Shopping blog postings

Shopping Postings

Earliest: December 13, 2003Latest: August 6, 2017Total: 64

December 6, 2015

Yankee Shopping Ideas

Over the years I have seen ten things that have been very successful exchanges at the various companies Yankee Swap.

Yankee Swap Idea

It can be challenging with a $15/$20 limit. Here are the top ten items that people will want to trade an unwanted gift:

  • Lottery Tickets - The higher the denomination the better.
  • Gift Cards - Specially if it's for a popular coffee shop, iTunes or popular lunch spot.
  • Wine or Beer - Usually a dead giveaway to what's in the box.
  • Cool Tech Toys - USB Mug heaters, USB Fans etc...
  • T-Shirt
  • Box of Chocolate
  • Books - if theirs a weird cult favorite book you think people should read.
  • Weird item with a surprise - Once we had Lobster hat with a note of a special gift after the party
  • Crazy Socks
  • Hard to find Desk Calendars - Word of the Day or some Motivation ones tend to spark some interest.

If you have Amazon Prime, take advantage of the free shipping and find something unique. You can easily search for something within your budget limit. Here are a couple of queries to help get you get started:

  • $20 Technical Toy
  • $15 Gift

Good luck with your Yankee Swap gift buying!

December 1, 2015

Black Friday Shopping Tips

This past weekend I was one of the crazy ones to stand in line on Thanksgiving night to await for BestBuy to open. In Massachusetts, retail stores were not allowed to open until 1am the day after Thanksgiving. I was one of about 200 people that stood in line in mild New England night.

I was crazy enough to wait in line because I knew the SanDisk USB Flash Drives sale was really good. I figure the store would have limited inventory and would most likely run out by morning. I figure that it was low risk since it was something that most people in line wouldn't be going after.

BestBuyWaiting.jpg

Here are some Black Friday advice based on my experience at Best Buy in Framingham:

You should know what the best deals are. There are a lot of low quality products that are available at deep discounts just to get people in the door. Check out the circular online and see if there's anything really worth standing in line for.

Visit the store ahead of time to be familiar with the store layout. I lost valuable time trying to find where the USB drives were in the store. I should have gone into the store a couple of days earlier to know where they display thumb drives. I could have lost out on getting what I wanted because I didn't know where things were. I saw other people looking for the Flash drives near the hard drives, where in fact BestBuy displayed them near the laptops.

Arrive Early. The store was scheduled to open at 1am, and the line increased the most around midnight, with a lot of people arriving with 20 minutes of the store opening. You should plan to get to the store as earliest as possible, you could always bring a book or something to read while waiting. If you have a smart phone, bring a USB charger. I arrived about an hour and a half before opening. I felt that it was the perfect time to arrive.

Employees of Best Buy were walking down the line to inquire what people wanted. This was good because if their was a high demand item, you at least know if you have a shot at getting one. Plus if the people in front of you were hold spots for a friend, your certain to get your merchandise - if they arrive late. In addition, it's an opportunity for them to let you know if they are out of stock on any items.

Know your product that your going to buy. While I waiting to checkout someone behind inquired about the 4k TV that the guy in front of me had. He said that it was $399. So the guy behind me said, "Wow, that's a great deal, I am going to get one!"

All I could think was, really? You know nothing of the TV but the fact that it was 4K and $399 was enough to want one? (It was the LG 43" Ultra HD TV Model: 43UF6400) What about the quality of picture? What does the TV offer in features? How does it compare to other TVs selling for twice as much? Nope. None of this mattered, it was all about the adrenaline rush to get the best thing.

Make sure you know the price of what your buying! When I arrived at the display the product I wanted didn't have a sign that it was for sale. I had to double check the BestBuy website to confirm that I was getting the right Thumb drive type. When I checked out, the old price still rang up. I had to show the person at the register what the price was supposed to be. They quickly corrected it, but had I not alerted them of the item, they would have still sold it for the old price.

The lack of price acuracy is not surprising since this is the first hour of the sale. Make sure that you know the specific product that is on sale. Make sure they ring up the correct price when you check out. Double check before getting in line, as you don't want any delays when you check out. You will need to show them the correct price, don't assume that it will ring up correctly!

Once you find your product check out immediately. There are a lot of shoppers coming in the store. This means the registers will soon be busy too. This isn't the time to go browsing. You should know what you want, get it and get right to the checkout line. Ideally you should be getting only a couple of items, this isn't the time to browse around the DVDs.

In addition, know where the shopping line starts. At the store I was in, the entrance to the registered started in the back of the store. The people waiting in line got a map of the store and it was clearly mark on where the checkout line started.

It's not the end of the World. If you didn't get the best possible TV or outfit that you wanted. There will be other sales. This year Black Friday sales numbers are down compared to last year. More shoppers are going online to find the best deals. This means that retail stores will look for more ways to get you to stop by. Expect the next big rush on December 19th, as the Saturday before Christmas is a pretty busy day!

November 30, 2015

Thing Charger

You may have seen some advertising for the Thing Charger - including a really cool video of how the device works.

Thing Charger

If you ordered some to put under the Christmas tree this year, don't be disappointed if it doesn't arrive on time. There are a lot of people that have place orders online and have been waiting for months to get it.

The inventors of the ThingCharger is slowly ramping up production and trying very hard to fulfill all the backorder without sacrificing quality. Before placing your order check with them to see if they will get to your order in time.

I am a little surprised to see that their latest Google Ads feature the Thing Charger in a gift box. This implies that this makes a great Christmas gift. Don't get me wrong, it is a cool device. I think it's very misleading that you should order it for Christmas this year.

The Bestek Outlet Wall Mount Protector/Charger is an alternative solutions on Amazon that could be a better solution. Currently selling for about $35 on Amazon.com

November 27, 2015

Black Friday

AmazonFriday.jpg

Today is Black Friday. The day that most retailer hope to make or break there year. At least that what it use to be. That really isn't true any more. Today isn't the busiest shopping day of the year.

According to very useful Infographic on ShopperTrak, the busiest shopping day in 2014 was Super Saturday, which is the Saturday before Christmas. The second busy day was the Day after Christmas, while 'Black Friday' rounds out the top three. According to the report, 7 of the 10 busiest shopping days of 2014 fall in December.

No need to panic if you didn't find your deal today. There's always 'Cyber Monday' which isn't included in the latest ShopperTrak Infographic. It could be bigger numbers than some of the Saturdays in December.

CyberMonday also means unproductive Monday. Try not to schedule any important meeting around lunch time as most people might be using the time to check emails and their Twitter feed for deals. Hey if you did see one, make sure to spread the word!

I would recommend putting interesting things in your shopping cart in Amazon and check often to see if the prices go down over the next few days. I just used Evernote Web Clipper to get a snapshot of my cart. That way I know if I am really getting a good deal.

Another solution is to use Camel Camel Camel and it's Chrome Extension to track pricing trends on various products, such as game consoles, cameras and USB Flash Drives.

November 24, 2015

Flash Drive Deals

This is a crazy week for starting Christmas shopping. Lots of companies are offering week long 'Black Friday' deals to get people to shop for them. Amazon has been promoting Black Friday deals pretty much all month long.

This year I am going to look for some good quality USB Flash drives to store some photos and video that I have. I use to store everything on DVDs, but it appears that using Flash drives is the best long term solution:

storagecollection.jpg
  • You can store much more media on Flash Drives, you can only store up to 8.5 GB on a Dual Layer DVD, where Flash drives are just hitting the terabyte file size.
  • Flash Drives last longer. When stored in the same environment, Flash Drives will last longer. Currently DVDs will last about 10 years. Flash Drives have been tested to last for about 20 years.

There are several brands that I am looking to see if they are part of the Black Friday / Cyber Monday madness.

  • SanDisk Cruzer Glide 128GB - Now selling for $31.98 on Amazon
  • SanDisk Ultra Fit 64 GB - Currently selling for $19.38 on Amazon
  • PNY Turbo 128GB - Currently selling for $24.99 on Amazon
  • PNY Attaché 64GB - Currently selling for $14.99 on Amazon

I really like the SanDisk Cruzer Glide 128GB as I got one for Christmas last year and like that the drive has a slider that glides open and closes to protect the drive.

I'll be checking Websites and Twitter for deals from Amazon, BestBuy, Staples, Rakuten Target.

Staples Black Friday Update

The cheapest place to score an external hard drive is Staples with a 1TB Seagate Backup Plus USB 3.0 drive available on Black Friday for $39.99, a $30 savings.Or if you?re looking to stock up on USB thumb drives, it?s also offering a 64GB PNY drive for $9.99 and a 128GB USB 3.0 drive for $19.99. Staples? online store will be open on Thanksgiving. But its physical retail locations won?t be open until 6 a.m. local time on Black Friday.

November 19, 2015

Shopping Ideas for iPhone 6s Plus Users

Do you know someone that recently got their hands on a brand new iPhone 6s Plus and looking for some gift ideas for Christmas? This is my suggested list of Twenty things that will anyone with an iPhone 6s Plus will be happy with this Christmas Season.

  • Joby Camera Stand - If this is their first generation of iPhone Plus phone then chances are they will need a new tripod adapter. Joby Camera Stand is the best one to get.
  • Extra Lightning Cable - Sure you can get the premium Apple branded cable or a cheap ‘Amazon Basics’ cable. This year go fancy and get a braided one from an eBay (Whoa!). They are cheaper than the Apple Store and they look much nicer. In addition, a Lightning cable retractable cable is a good stocking stuffer idea for the whole family.
  • iPhone 6s Plus table stand - Try the Anker stand, I have one at work and I really like it. It's completely adjustable and works fine having the phone in any orientation. Note: It is a bit heavy for travel.
  • Extra USB Battery Charger - Any USB charging device above 3000 mAh is practical, personally I think having the 6000mAh is enough for a day when your aways from a charge station. (Think Disney World or watching a movie on a long flight)
  • Multi USB Port Car Charger - Perfect for the commuter, make sure to get a charger with two ports so that the passenger can charge up too!
  • Bluetooth Car Adapter- If they have an older model car, having a BlueTooth adapter will make it easy to play their music over the car stereo.
  • Cloud Storage Yearly Membership - There’s lots of great options here; iCloud, Dropbox, Evernote and Google Cloud Storage. Chances are they are looking for a place to store photos.
  • Apple’s iPhone 6s Plus Lightning Dock - Useful for home or at work, however not compatible with all covers. You can find one on the Apple store.
  • Apple Gift Card - Gift cards are not always the thoughtful gifts, but I am sure your iPhone 6s Plus friend has some songs or movies in mind that they would like to have. You gift card could help them take action on it!
  • CD Storage - Chances are if your iPhone 6s Plus friend has been into music for a long time. They probably have a large CD collection they aren’t using. Help them be better organized with a nice CD storage container. You can fine nice ones at the Container Store or Target.
  • iPhone 6s Plus Sleeve - Something to protect the iPhone 6s Plus when traveling. Check out some creative ideas from etsy
  • ThingCharger or Equivalent - The ThingCharger is very cool, but it won't arrive before Christmas. There are plenty of good solutions to convert an ordinary plug to a powerful USB Charging Station.
  • Book on taking Digital Pictures - Lots of options on iphone photography school website.
  • Stylus pen - If your friend lives in a cold climate area, don't get a touch screen glove. Instead get a nice stylus pen and a nice pair of gloves. (Levenger has some good Stylus Pen!) The logic behind this idea is because your limited on the quality of the touch screen gloves. They won't keep you warm as a nice pair of gloves from LLBean would.
  • An Apple App - You could buy a single app that you think they will really enjoy. You can do this by going to an Apple Retail store and getting a gift card for the exact amount of the App. You could always get one at CoinStar too.
  • iPhone 6s Plus Dust Plug - Keep foreign objects out of the charging port. RadTech has some Portectorz.
  • Head phones - If they are still using the default headphones that came with the phone, how about something different.
  • Remote Picture Device with Extra Batteries - If your friend likes to take selfies this is perfect. Get one with extra batteries available is a bonus. eBay is a good place to start
  • Electronic Travel Pouch - If your friend is a traveler you can buy a custom bag to keep all their electronics in. (Cable, Chargers, USB hubs) Check etsy and eBay for some cool options.
  • Screen Cleaner - A nice small microfiber cloth is basically all you need.

August 20, 2015

Three Awesome Golf tips

A couple of weekend's ago I played a round of golf at Ocean Edge golf course in Brewster, Massachusetts. During my game play, I came up with some non conventional golf gift ideas. Hey we are always looking for a gift for Dad that has everything.

These are just some practical ideas that I came up based on my observation watching golfers on that day. You can be creative and get all three and put together a nice seasonal gift pack. I am sure you'll probably find various people that created a gift pack on eBay or Esty around Christmas and Fathers Day.

Sharpie Mini Permanent Marker

The routine is the same every golf game, before teeing off at the first hole, every golfer decides on what golf balls they are going to use today. But, by the time they get to the third or fourth tee things do change. they may have lost some golf balls or they may inadvertently found one. Suddenly they can't remember what ball they just hit off the tee.

The easy solution is to custom mark each ball before hitting it. You can find all sorts of kits online to label golf balls, but some are expensive and perhaps something that you don't want to carry around in your golf bag. A quick easy solution is to use a permanent marker and label the ball. The golfer can use the mark on the ball as a focus point when teeing off.

In many office supply stores you can find an assorted collection of 'Sharpie Mini Permanent Markers' with an attachment clip. This is great idea for an avid golfer to custom label any golf ball. You can attach the pen to the golf bag zipper so that its always available. Now golfers won't have to remember the brand that they played. In addition, they won't have to check with the other golfers to prevent confusion when identifying the ball on the fairway.

Golf Ball Marker

It is necessary, in golf, to mark your ball once it is on the green in order to allow players further away to putt. This isn't just a courtesy - it's one of the early rules of golf. At the green, I see people fumbling with their pockets trying to find a suitable golf ball marker, and more often than not, they end up pulling out a penny or dime to mark their ball.

The problem with using any currency is that it's too thick. The golfer has to put the putter head down and place the marker a bit further than the original spot. Golf ball markers are the ideal solution. They allow the golfer to mark the ball exactly where it was and and not become an obstacle for the other golfers.

You can make one as a gift, just remember to keep the top as thin as possible. For example, you can make a special custom one with the golfer college mascot or favorite non golf item. Just don't spend too much as they can get lost very easily.

PhotoBallMarker.com has a cool idea on using any photo on making custom ball markers. Simply upload your photo for a cool looking ball marker.

Mini Pocket Microfiber Cloth

When the golf ball is on the green, the golfer is allowed to clean the ball off. Usually this is done to clean off any sand or mud that might have gotten on the ball during the approach to the green. Note: The ball doesn't get completely dirty, but it's enough that could influence the final champion putt.

At each hole, I saw several golfers carry out a towel with their putter and clean their ball before playing. To me, It seemed to be a hassle to bring a small towel every time you go to the green. The simple solution is having a small microfiber cloth in your pocket. The cloth isn't going to get that dirty that would ruin the pants when they put the cloth back.

Any small microfiber cloth that you can get at a camera store should be fine. I would recommend getting ones that it is washable and get a couple in case they need one for the front nine and a clean one for the back nine. Check Etsy for a custom microfiber cloth that matches the golfer favorite college or sports team.

FreshAsaDaisySoaps is selling Microfiber Soap Saver Bag in various colors. This would be perfect to use to easily clean a golf ball.

August 4, 2015

Swiss Gear Laptop Backpack

I have taken the MBTA commuter rail to work for the past four years. During that time, I have used several different types of bags to carry my laptop and my lunch. I have used my LL Bean hand held bag, a Targus laptop bag and a small non-laptop bag. The best bag that I have used is the Swiss Gear Laptop Backpack.

The SINPAID Laptop Backpack Notebook Business Bag Travel (SA 1908) has been well tested as the perfect MBTA commuter rail bag. It has handled many brutal winters where it was put down on many salty commuter rail platforms and still works and looks awesome.

There are a couple of slots to keep an umbrella (wet or dry) so that's always available. I never have to worry about checking the weather because I have a nice practical umbrella that opens fast. It's been used a lot of times in heavy rain and wind storms.

Some of my lunches have leaked a little in the main compartment of the bag bag on my morning journey. The bag is very easy to clean and doesn't smell. I don't have to worry about my laptop or papers from getting dirty.

I keep a USB charger in the bag with a couple of cables. This has come in handy for those extended train delays during this past winter. I needed to charge my phone and Amazon Kindle devices since the cold air was draining the batteries faster than they should.

If you looking for a bag, or a perfect gift for a commuter, consider getting the bag. You can find it in Amazon, Staples or at a Swiss store. Make sure to include an umbrella and USB charger as a nice touch! You will find that it will get a lot of miles out of it.

March 23, 2015

Olympus Retractable Lens Cap Protector

Last month, I purchased an "Auto Retractable Lens Cap Protector for Olympus XZ-1 XZ-2 XZ1 XZ2" for my Olympus XZ-2 iHS camera on eBay. I got it for $5.13 including shipping. About $20 less than what I found for similar items on Amazon.com.

The retractable lens has worked out very well and has protected the camera from any foreign objects. However, one of the flaps appears to have lost it's spring and isn't closing all that well. I am guessing this is when people tell me that "You get what you paid for."

I have been able to get around the issue by double checking to make sure that the lens are complete closed before I put the camera away in my jacket. So far, that has worked well. The only problem that I do see is that when the weather get's warmer I'll be wearing a different jacket, so it might be a good opportunity to get another Lens Cap Protector.

I do use my Olympus XZ-2 iHS camera a lot and having the lens protector is so much better than using a standard lens that just hangs from the camera.

December 18, 2014

Olympus XZ-2 iHS

Today I learned that the Olympus XZ-2 iHS camera is now discontinued. The last listed price was $599, they did have it on sale early in the Fall for $299.

There are still plenty of online dealers that are still selling the Olympus XZ-2 iHS for the $599 price. I am guessing that Olympus is gearing up to announce some new camera at the CP+ 2015 show in Japan