Shopping blog postings

Shopping Postings

Earliest: December 13, 2003Latest: July 8, 2017Total: 63

July 8, 2017

Monopod as a Tripod

One of the nice things about the Arespark Self-portrait Monopod is that it has a tripod mount on the bottom of it. I just happen to have a small tabletop tripod that I thought might be interesting to try out.

I wondered if it would work - would the mini table top stand be strong enough to hold the Arespark Self-portrait Monopod... and it does! Although not 100% stable, but good enough to keep an iPhone Plus camera steady.

Monopod Grass Photo

This is a very handy combination. If you need a tripod to keep a shot steady when you're going to be sitting for a long period of time. For example. I found this handy when filming a gymnastics routine.

The Arespark is at a perfect height when sitting down. I can use the Tripod combination to have a nice steady shot for a long period of time without having my hands tired.

Igadgitz

I purchased the "iGadgitz PT310 Mini Lightweight Table Top Stand Tripod and Grip Stabilizer for Digital Camera" for a recent Disney trip. It works great as a table mount tripod and as a camera stabilizer. Currently cost $15.99 on Amazon.com

This worked really well to take videos walking down Main Street USA. Also useful when you want to take night photos and need a stable shot. Travels well as it only weights 180 grams. Works really well with any camera type including DSLRs.

Arespark Self-portrait Monopod

This is an awesome Selfie Stick as it can extend to 50 inches. Perfect for any shot that you need an extended reach. This currently costs $17.99 on Amazon and certainly worth having in your collection.

I like using this when I need to get shots well above my head.

January 8, 2017

Disney/Amazon Shopping Ideas

Here's a quick list of eight things to stock up on for the trip to Disney World. So if you're on Amazon.com and looking for ideas on what to get before your trip, here's some things to think about.

I have found these to be useful things to purchase before a trip:

  • USB External Battery Charger - If you plan on using your phone for taking pictures and video, you'll need to charge up your device at some point during the day. Having a USB External Battery charger will extend your smartphone battery life. Note: many DLSR cameras can also get recharged using a USB device.
  • Microfiber Cleaner - Clean up your phone and DSLR screen. Makes sense to have a nice clean cloth for your trip.
  • SD Card Reader - If you have a DSLR camera, it's a good idea to backup your card at night. You can use a WD My Passport or an RAVPower Filehub. Download and backup the data on the SD card. An RAVPower Filehub useful when you want to post some of your quality photos to your favorite social media.
  • PURELL Hand Sanitizer - Travel Sized Jelly Wrap Portable Sanitizer Bottles are a great thing to add to any travel bag. The Jelly Wrap makes it easy to attach to any bag.
  • Portable Universal Wrap Electronics Accessories Travel Organizer - Keep all your cables and power chargers in one place. Sure you could use a ziplock bag, but with the travel organizer, you can label the cables so you know exactly what your bring. In addition, you'll know if you're missing any cables when you're packing up.
  • Portable Poncho - Buy a nice looking travel poncho just in case you need it.
  • Nylon Laundry Bag - You may have to do some laundry while on vacation. Don't be caught short going to the laundry area without a laundry bag! (Wash the bag with the laundry so you can bring the clean clothes to the room.)

What about a Wide Angle Lens?

One of the things I was considering purchasing was a Wide Angle lens for my iPhone so that I could take nice wide angle photos.

I decided not to get a lens because I found that Affinity Photo does a great job in stitching pictures. I simply take 3 or 4 pictures simultaneously and then stitch them together when I get back home.

In addition, I could always just use a Pano shot if I want to capture more of the photo. (Note: You don?t need to do a full range in a Pano shot. You can stop it at any point. The image won?t end up in the Pano folder on your phone, but you?ll still get a nice picture.

Winter Snow
Example of stitching multiple photos.

Apple iPhone 6s Plus Pano photo size is 11,668 x 3,884. My example created a 11,277 x 2,498, slightly smaller than a Pano, but the quality is very good compare to a typical Pano rendering.

I didn't want to have to carry around the extra lens and connect it whenever I wanted to use it. It's one less thing that I wanted to carry, and one less thing that I could lose.

December 11, 2016

Wrist Information Center.

In the 1980s there was a catalog parody of the LL Bean catalog. It was a book called "Items from Our Catalog" and featured a lot of weird things.

When I was in college, I took interest in one of the things called "Find-the-Function" Wrist Information Center. I photocopied the page and had it on my bulletin board in my dorm.

I don't recall the reason why I picked this item, of everything in the catalog. It was a pretty weird product.

A quick read of the product description, and all I could think about the Apple Watch. Here's a scan copy of the document, complete with tape and all...

Wrist Information Center2

You can find the "Items from Our Catalog" book on eBay and Use Bookstores, it makes for a funny read.

December 4, 2016

Waiting at Limited Supply Sales

Waiting for Toys R Us

I have some practical tips if you're ever in the case of having to wait for a store opening to buy some products. This is most common during Black Friday / Saturday. It can also occur when a store announces that they have stock of items in high demand.

Never know when it's Black Friday

Earlier this week Toys R Us announced that they had limited stock available of Hatchimals and NES Classic Edition. These are two of the hottest toys of the 2016 Shopping season. They would have available limited number of stock on December 4th, 2016.

Social Media spread the word about the new inventory, and everyone got word that Sunday was the day to get the products. Nobody knows if they would be available again in retail stores this Christmas season.

You could get Hatchimals and NES Classic Edition on eBay and Craigslist, but you would be paying a premium for them:

e Bay Deals
People were buying Hatchimals and NES Classic Edition and reselling on eBay and Craigslist at a high mark up.

Get Committed

When I heard of the opportunity of getting a Hatchimal, I really wanted to jump on the opportunity. I knew that there would be a huge line. I figured, that I I was going to go, I would get their super early to ensure that I would get my hands on a Hatchimal. The doors were scheduled to open at 8am.

I arrived at Toys R Us at 3:24 am and I was the 8th person in line. The first person arrived in line at 7:30 pm.

I took notes on what people brought, and what seemed to work while waiting for the doors to open 4 hours later:

Essential Items to Bring

Note, most of these focus on the cold weather because, in New England, that usually when these limited supply sales occur.

  • Folding Chair - Something comfortable to sit on. If you don't have a chair, some people resorted to flipping over a shopping cart and sat on that.
  • Blanket - Keep warm!
  • Umbrella, Hat, Gloves - The Touch Screen Gloves are very useful.
  • USB Charger - Useful if you have any electronic devices.
  • Book or other Entertainment item - Keep yourself busy while waiting. Some people brought books.
  • Smart Phone - One person left his phone at home and really regretted it.

Additional tips

  • Keep Drinks and Food to a minimum. You don't want to leave to go to the bathroom.
  • Bring a Buddy, and you can tag team between waiting in line and warming up in the car.
  • Listen to the information provided by the store employees. You may want to share some information later on.
  • Communicate with Social Media. Find out what the lines are at other locations.
  • Talk to people around you, as you may learn something interesting about the sale or other items for sale.
  • Bring an extra chair or blanket. You may help someone that didn't come prepared.

November 26, 2016

CE Marks

There?s was some conversations this past year over on Reddit about some poor quality products. In particular, some products that were "drop ship" from China and would take a few weeks to arrive.

Someone posted this graphic, and I am re-posting it as a reminder as people are now in full swing for Christmas:

C E Mark

Think twice when you pick up something that looks cheap, you might be buying a knock off from China or another country. The item may not meet local code standards and could cause damages to your products.

Earlier this year, I was excited about some iPhone 6s Plus cables that I purchased on Amazon, only to find out that they didn't last a few weeks and are not completely useless.

You may hate to pay the "full price," but there's a no sense of saving money by purchasing knock-offs only to find they are useless after a couple of times using them.

November 20, 2016

Black Friday 2016 Watch List

Black Friday2016

Every year, I put together a list of software/hardware that I consider "nice to have." During the past year I tried them out but just can't justify the cost of buying the software. During the peak week of "Black Friday" and "Cyber Monday," I'll watch to see if the products go on sale.

This is my 2016 list of product/services that I am watching. This doesn't mean that I'll be buying all of these items. In prior years, I was watching to see if my printer ink was on sale. I was checking DVD-R prices and just overall technology stuff.

Macintosh Software

These are the Big Five Macintosh applications that I am watching

  • LaunchBar - ($29) I can see using this all the time to move between applications, the clipboard history is very cool
  • Path Finder - ($39.95) Great Finder replacement with a lot of power tools I could use on a daily bases.
  • Keyboard Maestro - ($36). I have TextExpander, but there are some functionalities in Keyboard Maestro that I like. It was on sale for $19.99 on Social for a while.
  • Swift Publisher 4 - ($19.99) I like a lot of their features and see it as a good page layout tool.
  • Affinity Photo - ($49.99) A minor update should be available soon. Serif may offer the 20% off which is the discount they offered when Affinity Designer got an upgrade in October.
  • SnagIt - Upgrade ($24.95) I have a license and can upgrade to the latest version. This has been included with some bundles, but the software got a big upgrade this summer so they may not promote it as much.

Both Keyboard Maestro and LaunchBar have clipboard history functionality. Having a clipboard history will make it easy to access previously copied text.

Hardware List

Amazon isn't the only store on the internet. Staples and Target should have good deals on some of the products I am watching.

Last year I stood line to at midnight to get a great deal on a USB drive at Best Buy. Even Walgreen and CVS will have door busters on some flash drives. Simply knowing which are the better ones can help know when a deal is perfect.

  • 128 GB Flash Drive - ($27.99) I can never have enough disk space. 128 GB seems to be a good size for Flash Drives. I can store 27 DVDs on 128GB flash drive. I like the SanDisk Cruzer Flash Drives.
  • Recycle AA Batteries - I could always use a fresh set of batteries.
  • Apple Lightning Cable - I could always use a decent Apple Lightning Cable that actually works.

Cloud List

Where I am watching

I have setup a Google Alert to notify me if the software products are mention in the media. In addition, I'll be checking their Twitter feeds to see if there any announced one-day deals.

I'll be checking store flyers for announcements. Sites like deal news really help educate the public on awesome deals.

Black Friday Reminder

If you're going to a midnight opening, make sure to know the store layout. Visit the store ahead of time so you know where things are.

A quick store visit now will save you frustrations later!

February 28, 2016

Kindle Word Runner

Kindle Chapter

Amazon Kindle Fire has the cool functionality that forces you to read at a certain level. I tried it out on the train this past week and found that not only was I able to read faster, but I actually focused on what I was reading.

Here's how it works. You open up a Book on the Kindle and go to a Chapter that you wish to read. Select the "More" functionality on the top right. Select 'Word Runner.' Then you use the slider at the bottom of the screen to the speed at that you want to read, I would recommend the current settings by default. Then click the 'play' button and start reading one word at a time.

It's pretty cool feature of the Kindle Fire HD. The applications pauses long enough between sentences so that you have a time to compose what you just read. You can even slow it down or speed it up during the process.

If your looking for ways to read a book or chapter faster, I would highly recommend using Kindle's 'Word Runner.' You'll be amazed on how it helps you stay focus on your reading.

January 16, 2016

Amazon Shipping Status

Apparently there's a lot of China sellers on Amazon.com now. Here's my order status for extra batteries for my UDI RC U816A UFO Quadcopter 2.4Ghz:

AmazonOrderUpdates.jpg

I'll have to wait a month to get my batteries just to save a couple of dollars. I guess I should have paid more attention to the estimated shipping date. Hopefully, this doesn't get held up in customs too long!

In the future, perhaps you'll be able to track the boat that the package is on.

January 10, 2016

Joby Grip Tight Gorillapod

Joby Grip Tight Gorillapod is a very popular mini tripod. It flexible body allows you to stabilize your phone against any object. The grippy rubber feet makes sure that your phone is secure on the table.

The Joby Grip Tight Gorillapod is a popular camera tool to have and there are a lot of cheap imposters around. It's hard to know that you have the true Joby brand. (For example you see it at a Yard Sale or at a Discount store.)

I know this because I have a flexible Gorillapod and for the longest time could not figure out if it was the original Joby version. While doing some cleaning in the attic, I actually found a original Joby version that I purchased many years ago. I could easily tell that my other one was an imposter.

Here are some pictures of the two Gorillapods together where you can tell the original from the imposter.

Olympus on Joby

The word Joby appears in the mini circle:

Joby Grip Tight Gorillapod

The feet actually have decent grippy rubber feet. My imposter tripod have a very smooth feet, and dont feel all that rubbery.

The Joby Grip Tight Gorillapod is a bit expensive, but you are getting a good quality tripod stand that works well. While playing with both of these, I could tell a big difference in how the leg grips work much better. The grips appear to be tighter and can hold the camera up much better.

I would recommend spending a bit more to get the original version and not settle for a wannabe. You'll get a lot more uses out of it.

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!