Ms Crooked Halo











I was busily linking products on my blog to the appropriate Amazon product when I saw the advertisement for the Amazon Fire phone.

In both curiosity, and I admit, a tinge of excitement, I clicked over and took a looksy.

Reading the product description, although the cloak it in how the features will benefit the consumer,  I read into the description that the phone will be constantly pushing Amazon products.

Which could be quite annoying.

I can’t say for sure being as I have yet to lay my hands on the phone personally.

“peek to see detailed views of clothing, shoes, and more in the new Amazon Shopping app for Fire phone”

“Quickly identify printed web and email addresses, phone numbers, QR and bar codes, plus over 100 million items, including movies, TV episodes, songs, and products—simply press and hold the dedicated Firefly button to discover useful information and take action in seconds.”

“For a limited time, Fire phone includes a full year of Prime.”

Ok, that Prime thing sounds pretty sweet!

But the phrases that show that this phone is primarily an Amazon marketing machine just keep going on and on and on….

Plus, a tie to AT&T for two years…I am definitely saying no thanks.

However, for some people, this phone will be a wet dream come true.

How many times have I wanted to take a photo of something and be able to purchase it immediately.

The cost of the phone is $199 with a service contract ($649 without).

And that is with 32 GB!!

The phone also comes in a 64 GB for $299 ($749 without contract).

The phone actually drops on July 25, 2014 but, in the way of Amazon, you can preorder the phone today.



{March 19, 2014}   Review: Amazon Prime

I had originally planned to review Amazon Prime last as it was the last video streaming service that I invested in but seeing as today is the last day to get Amazon Prime for $79/year, I thought I better hopscotch it to the front.

Last Day to Subscribe to Amazon Prime for $79

What is Amazon Prime?

Initially, and primarily, Amazon Prime is Amazon’s priority shipping program. If you see the check box with the word Prime next to it Prime that means that not only is there no shipping charge for Amazon Prime members but you will receive your package in as little as two days.

In addition to the shipping, you also have access to unlimited streaming of Prime Instant Video on any compatible device. Yep, the streaming of free movies and television shows is included in the price.

And, if you own a Kindle, you can request to “borrow” one free book per month from the Kindle Owners’ Lenders Library. You can only borrow one book at a time but there is no due or expiration date.

A program that I am just reading about today is Kindle First. With Kindle First, you can download one of four editor’s picks a month before the official publication date. This is available to everyone but it is free to Amazon Prime subscribers. Hm.

What I do like about Amazon Prime.

I like that I can start off with a free 30 day trial.

Cover of "Veronica Mars"

Cover of Veronica Mars

What I actually spend the most time using is the streaming. I have found shows that are not available on Hulu Plus or Netflix. I have finally watched all 3 seasons of Veronica Mars and my friend and I are planning a day to order the newly released Veronica Mars movie. Yeah!!

And I have been slamming House Hunters even though the skip several seasons with no real explanation.

I also like that I can share my two day shipping benefit with up to 4 other people. Especially as I have 3 teenage kids who order from their own Amazon accounts.

What don’t I like about Amazon Prime?

My first turn-off was that I couldn’t use my Amazon gift card balance to pay for my Prime. That $79 debit on my card came as a bit of an unpleasant surprise. Especially since I asked an Amazon chat representative if they would charge my balance and got a positive response. Apparently, my representative was incorrect.

So far, the shipping itself has been fine. I don’t always go with Amazon Prime because it might not be the lowest price. On the other hand, if time is of the essence, than I immediately seek out Prime offerings. Other members on my plan, however, have been killing the shipping savings. Lol.

One thing that sincerely bummed me is that the only way to borrow a Kindle book is if you own a Kindle device. If you are using the book apps on your phone, you are pretty much out of luck for this aspect. Although, I do wonder if I had a Kindle device  and borrowed a book, would it also show up on my Android phone. Hm. (Anyone know the answer to this, feel free to leave it in the comments. :-))

My final criticism is about the streaming videos. First off, I was very disappointed to learn that not all of the videos were not available to be streamed.  And, of course, I loathe the way the try to plump up there offerings by having each season separated so that I have to add/remove each one as I go along. And if you plan to watch a particular show, you better hop on it quick as it could be taken off of Prime at any time. I was watching Californication under my Prime account but just the other day, I logged in to find that it is now $1.99 an episode. Boo!!

Is Amazon Prime worth it?

The Closer

The Closer (Photo credit: srqpix)

So, is Amazon Prime worth it? For my family, yes. I stream a lot. As a matter of fact, I am streaming The Closer as I write this post.

Compared to Hulu Plus and Netflix, it comes out about even. While Hulu and Netflix offer more shows and the interface is more logical, I can’t discount the value of the free shipping. I used it just this morning to save $3.75. And the package that I ordered shipped just a few hours later and is expected to hit my doorstop on Friday.

For me, it is definitely worth it. Although I order frequently, it is not frequently enough to reach $35 each time. And my family, yeah, it seems as if we have packages delivered every week.

Don’t forget, if you want to lock in the $79/year price, you have to at least sign up for the Amazon Prime Free 30 Day trial by the end of today and upgrade to paid membership by April 17, 2014. After that, the price is $99/year.

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{March 4, 2014}   Scandal: Ride, Sally, Ride

Despite the constant Twitter reminders and countdowns, I completely spaced on the fact that there was a brand new Scandal released.

Kerry Washington

Kerry Washington (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And to top it all off, I wasn’t very psyched to watch it because one of my besties said that it was boring and that she fell asleep watching it.

Yeah, she must have really been sleepy because it was good.

If you haven’t seen it yet, you can watch the latest tv series episodes on Hulu.com or find them on abc online episodes.

Meanwhile….

<<< SPOILER ALERTS >>>

So much happened on Scandals latest episode.

That heifer Sally decided to continue her run for President against Fitz even though she killed her husband at the end of last season.

How’d she get away with that, you ask?

One word: Cyrus.

Need I say more.

I never really trust “Super” Christians.

She has herself convinced that “the devil made her do it”.

Oh, no, boo-boo, the devil may have whispered it in your ear but the act of killing was all you.

And did I mention that she is running against Fitz while still maintaining her position and power as the Vice-POTUS.

And Kerry Washington’s character, Olivia… yeah, her Dear Ol’ Dad pretty much declared war on her if she stays with the President.

“…and the greatest weapon I could use against him calls me ‘dad’.”

Can you get any clearer (or menacing) than that?

Speaking of the President…I still cannot express to you enough how much I actively dislike him.

Seriously, he threw his glass at Cyrus.

And picking a running mate that was “loyal” to him…yeah, right.

He picked a carbon copied, selfish playboy mirror image of himself.

The one thing Sally got right was calling him out on being a man-child.

Taking the reigns that Fitz has once again dropped in his self-destructive pursuit of Olivia, my girl Mellie once again pushed her pride aside and sat down with a public meal with her once best friend Olivia.

I admire how Mellie keeps it all together even though we know in her heart of hearts she really just wants to shank a bitch. LMFAO.

She point blank tells Olivia that she has to get herself a beau because she has screwed up by well, screwing her hubby.

Speaking of screwing, Cyrus’ husband is hell bent on screwing him over.

I, for one, saw that coming when Cyrus threatened to take the baby if he ever leaves him.

Now he is working with David to bring down pretty much the whole team.

Speaking of working against, our Baby Huck Quinn is slipping further and further down the rabbit hole working hard to earn a place in B16.

But despite what others say, I think she’s just trying to earn Olivia’s trust back by going where the others dare not go.

There was so much going on in this episode that I am probably going to have watch it again before this week’s.

Let me know if I missed any salient points.

Scandal on!

~MsCrookedHalo

 

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{February 24, 2014}   Cut The Cord

If you are tired of (or plain ol’ can no longer afford) the high price of cable television, there is a movement going around called cutting the cord.

The cable cord, that is…

I have been cable free since at least 2011 (not real sure of the real date) and I have been happy about it for at least two years yet.

But don’t I miss the shows, you ask?

Kinda but not really.

How so? is your next question.

Well, I pretty much can watch almost any television show (legally, at that) from almost every station by combining Hulu Plus, Netflix, and Amazon Prime with my Roku streaming box.


So the only money that Cox gets out of me is the money to pay my unlimited high speed internet…money they were getting anyway being as I work from home, right.

With these 4 services, my “cable” bill is now only $271/year.

Yep, that’s a year…

What’s that…the bill for just a month or so of cable.

Subscribe to stay tuned to my upcoming reviews of Roku, Hulu Plus, Netflix, and Amazon Prime.

~MsCrookedHalo

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PineCone research is growing and we invite you to help!   We are offering select members the opportunity to recommend membership to a friend or relative who is NOT a member of their household.  We are specifically looking for 18 to 24 year olds OR Hispanic households.

Here is the link to the registration:

http://www.pineconeresearch.com/signup/ds714.aspx

If your referral has any questions, they can email us at scott@pineconeresearch.com or click on the link to learn more about PineCone Research.

http://www.pineconeresearch.com//policy.htm

 

Pinecone Research is one of my favorite survey companies. They pay $3/survey. Also, although the confidentiality agreement prohibits me telling specifics, I can say that I have received free products to review and complete a survey on. As a result, the demand to be accepted into Pinecone is high so I recommend  completing the application as soon as possible.

 

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{October 31, 2013}  

Last week, I learned that Amazon is raising its free shipping rate to $35.

As in, order $35 worth of approved product and shipping is free.

I can understand it from a pure business analysis perspective.

But, from a customer perspective, well, it just sucks.

Take today, for example.

Today, I was going to order myself a yoga mat with my $29 gift card balance.

I narrowed it down to this  NPR Yoga Mat in purple for $10.50 pluse $10 s&h.

Now, usually, I just go find a book or two that I gave been meaning to purchase and read to bring the total up to $25.

But, today, I walk away empty-handed because I don’t have enough gift cards to make my order $35.

No big deal to Amazon since these are only gift cards and they are not losing anything.

But, I would think the same way if I was ordering with cash and money was tight.

Or if  I didn’t have enough time to go searching for another $20 worth of stuff.

Many people shop Amazon because of the free shipping offer.

It is going to be interesting to see just how upping the ante affects Amazon’s bottom line.

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{October 2, 2013}   Orange is the New Black

 There are several reasons why I decided to give the new show Orange is the New Black, an original Netflix series,  a try.

  1. It is by the Weeds creator Jenji Kohan
  2. I wanted to see That ’70s show “Donna” (Laura Prepon) as a brunette (she looks good! I actually prefer it on her.)
  3. It is based on the true story and novel of Piper Kerman
    (never read it but being “based” on a true story gives it a few points of interest).
  4. It came out on my birthday (always a valid reason, right)

If you haven’t watched Orange is the New Black yet, it is basically a show about a white woman who tried lesbianism on for size and fell for a wanna-be queen pin.

I am guessing that she is suppose to be the stereotypical white girl because she had a decent upbringing with decent parents, she is self-employed in a burgeoning niche business, and she has a nice (if economically unstable) finance.

So the writer’s decided to see what would happen if they threw a nice girl in jail with a bunch of blacks and hispanics.

So, if you are the racially sensitive type, avoid this show because they explore every stereotype imaginable in this show. ~yawn~

What started to catch my attention was the back stories of the heroine’s prison “friends”.

The tranny who is in jail for stealing credit cards and now they are denying her estrogen because of “budget”.

The cook who just wanted to fit in with her husbands friends and when that failed, well, violence ensued.

The french lady who murdered the man who was sexually harassing her charges.

If it wasn’t for those backstories, I probably would have stopped watching after the third episode but now I have come to love the character of Piper just a little bit and so I continue.

Anyone else watching Orange is the New Black?

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{September 17, 2013}   Howie Mandel Takes It All

My family has found a new game show on NBCTV to watch together, Howie Mandel’s Take It All.

(Actually, we watch it on Hulu. Watch television live? Only if the internet is out!)

On a random note, raise your hand if you remember way back when Howie Mandal had hair?

He’s still a cutie though and I’d hit that if his OCD and various other phobias would allow it!

Anywho, back to the subject at hand, Take It All.

If you haven’t watched the show yet, it reminded me of that Christmas game Bad Santa or whatever it is called.

Basically the first contestant chooses a door (number, color, symbol, or whatever they are using on that particular episode).

The next contestant could either snatch the prize of a previous contestant or choose to open the unknown prize.

And so on and so forth until the last door is opened and the first contestant has a chance to take from an opponent.

It is the final head-to-head that I like the best though.

It is where the real battle of the wits take place.

Where the contestants try to cess and/or psych each other out.

The final two battle it out.

If both contestants use Keep Mine, then they both walk away with what they have already won.

If both contestants choose Take It All, then they both walk home empty handed.

 If only one of the contestants chooses Take It All, the final winner gets to Take It All away.

If you want to learn how to be a contestant on take it all, you have to keep watching the casting page on NBC.com: http://www.nbc.com/casting.

As for me, I would always Take It All.

After all, I am a go big or go home type of gal.

Plus, well, I don’t trust you to screw me over!

~side eye~

How about you?

Play nice or Play to Win?

~Queen Katrina

 

 

 

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My friend and I were having a discussion on just how much it costs to buy a Samsung Galaxy S III on contract vs the cost of paying cash for the phone and using a prepaid service.

Samsung Galaxy S III

Samsung Galaxy S III (Photo credit: John Biehler)

Since even the major companies (with the exception of Sprint, who will refer you to Virgin Mobile or Boost), offer prepaid now, prepaid purchasers no longer have to suffer the iniquity of bad reception, dropped calls, or missing text messages that was the plague of days gone by.

Prepaid customers are also no longer limited to the dregs of yesteryears technology since most carriers will sell the phone and, if necessary, the SD card to activate the phone.

So, the only question left is, in the long run, is it cheaper to buy the phone outright and go prepaid or get the discounted phone and go with a contract.

To the math!

Let’s start with my own carrier, Tmobile.

If I had purchased the Samsung Galaxy S III from Tmobile last year with a contract, I would have paid $299.99. But, lo and behold, I took a looksy today, and the phone is now down to $99.99 if I order it online.

If I purchase it outright from Tmobile prepaid (I don’t. Ebay is my friend!), the phone would cost me $549.99, a significant difference, right.

So, let’s compare plans, shall we?

The contract plan that I would most likely chose is $89.99 per month. The comparable prepaid plan, 4G and all, is $70.00.

$89.99 x 24 months = $2159.76

Adding in the cost of the phone, $99.99, brings the total to $2259.75

On the prepaid side, $70 x 24 = $1680 plus the cost of the phone is $2229.99.

The difference is only $29.76 in favor of the prepaid and I am not obligated to Tmobile for two years even if the service goes downhill.

Also, the price of the phone is on “sale” for a limited time only. If it goes to comparable of what the other major retailers are asking, the difference will go up $100. If it goes up to the price that Tmobile was originally advertising, the difference will go up $200.

Now, my friend has a Sprint contract.

According to Sprint’s website, the cost of Unlimited Everything is now $109.99 (up from the $99.99 that made it so appealing just a few years ago).

The cost of a new Samsung Galaxy S III on Sprint is, and has always been as far as I know, $199.99.

So the cost of a two year contract is $2639.76 plus the cost of the phone brings the total to $2839.75.

The difference between a Sprint contract and Tmobile prepiad is $609.76.

That’s a huge difference.

And, without even doing the math, I can tell you that the Verizon’s and ATT plans are so not for me.

Shared data plans?!?!

No unlimited data plans?!?!

But for those who want to see that math, here you go…

Verizon and AT&T contract is $199.99 for the phone and $70 for the contract for a total of $1879.99.

Again, no unlimited data for those of us who that makes a difference.

If not, then Verizon or AT&T may be your best bet, money-wise.

Verizon’s prepaid does not offer the ability to buy the S3 directly from the site but the prepaid is still $70.

I would go prepaid so I wouldn’t be locked into a contract and get my phone from Ebay, Craigslist, or Amazon, but that’s just me.

You actually come out cheaper with a Verizon contract when you add in the cost of the phone.

AT&T’s Smartphone prepaid is $65.00 which is $5 lower than the contract.

AT&T also did not offer the ability to purchase the S3 with your prepaid account online.

So, for my money, I will be sticking with my Tmobile prepaid account.

Not only is it extremely cost efficient in the long run but I am able to change my monthly account type with no penalties or repercussions during those lean months.

So, did I get the math right?

Did I miss any facts that might make a contract phone more appealing?

I’ve been known to be wrong…occasionally.

 

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I must say that I have fallen woefully behind on my Upper East Side shenanigans

Gossip Girl Season 4

Gossip Girl Season 4 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

.

But since subscribing to Netflix, I have been womanfully attempting to catch up.

Starting with Season 1, Episode 1, I am now up caught up to Blair’s engagement to the Prince of Monocco.

Since I never watch regaular television any more,  I wasn’t even aware that this was to be the last season of Gossip Girl.

So, I was completely blindsided when my friend Jeanette let the beans spill that the series finale revealed that Gossip Girl is…

….wait for it…..

….total spoiler alert here…..

Dan Humphrey

Dan Humphrey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

DAN HUMPHREY!!

Frankly, I knew it had to be one of the main characters of the show although I didn’t really rule out anyone.

I figured that when it was finally revealed, the writers would have to ignore any and all inconsistencies and plot holes.

What I didn’t like was that Lily and Rufus did not end up together.

And even worse, I hated that Lily ended up with William Van Der Woosen.

Yuck!

But I guess that I will have to get caught up to see what happened there.

Reading comments though, I giggled when one reader suggested that Rufus changes to suit the woman that he is with, which is totally true!

And Lily never really respected him as a man because, like her daughter and Blair, she is actually attracted to men who treat her just a wee bit bad…I mean, um, present a challenge to their strong personalities (yeah, right!).

Other (obvious) spoilers:

Blair and Chuck get married. It was very anticlimactic and I absolutely hated Blair’s dress (I hardly ever liked the clothes they wore on the show anyway.) They have a son but I guess I have to get caught up to find out what happened to Blair and Louie’s baby?!?!

BTW, those two park Blair/Chuck know-it-alls have a vital role in the marriage but where are Blair’s minions??

Georgina’s so-called scheme was lame and was just a rounding up of all of the usual suspects. Yawn.

Flash forward five years and we see Dan and Serena tying the knot (I hated her dress too.) but I would have loved to see how they finally made it to the alter.

Apparently Blair does get a career in fashion (I have no idea what Serena ends up doing).

Lil Jenny Humphry makes a brief appearance with a designer purse that reads J by Waldorf so…..

But she doesn’t get any lines. Lol.

Ivy writes a tell all about duping the rich for their money. I need to get caught up there. I just got to the point where she is being blackmailed by her ex for $500,000.

Let’s see…who’s left…

Cover of "Veronica Mars"

Cover of Veronica Mars

Oh, yeah, Nate…he ends up running a very successful magazine and they hint that he may be running for Mayor. No girl for him, apparently. They should have put him back with Vanessa…power couple to take on Chuck and Blair. Lol.

Oh, and why wasn’t Scott at the wedding?!?!

My favorite (really, the only part that moved me besides being angry at Lily) was the cameo “I thought is was Dorota” moments from real life celebrities. My fav being the voice of Gossip Girl herself, Veronica Mars alum: Kristen Bell.

No clue the significane of the Rachel chick but I actually squeeled to see Ronnie. Lol. And that wink…too cute….

And, of course, they had to send Gossp Girl to bed with a warning that since there will always be an outsider with a need to be “in”, there will always be a “Gossip Girl”.

XoXo

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