What a Nerd wants, what a Nerd needs..
Geeks, Nerds and other basement dwelling conference attendees are impulse shoppers by nature. As a result I’m constantly asked “What is is the best <insert product or service here>?”. I’m unsure why people are so anxious to take the word of somebody they’ve never met over their own sound judgement; especially in the matters of money. None the less, I’m happy to offer my opinions and share my experiences.
So, each year I’ve compiled a top 10 list of my favorite products or services that have served me well in my Nerdish ways. Hopefully, this will give people some new ideas or perhaps extinguish a few misconceptions they’ve had about a particular service or product.
Without Further Ado
I’m pleased to announce the winners of the 2011 Consumer Nerd Awards!
made the list this year (barely) exclusively for their revamped extended service plan (Black Tie Protection
) and the brand new Buy Back Program
. Anybody who has purchased a laptop or television and has somehow managed to break the screen or damage it in another manner which is not covered under the Manufacturers Warranty will appreciate the Accidental Damage protection the Black Tie Protection Plans
offer. If it can’t be repaired, you get a new one.
The Buy Back Program
takes the aggravation out of trying to sell your two year old television, computer or appliance privately such as at a garage sale or Craig’s List
. Purchase the Buy Back Plan
when you purchase a new item and depending on how long you own it, the condition it is in and the original retail value; Best Buy
will buy it back from you at a percentage of its original worth and apply it towards the cost of a newer one. Ever been pissed off because the next generation of mobile phones came out two weeks after you upgraded yours and shelled out $200 plus the attached two year contract? How about the proud owners of a brand new iPad
in May who woke up to see the ad for the new and improved iPad 2
? You catch the drift.
to read more about Best Buy’s Geek Squad Black Tie Protection
to read more about Best Buy’s Buy Back Program
Just because you live in your Mom’s basement does not mandate that she must also do your bookkeeping for you. And let’s face it, keeping your check book balanced is a pain in the ass.
I stumbled upon PageOnce
while trying to find a check book register application for my Blackberry
two years ago. The app aggregates all of your financial accounts and more! Bank accounts, Investment accounts, Credit Cards, eBay
can even pop your email and update RSS feeds. I checked my account balance this morning while in line at CVS
to pick up a newspaper.
With the recent (and expected by most) downfall of Borders Books
, it is obvious that e-Books are here to stay. It isn’t coincidence that Borders
was the only book distributor that didn’t have an influential online presence in addition to or without any physical brick & mortar stores. Barnes & Noble
stays a float with revenue from the Nook
and e-book sales. However, B&N
lacks something that Amazon
has had available since the introduction of the Kindle eReader
; A Cross-Platform application.
I don’t own a Kindle eReader
and never have. As a matter of fact, I’ve never owned any eReader regardless of flavor. But, I have been reading e-Books on my PC since the early 90′s. The process for acquiring and viewing e-books has become much more intuitive since then of course. And, Amazon
is responsible for the extremely quick evolution of the e-Book. The Kindle
application is available for the PC, Mac
in addition to its own handheld eReader. The application is free to download on any of these platforms and Amazon’s library
is nearly infinite. Rarely do I come across a book that is not available in e-Book format for the Kindle
Nearly 11% of people who read regularly have stated they’ll never read eBooks because they are not interested in investing in a handheld eReader. I suspect that majority of those people polled were unaware that they had the ability to read books, magazines and even comics on their existing mobile devices and computers.
would have never made this year’s list if it had not developed a cross-platform version of their Kindle. I have a library of over 2000 novels, 20 magazine/newspaper subscriptions and over 4000 comic books available at any time and anywhere from my iPad
or PC. Try carrying all that around in your backpack or squeezing it all on to a 2GB SD Card.
to read more about the Amazon Kindle Store
How many store “loyalty cards” do you have in your wallet and/or on your key chain? Seems like every store has their own customer card these days which you must produce at check out or provide them with your phone number in order to receive credit for your purchase.
is a mobile application for the iOS
that takes the bar codes from these cards and adds them to a virtual key chain within the application. For example, when the clerk asks me for my CVS
card, I open CardStar
, tap on CVS
and voila, there’s my loyalty card number and bar code for the cashier to scan. Keep in mind, it is not a photo of your card, but an actual reproduction so that there is no room for error due to poor resolution in a picture/scan.
To date, I have removed 33 loyalty cards from my wallet and/or key chain. I only have difficulty with two cards so far. Rite Aid
doesn’t scan at all and Stop & Shop
‘s automated machines can’t read my virtual card. So, for these exceptions I either bring my physical card a long with me for the errand or I just feed the cashier/scanner my phone number.
to read more about CardStar, Inc. & the CardStar Application
If you’re a music enthusiast then by now you have sampled every one of the music services available. Napster
(Now acquired by Clear Channel), RealPlayer
.. the list goes on. But, have your tried Rhapsody
lately? To be fair, Rhapsody
had a rough start when Verizon Wireless
yanked it in under their umbrella of apps for their feature phones. There was only a web and mobile web interface and the music selection was Top 40 or raunchy comedy.
3 short years later, Rhapsody
has spread its wings and launched in to the online music business with a vengeance. The Player/Organizer is fantastic and Intuitive at the same time. A very difficult combination to pull off. The monthly subscription is an average $9.99. But, you get far more for your 10 bucks with Rhapsody
than you do with Napster
or previously with Thumbplay
. Access to just about every song recorded, indie or commercial. And, you can download the music to your mobile devices that support the Rhapsody
application dismissing the necessity to stream music when you are not at your computer. Of course you can still purchase music for competitive pricing so you can keep the purchase even after you have canceled your subscription. Note: downloaded subscription music will no longer be present on your computer or devices if you cancel your subscription.
The primary kudo goes to Rhapsody
for their development teams’ ability to produce applications for all platforms and keep them up to date. Napster
for example, dropped the ball when RIM
released a new version of the Blackberry OS
. Those Blackberry
owners who upgraded their devices were no longer able to use the mobile app to listen to their music unless they backdated their OS to a previous version. Not surprisingly, they had no problem making sure that the monthly subscription fees went through in a timely manner.
to read more about the Rhapsody Music Service
If you’re like me, you take notes frequently. Most of the time they wind up stuck to the monitor in a collage of long lost thoughts and reminders. A couple of years ago, I started carrying a pocket notebook around with me. It was a little mundane and stunk of Rain Man. So, I tried about a dozen different “sticky note” programs. And, most were wonderful except for one small flaw. They were only available on the computer or device that I scribbled them on. The only synchronization option would be complicated for the average user; requiring a Sync server/service of some sort and strict use of limited programs.
is note taking application with all kinds of bells and whistles that one can take advantage of or ignore depending how complicated or simple their needs are. But, the gem of this application is that it auto syncs (for free) with all the computers and mobile devices that you have it installed on. In my case, 2 PCs, 1 iPad
& my iPhone
. The synchronization is so reliable that there isn’t even a “Save” button on the PC version of the app.
OCD and ADHD nerds everywhere, take note! (Pun intended) Evernote
is a program/app that you must have!
Odd that I should pedal a credit card. But, in this case, I decided that the perks that this card offers are advantageous enough for the average Nerd/Geek that it was worthy of an award this year.
Years ago, Capital One
was a high rate credit card for people with the lowliest of credit scores. And, it still is. But, due to the massive growth over the past few years, it has become a life saver for the technology enthusiast who can’t afford new gadgets and hardware because they go to school full time or are out of work. Easy to get approved and easy to manage with an intuitive web interface and even an iPhone
application for checking your limit, making payments and more.
But, the real reason that Capital One
made this year’s list was simple. Customer Service. I was blown away by the service I had received from them when I called to follow up on a couple of payments that didn’t go through because I had transposed two numbers in my checking account number when I setup the payment account. Not only did the representative I spoke to confirm that there was no penalty for payments that are returned for anything except an NSF, but she also commended me for attempting to make more than one payment inside a billing cycle. As a sign of appreciation, she dropped my interest rate for me by 10%. I worked briefly at another, larger credit card service in the past; and believe me, that is NOT a common practice.
So, now there is no excuse to ask those dumb ass questions in a chat room going forward, such as “Where can I get a cheap Mac
for under $100″ or “Do any of you complete strangers want to give me a computer and ship it to the UK?”. Apply for the card, get your hardware, and take responsibility for your own credit record now. There are no longer any excuses not to with the Capital One
to read more about the Capital One Premiere Visa or Mastercard
My experience may be different than those who live in different regional areas. So, I can’t guarantee that everybody will be as satisfied as I have been with this service.
phone/internet/television service has changed (for the better) quite a bit over the past decade. Back when I ran an ISP the services that made up what is now called Comcast
, were a joke. No more reliable than AOL
dial up service. But, now they offer internet service that carries an impressive 98.9% uptime. In fact, here our home, we’ve had 100% uptime for two years. The only downtime we’ve experienced has been due to hardware that’s gone bad, but was easily replaced.
None the less, the award goes to Comcast
for their Xfinity
entertainment bundles. The pricing is affordable and the service is second to none. The best feature though is the various bundles they offer. We have a business class internet connection with no bandwidth restrictions, HD TV with all premium channels and a digital phone line for business. Excluding our tendency to purchase far too many On Demand movies; pay approximately $150 per month for all of the above. You can trim the bundles like a bonsai tree to find the perfect service fit for yourself. And, that’s what we love about the Xfinity
services from Comcast
to read more about Xfinity
Do you own a smartphone, tablet pc, iPad
or laptop computer? Then you are already aware of the proper precautions such as the mandatory Zagg Invisibleshield
. But, what type of shell or casing are you using to protect the housing of your investment? If not, you’re risking all kinds of unforeseen potential damage to your expensive electronic devices.
I came across Incipio
about two years ago while trying to track down a pink cover for my fiances’ Blackberry
Curve. It had to be something light weight and very thin but also offer great protection from the sharp and dangerous objects that bounced around within the confines of her purse during travel. I chose the Featherlight model and we’ve been using that design ever since on all our mobile devices. She has a pink Featherlight case on her new Incredible 2 Android
phone, I’ve got the chrome/silver Featherlight on my white iPhone 4
and we have black Incipio
casings on our iPad
, Netbook and Notebook computers.
We’re a bit on the clumsy side so we have dropped everything at least once. And the Incipio
products have saved us more than a few times from filing an insurance claim or re-purchasing a new device at full retail pricing.
to read more about Incipio
There is nothing negative I can say about the relationship I’ve had with GoDaddy
since they were a small domain registrar from Scottsdale, AZ back in 2000. Currently I have 4 domains registered with GoDaddy
, rent a co-located server and host 3 websites with unlimited email and bandwidth. All for about $140 per year. That’s just pennies more than 10 bucks a month full service hosting and an undisputed 100% uptime average. GoDaddy
received 1st place this year for sentimental reasons. Back in the 90′s I ran a hosting service with about 300 domains on it. We were considered one of the top 5 services for uptime with an average of 65% and hosting was $40/month for 10 megabytes of space and 500 mb of bandwidth. Bravo GoDaddy