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War and Peace, Abraham Lincoln, Ikiru

106 Reviews by Jeremy

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I know Dell has been struggling as a company and brand, but I think they still have the best service+computer quality in the industry, dollar for dollar. I ordered a new laptop on their site and got the in-person service package (where you don't need to send it in if you have a problem, they come to you and fix it for you on site) and the package was ~25% less expensive than a computer with the same specs and the same service package from other PC companies (assuming they offer the onsite service which to me is critical because time lost to maintenance issues is one of my top concerns) and ~40% less expensive than Apple. The computer I got isn't super-cool looking or anything, but it works perfectly and doesn't have any issues, which is exactly what I need. I think if you're on a budget or are just want something practical, Dell is still the best place to get a computer or laptop.

Tip for consumers: It's worth upgrading to the better warranty/coverage/service.

Simons Foundation

Simons Foundation


Former mathematics professor and now billionaire investor Jim Simons has set up a great foundation and math/science news website for the general public. The science news section can be found here


I've rented with Hertz dozens of time, and for the most part, have always been satisfied. Their cars are somewhat better than comparable cars at other rental companies, and their service is decent. Also, if you are a AAA member they have good Hertz discounts--just ask your AAA office or search online for "AAA Hertz discounts".

Dollar Rent A Car

Dollar Rent A Car


Rented a car from Dollar at the Phoenix airport. Returned in the way I got it. Just received a $250 bill for unspecified "damages". They neglected to describe what the damages were--all they did was send a bill. I've rented dozens of cars and never received a bill for damages. I expect that if I ever did receive such a bill for damages it would include a detailed report of the damage and proof that the damage occurred during the period of my rental. Even if I successfully appeal the damage charges it will have been a waste of enough of my time to make it never worth renting with Dollar again.

Update: I was able to resolve the dispute but it took me about an hour. I switched my rating from 1 star to 2 stars.


Cambridge Nights is the best source of interviews of scientists intended for a general audience that I've seen online. Each interview is about 45 minutes long, which is just long enough to explore each scientists' work. The host is a scientist himself, C├ęsar A. Hidalgo. He does a fantastic job of selecting interesting guests, asking probing questions that cover the important bits of the scientists' work and keeping the discussion at a high level that is interesting to the viewer. Hidalgo also examines the scientists themselves--their upbringing and career progression, which is fascinating and useful for kids who might be aspiring scientists.

So far, my favorite interviews are with Lant Pritchett (international development, education)

And also with Juan Perez Mercader (astrobiology)



I bought a Pur water filter that attaches to a kitchen faucet. It was easy to install and relatively inexpensive. Unfortunately, the entire thing broke within 4 days. It worked perfectly for those 4 days and then all of a sudden fell off the faucet and will not reattach. Sadly, it appears the only high-quality reviews of water filters online is behind Consumer Reports' paywall:

By the way, don't be fooled by the top result on Google for "water filter reviews" it's a website paid for by one of the companies that makes water filters (surprise, surprise Google search results are terrible...).




Most sites with poetry tend to be filled with ads and poorly designed. Hello Poetry (right now at least) has no ads and has a nice, simple design. You can browse classic poems
As well as contemporary poets

The only knock against the site is that it's incomplete (no Shakespeare?) but the site looks new, so I hope they continue to add to their collection and keep up the clean, ad-less design.




Android is a second-rate mobile operating system. Why? Because it just doesn't work. I have an HTC phone running Android and the software often locks up (I have to restart the phone several times a day), the user interaction is non-intuitive (I accidentally delete text messages frequently), bugs crop up all the time, and it just generally provides a frustrating user experience. I'm not a huge Apple fan, but Apple's OS is much much better from a user's standpoint. Also, I had a Blackberry before this Android phone, and the Blackberry OS also was much much better (it just worked). Google really has done a very poor job of executing on Android, at least from a consumer standpoint.




I've never dealt with Ideeli's customer service department so I cannot confirm or deny the issues raised by other reviewers. However, my friend used Ideeli to book for me an amazingly discounted hotel room in Las Vegas for a weekend. Ideeli's discount personally saved me a few hundred dollars, which in my book is pretty good. And this didn't factor into my review, but almost all my female friends are big Ideeli fans.



For tennis fans that don't have access to Wimbledon TV coverage (whether you're at work, or you don't have TV, like me), the website offers a fantastic second option: Wimbledon radio:

Personally, I find TV tennis commentators to lack much in the way of insight and to be a bit dry (John McEnroe being the one exception) . But not so for Wimbledon radio--they are surprisingly good--well done Wimbledon.




Airbnb is a great concept: people who have spare rooms in their apartments and houses (on a regular basis or when they're out of town) can rent that space to other people who are looking for a place to stay. This allows occupants to make some money and the people renting to save money or perhaps stay in a better location or room than what they might find at a hotel.

That said, there are some issues. I'm sure problems will arise around safety, insurance, logistics, etc. My particular experience was that the web interface for renters is made to look a lot like a traditional hotel travel site. You input the dates, location, and other specifications of the accommodation you're seeking, you get back a list of options with prices, and you click "book it". Unfortunately the similarities between a typically hotel site and Airbnb end there. I tried to book four different apartments for a weekend in Boston, and none went through. I had to wait days for occupants to get back to me, and when they did all of them said either their place wasn't available or they decided not to rent it (although they were all very friendly). Net net, the site seems to have inaccurate information on availability and does not have proper incentives in place for occupants to adhere to their listed proposals. I would try Airbnb again, but only as a last resort, until they clean up their service.

1-800 Contacts

1-800 Contacts


I used to order often from 1800Contacts (customer service was okay and generally experience was fine) but I found that my Acuvue lens were actually cheaper at mostly because Vision Direct always has coupon codes that you can search for online.




I grew up with Legos. I loved them. I had a yellow Lego castle, a Lego space station, and a number of Lego vehicles. But beyond fond memories, I also think Lego helped me develop skills, like the ability to follow directions and spacial abilities (I'm not too bad at revolving 3D objects in my head).

As a consequence, all my friends' children now get Legos for their birthdays. I hope they like them, because I like buying them. Legos have gotten a little more ornate (I believe there is now a Johnny Depp Lego?) and expensive (my only complaint). But I still think they're better than most toys.




Geico car insurance is expensive. I saved about 40% (I said 30% in an earlier comment, but it was actually 40%--I just checked) per year by switching to AAA (with the same level of coverage). I also did not find Geico customer service to be particularly helpful or impressive. I'd use AAA over Geico.




I use AAA for car insurance and their emergency roadside assistance program. Both have been good. I luckily haven't had to make any claims yet on my insurance, but their rate was 40% lower than Geico. And it was also a lot cheaper than Farmers and the other major insurers. Also, their roadside assistance program is pretty good. I've needed to be towed once and jumped one other time over the last 5 years, but it has been worth it I think because of the cost of the towing and the inconvenience of having someone else jump your car (there were no other people around at the time). I also used it once to help a friend who had locked herself out of her car. In terms of customer service, I've had very good experiences with helpful and friendly reps who have tried to help me save money and navigate the AAA system. Overall, I've found AAA to very good company to work with.




I know T-Mobile is thought of a bit as the ugly step-child of the mobile industry (not sure if that will be helped with an AT&T acquisition?) but I've been using them for the last 5 years, and it has been pretty good. I've had two phones which they have completely paid for through contracts (a Blackberry 8700 and a Android G2), and I pay $89/month for unlimited data, calling and texts (taxes and fee included). I use it for work, so the unlimited plan is valuable. If I had gone with Verizon or one of the other carriers it would have been a lot more expensive (I want to say Verizon or Sprint quoted me $120ish for a similar plan?). When I threatened to leave T-Mobile on Cyber Monday in 2010, they were kind enough to offer me the G2 for free if I stayed with a 2 year contract (it was a $200 phone *with* the contract at the time). T-Mobile's customer service is OK. Nothing to write home about but net net, it has been a good experience, and I think I've saved a lot of money with them compared with the other major US carriers.




I know a lot of people hate AT&T, but I get my Internet at home from them -- I pay $14 per month for 4 mbps DSL. No strings attached. No land-line needed. I just had to buy a $100 modem. This was in contrast to Comcast who charged me $35/mo. I have not had any egregious customer service issues yet and my internet has never gone down. I really can't complain, and I feel like I'm getting a deal (note: I do not use AT&T for mobile phone service).




I don't have a TV. For the most part, it's a good thing. I have more time or work, read, go outside, see people, and watch movies. However, one of the things I do miss from time to time is watching sports. But, thanks to, I can still watch sports online. And the best part is it's generally cut up into small bits and free. I watched Tiger Woods play a few holes at the 4th round of the Masters and Rafael Nadal win a final set of a tournament on clay. ESPN has done well. American cable companies should be concerned.



Comics for nerds. I like this one:

Also, there are some random resources like this Fukushima radiation dose chart:


Yale Law School has put online an impressive archive of historical documents. If I had the time, I'd love to go through them all, but I have discovered one document I particularly love -- a letter from Thomas Jefferson to his young nephew:

The letter is fantastic (to me) because Jefferson seems to have tremendous affection toward the boy, but doesn't quite know how to show it. Jefferson's brilliance come across clearly in the letter but there is also an awkward didacticism, as he instructs the boy on how he ought to comport himself and what he ought to learn in what order. Jefferson also says amazing things like, "Games played with the ball, and others of that nature, are too violent for the body, and stamp no character on the mind. Let your gun therefore be the constant companion of your walks."

Of particular use to me personally, Jefferson lists off precisely what the boy should read to be educated. I, having grown up in the underfunded California public school system, had nothing in the way of a classical education and have therefore set out to read the books Jefferson recommends in order. My friends [rightly] laugh at me, but I am delighted to report Oliver Goldsmith's Complete Grecian History was excellent (and only 99 cents on the Kindle!):
I hope you enjoy the letter and the website as much as I do.

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