Wednesday, January 18, 2012

To cruise or not to cruise?

The last year has been extremely difficult for our family, and we've long felt the need to simply escape for a few days. On the night before the story of the Costa Concordia broke, I was once again discussing our need for an excursion, and even did a little research on the possibility of taking a cruise. This isn't the first time we've considered a cruise, but we're now in a better position to really consider it. Anyway, I was checking prices and ports and all of the essential information. 

The next morning, I find out about Costa Concordia... It's absolutely terrifying that something like that could happen... I understand an accident as well as the next person, but it's not like this was a small boat that simply got too close... He was WAY too close, and he knew better. An experienced ship captain, he knew he was too close, but took the risk anyway, apparently to salute a friend he was on the phone with!!! It's NOT a car... You can just wave in passing... it's a MASSIVE ship, and you're a speck! You're also in charge of THOUSANDS of lives, and should be more dedicated to keeping those people alive and safe in your charge. But no, apparently captains can salute friends, and pilots can drink on the job, because those massive modes of transportation can control themselves, right? Why do you expect a lifeless object to have more ability to control itself than you have??? 

While I've brought up drunk pilots, how often has this happened? How many pilots trust the plane to stay airborne while they doze or play games or whatever they do in that locked cabin? And people wonder why I will never fly...

Back to the Captain of the Costa Concordia... He managed to get off of the ship. What happened to "the captain goes down with the ship" and all of that? Is that just a thing of the past? Anyway, he managed to find his way to a lifeboat... And when questioned about that, he had a VERY interesting explanation... He "tripped" and "landed" in a lifeboat... Conveniently. Apparently he thinks everyone is actually dumb enough to buy that... The sad thing is, he had almost a week to come up with a decent excuse for his actions, and THAT was the best he got??? 

This is a tragedy, and I expect his selfish actions to be punished. He put thousands of lives in danger, and was the cause of several deaths. Unfortunately, at least 11 people have died from this "salute" and at least 60 others were injured. And the search continues for the missing, though they're not expecting to find any survivors at this point. 

Have you ever taken a cruise? Would you consider taking one now? Has this tragedy changed your mind about a cruise? I would love to hear from you! 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Review of Kindle Fire

Okay, I've had my Kindle Fire for a few weeks now, and I've done a LOT of things on it. I absolutely LOVE the Kindle Fire, and it's a very versatile reader. The Silk browser is a bit slow, but if you have a little patience, it's actually a nice browser. It has a Google Chrome feel, which I prefer. You do have access to MOST Android apps and functionality, but not all. Some of the apps won't work.

I do wish the Kindle Fire had a camera and microphone... Those would make this almost as good as a tablet. As for the size, I have no complaints. The screen is a good size for watching videos in full screen mode, and is quite convenient to have around. I love having books and games and all kinds of other stuff right at my fingertips, even when I'm out of Wi-Fi range.

The Cloud Storage is a great feature. You can keep your books and apps in the Cloud Storage and save space on the Kindle... And they download quickly if you have a Wi-Fi connection. As a matter of fact, most apps also download VERY quickly, and I don't have a fast connection. 3 Mbps, to be exact. So, you have unlimited space on the Cloud Storage, and you can always remove something from your Kindle and it will stay in Cloud until you want it again! Download a book to your Kindle, and once you've read it, remove it from the device, and it goes to Cloud for another day... Freeing up that space.

Okay, what else might you want to know??? Yes, you can watch Netflix. Actually, that's one of my favorite apps... The Facebook app is essentially a link to Facebook. Tap the app, and it opens the browser to Facebook.com. T

On the home screen, you see your carousel. This shows you books, apps, web pages, and videos you've recently interacted with. If you drag up, you see your favorites. This is where you can place the apps and books that you would like quick access to. At the top is a search bar, which will search the device, as well as Cloud storage. Across the top are 7 quick links. Newstand, Books, Music, Video, Docs, Apps and Web. I'll go over each of these quickly.

Newstand: This is where you can find magazine and newspaper subscriptions. Yes, you can read newspapers and magazines on your Kindle Fire. The prices are VERY reasonable, too. O Magazine is $1.99 per month, for example!

Books: This is where all of your books will be easily accessible. You can view the books in the Cloud, or just the ones on your device. Very neat feature if you're without internet connection, and want to see what you've already downloaded to your device.

Music: You can buy music from the Kindle store, or you can connect your Kindle to your computer (requires a USB to USB 2.0 cable) and you can upload some of your favorite music to your Kindle.

Video: This is where Amazon Prime comes in... Amazon Prime is a really cool feature, but it's $79/ year. You get instant access to thousands of movies and TV shows instantly for free (I haven't actually sat down to compare, but it seems VERY similar to Netflix in availability... Maybe even a little more limited) but you also get some other great features! Free 2 day shipping on most Amazon purchases (US and select countries)... 1 free Kindle book to borrow per month from the Kindle Owners' Lending Library. When I got my Kindle Fire, it came with 1 month free trial of Amazon Prime. I was able to choose a book to borrow from the Lending Library, and I picked "Water for Elephants" to read. Maybe I should review that book as well. LOL

Documents is the next link, and includes your Kindle Fire User's Guide. There are apps for making documents, but to be perfectly honest, I have yet to think of anything I would need to make a document about on my Kindle... Maybe a notepad, or post-it section would be helpful, but not really documents.

Apps: Everything from document apps to games can be found here... Some of my favorites include the Netflix app, iHeart Radio, and Speedx 3D.

And last but not least, the Web link. This simply opens your chrome-like browser, known as Silk. The browser comes preloaded with several bookmarks, most of which I deleted... ESPN, MyHabit, Facebook, Amazon, Google, Yahoo, Youtube, Wikipedia, Twitter, Craigslist, LinkedIn, and IMDb.

Overall, I'm extremely happy with my Kindle Fire. Battery life is kinda short, but it fits the same charger as my cell phone, (usb 2.0) so I can charge it in the car... I love the feel of it... It feels very solid, and sturdy, but not extremely heavy. If you compare to an average book, it may come out a little heavier, but about the same size. It has 5.37 GB of memory available on the device to hold content for the Newsstand, Music, Books, Docs, and Videos, so  that Cloud Storage is a GREAT feature. There is 1.17 GB set aside for app storage. I love my Kindle! I use it several times a day, and find it very convenient to carry it with me. As for those of you who think you'll miss turning a page, and the feel of a real book in your hands (ahem), I've got to tell you... This is AMAZING, and you can carry WAY more books than you could possibly carry in paper form. And you do can drag the pages in a very similar movement... LOL You can change the look of the page, the font, the color, the spacing and letter size... I HIGHLY recommend the Kindle Fire!!!

**Disclaimer: I purchased this product myself, and was not in any way compensated for my review.**

New stuff coming...

First of all, I want to apologize for disappearing. The last few weeks have been very rough on us. A dear friend of ours passed away on January 2nd... She had cancer, and while we knew it was coming, it was difficult to deal with. The fact that I was very sick and couldn't visit before her passing made me even more depressed than I was already... and I couldn't even attend the services for my lovely friend. I miss her greatly. She was a huge comfort to me after mom passed away. And she had a beautiful voice... She was even able to get her last wish! Her family made it possible to get her on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry, and sing a song! So glad she could get her last wish.
On January 9th, my uncle passed away from Alzheimer's. Again, we knew it was coming, but he went down EXTREMELY fast, and we weren't ready for it. It was exactly 11 months to the day since my mom passed, and my dad's oldest brother, so it's been devastating to our family. I'm sorry I haven't blogged in a while, and I hope you'll all understand that it was simply more than I could handle for a few weeks. HOPEFULLY nothing else will happen! I don't think I could handle anything else right now!!!

Okay, I've had a few reviews I've needed to do for a while, and I need to get them out... I'll do one a day, because I do like to give each review time to be seen before I do another. That may sound weird, but if my product was the one being reviewed, I'd want it to have as much time as possible on the top of the blog... LOL
Anyway, I promise to get a review out today! Stay tuned!!!