A High Court ‘Gray Market’ Win for Costco, EBay

Ok, I don’t do this often, but here’s a repost I found interesting:

A High Court ‘Gray Market’ Win for Costco, EBay
Bloomberg Businessweek
March 19, 2013

In a victory for companies like Costco (COST) and EBay (EBAY)—not to mention cash-strapped college students—the Supreme Court ruled that textbooks and other goods made abroad can be resold in the U.S. without violating American copyright law. In other words: You bought it, you own it. The 6-3 decision offers legal protection and legitimacy to what has been estimated as a $63 billion “gray market,” in which third parties import brand-name goods protected by copyright or trademark in the U.S. Some of those gray market goods are resold online or at brick-and-mortar discount retailers. The retailers, like EBay and Costco, want to continue to sell goods manufactured and sold abroad at lower prices, even if those goods arguably violate a U.S. copyright. The Tuesday decision clears the way for them to do so.

New car for me!

I finally bid my 2005 Prius adieu. It had 280,000+ miles on it, and the battery was starting to fade (for the second time).  I decided that I didn’t want to be the owner of an older Prius and have to start dumping money into it.  Also, since I live in snow country, I had my Prius for daily driving, and a Laforza SUV 4WD for when it was snowy.  I wanted to consolidate and just have to maintain ONE vehicle for both purposes.

As I do a lot of driving, mileage was very important.  I like a hatchback, so I looked around to see what was available in high-mileage 4wd vehicles.  It turns out, there are not a lot of options.  Still, I soldiered on and came up with a list of cars.  My wife and I drove down the hill to the auto plaza in Ontario so we could test drive all of them.

On a whim, we decided to toss the Nissan Juke into the mix, even though my wife was sure I wouldn’t like it.  On that basis, I drove it first to “get it out of the way”.  It’s an odd looking car, has decent mileage 25/32, and AWD.

We then went on to test drive the more solid ones on the list: Mazda CX5, Subaru CrossTrek, and Jeep Patriot.  I expected to like and buy the CrossTrek, from my web drooling sessions.  In fact, I found it to be the most “whelming” vehicle on the list.  It was okay, but didn’t  really impress me in any area (performance, handling, interior, features).  It did have the highest mileage, but only by one MPG, so I didn’t feel that was a differentiating factor.

The top two were, to our surprise, the Mazda CX5 and the Nissan Juke.  They both had good mileage, AWD, nice interior, and lots of features (ok, so I’m a geek, I love the bells and whistles).  The main difference was that the CX5 is larger and roomier, but the Juke has better performance due to it’s Turbo.  I’m a bit of a leadfoot, so I chose performance over roominess.

We traded in the Prius and drove the Juke home that evening.  It was certainly not the outcome we predicted, but after driving it for a couple of months (and 2600 miles), I really like the car.  It handles great in all conditions, and is sporty to drive.  I get an average 26.1 MPG for the most part (unless I keep my foot in it, which I really DO try not do do… really, I do!).  It’s been wonderful in the snow several times, and even with the lousy factory highway tires, hasn’t needed chains or anything.  I did re-adjust my “Spikes Spider” chains from the Prius for the Juke, so worst case I can whip those puppies on.  If you don’t know about them and drive in the snow, you should check them out.  They are really a great invention. I put my chains on or take them off in the time it takes other drivers to lay their chains/cables out on the road behind their wheels.  When the tires wear out, I will replace them with all-season tires and so I expect my grip next winter to be even better.

As the Juke is fairly new to the world, there don’t seem to be any hacks/tweaks/backdoors out for it yet.  The only one I have found online is a hardware hack to disable the speed reporting to the nav system so that it thinks you are stationary and lets you do anything you want.  I might just have to do this, but it does entail a fair amount of dash disassembly, so I’m not really thrilled about doing it.  As far as software back-doors, I have yet to hear about one.

How to change the default image editor in windows 8

I sometimes need to edit image files, and usually I use GIMP (a really wonderful free editor).  However, as I don’t do this very often, I invariably right-click on the image and pick “edit”, forgetting that all that will do is launch the crusty old Microsoft Paint program Sad smile  So, I did some web-digging this afternoon and came across a very simple article detailing the procedure.  Here’s a link to the original, and below is an excerpt for those of you who don’t need the video demonstration and so forth:

You need to go to the registry editor to make the changes. It is always a good idea to make a backup of your registry before continuing. Modifying the registry can be tricky if you don’t know what you are doing, and you can do major damage to your system if you aren’t careful

  1. Press the start menu key and type “regedit” and locate the key:HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\SystemFileAssociations\image\shell\edit\command
  2. Locate the string value in the right windows called (default). The value will be“%systemroot%\system32\mspaint.exe” “%1″
  3. Change the value to point to the program you want to use instead. E.g. C:\Program Files\GIMP 2\bin\gimp-2.8.exe" “%1″ (This will set GIMP as default editor)

Don’t delete the “%1″ part at the end of the string. This is a variable that holds the name of the picture you are clicking on. You might also find that your path to the program might be different from mine.

If you want to set some other program as the default edit (or if your path is different), find it in C:\Program Files and when you have the correct “.exe” file in your sights, SHIFT-right-click and pick “Copy as path”.  That will put the full path and file name onto the clipboard so you can just paste it into RegEdit (above).

Stainless is DEAD–whoooohooooo!

I ran across this article today, which talks about Whirlpool’s introduction of a new finish for kitchen appliances:


This is great news, as far as I’m concerned.  Personally, I’ve been bored with stainless finishes since a couple of months after their introduction.  I just have never liked them, and I don’t understand the fascination with them in the market.  I believe that a lot of this has been driven by “Makeover” shows.  Those people crack me up.  They’ll walk into a house that has a kitchen which looks about the same as my current kitchen.  They’ll stylishly wrinkle their collective noses and say “well, this is clearly unusable – a ‘gut job’ for sure”.  Unusable eh?  Seems to work fine for me, but then I’m more about function than form.  Then, of course, they re-do the kitchen in a questionable color scheme, but almost always with granite counter tops and innovative cutting-edge stainless steel appliances – like nobody has done THAT before.

Windows 8 vs Windows 3.0

Here’s the shiny new Windows 8:

Here’s a moldy oldie (windows 3.0):

File:Windows 3.0 workspace.png

Notice any similarities?

Other than the screen resolution being better on the windows 8 screen shot, they both look flat and uninteresting.  Is Microsoft trying to turn back the clock here?

New look and new host!

Well, after the catastrophic failure in July, I no longer trust the whitebox based hosting I was using for this blog.  So, I’ve moved this to wordpress.com for the time being, and odds are I’ll leave it there for good unless something comes up to indicate that was a bad decision.

I had to change the look a bit, and most of the plugins I had are not supported with this hosting method.  So, I can’t have the music widget anymore 😦

Server Hiccup

Folks – my server had a catastrophic failure.  BOTH disks of a Raid-1 set failed (hard errors) at the same time.  How unlikely is THAT??  Well anyway, lucky me.  We’re now running on a rebuilt server, with two brand new Raid-1 disks.  I have restored things as best I can, and though some of the posting dates since June 5 got a bit scrambled, I doubt that really matters to anyone.

Sorry for the inconvenience!