How to make your next trip the most rewarding (in credit-card points), with the least risk (check the insurance) and the fewest hidden fees (at hotels and resorts).
This week’s tech column, courtesy of Tribune Newspapers:
If Watson, IBM’s cognitive computer and “Jeopardy!” winner, were taking notes while working with students at Ohio State University this summer or dreaming up another barbecue sauce recipe, it’d probably reach for a Livescribe 3 smartpen.
In human hands unaccustomed to a technologically adroit writing tool, however, the Livescribe 3 instantly dazzles with its sleight of pen. This faux fountain pen, with an actual ballpoint tip, records handwritten notes and transfers them, in real time, to a compatible Apple device synced via Bluetooth. It adds corresponding audio when the note-taker touches the ballpoint to record-pause-stop icons on special Livescribe “digital” notebook paper, activating the iPhone-iPad-iPod Touch microphone.
This weekend’s Bottom Line column:
State residents, past or present, have left behind nearly enough unclaimed property to pay for a new XL Center, the proposed downtown minor-league baseball stadium and the $55 refund once promised for every current taxpayer in Connecticut.
The total, about $599 million, includes unclaimed bank accounts, certificates of deposit, payroll checks, stock proceeds, utility deposits, estates, insurance payouts, inheritances, bonds and other proceeds. Seven people have not claimed property worth more $500,000. Thirty-seven others have unclaimed property worth more than $250,000.
Fixed mortgage rates dipped in the past week to levels lower than the same time last year, according to data released Thursday morning by Freddie Mac.
Thirty-year rates averaged 4.14 percent, down from the previous week (4.17 percent) and lower than a year ago (4.46 percent). Fifteen-year rates averaged 3.22 percent, down from the previous week (3.30 percent) and lower than a year ago (3.50).
The numbers in New England:
30-year: 4.14 percent
15-year: 3.23 percent
30-year: 4.18 percent
15-year: 3.30 percent
A year ago:
30-year: 4.45 percent
15-year: 3.49 percent
Designing an app that turns a smartphone into a universal remote control isn’t a technological quad somersault off the 3-meter board anymore.
Flyover Innovations, obviously, didn’t want to flop headfirst into the pool of same-old, Bluetooth-connected accessories/apps that command a television, Blu-ray player and DVR. For its first product, the crowdfunded company in Lenexa, Kan., added music-streaming powers to a stout little remote-control accessory named Blumoo. Judges, please note the enhanced degree of difficulty.
But is a $129.99 remote-streamer combo that occupies a smartphone or tablet, Apple and now Android, better than more sophisticated separates like an Apple TV music-video streamer ($99) and Universal Remote’s URC-A6 ($19.99)? Maybe not to this judge, but Blumoo is much cuter than either.
Q: “Here’s the text from the end of my AT&T bill describing a 61-cent monthly charge: ‘an Administrative Fee on consumer and Individual Responsibility User (IRU) lines to help defray certain expenses AT&T incurs, such as interconnection and cell site rents and maintenance.’ What is this?”
For Americans planning a summer road trip, Connecticut is the seventh-worst state to visit, according to a survey released Monday by WalletHub.
The top five summer destinations: Oregon, Idaho, Minnesota, Utah and Washington.
The bottom five: Mississippi, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Arkansas and Alaska.
The survey rated states based on:
1) Driving and Accommodation costs
2) Traffic Conditions and Safety
4) Fun and Scenic Attractions.
In those individual categories, Connecticut finished at 50, 14, 14 and 46.
This weekend’s Bottom Line column:
Once you sign a contract, there’s no clean way out — unless that contract is covered by a state or federal “cooling off” rule that allows consumers to cancel within three days.
What’s covered by the cooling-off rule follows no apparent logic or pattern so don’t waste time on buyer’s remorse.
What’s covered (or not) in Connecticut: