This week’s home entertainment/tech column, courtesy of Tribune Newspapers:
If you and Bluetooth are like this (fingers crossed), the next step in your relationship could be a little trinket like either of Grace Digital’s new integrated amplifiers with built-in you-know-what.
This is an invitation to put aside the Beats headphones when you get home, flip on your phone’s Bluetooth to cue your loudspeakers and listen to music (Beats Music? Spotify?) instantly.
The Grace Digital integrated amplifiers, which combine a preamplifier and amplifier in a single box, are not the hulking, big-as-a-microwave amplifiers of yesteryear. They are less than 6 inches wide, 5 inches deep and only 11/2 inches tall. Each weighs about a pound.blockquote>
More . . .
This weekend’s Bottom Line column:
Electronic payments reduce toxic pollutants and solid waste, save tress and, of course, can pay bills on time.
Somehow, inexplicably, e-pay failed to pay a $56.13 bill AT&T’s U-Verse had sent David Tanner and Tracy Kane of West Hartford for adding a non-published number to their account. That set off three months of disputes, research, service shut-offs and extreme frustration before the palm-strikes-forehead solution.
Even more bizarrely, the bill was for a new service that the pair insist they didn’t even request.
More . . .
Mortgage rates dropped for the second straight week, with 30-year loans averaging 4.27 percent and 15-year 3.33 percent, according to data released Thursday morning by Freddie Mac.
A week ago, 30-year mortgages averaged 4.34 percent and 15-year mortgages 3.38 percent.
The numbers from New England:
30-year: 4.26 percent
15-year: 3.34 percent
30-year: 4.34 percent
15-year: 3.38 percent
A year ago:
30-year: 3.45 percent
15-year: 2.70 percent
Connecticut had the seventh-highest rate of foreclosures in the nation in March, according to data supplied by RealtyTrac.
The state averaged one foreclosure for every 784 housing units during the month. Florida had the highest rate, with one per 407 housing units.
For the Top 10 list, click here.
If you need more time on your federal taxes, file for an extension either electronically or by downloading the form and mailing it today — which happens to be April 15.
It’s Monday, even in Shanghai: Enjoy it.
This week’s tech column, courtesy of Tribune Newspapers:
Imagine getting lost in the deep woods, naked (it happens) and afraid, with only an iPhone that’s beyond the range of distant cell towers.
Don’t be a defeatist and sit on a tree stump playing “Angry Birds” offline while waiting for clothed rescuers. Have you forgotten that your iPhone case is TaskLab’s TaskOne, built for the survivor — and cyclist or handyman — with 22 tools and even a metric ruler built into the rugged aircraft-grade aluminum housing?
Of course! Now your biggest worry, suddenly, is mosquitoes and prickly underbrush because the TaskOne (thetasklab.com) has a 21/2-inch and potentially deadly, two-sided, partially serrated knife with saw blade, multiple screwdrivers, pliers, wire cutters, a wire stripper, metric Allen wrenches, a bottle opener and spoke wrenches. If only you had a pocket.
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Today’s Bottom Line column:
Gene Nowak and his wife, Jean, were among the 3,594 passengers on the Royal Princess cruise last September that barely made it halfway through a 12-day Mediterranean trip before the ship lost power.
At least the toilets didn’t stop working. After reaching Naples, Italy, Princess aborted the cruise and offered passengers a full refund, a discount on a future cruise and transportation home. Shortly after the Nowaks returned to Glastonbury, though, US Airways emailed a reminder to check in for their return flight.
Nowak called the airline and, after explaining they no longer needed the flight, received a credit for more than $1,200 that expires Sept. 27, 2014. The airline sent an email confirmation. That meant the Nowaks could apply the credit to the make-up Princess cruise to the Mediterranean they recently booked.
“I thought this would work perfectly,” says Gene Nowak, “because we were now due to return to the United States on Sept. 23.”
But when he called US Airways reservations, he was told the credit expires Sept. 14, not Sept. 27. The original email was incorrect.
“Obviously,” he says, “this would not work in our favor.”
More . . .
Connecticut is rated a middle-of-the-pack 24th among the best-worst states for available tax help, according to a study by WalletHub.
It’s not for lack of accountants: Connecticut has 9.51 per 1,000, the 12th-highest number in the nation. The average refund among Connecticut residents is $2,244.64.
The five best places to live, at least for getting tax help:
1. North Dakota
2. South Dakota
3. District of Columbia
It’s Opening Day, Red Sox fans, but it’s time for “Black Lace Freudian Slip” …