Wednesday, August 19, 2009

YouMail...Free Pimped Out Voicemail!

You might have heard about the iPhone's visual voicemail feature, and thought, "hey, that's pretty cool," but never had any intention of purchasing an iPhone. Besides, if it is really that cool, something that like will start to be available for all kinds of phones, right?

Well, with YouMail's voicemail service, now it is! You have the option of either viewing your messages in a list via your web browser (at, or downloading their app (currently only available for Blackberry, Android, or iPhone). And of course, you can still call to check your messages.

So what else does YouMail have to offer? Here is a list of my favorite features:

-Smart Greeting: when people call you and reach your voicemail, YouMail scans your contact list for their number. If it finds it (or if there is Caller ID information available), then instead of the typical, "Amy is not available, please leave a message," YouMail will great your caller by name "Hello, John, Amy can't come to the phone right now, please leave a message." Of course, you have to be careful not store your boss in your contacts as "Butthead Boss."

-Personalized Greetings: this gives you the ability to have a greeting for each different person(s) who calls. I have one set for my sister, my husband, my mom, and my parents house. You could also do this in groups, like have a "professional" greeting for anyone calling from work, and a "funny" greeting for your old high school pals.

-Notifcations: You can set YouMail up to notify you of not only new voicemails, but missed calls as well. You can choose to have these sent via text, email, or both. This service is also combined with Caller ID information. This means that if you receive a call from a number you do not recognize, but instead of leaving a voicemail, they hangup, you may still be able to get the caller's info. This is also useful in case you have low-cell service, so your call goes straight to voicemail but a message is not left, you still get a notification.

-Transcriptions: YouMail can also transcribe what your callers are saying on your voicemail and send them to you via email or text. Unfortunately, this is not included in their free service. This service starts as low as $3.00/month.

-Call Ditching: Sick of your mother-in-law nagging? Avoiding your boss? Your ex does not know when to stop? With YouMail, you can ditch calls. Although this feature does not actually prevent the number from calling, they will be played a message about how their call is not wanted, and then will be hung up on after the message is played instead of being able to leave you a harassing message.

-Importing: Since a lot of the features rely on your contact list, YouMail makes it easy to import. You have the choice of uploading a file, or letting YouMail log into one of your email accounts like GMail or Yahoo and retrieve your contacts for you.

-Message Forwarding/Reply: I also like that you have the option to forward or reply to messages. You can do this to the recipients email address or text message. I like being able to type a quick reply, or when someone leaves me a hilarious voicemail I can forward it to our other friends.

So if any of this sounds interesting to you, sign-up! YouMail is available for most of the popular providers, and I have also heard that if you are having any trouble, their customer support department is very helpful!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Where I Shop to Save $$

Like most of you out there, I am not exactly swimming in the dough these days. However, I do have a crazy addiction to technology, and I am always looking for my next little toy! So, how am I still able to treat myself? Internet shopping! It seems that almost any product you want to buy, you can find somewhere online for a very decent price!

In this spirit, I thought I would share the websites I that check every day as a part of my morning routine. These sites have saved me hundreds, if not thousands, over the past couple of years!

This website is a compilation of general deals on the net. It even has a "free goods" link at the top for their forum where users submit links to various kinds of freebies.

This is one of those very popular deal-a-day sites. It is mostly electronics, but sometimes they surprise you. Deals are normally pretty decent, and deliveries are fast and on-time. They even have a few split offs from the main site including a "sellout" page on Yahoo Shopping, a T-shirt page, a Wine page, and more recently, a kids page.

1 Sale a Day
This is another DOD site. I like them because most days the items are very cheap. In fact, some days there are free items, you just pay shipping which is normally around $5. I have ordered a few things from them. The products were good, I just did not care for their shipping times. It took around 1.5 weeks after my purchase for both items. They also do not do combined shipping. But other than that, I have been very happy with my purchases so far! They have two other tabs on the site, too, one for Wireless and one for Watches.

DOD Tracker
DOD tracker is a little different. It takes all of the DOD sites it can find, and posts their current deal in one easy to look at place. And yes, it does have Woot! and 1 Sale a Day, those are just my favorites so I like to look at those first. This helps to find some amazing deals! For example, I found a BT dongle on this site for around $5 shipped!

There are tons of deal sites out there. And there are lots of sits that just have good prices on all kinds of stuff like and If you're shopping for something in particular, you might want to try something like Google Shopping or Nextag where you can enter a product and it will search for the best price for you, and they also have reviews of the companies your purchasing from. Then, of course, there's always eBay or Craig's List where you can buy used goods for a decent price!

What Do When Your Favorite Electronic Device Gets Wet

Have you ever spilled a glass of water on your camera? Dropped your cell phone in the toilet? Left your laptop bag on your front porch in the rain overnight? Okay, so the last one might be a bit specific, but I actually did that a few weeks ago. What some do not know is, even if you completely submerge a device, there is still a good chance you rescue it from becoming a rather expensive paperweight.

Here are the basic steps to follow if you ever get one of your favorite companions wetter than you should have:

1.) Immediately unplug and/or remove the battery of the device. If the water is in there and the device is on, you can ruin beyond repair right then. If it has "extras," for example a laptop, remove the cord from both the device and the wall, remove any drives or cables you can.

2.) Gently remove as much of the liquid as possible. If there is standing liquid gently dump it out. Be careful not to shake the device, but rather tip it, such that you do not spread the liquid around.

3.) Carefully blot away even more liquid with a lint free cloth. If you don't have one, you can use a towel just pay attention and try not to get any lint inside of the device.

4.) Blow-dry any excess liquid out. Be sure to use a low, cool setting or you could damage the device. You could also use canned air.

5.) LEAVE IT ALONE! I know it may be hard, but, depending on the size of your device, you should not mess with it for at least 24-hours after this. If it is something larger, like a laptop, I would leave it for 2-3 days just to be safe. In some cases, you probably could turn it back on sooner, but if you do, and it is not dry yet, you could fry your little guy.

These are just suggestions and some devices may just be fried past any recovery, but in most cases, follow these steps and you will not lose an expensive toy to H2O!

How to Ditch Cable and Save Money

If I think back really hard, I can remember being very excited when we finally got cable as a child. I don't actually remember life before it, but I do remember the ugly cable box with red numbers on it. Ever since then, I have been a cable customer. I've used Comcast, Charter, and Bellsouth Cable (yes, they had/have cable. They do offer a dish of some sort, but certain areas can actually get their cable service). As much as I have enjoyed cable, my bill was just getting to be too much, so a month ago I finally got brave enough and I canceled it.

So, now that you've canceled cable, what are your options? The most popular option, which almost everyone knows about, is the new digital converter boxes that are now required to receive the basic free channels (ABC, NBC, CBS, etc). These are available at drug stores, electronic stores, department stores, etc. These boxes do require an antenna that have to purchased separately. With one of these set ups, you should be able to receive the basic channels in HD and much clearer than with rabbit ears. Before purchasing one of these set ups, I would recommend visiting AntennaWeb. This web site allows you to put in your address and it will tell you what channels you will be able to receive with what kind of antenna.
NOTE: If you have a newer TV, you may not need the converter box, as a lot of the newer models come "Digital TV Ready."

I do have one of the previously mentioned setups, but my favorite option is the HTPC. HTPC stands for home theater PC. This is when you set up a computer with your television and use it instead of/in conjunction with a monitor. Combine this with Windows Media Center, Hulu Desktop, Boxee, a PC Remote, and possibly a wireless keyboard/mouse, and anything and everything you could ever want to watch is at your finger tips.

What you need:

-A PC with outputs that will go to a TV. This could be S-Video, Video Composite, or HDMI. To read more about these kinds of outputs, read this article.
-An active internet connection
-Wireless Keyboard/Mouse
-A WMC Remote
-Hulu Desktop

How to do it:

The set up is very simple. I bought an HP Slimline PC from for around $500, and it came with all of the cables I needed and a remote control. If you aren't great with computers, I recommend finding a setup like this that will have everything you need and instructions on how to set it up. But if you know a little bit about computers, you could always buy the pieces separately. I am also using an old Gateway laptop in the bedroom and had to get the pieces separately. But the hook up of the PC to the TV is similar to that of settings up a DVD player. You plug all the cables into the back of the computer, and then into the TV.

Once you have everything plugged in, you could stop here. You can watch most of the popular TV shows directly on the broadcaster's website. These are normally available online the day after the show originally aired. Here is a list of some of those sites:


If you have a PC running Windows Vista or Windows XP Media Center Edition, then you have Windows Media Center running on your PC. It also has access to certain Internet TV stations. You could also add the plug-in to expand that selection. You can also use the program to navigate through your music, pictures, and videos. If you have a TV Tuner in your computer, you can use it as a DVR.

If you want to take it one step further, you can download and install Hulu Desktop. Hulu has TV shows and movies from numerous sources. You can subscribe to your favorite shows and they will automatically be added to your queue. The best part is you can completely operate the program with a WMC remote. This program has completely replaced my DVR.

The last piece of software I'd recommend is Boxee. Boxee calls itself a social media center. You can access several pre-loaded apps including YouTube and CBS. You can also add any RSS Feed you want. My favorite feature is that you can also watch local media on your PC as well as access media on your home network. This way, I can access all the music and videos I have on any one of my computers with the touch of a button, while never having to leave the couch (this can also be done with WMC if you have it, but if not, this is a nice, free alternative).

There are many other programs out there and a lot of more detailed information on how to do something like this. Hopefully, this will be an worth-while starting point for anyone interested in doing something like this!

My Long-Term Obsession with Food

I love food. I mean LOVE it. I don't always eat just because I'm hungry and it is something I have to do to stay alive. I eat when I'm happy, when I'm sad, when I'm bored, when I'm excited, when I'm lonely-you name it! Food has always been tied to my emotions.

And now, of course, it's caught up with me and something must be done! When I started my diet two weeks ago, my BMI was 28, which is overweight. Over the past two weeks, I have been eating healthy and exercising, and my BMI is now a 25, but my goal is a 20.

But the point is, I'm eating healthy, I'm feeling better...yet ALL I can think about is food! I try to focus on healthy stuff, like new recipes I want to try that are going to help me with my goal. However, most of the time it is about the food that I should probably never eat again. I decided that it may help me if I write this and compose a list of those foods I have been dying for!

So, here is my list of foods that I wish I were eating right now!

-Big Mac
-"Real" French Fries (I've been slicing taters fry style and baking in the oven)
-Fish and Chips
-Beer Battered ANYTHING
-Fried Chicken
-Baked Mac n' Cheese
-Arby's Roast Beef
-Anything from Krystal's
-Wendy's Spicy [Fried] Chicken Sandwich
-Pad Thai
-A Big Hot Fudge Brownie Sundae
-Canned Spaghetti (This is one of my favorite things in the world)
-Cheesecake-Chocolate Chip Bars
-Chicken Fingers
-Dove Dark Chocolate
-A Special "ABC" from El Torrero (it's two chicken or beef burritos covered in cheese dip and topped with lettuce, tomato, guacamole, and sour cream)
-"Real" Sour Cream (FF just isn't the same!)
-Golden Corral Rolls
-And many, many, many, MANY more, but that's just to name a few!