Friday, April 12, 2013

Digital Copies of DVDs You Buy - Are They Worth It?

Do you buy a lot of movies on DVD or Blu Ray?  Do you ever buy the bundle that also includes a "digital copy"?

I've bought a few of these in the recent past and I've finally started to load them to my iTunes account.  A couple things are worth noting:

  • If you buy the bundle with a "digital copy", you are paying extra for it, so USE IT!  If you won't use it, buy the bundle without that option, since it will be cheaper.
  • If you use iTunes, it's pretty easy to get these digital copies loaded.  Some of them require you to insert the DVD into your PC to get the digital copy, and some use a website.  Either way, iTunes can handle it.  
  • Don't throw away the paper with your code on it!! Without the code, you can't redeem your digital copy and you've wasted your money.
  • Pay attention to any expiration dates on your redemption code - sometimes they have a limited time frame on them.  Miss that deadline, and you've again wasted your money.
  • There is a difference between a digital copy and the new "ultraviolet" copy.  You have to create an account with UltraViolet or Flixster in order to redeem any movies that use it.  I haven't tried this yet but it's supposed to give you access to your movie when you're anywhere (assuming you either have Wifi access or a data plan on the device).

Of course a bunch of movies will use up a lot of your PC's hard drive, so hopefully you have an external drive that you can use to back them up if needed.  Also, you most likely won't want to keep all of them on your device (iPad, iPod, etc.) all of them time, since they'll fill the memory on your device as well.  Keeping them in iTunes gives you the ability to sync them onto your device when needed (such as before a long car trip or plane ride).

Personally, I'll be watching Hunger Games on a flight to Orlando next week...

Monday, April 1, 2013

Email Accounts - Legislation Needs to Change

Were you aware that if a family member dies, you will not be allowed to get into their email account unless you happen to know the password?  According to Yahoo, the law states that the email account belongs only to the registered user and they can't give access to anyone else, even with a copy of a death certificate.

This law does not make sense to me.  If a close family member uses email a lot, and then dies without telling anyone their password, their family is left in a bad situation.  There could be legitimate email waiting in their account that the family can't address, nor can they contact those senders to advise them of the recipient's passing.

It is my opinion that if the family can produce a copy of  a death certificate, then they should be given a chance to reset the password and clean out the account for themselves.  Most email providers will close the account when notified of a death, but without some type of cleanup and/or notification to any legitimate senders, there is a big gap here.  The family could lose valuable information and/or relationships without access.

For now, please remember to share your email password (and any other important information) with someone that you trust to carry out your wishes if you die.  Otherwise your family could be left with no recourse but to close your account, even if it means losing all of its contents.  Make this part of your estate planning and your family will be better prepared to deal with closing your "online life".

Using iPad as an E-Reader & Video Player

At Christmas I became the proud owner of a new iPad.  I'm really enjoying it and use it for a lot of different purposes.  My top two are for reading and for watching movies/videos.

I wasn't sure that I would like using an e-reader instead of a paper book, but I've come to appreciate the advantages.  I don't have to store paper books, which is a huge plus for me, since my bookcases are overflowing.  I can take my iPad anywhere that I'd take a book and it's no heavier than a hard cover book.  I can mark my page with an electronic bookmark instead of scrounging in the bottom of my purse for a receipt or some scrap of paper to use.  I can shop for new books anytime, and I can search by author, title, etc. in the store to quickly find what I want.

One disadvantage that I see with e-readers is that it isn't any cheaper to buy an e-book than a paper one.  I mean, really, shouldn't I get a discount since they don't have the expense of the paper, ink and printing?  Why should I pay $9.99 online to get an electronic copy of a book when I can often get the same book on paper for less than that?  This is annoying to me.

For now, I'm trying to stock up on iTunes gift cards whenever I see them offered at a discount off face value (frequently at 10 - 15 % off at local stores).  I'm also having pretty good luck with the bargain section of iBooks.  I've found a lot of new authors that I'm enjoying without having to pay $10 or more for a new book.

We are members of Netflix, so I'm also really enjoying being able to watch all of the episodes of TV shows, in order, whenever I want.  If a certain show or movie is not available using the streaming on Netflix, I can normally find it on iTunes for a price.  I also have quite a few movies on DVD which I purchased in a bundle that included a digital copy, so I'm slowly getting those loaded to my PC so that I can put them on my iPad if I want.  This is perfect for kids movies for a long car trip or plane ride.

Now if I could just find an adapter to plug my iPad into the DVD player in the car, that would be the best of both worlds...

Keep Folders & Files in Sync

If you have multiple PCs in your household, there may be some files that you'd like to be able to view/update on both machines.  In order to keep your files in sync, there are many tools available.

I personally use a couple of different tools.  I use SyncToy from Microsoft to keep my files synced between a flash drive and my hard drive.  It's free and easy to use, very similar to Windows Explorer.  You choose the "from" location and the "to" location and it compares the files and updates what is needed.  It has several different options if you want to copy files only one way, both ways, including deletes or not.

I use DropBox to share files with clients or with family members.  I've also found that DropBox is an easy way to get my photos off of my iPhone or iPad and copy them onto my PC without having to email each file to myself.  It is also easy to use and offers some space for free.  If you invite others to join a shared folder with you, or perform certain other functions, you can earn additional free space.

Here is an article from PC World on this topic which has some other suggestions.

For more information on SyncToy and DropBox, see these links: (SyncToy)