Archive for the ‘Gift ideas’ Category

2019 Cyber Monday! Great deals & gift recommendations

December 2, 2019

2019 Cyber Monday! Great deals & gift recommendations

I’m not arguing, of course, but it amuses me that Cyber Monday is still such a thing.

Its origins come from when people didn’t have powerful computers at home, but did at work. So, they would shop at work on the Monday following Black Friday. Now, of course, we have super powerful computers in our pockets via SmartPhones, so we don’t need those work resources. Still, websites make a big deal about it, and speaking of deals, genuine ones are available.

That doesn’t mean that additional deals won’t come between now and the end of the year, they clearly will. However, today is very competitive…and my guess is that many people have completed the majority of their holiday shopping after Cyber Monday, which changes the dynamics (worth noting at this point that I’m a former brick-and-mortar store manager…primarily bookstores and a gamestore).

Let’s check on that:

First, here’s my previous post in my ILMK blog for Black Friday this year…many things go on sale on Black Friday and then back on Cyber Monday:

2019 ILMK Amazon Black Friday & Gift Guide

and this one from my The Measured Circle blog:

5 practical (but cool) gifts for under $30 each

I debated, but decided to post this here in The Measured Circle, since I may range far away from the typical ILMK topics…and this blog can cover anything. 🙂

NOTE: ALL PRICES ARE ACCURATE FOR WHAT I SEE AT THE TIME OF WRITING. PRICES MAY GO UP OR SALES MAY END BEFORE YOU SEE THIS. THEY ALSO MAY NEVER APPLIED TO YOUR MARKET.

Lemostaar Dust Mop Shoes Slippers (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) $11.45 at time of writing

While we haven’t had these long, so I can’t say how durable they are, my Significant Other says they worked well in the kitchen. Yes, this one is goofy, but it’s not a gag gift.

Unisex LED Beanie Hat with Light (at AmazonSmile*) $7.89 at time of writing

These are great! We had a different, but similar, brand get broken and wanted to replace it right away. It’s got a USB chargeable light on a knit cap. If you go out in the dark and cold (we do that at the dog park), these are perfect…hands free light, warm ears. We get asked about it by other people.

Luci Outdoor 2.0 – Inflatable Solar Light (at AmazonSmile*) $15.75 at time of writing

This is the best solution if your lights go out. Many “emergency” lights are just blindingly bright for me (I have good night vision). Also, we’re not fond of having to use batteries, although we will with some things. We literally just keep these sitting on a windowsill that gets outside sunlight (it doesn’t have to be direct). If the power goes out, you can inflate them (you can do it with your mouth…it’s not hard), and one of these can light a room with a diffuse light for hours…just from solar power. I would keep one in your “go bag”, and they are good for people who camp (or maybe something like a treehouse or playhouse).

Kangaroo Home Security Motion Sensor (at AmazonSmile*) $9.90 at time of writing

We were going away for a week (we’re back now), and while our front door is nicely protected with a doorcam, we have a sliding glass door I wanted to cover. This was a very simple set-up: you don’t have to pay a monthly fee (you can for more options) or have a security system (but it can work with them). What it will do is alert you on the phone when it detects motion (you can set it in such a way it’s not likely to trigger on your pets). It doesn’t shine a light or set off a siren, but if you have, say, an Echo Show in your home (we do), you could then check on the room. Unless someone is already all set up with security, they can use it…and I’m thinking of getting one for my office at work.

Ultrasonic Pest Repeller (at AmazonSmile*) $27.95 for a two pack at time of writing

Your mileage may vary (YMMV) but this works very well for us (and we’ve tried different things). It’s just plugged into a power outlet in the kitchen, and we see no bugs or evidence of rodents. We have dogs who are clearly completely unaware of the ultrasonic sounds it puts out. You want one where the sound fluctuates (so they can’t get used to it), and this one does. The message isn’t that you think they have bugs, it’s that you don’t want them to get them. It’s good for people who want to avoid chemicals or who don’t want to kill animals (even bugs).

UPDATE: I’m going beyond five, because I did really want to include this one:

Asgens “power tower” (at AmazonSmile*) $24.99 at time of writing

I have one of these for work and one of these next to the couch at home. At work, I do plug several things into power when I go to a meeting…but I always say, I bring more outlets than I use. 😉 Others plug into my tower on the table, rather than perhaps crawling around to get to one. These have both USB and “wall” outlets and are surprisingly light. I used to carry a traditional powerstrip, but this also fits into my laptop case and has a smaller footprint on the table. I took one with us when we recently went on a trip (again, I used to take a traditional powerstrip to a hotel, but this was better). People often comment on it. One drawback: I bought my first one partially for the retractable cord, and that eventually just stopped working. I think it’s like a garden hose getting twisted if you have a reel..it’s possible I could have done something different in my winding technique, but it’s not a dealbreaker.

iTD Gear Wall Outlet Coverplate w/ LED Night Lights (Auto on/off) at iTECH DEALS $2.99…I haven’t tried this one, but the reviews are good and it looks cool. I have bought from this site

SITE WIDE SALES

Baxter Boo dog clothes: 25% off & free shipping with coupon code CYBERSALE

Gifts For You Now customized products: 30% off with coupon code BEST30BPM

BOOKS-A-MILLION: 20% off online purchase of $50+ with coupon code 20CYBER; more codes with bigger purchases

PAGE * A * DAY: 25% off with coupon code CYBER19

HearthSong: 30% off + free shipping on $49+ with coupon code CYBER19

 

Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard our The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project (AKA Enwoven)! Join the TMCGTT Timeblazers!

Bufo’s Alexa Skills

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other organizations, begin your Amazon shopping from a link on their sites: Amazon.com (Smile.Amazon.com)

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!Bufo’s Alexa Skills

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get.

:)

Shop ’til you help! :)

2019 Black Friday: deals & gift suggestions (updated throughout the weekend)

November 29, 2019

2019 Black Friday: deals & gift suggestions (updated throughout the weekend)

For my readers in the USA (and it’s extended beyond), today, Friday 29 November, is “Black Friday”, one of the biggest shopping days of the year. I’m not going to write a lot about the history or anything in this post…I just wanted to put deals that catch my eye and make some suggestions.

IMPORTANT NOTE: the price that I show will be for the USA at the time of writing. Today is volatile: prices will change quickly, and by the time you see this, the price may no longer be valid. Always check the Buy button before you click/tap/voice select/eye gaze…the price could be different. Just because you missed the deal doesn’t mean you should just pass on it: some of these are worth it at the regular price, in my opinion. Let’s start with a few quick resources, then get into it!

Okay, here we go! Remember these prices can change at any time…happy gifting!

Oculus Go Standalone Virtual Reality Headset – 32GB (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) $149.99 at time of writing, 1:00 PM Pacific (still valid 10:30 AM Pacific on Saturday 30 November) ($50 off) | 64GB model also available, also $50 off…the lowest price that’s been listed at camelcamelcamel

I’m in VR several days a week. This is an easy way to get involved, a stand-alone. That means your phone doesn’t have to power it and it doesn’t need to be connected to a computer.

Echo Auto $29.99 at time of writing (still valid at 10:30 AM Pacific on Saturday 30 November), $20 off

This is my favorite gift of the holiday season, and this is a great price! We have two and use them all the time.

Kindle Paperwhite (at AmazonSmile*) $84.99 ($45.00 off) (still valid at 10:30 AM Pacific on Saturday 30 November, except that you got a $5 credit for e-books on Black Friday, I think that’s gone)

I’ve been writing about Kindles for more than ten years in my ILMK blog, and this is my favorite model. It’s a great gift.

Instant Pot Duo 80at AmazonSmile* $99.00 ($40.95 off) at 10:30 AM Pacific on Saturday 30 November | It was cheaper on Black Friday

Syuan Two Way Easy Trans Smart Language Translator Device Electronic Pocket Voice Bluetooth 52 Languages (at AmazonSmile*) $99.99 (save $100.00) | valid at 10:30 AM Pacific Saturday 30 November…it was cheaper on Black Friday

Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard our The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project (AKA Enwoven)! Join the TMCGTT Timeblazers!

Bufo’s Alexa Skills

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other organizations, begin your Amazon shopping from a link on their sites: Amazon.com (Smile.Amazon.com)

5 practical (but cool) gifts for under $30 each

November 28, 2019

5 practical (but cool) gifts for under $30 each

When you were a kid, you probably didn’t want a “practical” gift…you wanted toys!

As adults, though, it can be different. A lot of people are trying to reduce the number of things they own; they may want new things in their lives to justify their existence more than just fun (fun has a purpose, but that’s for another time).

Especially for gift exchanges at work, or for people you don’t know well, a practical gift can be perfect.

While I’ve written a lot about Black Friday (and where to find deals) in the past, and even this year on my ILMK blog

2019 ILMK Amazon Black Friday & Gift Guide

I thought I’d focus this post on things I actually own and have used in a practical way this year. Being in California, one thing that became a lot bigger issue is dealing with a power shutdown. Power outages have always been possible here, but a complete shutoff for days is new. Naturally, it’s true across the country that power might go out. Some people also choose to be without power (by camping, for example). That will undoubtedly influence this listing. Again, these are things we’ve actually used and found useful in 2019, and I’m keeping to a low price point.

Lemostaar Dust Mop Shoes Slippers (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) $11.45 at time of writing

While we haven’t had these long, so I can’t say how durable they are, my Significant Other says they worked well in the kitchen. Yes, this one is goofy, but it’s not a gag gift.

Unisex LED Beanie Hat with Light (at AmazonSmile*) $7.89 at time of writing

These are great! We had a different, but similar, brand get broken and wanted to replace it right away. It’s got a USB chargeable light on a knit cap. If you go out in the dark and cold (we do that at the dog park), these are perfect…hands free light, warm ears. We get asked about it by other people.

Luci Outdoor 2.0 – Inflatable Solar Light (at AmazonSmile*) $15.75 at time of writing

This is the best solution if your lights go out. Many “emergency” lights are just blindingly bright for me (I have good night vision). Also, we’re not fond of having to use batteries, although we will with some things. We literally just keep these sitting on a windowsill that gets outside sunlight (it doesn’t have to be direct). If the power goes out, you can inflate them (you can do it with your mouth…it’s not hard), and one of these can light a room with a diffuse light for hours…just from solar power. I would keep one in your “go bag”, and they are good for people who camp (or maybe something like a treehouse or playhouse).

Kangaroo Home Security Motion Sensor (at AmazonSmile*) $9.90 at time of writing

We were going away for a week (we’re back now), and while our front door is nicely protected with a doorcam, we have a sliding glass door I wanted to cover. This was a very simple set-up: you don’t have to pay a monthly fee (you can for more options) or have a security system (but it can work with them). What it will do is alert you on the phone when it detects motion (you can set it in such a way it’s not likely to trigger on your pets). It doesn’t shine a light or set off a siren, but if you have, say, an Echo Show in your home (we do), you could then check on the room. Unless someone is already all set up with security, they can use it…and I’m thinking of getting one for my office at work.

Ultrasonic Pest Repeller (at AmazonSmile*) $27.95 for a two pack at time of writing

Your mileage may vary (YMMV) but this works very well for us (and we’ve tried different things). It’s just plugged into a power outlet in the kitchen, and we see no bugs or evidence of rodents. We have dogs who are clearly completely unaware of the ultrasonic sounds it puts out. You want one where the sound fluctuates (so they can’t get used to it), and this one does. The message isn’t that you think they have bugs, it’s that you don’t want them to get them. It’s good for people who want to avoid chemicals or who don’t want to kill animals (even bugs).

UPDATE: I’m going beyond five, because I did really want to include this one:

Asgens “power tower” (at AmazonSmile*) $24.99 at time of writing

I have one of these for work and one of these next to the couch at home. At work, I do plug several things into power when I go to a meeting…but I always say, I bring more outlets than I use. 😉 Others plug into my tower on the table, rather than perhaps crawling around to get to one. These have both USB and “wall” outlets and are surprisingly light. I used to carry a traditional powerstrip, but this also fits into my laptop case and has a smaller footprint on the table. I took one with us when we recently went on a trip (again, I used to take a traditional powerstrip to a hotel, but this was better). People often comment on it. One drawback: I bought my first one partially for the retractable cord, and that eventually just stopped working. I think it’s like a garden hose getting twisted if you have a reel..it’s possible I could have done something different in my winding technique, but it’s not a dealbreaker.

There you go! Fun gifts are great, too, but these can make people’s lives better as well as happier. 🙂

Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard our The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project (AKA Enwoven)! Join the TMCGTT Timeblazers!

Bufo’s Alexa Skills

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other organizations, begin your Amazon shopping from a link on their sites: Amazon.com (Smile.Amazon.com)

The ultimate fan gift? A custom video from a celebrity from Cameo

September 2, 2019

The ultimate fan gift? A custom video from a celebrity from Cameo

Do you have somebody in the family who seems to already have everything?

People say you should get them experiences, but here’s another possibility…

Cameo.com

You can have a celebrity record a custom video for you…a message you request!

Naturally, it has to be appropriate…

I only just recently heard about this, and it’s a fascinating site.

Celebrities can ask to be part of it. After they are verified, they set their own prices…and Cameo takes 25% (which seems reasonable…they process the payment and make the arrangements). A celebrity can also refer to another celebrity…and get five percent (it comes out of Cameo’s cut) for the first year.

Now, the obvious question: who is on it and how much does it cost?

The price ranges a lot: I saw prices close to $10 and ones that were hundreds of dollars. The celebrities were a pretty diverse: from current YouTubers to actors (I’d say going back the 1970s or so) to athletes. I didn’t see many authors: I think that may be an area for expansion.

There was a search and there were categories, but I think that part could be improved. I’d like to see an alphabetical listing of everybody, for one thing.

Here are some examples…the prices can change at any time (that’s up to the celeb), so don’t be surprised if it’s different when you look.

  • Wesley Snipes (Blade) $500
  • Linnea Quigley (The Return of the Living Dead) $100
  • John Kassir (Tales from the Crypt) $55
  • Brett Favre  (Green Bay Packers quarterback) $500
  • Bobby Hull (Chicago Black Hawks) $175
  • Brett “Hitman” Hart (wrestler) $150
  • Ruth Buzzi (Laugh-In) $150
  • Mindy Cohn (The Facts of Life) $50
  • Carson Kressley (Queer Eye for the Straight Guy) $65
  • Richard Karn (Home Improvement) $80
  • Gilbert Gottfried (comedian) $150
  • Garrett Wang (Star Trek: Voyager) $80
  • Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica) $150
  • Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters) $135
  • Jennifer Love Hewitt (Ghost Whisperer) $150
  • Sophia the Pug $12
  • Lisa Loeb (singer) $175
  • George Lowe (Space Ghost) $50

Susan Bennett might be one of the best! She’s the voice of Siri…and hers is only $20!

I have to say, I totally get this. However, it is odd to browse the site: you can watch videos they’ve made for other people. I watched one of Ruth Buzzi’s: she probably mentioned five specific things for the recipient!

I checked one of the animals: a person spoke while Sophia the Pug did cute things…that would be worth $12.

It can also be done for charity.

While some of the prices aren’t cheap, I can see a family chipping in together. You do get to keep the video, and this might be a dream come true.

I’m probably being too effusive about something with which I’m unconnected…and that I’ve never tried. I just like the idea of it

I was alerted to this on Brad Server’s Twitter feed. He’s the youngest grandson of Curly of the 3 Stooges (he’s called Curly G), and does a good Curly…great for a fan for $20! I’m also not connected to him except through Twitter (@grandstooge).

This is Curly G’s Cameo site…thanks, for keeping the Stooges going!

Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard our The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project (AKA Enwoven)! Join the TMCGTT Timeblazers!

Bufo’s Alexa Skills

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.

Gift ideas for geeks 2017

November 24, 2017

Gift ideas for geeks 2017

It’s Black Friday…or, um, Cyber Monday Eve Eve Eve! 😉

While things have certainly changed in the past few decades with the mainstreaming of geek culture, it can still be be a bit of a mystery. Certainly, specialty sites are having sales today, like

and many more (feel free to suggest others by commenting on this post).

However, mainstreamers may never visit those sites…and may feels their heads spinning if they do. 😉

In this post, I thought I’d give you 42 items you can buy from Amazon…where just about every mainstreamer shops. 🙂 While explaining stuff is one of my favorite things (I used to do a comedy TV bit where they would pretty much just give me a topic and I’d explain it), I won’t try to explain specifically why each of these would appeal. In at least some cases, though, I’ll give you an idea of the type of geek to whom it will especially appeal. We aren’t all the same…arguably, none of us are the same, and while geeks are famously inclusive, there are some…rivalries (Star Wars vs. Star Trek, Marvel vs. D.C., The Addams Family vs. The Munsters…). It can help to have some context.

A few other notes:

I may add to this (I already wish I had more time to list more before heading out on a family tradition) but I wanted to get it out for today’s shopping…enjoy!

If you have other things you think should be added, feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post. If you directly benefit from it, such as being the author or working for the studio, please mention that and write it in your own words, rather than as an ad. 🙂


You can be part of my next book, Because of the Kindle!


Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard

All aboard The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

 

 

 

Websites for Geeky Gifts

December 2, 2013

Websites for Geeky Gifts

Okay, sure…it’s getting easier to find geeky gifts in regular stores. After all, most of the most popular movies and most talked-about TV shows are geek friendly nowadays.

Still, a lot of geeks pride themselves on being out of the mainstream. You really want to find something for them that you didn’t just walk past on the 40% off table at JC Penney. 😉

This guide is to suggest some places you can look for those out of the ordinary gifts with geek cred.

Surprisingly, one of the first places you might want to try (for convenience’s sake, if nothing else), is

Books, videos, apps, music (nerdcore as a category!), shirts, watches, mugs, comics, giant wall stickers…all curated for geekiness! They even have signed collectibles and rarities. Sure, a

will set you back about $10,000 (not including $200 shipping), but would anybody ever top that gift? They have a lot less expensive things, too.

Amazon also has items from some of the other sites we are going to list: they know that it makes sense to sell them through Amazon.

One other big thing about shopping at Amazon: wish lists. As geeks, we know: our choices can often be inscrutable to non-geeks…sometimes, even to other geeks. 😉 To the average person, it might seem like the same person who likes Dracula should like Twilight: they both have vampires in them, right? 😉 Let’s just say that to some geeks, versions are important. They might love a TV show and hate the movie version…or vice versa.

Users maintain Amazon Wish Lists themselves. They put the right versions on there, the ones they really want. They can send you a link, or you can search for Wish Lists (if they are public) here:

Amazon Wish Lists
@AmazonSmile

Getting beyond Amazon, there are a lot of choices. While the ones we list should be safe to use, they certainly may not have the same shipping and return policies as Amazon or other big e-tailers. Do take a look at those: if the site is on another continent, you may not get it as quickly as you like. Also, there may be Cyber Monday sales (especially free shipping), but they might have limitations.

ThinkGeek

If there is one site to rule them all for geek gifts, it’s

http://www.thinkgeek.com/

Not only is their geek cred solidly in place, they have hundreds of exclusives…and a clearance section. The one negative here is that an informed geek is likely to be visiting the site, so it’s a bit tougher to really surprise them (but, you know, it’s always hard to surprise a geek…unless it has to do with human behavior). 😉

Many ThinkGeek items are available at Amazon.

Last Exit to Nowhere

http://www.lastexittonowhere.com/

We love a stealth geek t-shirt!

That’s a shirt with a geek tie-in which isn’t obvious to a mainstreamer. LEtN has some of the absolute best. They tend to take brands and organizations from geek movies and create realistic looking t-shirts from them. You can search by movie, so if you know somebody’s favorite movie is Big Trouble in Little China, but have no idea what its about, you can still get an insider joke t-shirt for them.

Sideshow Collectibles

http://www.sideshowtoy.com/

They may have “toy” in their domain name, but make no mistake: these are super high quality works of art. There are some things under $100, but you can pay a lot more than that. They have exclusives, and some sale items. They also have payment plans, and a points system. Unless the geek on your list is that Bill Gates/Tony Stark sort of billionaire geek, it won’t matter if they’ve heard of this place or not…they probably haven’t bought what they really wanted.

Wicked Cool Stuff

http://www.wickedcoolstuff.com/

From a Han Solo bobblehead to a Captain Jack Sparrow paperweight, Wicked Cool Stuff has lots of very affordable geek gifts.

Forbidden Planet

https://forbiddenplanet.com/

Not surprisingly, this British site has some of the best Doctor Who merchandise.

Super Hero Stuff

http://www.superherostuff.com/

An incredible collection of superhero themed clothing may be the main reason to come here (Captain America socks…with wings!), but there are a lot of other good choices, from a Green Lantern dog collar to a Big Bang Theory ice cube tray.

Entertainment Earth

http://www.entertainmentearth.com/

A really huge collection of items, often at affordable prices. This is the superstore. Check out their “Just 1 Left” section. They also do bestsellers in lots of categories, making it a bit easier for you. If you already understand your geek’s passions, this place will have what you want. You can also call them for help.

Dude!!! I Want That

http://www.dudeiwantthat.com/gift-guides/gifts-for-geeks.asp

How do I put this? Um…Skymall…if you were flying in Wonder Woman’s invisible jet. 😉 These are things where you are going to say, “They make that?” Let me just say these three words (okay, one of them is hyphenated): “Gas-powered LED Wings”! Wait, I can’t stop there…”Handmade Guinea Pig Armor”…for $24,300!

Snorg Tees

http://www.snorgtees.com/t-shirts/geek-nerd

These are clever and cartoony…people may have to look twice. I mean, if you chuckle at a t-shirt that says, “May the mass times acceleration be with you”, you can find great gifts here.

Brooklyn Superhero Supply Company

http://www.superherosupplies.com/

Shop like a superhero! Seriously, check this one out…where else can you buy omnipotence by the gallon?

Well, there are 10 (unless you are using binary…then there are 1010) sites for you (plus Amazon)! Go ahead…make a geek’s holiday!

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :)  You can also tell your geek that part of the gift went to support a non-profit they’d appreciate…one of the ones listed here, perhaps: Weird & geeky groups you can support by shopping at AmazonSmile 

Getting the best out of Cyber Monday

November 27, 2010

 Getting the best out of Cyber Monday

In this earlier post, I gave you tips for getting the best out of Black Friday.

Shopping online, of course, is very different from shopping in brick and mortar stores.

Well, hold up there…I do think it is becoming more similar in recent years.  People do shop on Black Friday in the stores in their pyjamas.  🙂  Since people have SmartPhones with shopping apps, they can also comparison shop in the physical stores.  They can scan a UPC, and be told that the item is fifty dollars cheaper .4 miles away.

Still, it’s not the same.

Cyber Monday is the Monday following Thanksgiving (in the United States)…and following Black Friday.  Originally (I believe in 2005), what was happening was that people were shopping at work (where they had faster internet connections).  Now, many people have just as fast or faster connections at home…and companies have gotten smarter about detecting and how to prevent shopping in the office.  I don’t think that’s necessarily wise on the part of the employers, but that’s for another post.

You can get some great bargains online…and be totally ripped off as well.  If you buy something from a local store, you can probably return it there…they don’t just disappear before you can get back to them.  Websites (and individual sellers) might do just that…or might be in another country and outside of your law enforcement jurisdiction.

Here are some tips:

1. Know your sites. 

Don’t count on a smaller site having a better deal than a well-known one.  Most sites will have an “About us” link of some kind.  You can check that to see how long they’ve been in business (at least sometimes).  Check http://www.wikipedia.org …if there is a listing and the article has been there for a while, that can be a good sign

2. Check the shipping costs.

This is really key…I often see great deals…and then the shipping and handling are more than the item!  You can get used books for a penny on Amazon…but you’ll usually pay $3.49 for shipping from these third parties.

3. Check the processing and shipping time. 

Some sites are getting the things you are buying from someone else, or making them to order.  If you are calculating days, that’s usually business days.  In the US, business days do not count Saturdays, Sundays, or holidays.  Also, the shipping time starts from when they ship it…not when you order it.  Maybe they can ship it in two business days…but it takes them two weeks before they start the shipping

4. Don’t hesitate. 

Online deals may only last seconds.  Know what price you want to pay, know that the store is okay…and go for it.  If there is a way to set up a quick checkout, do it.  Log into the site before you start shopping

5. Use comparison shopping sites. 

These let you put an item into their site, and they’ll compare the prices at different websites.  Many of them include the shipping (but you may have to enter your zipcode for them to figure that out).  They won’t have all the sites, but you’ll get a good idea.

I’ve used

http://www.pricegrabber.com/ 

for years.

I also have used

http://shopping.yahoo.com

6. Use coupon sites

This also really useful.  Many online sites have coupon codes that will give you an additional discount…or free shipping.  They may only be good above certain amounts on a purchase and/or only at a specific time, as well as on specific items.  You may have to enter the code at checkout.  Be careful about that.  If the coupon code doesn’t work, you are going to have some trouble dealing with it later.  Call the store if you have trouble…most reputable stores have a phone number listed on the site, but not all.  That’s another thing you can check ahead of time.  If you used your credit card, you may be able to go to your credit card company for help if you were defrauded.  You can usually search by store and sometimes by item.  The listing at the coupon site may not be up to date.

http://www.couponmountain.com

http://www.fatwallet.com/

7. Check return policies

Does your return period start from when you buy it?  If you buy it a month ahead of time, will it have expired before you give it?  That should be listed at the site

8. Is it a pre-order?  Do they guarantee the price?

That’s an issue…it’s hard to tell on a website, sometimes, that the product isn’t actually available yet.  Read the description.  If it is a pre-order, do they guarantee the price, or will you pay more if it goes up in-between?

9. Don’t ignore the people who always discount

If a place is cheap all year round, it may still be cheaper on Cyber Monday than a place with a special sale.  For example,

http://www.woot.com

has a special deal every day…yes, one special deal.  They will sell out

10. Check at odd times of the day

A lot of sales are only for an hour, and they are selling around the world.  Check before you go to bed and when you get up

There are a few tips for you.  🙂  Here is a basic strategy:

  1. Identify online websites you trust and want to use
  2. Get sizes and compatibilities from your giftees…what videogame system they use, for example
  3. Check the coupon sites.  Copy the codes (write them down or paste them into a document
  4. Check comparison sites for specific items
  5. Sign up at the sites where you shop…you may be sent exclusive coupons.  Check their Twitter feeds and Facebook site
  6. Check your sites for information on upcoming specials…some of them hype them ahead of time
  7. Log into a site and set up any speed buying options they have
  8. If you see your items at a price you want, get them right away

Consider how you will give the gift if it isn’t something physical…a picture of it in a card can be cool.

Be careful also with digital gifts (downloads, which can be e-books, songs, movies, and so on) because they may deliver immediately.  If you get it a week early, so might your recipient.

By the way, you may hear about

http://www.ruelala.com/

this year.  Someone else has to invite you to join, but it reportedly has really good deals.

Oh, and I haven’t mentioned auction sites, like http://www.ebay.com .  Honestly, I’m a little leery of those, although they are now a significant part of our economy.  My concern is stolen items…it does happen…you usually have some recourse, but it’s complicated to try to resolve it at the holidays. 

This is the official Cyber Monday site:

http://www.cybermonday.com/

How can there be an official site?  Shop.org made up the name.  🙂

Do you have any special sites you like, or tips?  Feel free to comment on this post.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle. 

My friendly Black Friday (really)

November 27, 2010

My friendly Black Friday (really)

It’s a family tradition that we go shopping on Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving).

In this earlier post, I gave you some tips for getting the best out of it.  I thought it was only fair that I check back with you on how it went with us today.

We set the alarms for 3:30, but both of us beat them by a few minutes.  The pets were quite confused to be fed that early…but willing to make the sacrifice.  😉

We got to our first store, JC Penney’s, at 4:00 (which was when it opened).  We picked up the annual snow globe/ornament.  That’s a family tradition, too..this is the only day of the year my offspring gets homesick.  😉

We shopped JCP and Macys.  Everything went fine at JCP…funny, good-natured, and efficient salesclerk.  Macys…well, I didn’t see it, but my offspring said one of the clerks was…um…not used to doing this.

Next was Target, and that’s where we had a lot of fun.  It happened to be that, just as we were going into the store, they were bringing in a couple of carts.  We got one…we are mainly in Target to buy toys for Toys for Tots.  We like to do that…on Black Friday, it gives you a chance to buy the mainstream toys that the kids who benefit from Toys for Tots might not get otherwise.

We checked out the line…it was very long.

So, we followed one of the pieces of advice I gave you: I got into line with the cart.  My Significant Other went off to the toy department.  Well, a young couple came up behind me…arms full of presents. 

I offered to let them use my cart.  We got to chatting…had a very nice time.  When my Significant Other (SO) came back, we just put our presents in the bottom of the cart.  My SO carried a package for another person, and we all had a lovely time.

We learned about the kids, and a trip to Disneyland, and the changing tastes of a ten-year old.

Target did a great job with the line, by the way.  We were really supported by a large staff…with ping pong paddles.  It was sort of like being waved around by the tarmac crew at the airport.  😉 

After that, we went home and unloaded.  I also had to inject the diabetic dog with insulin, and there’s a bit of time pressure with that.

We did try a new restaurant in town for breakfast…okay, that didn’t work out well.  🙂  The place was freezing, the food wasn’t good.  Our waiter was friendly and efficient.

Over to Kohl’s…which appeared to be handling the line poorly.  People were upset in it, and clearly waiting a long time.  The up escalator wasn’t working.  We decided it wasn’t worth getting anything there…the line looked like it would take an hour.

I did see a clerk do a very nice thing.  One shopper was clearly upset, speaking loudly to a relative on a cellphone.  The clerk came over, nothing accusatory, and just asked if there was anything that the clerk could do to help.  The clerk started helping the shopper rearrange purchases…that made everything better, even for the other shoppers.

We were back home easily by 9…in plenty of time for online bargains.  🙂

All in all, a pleasant day.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle. 

Getting the best out of Black Friday

November 23, 2010

Getting the best out of Black Friday

“It’s the eye of the shopper
It’s the thrill of the deal
Rising up for the bargain-priced doorbusters
And the fast-moving shopper
Stalks her gift at a steal
And she’s down at the mall with the
Eeeeeyyyyyeeeee of the shopper

The Friday after Thanksgiving is called Black Friday in the retail world.  While you may think that’s because the salespeople dread the onslaught of slathering, inexperienced shoppers, it really has a different meaning.  It’s the day of the year when many stores go “into the black”.  That is, some stores operate at a loss except at the holidays.

I managed a bookstore, as readers of my  I Love My Kindle blog know.  But I also managed a game store.  The game store would do something like 80% of the sales for the entire year from Black Friday through about the end of the year.  The store literally could not have stayed in business without those sales.

For a lot of retail people, it’s actually a fun day and weekend.  It’s a challenge…like running a marathon.  You may not enjoy it while it’s happening, but you are happy afterwards that you succeeded.

For shoppers, though, it can definitely be a difficult experience.  One of the main complications for holiday shopping is people who don’t shop the rest of the year.  There are many learned behaviors in stores…and those folks just haven’t learned them.

A classic example is walking up to the front of the line when someone is having a transaction to ask the cashier a question.  Believe me, the rest of the line is going to really glare at you.  Ideally, ask a sales clerk “on the floor”, not behind the cash register (unless there is no one in line).  If you feel like you need to ask someone behind a counter a question, stand a few feet back from the register…the other shopper deserves privacy.  Think of it a bit like the bank.  Wait until the cashier engages you.  They have to put the money away (if any was used) before they can talk to you.  It’s not safe for them otherwise.  That’s just one example.

Undeniably, you can get a lot of good deals on Black Friday.  You may be able to match them online…but you may not.  You may hate the idea of going…that’s fine, you can skip it and still do okay.  But if you do decide to go, I’m going to give you some tips so you can tet the most out of it.  My family goes every year, and we have fun.  🙂  We do it primarily to buy toys for Toys for Tots.  It’s a great day to get bargains on those brand name toys (like Dora the Explorer) that underprivileged kids may not usually get.  It can really make them feel more mainstream.  Don’t forget the teenagers…they often get forgotten.  One year, we got MP3 players for five dollars…sweet!  Oh, be aware that things that need batteries or have small parts may be a challenge.  You want something kids can easily keep with them…they may be in situations with a lot of kids, or need to move frequently.

Here then, are some tips for a valuable Black Friday experience:

1. Plan your stores

This is the most important thing.  Figure out how early you want to start…we get to our first store at 4:00 AM.  Find out when your stores are going to open.  You don’t want to go to a store at 4, and find out it doesn’t open until 5:00 (slackers) 😉 .  On the other hand, many stores have “doorbusters”.  Those are special sales that typically are only available for a few hours.  They are designed to get people in and out of the store.  The sales are often really good…but with limited quantities.  You’ll see the ads saying, “While supplies last”.  Best Buy is apparently going to have the Barnes & Noble NOOK EBR (E-Book Reader) wifi-only model on sale for $99.  That’s a savings of fifty dollars!  I do prefer the Kindle for a lot of reasons, but for those who already have one NOOK in the family or want a second EBR, this is a great deal.  The ad, though, says a “minimum of 10 per store”.  If they do not limit purchases, one person could easily buy ten.  Those could be for family members…but they could also be planning to give them to employees, or even resell them.  My guess is that if you wait until the store has been open for an hour, they’ll be out of these.

This is the site I use for store hours:

http://bfads.net/Black-Friday-Store-Hours

Figure it is going to take at least half an hour a store.  It could easily take more than that, depending on the lines.  You can pick three stores for an hour…but you may only get to one of them.  Find out if there is a bargain you really think you want to have…like the first ride you want to get to at Disneyland.  Plan it out geographically…you don’t want to waste time driving back and forth.

For example, Sears, Macy’s, and Target all open at 4:00.  5:00 includes Sam’s Club, Best Buy, Kmart, Burlington Coat Factory, and Game Stop.

 So, you could figure you are going to Target…and if you still have time go to Macy’s and Sears in that order.  Regardless, you plan to get to Best Buy at 5:00.  If you have time after Best Buy, you are going to Game Stop, and so on.

2. Plan a time for breakfast

The last big wave of stores is 7:00 AM.  If you can wait until 7:30 or 7:45 to go to a restaurant (or go home and unload and eat), you’ll be better off.  Getting a snack first might make sense, of course.

3. Bring lists

This one is important.  My family has great fun doing “wish lists”.  It’s really the one time of year we here from pretty much everybody…nieces, nephews, cousins.  Ours tend to be narrative, including what’s going in your life.  Even if you don’t do that (and a lot of people like to be totally surprised), get sizes from everybody.  Not just sizes, but compatibilities.  What do I mean by that?  Find out what videogame system they use, what EBR (E-Book Reader),  Blu-Ray vs. DVD, and so on.  You don’t want to get something they can’t use, and it’s confusing to keep it all straight.  Print it out, put it on your portable data device (like an iPad or Kindle)…or if you are more techie, consider using Google Docs.  That can work really well if you have internet access in the store.  Those documents are easy to make and can be private just to you and the people you choose (and, you know, Google itself).  We have a Google spreadsheet with the people for whom we want to get gifts and whether or not we’ve gotten them, and a Google Document with the with lists,

4. Charge and bring your cellphones

You may split up…some way to reach the other people in your party is important.  It can be really hard to cut through the store to get to a particular place…you need that flexibility.  Have a meeting place outside of the store if you do get separated somehow…the car could work.

5. See if you can get shopping apps for your smartphone or other device

There are a lot of apps out there.  You can scan the UPC (Universal Product Code) on something you want to buy, and your phone can tell you where to get it cheaper close by.  Your phone knows where you are…

6. Turn around and look at your car after you park

That is the key to finding it when you go back (if you don’t have a GPS gadget that can find your way back to your car for you…those are getting relatively inexpensive).  Walk a few car lengths towards the store…and turn around and look back at the car.  Whenever you reach a fork, where you can go one of two directions, you may want to turn around.  You want the view to where you’ve been to be in your memory.  Of course, also note the floor on which you parked, a space number, all of that.  If worse comes to worse, you may have something on your keychain that can make your car honk for you.

7. If you can afford it, look for emergency gifts

We usually get a couple of gifts to have on hand in case somebody shows up we didn’t expect.  A gift card can be good, but there are a lot of possibilities.  I’d get something you might want if you don’t end up using it.  🙂

8. Be prepared to come back

It may be that you’ll get something on your receipt that gives you a discount if you come back later in the day or the next day.  You don’t need to get everything today.

9. Have one person get in line while the other person is shopping

This can be a huge timesaver.  It can take a half an hour just to get to the cashier.  One of you may want to get in line for the cashier as soon as you enter the store.  Bring a book or something else to do.  The other person shops (checking in with the cellphone, if necessary).  That’s so much more efficient than having you both walk around the store and then get in line.  The person in line, depending on the store, may want to get in line with a shopping cart.  That makes it easier for the other person to join you…especially if they don’t have to fight through the line with a cart themselves.  They can keep dropping things off in the cart, if necessary.

10. Get ready for Cyber Monday

Since 2005, the Monday following Black Friday (which is the Friday following Thanksgiving…at least in the US) has been called Cyber Monday.  It’s a very busy online shopping day.  Originally, that was partially because people waited until they got back to work, where they had faster internet connections.  🙂  That’s no longer true for many people, of course…my internet connection is faster at home, and there may be limitations on shopping at work (and more sophisticated ways to detect it).  Still, you can count on bargains online.  In another post, I’ll tell a little about how to get online coupons and do comparison shopping online.

So, there you go…ten tips to make Black Friday a day you look forward to every year…and how you can save time and money.

Oh, and I do recommend this site:

http://bfads.net/

You can see scans of ads, search for products, and so on.  It appears that what they do is legal (or I wouldn’t promote them), although some stores wish they wouldn’t.

My Significant Other also loves getting the newspapers on Thursday (Thanksgiving) when they have the Black Friday ads.  If you aren’t as much of an internet person, that’s a good option as well.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle.

Flash! Fisher-Prices introduces remote-control Bigfoot

September 12, 2010

Flash! Fisher-Prices introduces remote-control Bigfoot

Do you remember the Great Garloo?  I do!  Oh, you might not remember the name.  It was this really cool giant green robot guy with a fin on his head and a leopard loincloth.  You had a remote control (with a cable), and you could make him roll forward, bend over…even pick up stuff!  Here, this commercial might help:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I0p0WRhAp9o

What’s the modern day equivalent?

Well, the folks at Imaginext (part of Fisher-Price) have introduced

Bigfoot the Monster

Of course, things have changed since 1961.  The remote control is wireless, for one thing.  Bigfoot raps, exercises, even has emotions!  You can see all those demonstrated in the

Watch the Demo

button on that Amazon product page…it’s not a very obvious button.

Of course, Garloo only had one emotion…angry!

It’s interesting that they are gearing this (at least partially) to kids who are too young to read…they used pictograms for the buttons.  They say 36 months to 8 years old…I’m not sure I want a three-year old driving her or his own sasquatch.  😉

Bigfoot’s been kid friendly before…remember

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-NNb1pgQlQo Bigfoot and Wildboy?

Nah, that’s okay if you don’t…I knew that would be a stretch.  😉

Oh, and there was Quatchi, one of the mascots for this year’s Winter Olympics.

 Gee, I wonder who would win in a fight between The Great Garloo and Bigfoot the Monster?  I don’t know, but I’m guessing Bigfoot would be a sore loser…or get fined for celebrating after the win.  😉

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.


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