Monthly Archives: March 2017

My favorite free mobile apps – just for fun

Chapter 42

My favorite free mobile apps – just for fun

I find that many of friends in my age group have been “pushed” into discarding their old trusted flip cell phones for the more trendy “smart” phones. I actually think this is not a bad movement. My issue is that most of the folks in my age group still consider this “smart” unit to be a phone, but are paying for Internet access,

Using a smart phone for the first time can be intimidating, especially for us older folks. However, once one realizes that the icons are meant to be “intuitive” the operation becomes friendlier. What you now have is a powerful little hand held computer that in some ways is more useful than your home computer or laptop. The key is in the use of the free Apps that are available. Following is a list of some that I find useful:

  1. The first app you need, if your phone does not have one is one that provides virus protection. I like “AVG free”. It works much like the AVG program for your computer. There are several others, but be sure you are using one.
  2. My next recommendation would be an app that monitors your memory usage. Keep in mind that you have very limited memory in most of the less expensive units (mine cost $29). This app will free up memory that is being occupied by prior transactions but which is no longer required….and thus clean it up. The app I use is “clean master with one touch”, but again there are several free apps available. Consider adding an extra memory card to your phone as it is very inexpensive. On the day I am writing this you can purchase 8 gig for under $3. By the time this is posted it will be even lower!
  3. Another short coming of the smart phone is that it can be a battery hog, especially with extensive Internet usage. Many have trouble lasting for an entire day. A battery saving app can add 20 – 25% to your battery life. I use “battery doctor”. It is among many that are free.
  4. I love to save money on items that I buy all the time. One major monthly expense is for auto fuel. “Gas Buddy” is an app that will tell you the lowest price for fuel in your area. This is very helpful when you are traveling and unfamiliar with local availability. Gas buddy will not only tell you where the best price, but also provide spoken directions via Maps (another free app)! Another valuable feature of this app is that it tells you whether prices are trending up or down.
  5. It infuriates me to see people on their phones while driving. It is now illegal to be on your phone while driving in many states. I am hoping this is a national trend. One app that is a great safety feature is “Safest text”. It allows for texts to be automatically answered while you are driving. We have blue tooth in our auto, so our message says “We are currently driving and not able to answer your text. However, we have Bluetooth, so feel free to give us a call.”
  6. Most smart phones have been preloaded with the “google maps” app. If not, be sure to get it. It works with the internal GPS in your phone to provide the same info as a car GPS. I use it instead of my car GPS. One advantage is that google is constantly updating their map inventory. One disadvantage is that it is a memory hog, so keep your phone plugged in to the USB port or charger adapter when using this app.
  7. As we get older font size can be important. A valuable app in this regard is “Magnifont”.
  8. There are many other free apps that address specific topics, depending on your personal interests. I have over 40 on my phone.  I hope the preceding has been helpful?

A final comment: Be sure to take advantage of the voice to text feature which works with many of the apps including texts, emails & Internet searches. It is a great time saver!


Do I really have to pay for this?

Chapter 41

Do I really have to pay for this?

Have you noticed the plethora of TV commercials that encourage you to allow their company to assist you in not paying income tax that you owe? They gleefully display lists of people who owe large amounts, but who only ended up paying a small fraction of what they owed (they do not tell you what the fee was for each of these transactions!).

I am not a fan of the IRS or the current status of our income tax system. There is an extensive discussion of this topic in an earlier blog posting along with proposed solutions. What ticks me off is that over 95% of tax payers faithfully pay their tax liability whether they agree with the system or not. These folks subsidize the folks who manage to weasel out of what they owe and an entire industry, complete with TV advertising funds, has risen up to assist them in screwing you and I. It is both disgusting and legal.

To make matters worse, the group that is taking advantage of this situation are folks that exist the in the upper 10% income group. With very few exceptions the middle class is subsidizing the wealthiest segment of society.

All that considered, I suspect that what we see on TV are a small minority of the outcomes and many are situations where large past incomes have not continued and the IRS considers the debt largely uncollectable. In this regard, these firms are using these rare examples to attract commissions from folks with large tax bills who would like to avoid the tax.

If I was relocating from another country to the USA and saw this occurring it would cause me to suspect both corruption and a lack of ethics. I wonder if this is the way we want our country to be viewed?


No mortar required, can’t fit a needle into the joints!

37(d) No mortar required, can’t fit a needle into the joints!


Source:                                                                                                                 “The stones fit so perfectly that no blade of grass or steel can slide between them. There is no mortar. They often join in complex and irregular surfaces that would appear to be a nightmare for the stonemason.”


Ancient and mysterious stone wall in Sacsayhuaman Inca archaeological site in Cusco, Peru - stock photoAncient Inca fortress Saksaywaman near Cusco in Sacred Valley, Peru. (since 1983 was added as part of the city of Cusco to the UNESCO World Heritage List) - stock photo

Source:                                                                                        “Located 2km from the city (Cuzco). Together with the city of Cusco, this monumental complex is considered the first of the new seven wonders of the world. This huge construction was planned and built by Andean Man. The Incas called it the House of the Sun and the Spaniards called it a fortress because of its zig-zag shape and the 1536 revolution. The construction, which is made up of three platforms one on top of the other, was one of the most important religious complexes of its time.”

Source:                                                                                                                                                     About Andean man: “Although human occupation began over 20,000 years ago, the beginnings of agriculture and population growth are much more recent. Within the last 8,000 years a specialized desert-and-highland agriculture was developed.”

Stay tuned next week for even more related to this topic