Saturday, June 18, 2016

Getting Rusty? So are a Lot of Things You Own - Here’s a Great Fix!

The fix is for the things, not for your rusty joints (I have those too), but while this isn’t specific to baby boomers, I use this product often and have used it in one form or another for decades, yet I find most professional metal restorers, such as auto shops, don’t know about it, or don’t believe it works.

Simply put, there are three ways to deal with rusty metal whether it is an old garden cart, a rusty spot on some household item, or that car you hope never to have to replace.

First - ignore it, and eventually it will fall apart.

Second - get out dangerous acids, grinders, brushes, and perhaps a sandblaster to get every tiny spec of rust off the metal, then start painting or undercoating.

Third - give it a quick brush and wash, knock off any loose pieces of rust or paint, and simply spray the rust with a relatively safe and cheap chemical.

That third way is what I’ve been doing since I owned a restoration shop for antique cars and am still doing today.

Simply put there is a simple chemical reaction which can convert the rust on rusty iron or steel into another oxide of iron, one which, unlike common rust, won’t continue to eat into the metal.

Prep is easy, something dear to the hearts of any senior, in fact, all you need to do is get any grease off the metal but DO NOT remove the rust.

Sprayed or brushed on clean metal this does nothing, it isn’t a paint, it is a chemical which produces a reaction converting the rust.

Sometimes I even leave bare metal on a project for a day or two to get a slight rust haze so I can spray this on and never need worry about rust again.

You can get small bottles of liquid, aerosol cans which are expensive (although a lot cheaper than replacing your items) and which are great for penetrating small cracks, and my favorite which I have linked below in an Amazon ad (with free shipping for Prime members), a gallon which will fix the bottoms of four or five rusty cars or trucks and best of all, this stuff cleans up with plain water if you get to it before it dries.

It will dry, but that’s not what you are looking for on rust, you want to see the red metal turn black which means the chemical reaction took place.

After that you only need it to dry so you can paint over it if you desire. Remember if the black metal gets a scratch it will begin to rust again.

This stuff is amazing and it is completely beyond me wy every mechanic doesn’t use it.

It works great on old tools, cars, garden carts, lawn mowers, metal furniture, even household items and toys (it’s non toxic.)

The way I use the water based gallon size is to ignore the instructions which usually say not to dilute it, pour some in a cheap garden sprayer, and mix in enough tap water to make it thin enough to spray.

You can clean the sprayer with lots of water, but I usually just clean the nozzle and finish up the next day with a second coat to hit the places I missed - often with it even more diluted to get in the cracks.

This stuff is really one of the miracles of modern chemistry and you should give it a try. Find a small sample size if you don’t trust me, but don’t look for the gallon size in stores, it is in some automotive supply places because the Permatex and other name brand versions cost upwards of $150/gallon and they are EXACTLY THE SAME CHEMICAL as the $60 version I have listed at the bottom of the page. You might be able to find it locally but it will cost about the same as getting it through Amazon and this blog is all about saving extra work.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Service Please!

Many things we buy today are meant to be tossed rather than repaired but some of us just hate to toss out a gadget or appliance we paid good money for.

The biggest obstacle to making your own repairs, if you are already mechanical enough to attempts such, is finding a diagram or manual for the item.

Even the many pages of documentation that come with almost everything today is little help because of those 30 pages half are duplicates in another language, three pages are congratulations and safety warnings such as NOT A FOOD, DO NOT SWALLOW THE SUPPLIED NUTS AND BOLTS, or WARNING: USING THIS ELECTRICAL DEVICE WHILE IN A SWIMMING POOL USING AN EXTENSION CORD MAY BE HAZARDOUS TO YOUR HEALTH.

Then there are the five pages of instructions and troubleshooting hints such as IF NOTHING SEEMS TO BE WORKING AT ALL, CHECK TO SEE IF YOU PLUGGED IT IN AND IF THERE IS POWER IN YOUR HOME.

What those manuals never include are really useful schematics or directions on where to pry to get it apart without damaging it.

But forget going to a dealer and buying all those lost directions and even schematics,search for them online and they are probably easy to find.

I already covered using YouTube for step by step directions, but this is different.

Forget YouTube for this, what you want are PDF copies of the original factory service manual and these are often available online for free.

Your Google search can, and in this case should, be narrowed down to just .PDF formats to eliminate the many useless suggestions you get with every search.

The place to start isn't the usual but instead use

This lets anyone use the very sophisticated advanced search techniques which I and others who were members of the certified expert Google Answers researchers commonly used to turn 1 million search hits into a handful of the most useful ones.

Professionals simply use various special symbols to narrow down the search to just what they are looking for instead of the usual search which can be done in plain language.

Plain language searches are great and are just what they sound like, you simply search for what you want in plain English (or other languages).

Advanced searches, on the other hand, rely on Boolean symbols and other tricks to make searches more specific.

An example?

Search for a Cub Cadet manual online using

cub cadet zero turn service manual

gets you 185,000 returns

Search using the advanced search page you can narrow the search to English, PDF only, and even USA (so you don't get a manual for the model sold elsewhere) or use another language and country to fit your needs.

the resulting search is:

cub cadet zero turn service manual filetype:pdf

Which doesn't seem like a big difference, but learning how to narrow searches is what turns online searching from a slot machine with random results, to a precise tool.

And, BTW, if you want to learn more about professional search techniques, check out one of my old sites

and you will learn such things as how even those "dead" links which appear because a site has been removed from the Internet, can be useful because old copies probably exist in the WayBack machine of

Every site on the Internet which doesn't specifically block such archiving will be saved periodically by the Archive back a decade or more.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Free Advice and Directions Putting YOU into the Idiot TUBE

Ever feel you could easily fix some gadget or appliance IF ONLY you hadn’t lost the manual several years ago?

Well, one of the most important things about the Internet is that of the billion plus people who use it daily a significant number are out to help other people and by this I mean they write free software code in the tradition of the earliest of us computer hackers but it means much more.

Among other things it means that someone out there in cyberspace knows to do literally anything and everything.

From setting the flashing clock on an old VCR to replacing the battery in an Amazon Kindle, or making brioche without wearing yourself out, or repairing anything you can think of, someone on the Internet is either a trained expert or just figured it out on their own and a lot of those people make videos showing exactly what they discovered and how to do it.

You can simply search for terms such as
How fix whizbang model xx


How fix whizbang model xx youtube
Or go directly to YouTube and search there because that is the most likely place to find detailed directions on how to do things.

Just state your problem in simple words such as
replace battery in Kindle HD 8.9

The important part is getting key words such as battery and the precise model.

You can also find musical performances, even movie clips and much more, but the real benefit of using YouTube videos is that many of the little problems which crop up every day can be fixed using YouTube videos as a resource and it is my favorite kind of online service, you guessed it by now, it’s FREE.

Want a concrete example from my personal experience? Did you ever see one of those gigantic TVs, I mean 60-inches and above? Many of those use a device developed in 1987 by Dr. Larry Hornbeck of Texas Instruments.

What he did was put millions of tiny mirrors on a computer chip only about one square inch in size.

These DLP projection TVs consist of an arbitrarily large screen (mine is about 72 inches diagonal), a very powerful single light bulb, and lenses to focus the light on the tiny DLP chip which then reflects the light to millions of different color backings on the projection screen.

A giant TV need only be a few inches thick and mine weighs about 95 pounds.

In fact the only drawback to these giant screen TVs is that eventually you begin to get sparklies" or little bright white spots where one of the tiny mirrors is frozen, that is, it no longer moves to the commands of the chip it is mounted on.

At this point many people throw the TV away either happy it lasted so long, or mad because it broke too soon.

But all you really need to do is buy a replacement mirror-chip and swap out the old one - bingo you have a new TV.

The bright bulbs burn out but are easy to replace, however tearing the electronics apart to replace the DLP chip is a complex enough procedure that you either need a skilled technician, or (wait for it) access to the Internet where you can find step-by-step directions and videos showing you exactly what to do.

About the only skill you really need is the ability to use a screw driver and brains enough not to put your greasy fingers on the new mirror.

It took me about one hour total to replace my DLP chip and the $1,200 10-year-old , 72-inch,TV/computer monitor is like new! Total cost $120 for the new DLP chip (including shipping) and $0.00 for the free instructional video.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Free Online Photo Storage

When there is a natural disaster or even just a home fire but no one dies, the thing you feel worst about hearing is that the family lost all their precious photographs.

How would you feel if all those memories recorded by dozens of different cameras over the years were suddenly lost?

I can certainly understand how it can be devastating to a family, especially one where loved ones long ago moved far away.

Today almost everyone is using a digital camera of some sort so saving them is much easier.

The older HARD COP,Y so to speak photos, that is those printed which are either in albums or just in a box on the shelf can be a problem although if you have even a cheap ink jet printer it will probably include a scanner feature and you can digitize those images into your computer.

Once there along with all the ones taken with modern digital cameras, you can upload copies to the great internet Cloud and several companies will be happy to store them for you at no cost.

Google does this through their free photo software and if you have an Amazon Prime account you get not just free storage but unlimited photo storage.

Once you have done that and have decent insurance then all you loose with a house or apartment fire, flood, or other disaster are easily replaced things such as furniture, clothing and such, NOT the irreplaceable family photos where you had recorded as many as four of five generations of memories.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Since many seniors take vitamins and because Nature Made is a common brand I wanted to alert readers that there is possible serious contamination in a couple of adult-targeted audiences.

N illness has yet been linked to the possible salmonella and/or Staphylococcus aureus infection and the manufacturer says they were recalled because “testing [was] not completed properly”

You can find the FDA anouncement here

According to the FDA, the following were on the recall list:

Lot #
UPC Code
Nature Made® Adult Gummies Multi
Nature Made® Adult Gummies Multi + Omega-3
Nature Made® Adult Gummies Multi for Her plus Omega-3s
Nature Made® Super B Complex w/C & Folic Acid Tablets

“The lot number can be found on the back panel next to the expiration date. Products that fall within the lots indicated should not be consumed. Consumers are encouraged to return the affected products to their retailer for a full refund. Consumers with questions may contact the company during normal business hours, Monday through Friday, 7:00 am to 5:00 pm PST at 1-800-276-2878.
The recall was initiated after it was discovered that Salmonella and/or Staphylococcus aureus testing were not completed properly on these specific batch lots. Pharmavite has identified the cause of the error, is taking the matter very seriously and has implemented corrective actions to rectify the issue.“
Personally I try to buy all my vitamins and supplements from a manufacturer, Bronson’s which Linus Pauling recommended to me many decades ago.

Some suppliers such as Frontier on Amazon also offer bulk supplements as the pure chemicals.

Amazon also carries food additives in bulk and concentrated form such as Sucralose without all the filler found in supermarket bags of Splenda.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Walmart ShippingPass Announced

Probably to compete with Amazon Prime I just got an invitation from Walmart to join the pilot ShippingPass program for $49.

The new service was just recently announced and just started on June 1.

Walmart already offered free shipping for orders over $50 but this new service gives you free shipping for a full year WITH NO MINIMUM order size for the single $49 membership fee.

However, as with the original free shipping service this doesn’t apply to every item in the online store so you need to look for the ShippingPass symbol before ordering.

That may apply to every online product which qualifies for shipping rather than just store pickup but I can’t tell for certain.

Of course Amazon Prime costs twice as much but offers much more than free delivery but if you are a regular Walmart customer this should be an attractive deal. Remember I have NOT tested this, however I do get deliveries all the time from Walmart and that service works great - I just always buy more than $50 at a time, which is pretty easy with dog food and 2 120 lb puppies.

Two St. Weiler puppies, they weigh a LOT more now.
See them growing up at

Remember that Walmart also offers free store-to-car services in some markets and in a few areas they will deliver groceries to your home (for a fee.).

You just order online and pick a time and a clerk will bring the groceries out to your car.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

FREE Second Phone Number

There is a company advertising on TV that instead of getting two cell phones you should just buy a second number through them. That can be a great convenience EXCEPT Google already gives you a FREE second phone number with every FREE Gmail (Google's email) account you have with them.

Google Voice is a service which you can pay extra to use for some purposes but which can also be used entirely free for such basic things as having a local phone number in your present town or a completely different town which will ring through any phone you already have!

Also free are things like caller blocking and forwarding of voice and even a text translation ofany messages or a simple notification that a call was answered from such and such number when they don't leave a message.

The voice to text translation by Google isn't perfect although it is improving and if the person calling leaves a clear message the text version can be very accurate - it's usually good enough if you are expecting a message such as form a pharmacy.

But in any case you get the original voice recording also in the email notice.
You can also set your own custom message on the new number and even decide what time of day you can get a forwarded call and which times the system will ONLY take a message.

I have four of these numbers and two cell phones as well as a home phone linked to them in various ways because there are two of us and we also have a business - since I often do interviews I have local numbers in Washington D.C. and New York which people in those areas can reach as a local call.

I won’t tell you how to use a second number because everyone has a different reason for needing a second phone number from having separate numbers for work and private use to merely having a virtual presence in a distant city, perhaps to let people make a local call to you no matter where you actually are physically, perhaps on a trip.

How about if you are picking up a relative at the airport and want to keep things simple so you just give them one number to reach you whether you are at home or on the way and using a cell phone?

I've done that but you may never have a use for that idea. Nevertheless there are dozens or hundreds of uses for a second phone number which can be associated with your existing phone(s) and it is great to know that this is yet another FREE service from Google.

Of course it isn’t completely free, we all pay Google indirectly by having those ads show up when we do a search - that’s where Google makes billions of dollars every year, as well as in some value added services but the point is you don't have to send them any money just to get the email address and phone number.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Free College Courses Online!

Many universities offer discounted or even free courses for seniors who want to audit them but that only applies if you, A) live near the school, B) can always attend at the school’s schedule, and  C) are healthy enough to walk across a large campus to get to the classes.

You also see the for-fee online colleges such as the U. or Phoenix, but what if you are just interested in learning something and not in getting a college degree?

Well you’re in luck because a few years a consortium of top U.S;. Universities and other schools including Harvard, MIT, Boston U. Berkeley, and the U. of Texas began offering real interactive online courses either for free with no credit or as certificate courses for a small fee.

Although these courses aren't specifically for seniors, they certainly fit into the lifestyle of many seniors.

Currently offers nearly 400 courses complete with audio-video lectures, lecture notes, access to grad students, group discussions with fellow students, and even tests.

Course subject areas range from architecture, art and culture, chemistry, economics, business management, computer science (including the justly famous Harvard introduction to computer science), and more.

I’ve taken a number of these either to learn about new subjects or learn about new teaching methods for subjects I am already familiar with such as computer science, chemistry, and quantum mechanics.

Some upcoming courses which caught my eye include:

How to become an Entrepreneur
English Grammar
The History of China
Dog Behavior and Cognition (NOTE, some of the dog courses are expensive)
And much more.

Some courses are archived and can be taken any time.

Others are live and you must view the lectures and keep up with the class discussions within a few weeks.

Some are quite advanced and you need some advanced math to follow while others can be taken by virtually anyone with a high school level education.

And speaking of high school, the courses do NOT require you to submit any proof of graduation or any qualifications other than an interest in learning and there is no fee unless you need credit to add to your resume.

So, break out those number 2 pencils (or just break them) and go to to expand your mind.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Amazon Gets Serious About 2-day delivery, EVEN SUNDAY!

Just a brief note about something that again makes life easier. Although Amazon Prime always had free 2nd day delivery, it was limited to weekdays and some Saturdays out here in the boondocks.

But today (Sunday) I received a Prime order I placed on Friday and it came via The Post Office, on e in fact from another County, not my local post office.

I've noticed more reliable deliveries from all carriers about the time Amazon announced it was leasing cargo gets and testing their own delivery service - probably a coincidence, but true 2nd day free delivery is a great benefit.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Brief Note on Ads

Unlike most sites which carry random ads, I have a section at the bottom of the Blog just for products I actually buy and use myself and am happy to explain why in my opinion they are the best. I've been in the business of testing and reviewing products and services for 45 years.

One special ad is on the side is for Amazon trade-ins which is exactly what you might think - Amazon has a program to buy thousands of used items just for you - avoid the hassle of advertising or holding a garage sale, click on the ad and check out what Amazon will buy from you - finally an ad which guarantees to make YOU money!! 

More than you probably wanted to learn about Zen - a way of living, not a religion.

Just what is this Zen nonsense I refer to in the title of this bloog on living better?

If you are a fan of science fiction, then you are probably familiar with Heinlein’s great work featuring Valentine Michael Smith.

“Stranger in a Strange Land” is the essence of Zen - “waiting is” and “Grok.”
If not, then you get a sense of the lifestyle from the following - don’t worry, it has nothing to do with scented candles, pot, or any religion..

The word Zen is just the Japanese translation of a Chinese character "chan," a translation of the Sanskrit term for meditation, "dhyana,"

Zen can’t really be explained in words, like advanced science such as relativity or nuclear physics that can only be approximated in words that give some idea of what the mathematics or language of scientists says.

A Chinese follower of Gautama Buddha (not a “god” but just a philosopher) said about the concept of Zen nearly 1600 years ago: It isn’t based on the written or spoken word, it isn’t part of scriptures, it is the process of understanding one own’s nature.

> Zen isn’t a belief system; rather, it is an attitude or approach to living.

> Zen is being aware that you are part of the universe and affected by and affecting every other part of it.

> Zen is being grounded and doing everything the best way you can. An example is doing dishes. Don’t plan the next dinner party at the same time; just do the dishes. Or just drive the car, or just tend the garden plants. One thing at a time - the opposite of multitasking.

>Zen means understanding that most things going on around you are mere distractions from your real life.

>Zen is also the art of seeing the glass not only half full, but half empty at the same time. (A very Quantum Physics concept.)

>Zen means planning where appropriate but living in the present, not the future. Imagine that a Bridezilla actually just experienced her wedding day rather than constantly comparing it to how she thought it SHOULD be.

>Some have compared Zen to that state of drunkenness where you can only focus on one thing only with extreme clarity, not a deep fog.

Like I mentioned at the beginning, more than you ever wanted to know, right?

Friday, June 3, 2016

Control Searches or Writing With FREE Voice Recognition

Have trouble using keyboards? Either you can’t find a comfortable one, or you never learned to type, or perhaps it just gets painful? Or, you might just be busy doing something else with your hands.

Ever thought about using voice recognition to run your computer and even dictate letters or messages?

I tried out a new (and FREE) Google system today and it worked with a cheap microphone in a room with a loud TV blasting and it worked 100% of the time.

Did you know you can do it for free if you have a microphone and a good one only costs about $10? Better yet a combination headset and microphone such as the $12 SoundBot I use. (See at Bottom of Page or click on link.)

Many versions of Windows include a voice recognition application built right in and it is free to use.

While professional writers may need one of the expensive and powerful voice recognition systems such as the ones from Dragon which I have reviewed over the years for a score of magazines, you may not need that, in fact, you might not even need any which came with your computer!

If you use the search engine you may have noticed that the search box now includes a tiny microphone on the right side.

Click on that and you can just speak your search terms as long as you have a microphone.

If you have a Google account, such as a free Gmail account then you have access to FREE word processing and other software in a Google Drive account you may not know you have.

For Voice Typing just look under Tools.

Since you really, really want to be able to use Skype you have probably bought a cheap headset with built in microphone already or if you have a laptop or even some small tablets, there is probably a microphone built right in already.

Easiest way to find out is simply click on that microphone symbol in Google and see what happens.

BTW, if you don’t have a mic you should get a Bluetooth headset for making those hour long calls to the grand kids reading bedtime stories.

If you don’t have Bluetooth in your computer a USB adapter will run you another $9 or so. I use this one from soundbot, it costs about $8 and is very tiny - one of my desktops lacked Bluetooth. (See at Bottom of Page or click on link.)