If you live in LaLaLand (aka California), you're going to need a cell phone headset really soon. I have a bunch of reviews for you--plus a way to get some of your moolah back and a viral marketing hoax you'll love.
Almost-Free Cell Phone Headsets
I don't know what they get out of it, but FreeHeadset is offering to send you a headset you can use with your cell phone while driving. That could be important if you're living in California on July 1--the date you have to go hands-free.
FreeHeadset says they do it to promote safety and claim to have shipped over 250,000 headsets. My guess is they hope you'll opt to pay for a headset with more features than the freebies--but if you choose a free headset, you pay only $3.94 for shipping. It takes about five days to reach you. Check the FAQ for details. [Thanks to Tom L.]
A Plethora of Not-Free Headsets
Free is good, but some of you have a couple of bucks and may want to see other headset offerings. Jabra's $50 BT500 Wireless Cell Phone Headset got good reviews from readers. And not long ago we reviewed Jabra's $70 BT8040 Bluetooth Headset.
There are other brands to choose from, of course. The fancy Aliph Jawbone Bluetooth Headset and the Plantronics Voyager 855 Bluetooth Headset are two good choices. Read our March roundup, "Bluetooth Headsets for Cell Phones," for even more reviews. Not enough for you? Browse PCW Shop & Compare for another 60,000 or so options.
Price Reduction on Recent Purchase? Get a Refund!
Say you bought something at Best Buy, Costco, Staples, or Sears. A week later, the price drops and you're PO'ed because you paid too much.
Listen to this. My buddy Richard S. [thanks, Richard!] found Price Protectr, a spot that promises to get you a refund if you've overpaid. (And you're reading it right: Protectr isn't a typo.)
"I recently purchased a printer from Costco.com. Two weeks later Price Protectr mailed me a notice that Costco had dropped the price $50. That was within Costco's price guarantee policy time frame. I could either print that out and take it to a Costco warehouse or e-mail Costco--which I chose to do. Costco e-mailed back and said they had credited me for the $50!
"A few minutes ago, I got a notification that the keyboard I purchased from Fry's dropped $10.
"Life is getting a little cheaper and easier to find price drops--and it sure beats watching ads to see if a vender dropped a price on something you just purchased."
You can set a price on an item you're looking for and when the product reaches the price you want to pay
The Great Popcorn Hoax
Can you use cell phones to make popcorn? Sure--if you believe the videos that have been making the rounds.
In my mind, there was never any doubt it was all a hoax, a remarkably good one, too. For one thing, cell phones don't have the power to do it (read some decent arguments). It's also not a magic trick--I've been in that business long enough to spot an illusion.
More likely, I suspected the culprit was someone with tremendous video editing skills out to have some fun. (Remember the UFO hoax?)
Snopes called the videos a hoax, but didn't offer an explanation. Well, now the the headset's out of the bag--and one company scored big with their viral videos.
Cardo Systems, a manufacturer of Bluetooth headsets, recently claimed responsibility. The videos were produced by LastFools, a marketing firm in Paris. I asked one of the video's creators, LastFools' Frederic Chast, what editing program he used. "Your question is biased because you work at a PC magazine," he said. "Maybe if you worked at a kitchen mag, you'd ask me what heating plate I used."
Cardo Systems seems to say that if you were dumb enough to grab some friends and try to pop corn with your cell phone, and it didn't work, don't blame--or sue--us: "The contents of these videos are fictitious and humorous optical illusions, designed for entertainment. Nothing in these videos is meant to imply that mobile phones can make popcorn and Cardo Systems specifically disclaims that these videos contain any portrayal of facts or comments about safety. Cardo disclaims any liability for the information in these videos."
This Week's Roundup of Time Wasters
You've already wasted too much time reading about popcorn, lies, and video tapes--so I hesitate offering you anything more that'll kill time. But what the hay, dig in.
You've got to give credit to the designers of the Charmingwall Web site. It's creative and way cool. Click on Home, Store, About Us, and the rest of the words along the top--and watch what happens. [Thanks, Shanx.]
If you don't mind my saying so, shoot-'em-up games are the very best--and Flash Element TD is high on my list. Great sound effects, plenty of weird weapons, and lots of killing (virtual, of course). Read the instructions to make sense of this Warcraft-type game--or do it like I do: Just hit Play and see what happens.
Just Letters is a fun, interactive Flash game that lets you slide letters around while others are doing the same. Sometimes there's cooperation; often there's chaos. Most often there are dirty words.
Radiology party tricks: If you have an iPhone, and you're a radiologist, listen up.
Finally, and most important, is my latest endeavor. I'm running for president. That's right--I'm bucking Obama and McCain and going for it. Check out News3Online for details.
Steve Bass writes PC World's monthly "Hassle-Free PC" column and is the author of "PC Annoyances, 2nd Edition: How to Fix the Most Annoying Things About Your Personal Computer," available from O'Reilly. He also writes PC World's daily Tips & Tweaks blog. Sign up to have Steve's newsletter e-mailed to you each week. Comments or questions? Send Steve e-mail.