Largely returned from computer hell. (Thanks for the good wishes.) As usual, your feedback – on a wide range of topics – has been considerably more interesting than my feed.

But first . . .

Guess who has SAKS’s corner windows on Fifth Avenue and Forty-Ninth Street? Get out there and buy those clothes! Put them on a credit card, who cares what the interest rate is? Raid your retirement fund if need be. Pay full retail!

And now . . . on a variety of topics:

REAL ESTATE

Jim G: ‘Michael Kinsley’s article on whether there is a real estate bubble (Bye-Bye, Housing Boom) was insightful but incomplete. The falling dollar has put America on sale. Here in Pinellas County, Europeans are snapping up real estate, particularly waterfront, at outrageous prices by our standards, but in their currency, it’s a deal. Seeing the mounting budget and trade deficits, the smart money is already into inflationary hedges – land and gold. The only way this country will be able to pay off its debt is to inflate its way out of it. Real estate was probably undervalued at the end of the 1990’s because everyone was throwing their money in the stock market. It may be overvalued now, but maybe not as much as you may think.’

☞ And for the opposing view (and lest you think the Economist writes only about gays in the military) . . .

Flynn Monks: ‘Have you seen the March 5 Economist? It posits that renting is now more attractive than buying. It also hints at possible bubble damage in cities like San Fran, D.C., Boston, London. Indeed, where first-time buyers are priced out of those cities, and that’s where the jobs are, it’s hard to imagine something won’t fall to earth. God only knows what.’

GOOGLE SYNTAX

Thanks to Ralph Sierra for this by Leslie Walker in the Washington Post:

Googlespeak has a new dialect — a new syntax to use when typing a search at the Web site to pull up showtimes and reviews for flicks. Typing in movie: man of the house, for example, produces information about the new Tommy Lee Jones film, “Man of the House.” Add the word review to the end of that query if you only want reviews. Add a Zip code to the query, or save any local address on Google, to see movie showtimes and directions. Don’t know what you want to rent, but have a mood in mind? Try “movie: bikini beach mystery” or “movie: tornado disaster” and see what pops up. Or if you’re in a hurry for a date and haven’t a clue what’s playing, type movie: followed by your Zip code or city and state to get a page listing titles and showtimes of everything playing nearby, with links to reviews.

YOU COOK, YOU CLEAN

John Critchlow: ‘Your data is spot on. I shared an apartment with 4 other guys for two years in college. The first year, we tried the I-cook,-you-clean approach with each assigned their nights. The clean-up was pretty gruesome. The second year, we did both on one assigned night. I washed a lot less dishes that year.’

Robert Pohl: ‘I first read this ‘law’ in a wholly wonderful book, The Saskiad. Wasn’t about a share house, rather a commune, but same difference. And same reasoning given, of course.’

James M: ‘When on vacation with my parents we would split into two teams. Each headed by one parent. One team was ‘on’ for two days, the other the next two. You cooked, washed-up and most importantly shopped. (If you alternate too quickly the ‘on’ team gets food the off team does not know what to do with.) It was fun going out into the French markets and shopping for a meal, preparing and then washing-up the pans you used. This system causes creative menus like picnics with fresh bread, fresh fruit, wine and cheese but no clean up! It’s much simpler to think, this is my job for two days and then to have wonderful catered days when you don’t have to lift a finger. The two team system works because there becomes a rivalry to produce the better meals.’

John Ebert: ‘I thoroughly and whole-heartedly agree. I practiced this for years with a roommate when I was single. Each of us cleaned up after ourselves, and things seemed to work out well. I also advocate it in my family now that I’m married. It has not caught on.’

Doug Mohn: ‘I can’t help but think one of Bush’s problems is that he’s like a cook who doesn’t have to clean-up.’

GOOD ADVICE FROM JEZEDIAH

Jezediah Squimatsu: ‘Instead of making backups, consider making IMAGES. I faithfully make a weekly computer IMAGE of my entire PC hard drive to an EXTERNAL HARD DRIVE with a (cheap – under $40) program called ACRONIS TRUE IMAGE. There are other good competitors out there (like Norton Ghost). The advantage of IMAGES versus BACKUPS is that in the event of a hard drive failure (or other computer issues), you can just RESTORE the IMAGE to another PC and have your OLD PC programs and data EXACTLY as they were on your old PC. The IMAGES take me about half an hour for 20gig with USB2. And the images can be password protected. EASY. FAST. And you sleep really well! Please do not use my real name if you talk about this in your column.’

☞ Not his real name.

Rob Myhre: ‘If the problem with your old laptop is not with the drive itself, you could buy a USB enclosure like this. Get out your jeweler’s screwdrivers and extract the drive from your old computer. (A Google search will probably turn up directions on how to do this for your particular model.) Then put the old drive in your new USB enclosure and plug it into your new computer. You’ll be able to access all your stuff on the old drive and copy it to the new.’

Bob Novick: ‘Bought a Western Digital one-touch backup ($60 after Circuit City REBATE – USB2, holds 80GB – I keep 3 backup copies of my data files (about 18GB) plus burn a DVD with the retrospect software that comes with it. The one touch does a complete backup at the touch of a button. Definitely worth the $60.’

 

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