Are you better off using an online photo service like Shutterfly or doing it at home?

If you count the pennies, Shutterfly wins. Ink and paper in bulk cost around 12 cents per photo, the same as Shutterfly. But that’s not counting the cost of your printer, and the annoyance of paper jams and hassles. Possible further problem: the ink can dry up and clog the printer if you don’t use it much. We once lined up six printers that had clogged because of infrequent use.

If you need a print immediately, places like Walgreens and CVS will let you pick up your photos a few hours after you order them. We use our printers, an Okidata laser and a Canon inkjet, mainly for Joy’s homemade greeting cards and Bob’s stock analyses.

Talking to Your Printer

Continuing along the printer line: Have you talked to it lately? If you have an Epson EcoTank, WorkForce or Expression Printer, you can talk to your printer, using Amazon’s Alexa, iPhone’s Siri or Google Assistant.

Install the free Epson iPrint app and you’re good to go. You can ask it to print a photo for you or tell you how much ink you have left. If you’re the creative type, ask it to make graph paper or ruled paper, colorful stationary, scrapbooks, calendars and seasonal designs. If you have an all-in-one, a combo printer and scanner, you can ask it to scan and print.

We’re impressed by the Epson EcoTank printer. The cost, around $350, is higher than an ordinary printer, but you save money in the long run. It comes with enough ink to produce 11,200 color pages, or 14,000 black and white. That’s equivalent to 30 ink cartridge sets, or $1500 in ink value. The catch is once the ink is in the printer, it only lasts a year, so this is for heavy users. Bob once listened to a doctor complain endlessly about his ink costs.

Job Trends lists 500,000 freelance jobs around the world and reports on trends. These days, the hottest jobs are in web development, digital creative skills, and social media. People who know how to use Adobe Photoshop are consistently in demand.

Jobs for math wizards fell 31 percent over a three-month period. And jobs for experts in Mathematica and Matlab, two software programs, dropped 34 percent. Jobs in statistical analysis dropped 26 percent. Around 1,948 math openings are listed.

You Oughta Be In Pictures

We’re still enchanted with Corel Video Studio, but it’s $100. How about free video editing?

We just found a new program called “Rocketium.” It lets you make a video online in a couple of clicks and share it by email. The catch is the free version only gives you three videos a month and there’s a small “Made with Rocketium” logo at the top of every screen. But if it’s just for family and friends, they probably won’t mind the branding. You can combine video clips with captions into a single movie.

In five minutes, Joy made a video for her nephew’s birthday, with her own voiceover and music. It was the easiest creation process we’ve seen. It starts with a pre-made video with Rocketium’s own clips and text. You replace them with your photos or videos and your own text. You can edit each photo right there and make the text as jazzy as you wish. A chat window opens up with a representative to answer your questions as you go along. You can get rid of their logo and make up to 20 videos a month for $40 a month. Both versions give you a library of templates to make your video look like a pro’s.


  • 33 Useful Kitchen Tricks That Will Save You Hours.Search on that to find a YouTube video with tricks that made Bob say: “Should we get a deep fat fryer?” Fortunately, that only applies to one or two of the tricks. Learn how to make perfect potato wedges, chicken satay or shishkabob marvels, cucumbers as pretty as butterflies, and so on.
  • For a $12 fee, this site will tell you if someone died in the house you are considering buying. This is actually pretty common, since it’s often the reason the house is for sale. In many states, realtors do not have to disclose this information. The report also tells you whether there was a fire at the house, a meth lab or a sex offender. It also gives you an estimated value of the house.

Battery Myths

According to most experts we’ve read, it’s OK to leave your phone plugged in all night.

But AccuBattery, which makes a free Android app for checking your battery health, told us that charging a phone beyond 80 percent is hard on the battery. Because of their advice, we’ve been using a “Mechanical Timer” to shut it off after a couple of hours.

According to Apple consultant Chuck Rogers writing on, the thing you need to be concerned about is cycles. Your iPhone battery is 80 percent as good as new after 500 cycles. A cycle, he says, is one full discharge followed by one full charge. For most users, that’s two to three years of use, whether you leave it plugged in or not. If you are like most smart phone owners, you will be getting a new phone after two or three years. That’s why, he says, It Does Not Matter!”

But there are battery dos and don’ts. For instance, don’t charge your phone in a public charging port. We did that once at the airport. It’s possible that hackers could access your emails, texts, photos, and more. Bring your own portable phone charger. These are small and cost about $15 to $30.

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