-ink, but it’s actually not that bad to read from. I’ve been reading in landscape mode and it reads just like a book, it even looks like a book when you turn the page. The reason I’m reading in landscape mode is because of the case I have. It’s much easier for me to read with the Nook sitting on my desk than it is to hold it on my hand.

I am very happy with my gift. I’m even happier that I didn’t have to save the money for it because I can’t save money very easily because it always goes into the groceries. I’m even happier that the replacement didn’t freak out like the first one lol.

We didn’t buy the case in the store because I thought they would be expensive, so I bought it on Amazon for $11 with free shipping.  Not a bad price.  I found out that the cases they have in the store are only $15, but I am very happy with the case that I have because it rotates so it can stand in portrait or landscape mode.

We don’t conform to the rules of opening your Christmas presents ON Christmas day.  Screw that noise lol.  We will open our presents when we gosh darn well please thank you very much.  The present I bought for him wasn’t quite as expensive though, it was the Google Chromecast for $35.  He can use it to watch Netflix or YouTube directly from his tablet.  My second gift for him was Netflix itself, which we both can enjoy from our tablets and the Blu-ray player.

Dark Shadows: The Revival (1991)

I have had this on my Hulu Queue since I saw Dark Shadows with Johnny Depp and I don’t know why it took me so long to watch it, but I finally finished it today.  There are only 12 episodes and it is totally worth watching.

According to IMDB, the original Dark Shadows had 1225 episodes, but Netflix is only showing 162 episodes.  I saw the first season which is 40 episodes, but haven’t seen the 2nd season yet because I kinda got bored with it.  I don’t know what made me decide to watch The Revival on Hulu, but I am glad I did because it was an awesome version of the story.

I don’t know if Dark Shadows The Revival is a condensed version of the original, but I really liked it.  I wouldn’t have minded if they had more than 12 episodes, but I think I was satisfied with what I got to see.  If it is just a condensed version, I can only imagine how much I missed from the original series that I will never get to see.

The best part of this series is we get to see Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a child who plays David Collins.  Also Pretender Jarod Michael T. Weiss plays Joe Haskell… without a shirt… yum yum gimme some!

I could go on about how I liked one more than the other, but who really cares what I think?  Just go watch it on Hulu before it expires on 1/2/2013.

Sliders Season 4&5 on Netflix

I watched the first 3 seasons of Sliders on Hulu because I missed it when it originally aired.  Unfortunately they didn’t have seasons 4 and 5.  I found it on Netflix, but I hate watching tv shows on my computer.  I had my computer plugged into the TV when I watched Caprica, but that was a pain because it was always going out of sync.  I got a new Sony Blu-Ray player for my birthday so I took that as the perfect opportunity to finally watch Sliders because the Blu-Ray player has internet channels like Netflix and Hulu Plus among others.

I was sad when the professor died in the 3rd season and I wasn’t sure if I would like the new girl whose planet blew up and she was forced to go with the sliders, but I found that I fell in love with her in season 4.  I was really sad that Wade wasn’t in season 4, but I was thrilled that Charlie O’Connell, Jerry O’Connell’s real life brother joined the cast as his brother Colin Mallory.  I loved the 4th season of Sliders.  I have to admit that I spent a LOT of time looking at Charlie, he is hot LOL.

I have already seen the first few episodes of the 5th and final season of Sliders and I think it’s ok, but I’m kinda miffed that Jerry and Charlie O’Connell aren’t in it anymore.  I thought that it was lame that they replaced Quinn with his alternate universe version who doesn’t look a thing like him, like he’s a Quinn’s fraternal twin LOL.

Tembi Locke (from Eureka) is in season 5 as a scientist named Dr. Diana Davis.  I guess since our new Quinn isn’t a genius, they needed to add another genius to the cast to do the things this new Quinn cannot do.  And they aren’t calling him Q-ball or even Quinn, they are calling him Mallory.

I almost didn’t watch season 5 because the only person that is left in the show is Rembrandt, but on the other hand, I love that Tembi Locke is in it so I think I will keep watching it until the end.

What is the plot of this new cast anyway?  I mean, the plot was originally to find their way back to their own universe, but now Rembrandt is the only one who wants to find his own, but they were already there and it has been taken over by an alien species known as the Kromags.  His world is now ruined so he has no reason to go back, except for wanting to be with his family of course.  Maggie has no home so wherever she goes is home.  Diana and Mallory, well I don’t know if they even want to go back to their home.  So what is the purpose now besides trying to stop the Kromags?

Anyway, I guess I will find out when I finish the 5th season.  I think it’s still a good show despite the fact that the original cast is all gone and it was replaced with 3 new people.  I’m glad at least one of them is still original lol.

By the way, can I just say how Maggie looks almost exactly like the woman who plays the evil queen in ABC’s Once Upon A Time?  I already checked, they aren’t the same person, but they could be twins.  Hmmmm, twins from a different universe perhaps?