Discontinuing my Amazon Prime Membership

It’s November… What does that mean? Well for me, it means it’s time to renew my Amazon Prime membership. And you know what? I’m not going to do it. I’m dropping out of Amazon Prime, and what’s more I am earnestly going to attempt to stop shopping at Amazon entirely.

I have been contemplating ending my Prime membership anyways. And there are a few reasons for this. Amazon raised their price, and I’ll be honest, my budget could use the extra money so there is that. But really, once I started hearing rumors that Amazon has been contemplating opening a bank and starting their own UPS competitor, I started to realize that Amazon has become the modern day Wal-Mart in many bad ways. You know, for a long time, I thought it was quaint that Amazon was putting the hurt on Wal-Mart after years of Wal-Mart putting the hurt on everyone else… but in a way, even though I will not shop at Wal-Mart, I kind of am rooting for them as the small guy. Weird right? Because truth of the matter is, we need brick and mortar stores, and by saying we need them, what I do not mean is that we need Amazon to open brick and mortar stores (which they are). Moreover, we need more competition, both online, and off.

For the longest time, I was proud of what Amazon had become. One stop shop for everything. After all, this was the company that started online shopping in one sense. They helped bank roll many early websites with referral programs (something that they have stopped doing for smaller websites like mine that don’t get a ton of traffic). I loved them. And I returned that love with my money. I bought most everything from Amazon now, Games, clothes, electronics, food… seriously almost everything. I am becoming too reliant on them and this has, in reality, been terrible for competition at large. Other retailers, both online and off, have a hard time competing with them because they just don’t have the resources to.

Consider Toys ‘R Us… They were the last toy chain out there, I live in a decent sized town and only one toy store remains… an independent retailer that specializes in expensive hipster toys. Or Borders and several other book retailers. Even Barnes and Nobles is struggling in recent years. Best Buy is on its last legs. And no matter what you feel about these individual companies… them closing is NOT good for business, except if you are Amazon.

And so I was looking at the $120 a year program whose real cost was that I buy everything from them instead of diversifying… and I wonder… am I doing the right thing?

And you know… Amazon is actually making it easier on me. One of their bigger features of Prime was that you get a 20% discount on pre-ordering video games. I bit into that hard. And they pulled that away. They also pulled benefits that really didn’t lose them a ton of money like removing ads for Prime members on Twitch. Prime Pantry, which was never great, has gotten worse because it is now a subscription on top of Prime. And the other big thing… their video service… I’ve never been a huge fan of the originals they have offered, and their interface for finding videos has always easily been the worst of every online streaming service hands down. And that thing that got us all hooked originally years ago? You know, free next day shipping on everything? Well first of all, they got rid of paying to ship for the remainder of this year anyway, and even when they go back, free shipping is down to $25 instead of $35. And really the next day was always a meh benefit anyway. Part of the reason ordering everything on Amazon instead of going to say, Best Buy, was OK was because I made the conscious decision that I didn’t need the instant gratification of going into a store and getting it RIGHT NOW. I could wait to save money, and that remains true with waiting an extra day or two for shipping.

I’ll be honest, I’m a little surprised that at the same time that they are raising the price, they are removing features. I am certain that they made up for any perceived losses from the various Prime benefits from having people use them almost solely instead of another store. Prime features were Amazon’s loss leader. But now it seems that Amazon wants to make profit on even the yearly subscription and I am sure they have done studies to prove that if they take stuff away and raise prices, they won’t lose much business so why not.

I think I’m going to blog the next couple of weeks about my disconnect from Amazon. I want to blog about steps I’m taking to cut the cord, alternative stores I’m going to instead of Amazon. I’d like to cut the cord on Amazon Web Services too thanks to Hisan Minhaj (thanks bro), but I don’t think that is a possibility at this point considering that would mean also cutting out the likes of Netflix. Maybe that’s phase 2 or 3…

Microsoft Announces Windows 10

Ugh, too much Microsoft news for my taste. So Microsoft this last week revealed Windows 10 for the first time. I gotta say, between the naming of the X-box One and Windows 10 and the purchase of Minecraft for $2.5, I feel like Microsoft is incredibly bad with numbers and math. For realsies though, Microsoft is skipping Windows 9 because a lot of programs look for “Windows 9*” when determining your operating system thanks to Windows 95 and Windows 98. This created a programming problem with some things that worked fine with the code, but because of the name of Windows 9, would have gotten screwed up. Woulda been nice if they kept to nontraditional naming like XP and Vista a little longer, but oh well.

I have seen someone doing a quick run through of some of the features that they have showed off so far. I have an overall meh towards it. They added multiple desktops where you can basically create save states of what windows you have open and switch between those states on the fly. This was a much needed addition to Windows and am happy to see it. So far that seems like the biggest addition.

You can keep the start screen of Windows 8 if you want, but the reality is that only touch screen users will do so. Otherwise all those tiles now have a place in the start menu which is finally returning. I don’t particularly like this as I feel that it makes the start menu seem really bloated. The weird thing about Windows 7 and 8 is that I really love the Windows 8 start screen, but I don’t love that they got rid of windows and the start menu and the task bar as those things made using Windows on the PC less frustrating. I would love it if the desktop was the start screen of Windows 8, but you still had windows over the top as normal and the start menu and everything. So basically remove the icons of windows 7 and earlier and replace it with the Windows 8 Start Screen. Allow for people to customize it with backgrounds still, it really is a style change (preferably allow people to choose which way they like best).

Honestly, I always kind of liked the idea of desktop widgets from Windows 7, but there really weren’t many widgets worth having and it tended to slow down the system more than it was worth. And in this day and age I also think that icons are in need of a desperate update, and honestly I thought the look of Windows 8 was very attractive.  So I’d be all about making that what I saw all the time. I don’t understand why Microsoft needs to make it a one or the other proposition… Why can’t I have the good thing about Windows 8 and the good things about Windows 7 at the same freaking time? Why do I have to choose which one I am using right now? Microsoft, I continue to be baffled by your more recent moves.

Will I get it? I don’t know. So far Microsoft hasn’t shown a lot. I suppose it depends on whether the gaming community follows. A lot of developers went out and said they would not build games for Windows 8 because it was that appalling to them, will they come back for 10? Is there really anything different from 10 to 7 that requires the purchase? I don’t know the answer to these questions right now so I will watch as more info comes in. Right now I would lean to probably not worth the $100 investment for my old PC to upgrade. Probably worth it for any new PC that I have to get a new operating system for (which I actually am looking at right now).

Thoughts on Blogspot

Recently, I noticed that blogspot/blogger had updated to give users a little more control over their blogs, because of that I decided to give it another shot after years of absence. There are a few advantages to blogspot in particular over hosting yourself or WordPress’ similar service.

First, unlike WordPress, you can actually post your own advertisements on your blog on blogspot which means it is a lot closer to your own hosted blog. You have a potential to actually make money (not that there is real money to be made on blogs anymore). Not only do they allow you to throw in your own ad links, they build in google adsense into it. This makes sense, after all Blogspot is owned by Google so why not? But this is a far cry from WordPress’ strict no advertising policy. Continue reading “Thoughts on Blogspot”

SimCity: Nearly a year later

I don’t know why, but I was feeling the mood to give SimCity another shot so I bought the expansion which deals with futuristic stuff and decided to sit down and play SimCity again. As you may or may not remember from my previous post, my main gripes about it were that you couldn’t play offline, its reliance on having multiple cities, small city areas, and unrealistic population numbers.

Continue reading “SimCity: Nearly a year later”

Goals of 2013-2014

Happy New Years! I can’t believe it is already 2014, 2013 seemed go by in lightning time. It was a big year for me with a ton of changes. Hopefully most of the change in my life will settle down for 2014, but not too much. Here’s my yearly review of goals as well as proposing new goals on the year.

Online Life

Honestly, I feel like for the most part 2013 saw my blog get regular updates and I was proud of that. I decided at some point to mostly just work on making weekly updates rather than having updates twice a week. Though I do eventually want to increase it again, I think one time a week is attainable for me so I am hoping to at least continue that. I am strongly considering moving my host for my blog to a free service in 2014 as a way to save some money and to increase traffic. I must say that my blog saw the most traffic while I was still located at wordpress and have been playing around with blogspot and will likely review that sometime in the next couple of months. We’ll see if this happens in the future.

Asheron’s Call 2 ended a few months after it started. This largely occurred because too many people in the group I was playing with stopped playing, and the few who remained wouldn’t sit and help me level so that I could actually play with them. The problems of MMO life. I haven’t picked up any MMO at all since then really and I don’t plan to or want to. It was fun to play that for a few months, I had a good time.  But right now I don’t have the desire.

RPGComplex died as I anticipated it was going to. Too bad. For a time the person I was going to do that blog with was going to do a podcast with me about RPGs but that too died out I think. The second blog I was going to start was BucketGeek.com. This blog is still around though I haven’t posted on it. One goal for 2014 needs to be to get back at work for this blog. BucketGeek is a much more high maintenance blog due to needing to actually do stuff from my bucket list so I don’t expect weekly updates on it, but I do need to update it periodically. Right now I am playing with moving it to Blogspot before I do any major posts to it.

Last online life goal that I have is to start a Let’s Play series on Youtube. This will begin with revisiting all my MMOs of years past, but I might include a series on Minecraft as well. I had been planning on already starting on this, and even have some episodes recorded, but my current computer is too loud and the series has been put on hiatus until my computer can get fully upgraded.

Gaming Life

I did not play the RPGs I was intending to last year due to the fall of RPGComplex, and I also did not buy an arcade cabinet. The cabinet idea is nice and is a long term goal of mine, but I don’t think that this will happen in 2014. I will pen this to an idea in 2015. For this year, I do want to make my goal to not only play games for the let’s play but broaden my game playing a little. I admit that I tend to stick with 3 or 4 games and that’s it, I want to play more of the games I own. I already have started this with a lot of Rogue Legacy play early in the year.

I also need to fully update my computer. This has been an unwritten goal for some time, but I want to complete this goal this year and I think there is a good chance of that. I want it to be a better gaming rig and the current setup is near 5 years old so I need updating. This should be a shoe-in to get done.

Work Life

My goal for 2013 was to find a new position, preferably within the company and I am happy to say that this goal was in fact achieved back in September.  I was moved to the Systems team and am now a Business Analyst and testing our system for a big upgrade in 2014.  My main goal for work at this point for 2014 is to maintain my position and not get let go when the project is completed in 2014. And even to get a raise if possible.

I hate my writing habits to be honest. Again last year I failed at my writing, I did get in the hang of it for about 6 weeks and again got side tracked. I really need to see this as my long term job because I don’t think working at HP will suit me forever. So even if it is once a week i need to get in the habit of writing my book and get that out in 2015. I figure if i can get $5,000 a book a year long term, and get 1 book out a year… by 45 I will make $50,000 a year which might be suitable to not work anymore. Obviously more money is nice, but I think $5,000 per year per book is an attainable goal.

Personal Life

I did lose about 10 pounds permanently, meaning it is staying off. But this is not sufficient to what I want to do. I need to lose another 20 pounds in 2014 and keep it off. For this, I not only want to maintain and improve upon my diet. I need to get back into regularly exercising. For awhile I was doing DDR in the morning and that was helping, I may start that up again but don’t want to promise myself that. I might start doing Wii Fit U daily once I get that, but again who knows. I do want to set a goal for myself that if I don’t do the above two, that I at least do crunches twice a day, squats once a day, and small free weights once a day as a work out. In addition, once spring rolls out I want to get back in the habit of walking for a half hour a day.

I want to continue working at maintaining friendships outside of work. Working in a new position forces this somewhat and I am going to try to maintain a movie night with the old gang at least every 3 months. Also every 3 months, I want to dedicate myself to going to a friend’s house for a game night. Lastly, I need to maintain my RPG group or a similar RPG group. It was good this year, we added a new person into the group and I think every new person in my life is a positive.

Japanese is always something I’d like to do but who has the time. I need to come up with an idea to do this while doing other things.

Plated: A Review

One of my favorite kinds of Groupons is the kind that gives you discounts to food. I’ve gotten tons of them over the years and it is this fact that makes me feel that it is too bad that Groupon seems to get less and less restaurants to ante up for them as time goes by. However, a few weeks ago, I did notice one new groupon that didn’t really get advertised much but seems to be rather awesome. And that is Plated. The idea behind Plated is that they get chefs to provide them with fairly easy to cook recipes and then send those recipes to you along with everything you need to cook it. What a great idea! Continue reading “Plated: A Review”