TomTom and Garmin Lose Their Way

An article today in the Technology section of Business Week outlines the difficulties currently faced by GPS/Navigation devices.

Among my family and friends, I tend to be known as the gadget queen. If there’s a gadget out there, chances are I have it. I even have a wireless glove, connected by USB, that I can use on my PC similar to a mouse. When playing solitaire, I can just point at the card I want and drag it to where I want it. It would also be neat with role playing games… “Okay – I want to move these guys from over here to over there… prepare to do battle”. Neat. You may notice I said “can use” which is not to imply that I do use it. Other than testing it out, I have never actually used it.

In the kitchen, I have almost every gadget designed to save time. Three types of cheese graters, automatic apple/potato peelers, automatic slicers, plastic wrap dispensers, powered wine cork removers, egg slicers, etc. I’ve got a pasta maker, waffle maker, dough maker, and so on. I’m running out of room to put my gadgets.

But I don’t have a GPS – a fact that surprises people that know me. You see, a GPS is a portable device, and there’s only so many things I can fit in my purse. I have my cell phone, and my PDA and already that’s too much. Also, the good GPS devices seem to be several hundred dollars and I don’t want to buy a piece of crap just because it’s cheap.

I believe for a new technology to be effective, it needs to be (a) affordable and (b) convenient. So what I want is a GPS device that keeps a charge for close to a month and I don’t want to pay more than $150.

I’ve looked for some type of GPS software for the PDA, but I need to do a lot more research, and quite frankly I don’t have time. I have a plan though… when I need to update my cell phone, I will get one with a PDA and GPS device built in. That will be a couple of years from now and by then the prices will be cheaper. Until then I just have to look up my routes on an old-fashioned map or print out directions from mapquest or google maps before I set off.

Maybe the gadget queen is getting old (and cheap).

What’s up with hairstylists?

Just after Christmas, my longtime hairstylist moved from Ontario to New Brunswick. A bit far to travel. I really hate looking for a new hairstylist.

There’s a salon not too far from me called Allure. So I made an appointment and went in. The stylist, Jenn, had bleached blonde hair, with very dark roots. Not very inspiring. I thought I’d take the chance though, and try a new look. So I asked her, if you could do anything to my hair, what would you do? I was thinking perhaps a shorter, sassier look, perhaps some highlights, whatever… I was game.

Well, she had no ideas other than “match my hair colour to my eyebrows”. That meant going darker, back to my natural colour of chestnut brown. It looked really good, they gave me a scalp treatment and she styled my hair using a straightener. It looked fabulous! And for all this, I was charged $32, after taxes. Wow! I was onto something good here!

As my hair grew (which it has a tendency to do very quickly) the fact that my hair is almost completely white was very obvious with the contrast between the white and dark (now I remember why I went lighter). So, a month later, back I went. I asked for a bit of a trim this time. Okay, so the trim took off a couple of inches – no worries, it will grow back (and quickly). The charge this time was over $60. I can live with that, after all, she did cut it.

Fast forward to today – those darn roots were back, so back to Allure I went. Jenn had done her own roots, so she looked much more professional. No trim this time, just touch up the roots. I had her pull the colour through as well, since that tends to brighten up the colour. Well, she left the colour on for 45 minutes while she did others’ hair (is it good for the hair for the colour to be on that long?). Then she washed it out and blow dried it. The charge? $61. Huh? What would it have been with a trim? $80? $90?

Don’t salons usually follow a price schedule? Did I get a really good deal the first time? Was that a mistake? Hmmmm.

It looks fabulous – even though my bangs keep falling in my face. I was thinking of trying one of those root touch-up kits to stretch the time between visits, but I’m worried about ruining my hair. How dangerous can that be though, if the salon leaves the colour on for sooo long?

I think I’ll call my previous stylist in New Brunswick and get her opinion. Meanwhile, I should grab a headshot of me while I’m still looking good. Linked In, Facebook, and even this even this blog would probably look good with a photo of me.

My cheapness aside, Allure is a nice salon, and Jenn is a very good stylist. I really do look good!

All GM Dealers are NOT the Same!

I remember when I first purchased my new 2002 Pontiac Montana minivan from Slessor Motors in Newmarket. The first time I had to take it in for service, I parked at side of the building and walked into the service department. The women behind the desk referred me to the service advisor. I went out to speak with him, and he yelled at me! It seems I was supposed to pull the van up to the door, which would open for me to drive in. Welllll, excuuuuuse me! How was I supposed to know that?

The van died in 2007, seven months before my payments were finished. Thanks GM. After replacing the Intake Manifold and two cracked cylinder heads, I dumped that piece of crap as fast as I could, borrowed a friend’s car until my payments on the Montana were finished, and then went shopping for a used car.

I swore I wouldn’t buy another GM product again, but I couldn’t help it – I grew up with GMs and no other type “feels” right. So I bought a 2001 Cadillac Catera. Was it a mistake? Time will tell. Meanwhile, I really do love the car.

Last week, my low coolant light came on. I checked and the coolant level is fine. So I brought it into Colonial Chev Olds in Newmarket for diagnosis and service (even though Slessor Motors is the Cadillac dealer in Newmarket). What a difference! The doors were opened as soon as I pulled up (which never happened at Slessor), nobody yelled at me; they even gave me a shuttle lift to the mall and then came to pick me up after. The sensor needs replacing. The sensor is connected to the overflow reservoir, so the whole thing needs to be replaced. $340 – ouch! No matter. It’s not that important a part, but still worth replacing.

So they have ordered the part in, and here I am, sitting at one of their computers (they call it their internet cafe, but there’s really just one computer), posting on my blog. Sweet! The service advisor (Ryan) is extremely polite, respectful and well, nice.I don’t mind getting my oil changes or other minor work done at a local garage, but let’s face it – nobody knows a car as well as a dealer. They’re specially trained in servicing GM vehicles. Yes, it’s more money, but I think it’s worth it to have something done right. The service manager at my local Canadian Tire came from Golden Mile Chevrolet – which is where my father bought all his cars when they lived in the city, so I trust him to know GMs, but a dealer is the best place to go if you have a car with lots of options/features on it.

Especially when you have a dealer that treats you well!

Hello Rogers!

I did it! I switched both my husband and myself to Rogers Wireless! We carried our numbers over and WOW am I impressed! Service everywhere… no dropped calls! I’m also impressed that they give their customers 3 months unlimited local calling, so you have time to figure out which plan works best for you.

We did our research, visited a few stores and plans and ultimately ended up ordering over the phone (because I wanted to port our numbers and you can’t do that online) from Amritech. They really had good deals. Getting through to them was a tad difficult – I kept getting an automated response that all their representatives were busy and to leave my name and number for someone to call me back. Their mailbox was full though, so it would tell me to try again later… very, very frustrating. I did eventually get through though and when I mentioned my difficulties reaching them, they were really apologetic and gave me the phones for free (not that they were that much for a 3 year term). The phones also came with free car chargers, leather cases (one of which was broken, no big deal) and hands-free kit (only one for some reason, although we had two phones).

The phones took longer than expected to arrive and I had to call them and ask them NOT to switch over the numbers on the date arranged, because I didn’t have the phones yet and I didn’t want to be without a cell phone for the day. The phones arrived that night, and I called and gave the all clear to port the numbers over.

It took me ages to make the decision to switch, but I have no regrets. so far, this appears to be one of my best decisions.

Now to find another internet provider and get away from sympatico…