Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Amazon Deal of the Day: Clockwork Angels by Rush

Run, don't walk, and get yourself a copy of one of the best Rush albums in a long while. Clockwork Angels [+digital booklet] is being offered for $0.99 by Amazon just for today.

Given our societal Crisis of Confidence, where authority is suspect and free will under thought control. it is timely that Rush returns with their intricate, rich ode to individualism and personal fulfilment. That they do this with the creative intensity sorely lacking in modern pop music makes the album all that much more distinct from its contemporaries.

As a concept album, Clockwork Angels keeps true to its theme - a lone traveler looking for meaning in a mechanistic world, a fool against the elites. The individual songs provide fragmentary glimpses into his journey and encounters with diverse characters, each a metaphor for the things that matter and that allow us to define our identity as distinct from the whole.

There is a great deal of depth in the album - musically it proves that rock can still be born anew and poses a challenge to the rest. Some songs feel a bit too layered, requiring repeat listening to peel away the dross to pick out the gems within.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Amazon Sports and Memorabilia - Fanning the Flames

Amazon's Sports and Memorabilia is a new offering from Amazon.com, which looks to capitalize on the massive demand for autographed sports items like helmets, jerseys and trading cards.

The focus is on the Big 4 American sports, from the NFL to the NBA, the NHL and MLB. Soccer jerseys are hot, as always, and the selection is rounded off by balls, shoes and signed photographs.

There's no cricket stuff yet, although, with Junglee, Amazon's India-focused site, this could change soon.

Rare items include the 1986 Fleer Premier #57 Chicago Bulls Michael Jordan Rookie PSA 9 Basketball Card for $1,999 and a variety of baseballs such as the Babe Ruth Autographed/Hand Signed Official AL Baseball PSA Graded 7

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Tax Time - TurboTax Still the Best Game in Town

The annual carousel of paperwork rolls round inevitably, as it must, to tax season. The world over, people start preparing their wits and financial records for the date with the Tax man. For most, its actually quite easy, and yet, last minute scrambling seems more the norm than the exception, the world over.

In the United States, tax submissions are due April 15 each year, and April 17 this year. While most people will take advantage of e-filing, and this can be done for free at the IRS website, no two tax situations are alike. To address the wide disparity of tax filing cases, and particularly to look for that elusive deduction, most people resort to tax preparers or tax software. Most of the time, the tax prep software and preparer would give one the same result that one might get if one filled out the forms oneself, but as in medical diagnosis, there's a tendency to fear one's own assessment.

Intuit's TurboTax Deluxe Federal + E-file + State 2011 for PC [Download] software is almost the default choice each year. While H&R Block promises a more formal experience, the TaxCut software now branded as H&R Block At Home Deluxe + State 2011 Win [Download], doesn't have the same level of user-friendliness and personalization that TurboTax does. While the functional accuracy is probably the same, people are used to an interactive experience that simulates the human touch, and TurboTax, with its e-friendliness, beats the competition in this regard. There is one aspect that might appeal to some, especially those who are the tech-savvy amongst their family. H&R Block At Home allows the user up to 5 free e-files from a single licensed install.

Both products can be downloaded directly, instead of waiting for CDs to arrive, and the resultant hassle of storing physical media. Amazon prices vary through the tax season. Websites like camel allow you to track the trend and save.

Happy hunting, and don't blow that refund!

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Time traveler, world traveler, book reader