Here is a bunch of random information I’ve discovered over the last few months. I figured it might be interesting for someone, so I thought I’d post it all together. If you see anything that you think would be interesting to see a full post about, please leave a comment and we’ll try to write about it in more detail.
Overdrive Digital Library
Many state libraries have digital books, audio books and movies that can be checked out electronically from a company called Overdrive. Most of the time, all you need for access is a card from a local library or your state library. The checkout process works like it does for physical books. If the library has only purchased one copy, only one person can access it at a time. When you are finished with it, you check it back in, which makes it available for someone else. You can search for a library here.
Property Tax House Valuations
I imagine the process is different from state to state and county to county, but where I live, you can go in and protest the valuation the county placed on your house to determine property taxes. Basically, you go in and they show why they think the house is worth X and you show why you think the house is worth Y. If nothing else, it gives you a chance to make sure they aren’t taxing you for a carport or other building that doesn’t exist. I found it humorous that they had our property listed as having a “deluxe outhouse.” I’m not sure how the deluxe model differs from the standard model.
Sprint offers a bunch of discounts that you probably won’t find unless you get one of their employees to tell you. For example, if you work for the USPS, you can get a 25% discount. There are a bunch of other employers and organizations that would qualify you for a discount as well. Not working for the USPS meant we had to settle for the 23% discount gained from having a Costco membership. Other phone companies may have similar discounts, so it is worth it to ask a lot of questions to see if there is anything that would qualify you.
DECT 6.0 Cordless Phones
DECT 6.0 is a standard for cordless phones that are designed (among other things) to not interfere with WIFI signals. Also the headsets and base stations are theoretically interoperable. This means you can take the handset from a Uniden and hook it to a Panasonic base station. Also some of the handsets I’ve seen will let you automatically connect to whatever base station you are closest to. As usual, the implementation is a bit more complicated than it sounds, but it does offer some flexibility. For example, I wanted a handset with an earphone jack and it was possible to add an additional handset of a different model to our existing base station.
Digital Living Network Alliance is a standard to let your home electronics talk to each other. In practice, this means you can do things like use your television to browse and view the photos and videos on your desktop computer. It isn’t quite as simple as it sounds, but it is a very big step forward toward getting everything integrated. If you are in the market for a TV or DVD player, it is worth looking into.