Monday, March 14, 2011

Online Storage Solutions

With a library of over 700,000 files on my computer (most of them being family photos and videos), backup is an absolute must for me. I've seen too many people lose precious memories when a hard drive failed all because they didn't have them backed up anywhere. My first line of defense is an external hard drive set to back up once a day. But even that is not good enough for me. I am a worst-case-scenario kind of person and always fear the day that some freak electrical surge fries all the hard drives in my house. So I redundantly backup all my data on a secure online storage site.

For years I have used Mozy ( It is a great service. It's easy and straightforward. Download an app to your computer, choose the files you want to backup, set a schedule, and forget about it. The initial backup takes quite awhile depending on the number of files, but once it's done, the daily incremental backups take only a few minutes. And I set them to occur at 2am when nobody would be online at my house hogging all the bandwidth. When I signed up for the service, it cost $50 per year for UNLIMITED storage. A small price to pay for so much peace of mind. Plus with over 1 Terrabyte (1000 GB) of data to backup, it was a bargain.

Recently I received an email from Mozy that their pricing structure was going to be changing. I went to their website to figure out how much it was going to cost moving forward. Now they charge based on how many GB you have uploaded. It now costs $110 for the first 125 GB of data per year and $2 for each additional 20 GB per month. Based on the amount of storage I need from Mozy, it will now cost me a whopping $2,400 per year. That is just insane.

Needless to say I immediately started looking for a new solution. I found Backblaze ( which was getting good reviews online. It works exactly like Mozy. It's also just as easy and straightforward. The best part is it was still only $50 per year for unlimited storage (and with an online coupon code I saved an additional $5). I purchased it and started backing up right away. Initial backup took about 2 weeks because of the amount of data I had. But now it's done and I can cancel my Mozy account.

I have nothing bad to say about the Mozy service. It is a good online storage solution and works exactly as promised. But I think Mozy made a big mistake changing their pricing structure so drastically. They have lost me as a customer and from what I read on Twitter, they are losing a lot of other customers too. That's why, right now, Backblaze is the best Mac-compatible online storage solution available.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Uggs Customer Service

John and the boys bought me Uggs for Valentine's Day last year. I wasn't sure if I would like them, or if I could wear them ( a lot of shoes bother my feet). But, what can I say. I fell in l.o.v.e. They are so comfortable and keep me toasty warm.

After about a week of wearing them I started complaining that the left boot was not as comfortable as the right. That foot never seemed as warm as the other. But I just kept wearing them.

Well 2 weeks ago while shopping, John ran over my left foot with a shopping cart OUCH! Thanks John. And the boot immediately ripped on the top. A small hole. No larger than an eraser. I was so upset. But also shocked that I could see my foot and not the lining of the boot.

This kind of confirmed what I had been thinking for over a year...the boot was not lined properly.

I contacted Uggs to let them know. I didn't think they would do anything since it was a year and ONE DAY since they were purchased from Zappos...which meant Zappos would not do anything.

I did the live chat on The woman was super nice and super helpful. I explained everything to her. She told me that I could ship them to the company and they would check them out. If they were deemed defective they would send me a brand new pair. If they were deemed OK, they would ship the originals back to me at no charge.

Well 3 days after they got my boots I received an email that I would be getting BRAND NEW BOOTS! YAY! They were defective and they apologized that these boots passed initial inspection.

My new boots arrived yesterday, and my feet are happy again!

Monday, February 21, 2011


We ordered from FTD for the grandparents and great grandmothers for Valentine's Day. I had purchased Groupons for FTD and thought it would be a great time to use them.

We picked out the 4 items we wanted (3 flower arrangements and 1 chocolate covered apples arrangement). The prices were pretty good until we got to the delivery prices. We were SHOCKED to see that it was going to cost $19.99 to deliver the arrangements from LOCAL florists. I have never seen rates that high for local delivery.

We went ahead and purchased anyway. (Since I had the Groupons to use anyway).
My mother loved the apple arrangement. But I was extremely disappointed in Nana's arrangement. It looked nothing like the picture on the site. The vase was a different shape and color and the arrangement just wasn't as nice.
I am in the process of sending FTD a letter voicing my disappointment. I don't think we will be using FTD anytime in the near future.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Apple Customer Service

Those of you who know me, know that I am a big fan of Apple, Inc. Yes, I have the iPhone, iPad, MacBook Pro laptop, MacPro desktop computer, etc. I'm telling you, if Apple started manufacturing and selling cars and houses, I'd buy those too. Whenever one of my "PC" friends asks me why I like Apple so much, I simply say, "Because everything just works the way it's supposed to". And even on one of those rare occasions that it doesn't, they do everything they can to fix it.

This week I happened to have one of those moments. My MacPro tower has been acting up for a little while now. I just chalked it up to old age. It's at least 4 years old and was given to me as a hand-me-down. So it definitely has it's share of wear and tear. But this machine is a workhorse. I have (4) 1 terrabyte hard drives inside that hold all of our most precious family photos and videos. Now I am very cautious of all of this digital media, so I have all of the data double-backed up. I have an external hard drive backup as well as an online cloud-based backup system. Every once in awhile on a reboot, it either takes longer than usual to start up, or it requires a little extra TLC. Because all the data is backed up meticulously, this latest non-rebooting episode didn't scare me too much, but I still was dreading the fact that I may have to shell out $3000 for a new machine in the near future.

Being so old, I knew this machine was out of warranty, but I set up an appointment at the Apple Store anyway. From start to finish, this whole process couldn't be easier. Just like the commercial says, "there's an app for that". Apple's app allows you to choose your closest store, see available times, and pick the one that's best for you to meet with one of their Mac geniuses (no really, that's what they are called) right from your phone. I arrived 10 minutes early and they took me right away. Not once did they even check the serial number for warranty coverage or ask me how old the machine was. Their main concern was getting it running again. After running a bunch of tests and restarting it with different configurations of hard drives installed, they narrowed down the problem. One of the 4 hard drives had failed and was stopping the machine from booting up. Luckily, it was just one of my spare backup drives. So the Apple tech removed that drive, closed up the machine, shook my hand and sent me on my way. He even gave me a tip about configuring my RAM a different way to maximize the processor speed. And it didn't even cost me a penny. The machine is running as good as new now. Big thanks to Anton at the Rockaway, NJ Apple store!

My biggest praise for Apple, Inc. as a company has to be in their customer service. First of all, whether you call them on the phone or visit one of the Apple Stores, you are always talking to someone who speaks perfect English. Customer service at Apple is not outsourced as with 99% of all other PC companies such as Dell or HP. Also, the fact that they could have charged me for an out-of-warranty repair but didn't even mention it, is outstanding. Or they also could have easily told me that they couldn't help me and that my only option was to buy a new computer.

Yes, I know that Apple computers do cost more than your typical PC, but for me, you really do get what you pay for. Aside from the fact that the Mac delivers a much richer, simpler user experience than a PC does, I think it's their customer service that sets them apart. For me, it's definitely worth the extra money up front. I've owned PC's in the past and while they are cheaper, by the time you are done adding in your virus software, pop-up blockers, laptop cooling pads, etc. I really don't see how the saving is that great. Plus, if something ever does go wrong, it's nice to know you have a support system of knowledgeable, friendly "geniuses" to help solve your problems (apparently for free even if out of warranty). To me, that's invaluable and what puts Apple head and shoulders above the competition.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Special K Protein Shakes

Ok, so maybe I can't use the "baby weight" excuse any longer...maybe I just need to lose weight. But its really hard when I have little munchkins snacking all day long....

I bit the bullet 2 weeks ago and decided to give the Special K Challenge a shot. I have been eating the Special K Cereal for a while now. I love the Fruit and Yogurt. But it was time to suck it up and give up all the bad eating for 2 weeks.

I was a little scared to try the protein shakes. I am not one for vitamin or medicine tasting things. But there are really good. I really like them! Its almost as good as a real milk shake. I have only tried the chocolate and strawberry so far. Really like them both. I would recommend them to anyone who enjoys the taste of shakes! So not a diet tasting drink!

**They state you should be able to lose 6 pounds in 2 weeks if you follow the diet correctly. Well I was able to drop 12 pounds! WAHOO!! Still have another 8 pounds or so to get to my goal weight. Took this week off and will be doing the 2 week challenge again starting on Monday**

Monday, January 24, 2011

Kellogg's Fiber Plus Bars

Do you like Girl Scout cookies? Who doesn't? For me, you can't get any better than the Samoas. Unfortunately, the Girl Scouts only set up shop outside Walmart once a year. So unless you drop your life's savings on a year's supply, you have to do without that perfect mix of coconut, caramel and chocolate for 11 months. Until now! During a recent trip to Pathmark I was perusing the granola bar aisle when I came across these beauties. I am always instantly drawn to anything containing coconut, so I picked up a box of Kellogg's Fiber Plus Bars, Caramel-Coconut-Fudge. Little did I know, these bars would be the missing link to my months of longing for the Samoas to return. They taste exactly like their Girl Scout counterpart, minus the cookie crunch. And at only 120 calories and 9g of fiber per bar, they are a healthier alternative too. Even when the Samoas (150 calories for 2 cookies) make their next appearance, I will definitely still opt for the Kellogg's bar.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Diamond Dazzle Stik

Diamond Dazzle Stick's facebook page was offering samples a few months back and I thought I would give it a shot.

I used it for the 1st time the other day. I LOVE LOVE LOVE it! I was really surprised how well it worked and how super easy it is to use. All you have to do is wet the brush and twist the top a few clicks until you see the cleaner then brush on.
With all the hand washing and instant hand soap I use during the day, my rings are just a mess. After 1 application my rings look just as good as the day I pick them up from the jeweler after a cleaning! Just as their logo states...It "brings out the bling".

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Cuponk (Hasbro)

Nathan and Colby were both begging for Cuponk for Christmas. I didn't even know what they were talking about. So after some research I was on a mission to find the game.

The boys were over joyed on Christmas morning.

They opened it immediately and began trying out all the different ways to get the ball in the cup. (There are game cards included in the package of all different ways you have to try and get the ball into the cup, i.e. bounce off a wall, throw the ball over your shoulder, etc. ). If you get the ball in the cup it lights and up sounds go off (depending on which version you have...this one has gorilla sounds)

Needless to say this "Cup" has kept the boys busy for hours already. They have already started to come up with their own ways to try and get the ball in the cup.
(Age on the box says 9 and up. But both my boys really enjoy it at 3 and 5).

(Coupon note: Cuponk was on sale at Target from $14.99 to $7 and there was a hasbro printable coupon for $5.00 off...making this a great deal at $2.00. Also I was able to score extra balls for the Cuponks on for $0.90 each! )