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Information on saving money or really cheap (or free) deals.

Written By: Gary on October 5, 2007 One Comment

So MacWorld reports that ‘a U.S. jury found her guilty of copyright infringement and fined her a total of $222,000’.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota could have fined Jammie Thomas as much as $3.6 million, but opted not to. The mother of two was found guilty of stealing and giving away via Internet peer-to-peer Internet file-sharing service Kazaa a total of 24 songs from companies including Capitol Records, Sony BMG Music Entertainment and Warner Bros. Records.

Macworld Oct. 5, 2007

Did you see the important part? It was only 24 songs!!! Ouch! I assumed it was thousands of songs when I saw the fine…

I’d really like to comment that all of that is pretty harsh. But she was breaking the law so I guess there isn’t much to say. Actually, I will make a comment, file-sharing is bad, but she’d have to share an awful lot for the record companies to lose that much money. Although, 24 songs is probably what they specifically proved, she may have done thousands of others that they just didn’t have the details on (but that would probably be inadmissible too). How would you even pay a fine like that?

Here’s the direct link.

Update: Turns out there were 1,700-ish songs, they just focused on a smaller amount for the case. Scott (over at Dean’s World) has some more info and a few more links.

Written By: Gary on September 27, 2007 119 Comments

So you have to spend 47 consecutive days and nights living at the hospital in your own room but it does pay you $9557. I thought it might be interesting, especially if out of a job (or really bored). But here’s the downside:

You will not know what time it is during the 47-day study, and the room has no windows, clocks, TV, and you will not be allowed to bring devices that tell time. You will also not have access to a telephone during the 47-day study.

Holy cow! I think it’s really a suicide study. Or some kind of reality TV show. I’ve got to assume that means no ‘net access either!!!

You will be told when to go to sleep and when to wake up, when to shower, and when to eat your meals. You will also have to take performance tests on a computer in your room many times each day. In between these study activities you will have free time, but your free time will be interrupted frequently.

Actually, it does say “at no time are you being recorded on video or audiotape” so I guess it’s not a reality show. All the info is in the SlickDeals post if you’re interested…

Written By: Gary on September 26, 2007 One Comment

So Amazon opened the Amazon MP3 store which has been getting some good reviews and (most importantly) it semi-integrates by pushing your purchases into your iTunes which is great for automatic syncing with your iPod. They’ve had tracks for download for ages, but this is their big jump into the market (you do need their downloader for this).

Amazonmp3I actually spotting it yesterday when searching for some music but I didn’t realize the format change of my search results indicated a whole new service. I did notice that the tracks were only 89 cents though!

Keep in might for 89 cents they are a dime less than the iTunes music store for regular tracks but since there is no encryption (DRM) and it’s encoded at a higher quality (even than Apple I believe) these are 40 cents less than Apple’s $1.29 a song. That’s about 1/3 less if you’ve been getting the DRM-free higher quality songs (and that’s what I’ve been getting lately). And they are MP3s, so they play on just about anything (but higher quality does mean larger songs). Buying whole albums will generally discount the price.There are exceptions to the 89 cent price for the individual songs, but I can’t figure out the rules to tell you. And like the iTunes store I believe there are tracks that can’t be purchased separately from the album, I thought I saw that yesterday but I can’t find an example of that today.

And to be fair to Apple, their DRM free $1.29 songs are generally much cheaper if you buy the whole album (the 14 track One Cell in the Sea – by A Fine Frenzy is only $7.99 (which I think is the same as the iTunes DRM version) which is the same price as the Amazon mp3 store, except Amazon doesn’t appear to give you the booklet.

So the end result, IMHO, it’ll never beat the seamlessness of the iTunes Music Store but but with it’s downloader (which does give you a free song), Amazon mp3 might be a good alternative or at least a second place to check when shopping for songs. If you’re not an iPod user it’s probably a great place to consider for your mp3 shopping (I think the downloader will push the tracks to other players but since I don’t have any I”m not certain). The downloader does work pretty good, I did try it. It would be nice if it were smart enough to add it to an “Amazon Playlist”.

I fully expect to see them selling movies, television, music videos, audio books or distributing podcasts via the same mechanism in the future….

Written By: Gary on September 15, 2007 No Comment

These deals probably won’t last (especially the cables) but I thought I’d mention them:

  • Cables to Go kit $9.99 (free ship) – I’ve never seen these this cheap without a rebate. All sorts of travel computer retractable cables, even if you don’t travel you probably need a set of these for home.
  • $1.99 Domain names at Yahoo – New customers only and probably only one name but if you’ve been thinking of getting a domain name, why not now?!?
  • 25% off at Borders – Good through the weekend. They might make you get a free rewards card, but it doesn’t say required.I just bought two of the travel kits (and a few for work), I’ve bought multiple names from Yahoo! in the past and I’ve bought lots of books using these coupons so they’re all pretty good deals.

    (None of the above are affiliate links – I just thought the cables were a great deal to mention so I threw in a few others).

  • Written By: Gary on September 4, 2007 One Comment

    So I mentioned the other day that as an assignment I made the students in the Tech Leadership class I taught write a grant (submitting was optional) and three students won. I just found out there was a fourth winner!!!! That’s brings the class total up to about $5,300. I think only seven applied so that’s awesome (at most eight applied since that’s all the students who had ja required job in education).

    I’m so geeked!!!

    Written By: Gary on September 2, 2007 One Comment

    So someone mentioned AdPerk as a way to get free magazines. As of today the only have Dwell and Popular Science. I sat down and watched a few videos (10-15 minutes?) while eating breakfast and earned a free subscription to Popular Science. If they had a little more selection of videos it’d be more interesting. They did make me answer a very easy CAPTCHA at the end of each one (no swirly colors, just tilted letters). It was really easy and painless and it worked on my Apple Macintosh with Safari (you can’t always count on that).

    The downside is the magazines they have (and plan to offer) aren’t particularly expensive or anything. I’m not interested in Dwell so I have no reason to go back to their site anytime soon. I don’t think I can earn and save points for the future or at least I could watch for now…

    I have a few suggestions for them:

  • Figure out a way so I don’t have to watch a bunch at once, e-mail me a link every few days to watch a video (with enough info in the link so I don’t have to log in) and just have it keep track of my points.
  • Store up my points for magazines that I can choose later (on non-magazine gifts too).
  • Figure out a way to let me watch them on my TiVo or my AppleTV or some other lazy interactive type device (where I can be lazy and sit on the couch)
  • Written By: Gary on September 1, 2007 One Comment

    Uh oh! I just bid a maximum of 50 dollars instead of 50 cents on an eBay item! I sure hope not many other people bid on this item. At first I freaked since I thought that was my bid, and then I remembered it’d bid up to that amount. There’s only a little bit of time left so cross your fingers for me!

    LATER: Whew! No one bid higher than the 50 cents!!! It was just for a Beowulf (Neil Gaiman and Roger Avery) movie tie-in advance six page comic that I thought might be interesting. This guy was charging a little more for shipping ($4) than the others so no one even beat my 50 cent bid….

    Written By: Gary on September 1, 2007 2 Comments

    So I teach a Leadership in Technology graduate class at a local university in the summer. One of the assignments is to write a grant; there is a $1,500 grant due at that time, so the timing is perfect. We review them in class, make suggestions, and we evaluate each other’s grants using the actual grant rubric. And then I grade it based on the same criteria of the grant.

    I think about seven of them applied, not everyone could apply, you needed to be an employed K-12 educator and you need to be a member of the organization we applied to (which costs $40-ish). You probably see where this story is going…The other day I got an e-mail telling me that one of the students was awarded one of the grants. I was pretty excited, I wanted to write the rest of the class but I was too busy at that moment. When I looked at my mail later I had a message that one of the other students had also won a grant! So I sat down to write the rest of the class, while I was writing I got a third message telling me another student had won!!! I was floored. I’d guess they only awarded 25-35 of these grants and we got three of them! I think the three of them totaled about $3,800, that’s all equipment they’ll be able to buy for their school classrooms and use for the project they wrote and any other uses they’ll come up with.

    As a result of winning they’ll also have to present at the next conference (which they get to go for free) and maybe write a short article for the newsletter. Very exciting!

    Written By: Gary on July 19, 2007 No Comment

    If you use PayPal, this suggestion is for you as an individual (not for the PayPal company itself). PayPal lets you add several e-mail addresses to your account to send/receive money. My suggestion is to add a few other addresses that you use to your account. If someone sends you money to one of these other addresses it’s way easier to claim it!

    And I also think it might be better for you if your current e-mail account ever goes under, the other e-mail will already be on file.

    I just had the first problem, and PayPal phone support resolved it for me pretty quick (if I would have shut up and stopped asking questions they probably would have resolved it even faster).

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    Written By: Gary on May 19, 2007 3 Comments

    I can’t promise long this offer will last, but I personally have done it before. They really gave me the 15,000 points!

    This gets you $110-$150 in free gift cards (Target, Macy’s, Amazon, Best Buy, Circuit City, Home Depot and many more) after applying for a card from CitiBank (and after making one purchase). Really the only way you get $150 is with a few certain stores, but you can mix and match and probably get $125+ pretty easily from the stores above. I got this offer from SlickDeals.net

    Step 1 – Turn off your pop up blockers (or use Internet Explorer)
    Step 2 – Go to this link
    Step 3 – Click on “Apply Now”
    Step 4 – Follow step 5 very carefully.
    Step 5 – Then close the application window, a popup with a new $150 gift card offer will appear. (If you don’t follow these instructions it’s only for $80-$100 in gift cards).

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    Written By: Gary on May 6, 2007 2 Comments

    Skype logoOn Mother’s Day (May 13) you can make unlimited free Calls (from US/Canada Skype) to anywhere in the world!!! Check out the Skype page for more details. Actually, it’s not really unlimited it’s only 200 minutes free, but that’s still a pretty good deal.

    Post edited to not incorrectly refer to “today” as Mother’s Day…

    Offer valid from May 13th 2007, 5:00 am (Eastern Time GMT-5.00) to May 14th 2007 4:59 am (Eastern Time GMT-5.00)

    Written By: Gary on May 5, 2007 No Comment

    Today is Free Comic Book Day so head on up to your local participating store and get some free comics.

    Free Comic Book Day is an annual promotional effort by the North American comic book industry to help bring new readers into independent comic book store.

    From Wikipedia

    My local store is Green Brain in Dearborm (MI) and they’ve always got lots of freebies and this year they have guest Scott McCloud signing autographs.

    It’s all sorts of comics, don’t just think Archie and Spiderman, scroll down the Green Brain page to see everything they have going on (and how to get more free comics) so stop by and get a few…

    I’m on my way right now…

    Written By: Gary on May 2, 2007 2 Comments

    So I’ve gotten more than a few people hitting my site from search engines from the word “Comcast” and since I just adjusted my plan (again) I thought I’d mention my current Comcast plans and maybe save y’all a few bucks. First I’ll mention that I try to pay attention to recurring costs and utilities especially paying attention to my cable / internet bills since they are more of a luxury that heat or electricity.

    If you don’t care about (possibly) saving money, don’t read the rest of this…Cable TV – I generally just get econo-basic, it’s generally available on most cable systems (I think many cities/townships require a cheap plan in the contract), it’s just generally the first 20-30 channels on the cable system, it’s on $12 (on my system) and usually doesn’t require a cable box (on most systems). I don’t want many more channels than that so it suites me fine. I think the next package up these days is $29.99 so that’s a big jump if I don’t want all those channels anyways. Here’s the thing if you want internet, the prices there quote for internet are $15 more if you don’t have cable so it’s really $3 cheaper to have cable TV with your cable internet.

    Remember, just because one sales person doesn’t know about a service doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. If someone can’t help you, call back later and check with them.

    HD TV – So on top of the econo-basic I pay $7 a month for an HD box (it just jumped up from $5), this gets me most of the major networks and a few more channels in HD. Please note, I do not have a HD TV, so I don’t get the full benefit, but it does look like it’s DVD quality (it’s definitely better than digital cable).

    Cable Internet – Every 6 to 12 months I call and complain about the rates ($43 a month 6,000 down/384 up). I mention other offers (competing companies and DSL) and they usually drop my bill about $5-$15 a month for the next 6-12 months. Last time I called they offered me the deluxe service for $30 a month and this was 8,000 down/768 up so I took the offer. It’s normally $53 a month but it was a promotion and this expired this week so I canceled it. I do notice it’s a little slower (I actually think it’s the slower up speed that I’m noticing) but I’m debating if it’s worth $120 a year for the faster speed…

    And don’t forget you can buy your own cable modem and save $3-$5 a month. If signing up for new service (via Best Buy, Circuit City, CompUSA, etc.) you can generally get these for free after rebate so it’s really worth doing…

    Here’s the thing when I called yesterday to change the plan they said they didn’t have any other packages (besides these 6,000 and 8,000) but I just checked my bill to verify these costs for this post and I seen they have a 4,000 (4 meg) plan (the bill was clarifying the names of the new plans starting May 1). FYI, they usually offer a $25 service too that’s 384 down (I think it’s 384 up), that’s not too fast but it’s better than dial-up (and it’s always on).

    UPDATE: Tonight, no one seemed to think the 384 down service still exists, which is very funny since they just renamed it to “Economy”. So I’ve had two people tell me the Performance Lite at 4,000 (4 Meg) is $25 ($24.95 actually) in my area so I switched to it (that would really be some savings from $43 a month). But when they switched me I’m just getting 384 up and down, I’ve had this happen before when they’ve offered plans to me. So, it turns out that he thought that it’s an either the Economy (384 down) or the Performance Lite (4,000 down); both are $25 a month, I will be calling back in a few weeks to double-check that is really the case. But they did give me $5 off a month for the next 12 months for the time it took (about 50 minutes) so that’s something; I’d rather have had 4,000 down for $25 a month…

    So the end result of tonight’s call is that 4,000 down for $24.95 (performance lite from Comcast) is not an option in my area but it might be in yours (or a similar plan from your company). Just test it while you’re on the phone to make sure it’s really that fast before you hang up…

    Written By: Gary on March 29, 2007 No Comment

    It’s about time! Now you can go back and buy the rest of an iTunes album at a discount if you previously bought one song. Just go to the iTunes Music Store and in the upper right choose “Complete My Album”.

    Apple iTunesThis is great mainly for several reasons: If you bought one song off an album that had 12 songs on it (for $9.99) you can now get the other 11 for $9.00 instead of having to buy the whole album (it looks like it’s full credit). Also, if you bought one song off an album and some of the songs were “album only” purchases you now have the option to get rest since you’re actually buying the whole album. For a 10 song album, it really doesn’t make a difference. Not all artists are doing this and you only have six months to get your missing albums, but it’s a nice option if you regretted not getting it in the first place. FYI, they did grandfather in all the old albums you bought more than six months ago (so you can still get the missing ones).

    I’m not sure if this will help if you bought a pre-release single since I haven’t bought that many. I’m pretty sure a few of the songs on the list are ones I’ve (purchased) for free, but I could be mistaken. And I know there are a few that I didn’t purchase off the album they are showing, I must have bought off some other album or special purchase mix that iTunes offered (iTunes Originals or something).

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    Written By: Gary on March 23, 2007 One Comment

    Usually I post this earlier but I forgot this year. Tonight is the South Redford Schools Auction (actually it’s run by another organization but it’s for the schools) and you can always get a pretty good deal on donated items so if you’re not doing anything tonight…

    As usual a basket with a few Cat in the Hat goodies that includes a visit from the Cat in the Hat for a party or just to read stories. I’ve been doing this one the past few years.

    New this year (and I’m going to start doing this one) is a basket of goodies from my vacation to Costa Rica. Bags of coffee, some muchs, chocolate covered beans, a hand made box (with a toucan on it) and a few other oddities. Assuming this sells, I think I’m going to make a package of stuff each time I go on a trip from now on.

    Written By: Gary on February 18, 2007 6 Comments

    Pringles Drivers.Freecarmedia.ComGet a free car or get $400 a month to drive yours. If you get a car from them it looks like it cover maintenance and tires too. I’m not sure how I feel about this but if it was a product I loved and I could make (up to) $400 a month, that doesn’t seem to bad.

    If you are chosen, you will receive a new car, wrapped in an attractive advertisement, to use for two years or you will be given the option to wrap the vehicle that you currently own and get paid up to $400 a month.

    I could drive something like a TiVo, Apple, SixApart, some musical performer I like or a travel costa rica wrapped car. I’ve said before I like my convertible because I can put the top down, not because it’s sporty and I could be happy driving a box. Well, it would definitely take away any considerations of being sporty and getting paid would be nice…I gotta figure if you get paid you have to claim it, if you’re just driving their car it might not count as income (plus you get service) so it just depends on what you’re looking for. I might fill out one of these profiles, it’s not like I have to take it if they offer me.

    They used to do with years ago with VolksWagon Beetles and Kool cigarettes, I’m not sure what the pay-out was then but they were always interesting to see (been googling for a few minutes now, can’t find an image of that to show).

    Written By: Gary on February 17, 2007 No Comment

    If you are a college student you can get 300 free text messages from Sprint every month for a year. Just take your ID to a Sprint store. (Don’t forget to cancel in a year!)

    From SlickDeals.net.

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    Written By: Gary on February 4, 2007 No Comment

    So I keep forgetting to mentioned that I found iLike, it’s kind of a music social networking site.

    The big difference is it recommends music to you and allows you to download it for free. It appears to work best with iTunes, if you download the iLike sidebar it’ll upload lists of what you listen to most and make recommendations in the sidebar where it’ll let you preview music and download it directly to iTunes. Now the free songs are mostly artists that you haven’t heard of, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t any good, I’m really enjoying some of my new found music. It seems like most (all?) of the new music comes from GarageBand.com

    My iLike page is at http://ilike.com/user/garylapointe

    They just keep adding new features that they’re pretty god a keeping you up-to-date on the iLike Blog. And they’ve got a widget for your web page (which I’m hoping is showing up on your screen as you read this) and it’ll even let you play my recently played songs as you read this post!What I don’t like about it is it calculates favorites based on the songs in iTunes on your hard drive and not what’s on your iPod (even if this was some manual option I had to select I could deal with it). I’ve got a 60 GB iPod, I don’t have that much room on my laptop to carry around all my music on it all the time (besides I’ve probably got it with me on my iPod). So really what it thinks is my favorite is what I’ve bought from the iTunes store that’s on my laptop and played the most (on the laptop or the iPod). So Conjure One is what it lists as my absolute favorite and while I like them a lot they wouldn’t be listed as my favorite. And when I was playing a lot of Christmas music (which I also had on my laptop) it push that up on my favorite list (I see Kenny G is still high in my rankings because of Christmas.

    Written By: Gary on February 4, 2007 No Comment

    It’s the Linksys CIT200 iPhone and works with Skype and you’d might not even realize it was a real phone. It looks more like a generic Nokia cell phone than a home phone and it works great. Actually, the one thing that makes it “not normal” (which doesn’t bother me as much as others on-line) is if you are manually dialing you need to dial the “+1” before all calls, to me it’s slightly silly, you should be able to configure it to have a default country (and area) code.

    So I really like my iPhone.You can see all the people you have on your Skype list on the display of the phone so you just scroll down and pick who you want to call. I’ve wandered all over the condo and it’s clear everywhere (I’m on the 3rd/4th floor and it’s clear on the first level too!). It’s got a headset jack on it, a great speaker phone and supports call waiting. From the USB base the plugs into the computer it even has a button to press so you can page the phone so you can’t misplace it. You do need to route the audio on the computer so it properly goes to the phone (Skype has audio settings but it seems like the computer overrides them).I initially set up Skype when I dropped my land-line phone. I wanted a way to make phone calls in case I forgot my phone somewhere (or it broke) and wanted an easy backup. Plus when I’m out of the country if I have interent access, I can make phone-calls to the US very inexpensively (2.1 cents a minute).

    If you use Skype it’s a must have, if you don’t have Skype and you need an extra phone line in the house get Skype and pay for unlimited outgoing calls to land-lines in the US and Canada for $30 a year. If you don’t get a phone like this you just use a headset on the computer.

    What don’t I like about my iPhone? It’s got a crappy wallpaper background and while they have several to choose from, none are a plain background so it’s always hard to read the screen. The “+1” is a minor annoyance, but since I really don’t use it that much, it’s okay. The audio configuration is mildly annoying, I’m hoping an update fixes that (update: I did just install the Jan 22, 2007 update and the audio confusion seems better, we’ll see how it feels after a few days).

    Written By: Gary on January 29, 2007 No Comment

    It’s “Skype Gift Day”! Log into your Skype account (or sign up) and click give me my gift of 10 free minutes of calling to non-internet phones (landline or cellular). Probably limited to the US / Canada.

    And it’s almost the last day (Jan 31st) to sign up for unlimited calling to the US and canada for only $14.95 (50% off).

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    Written By: Gary on January 21, 2007 No Comment
    Hold your Wee for a Wii –
    KDND-FM had a contest to see who could drink the most water without a bathroom break. Jennifer Strange came in second place, sadly several hours later she died from “water intoxication” which I had never heard of before now. But I guess anything to excess is bad for you. The station has fired 10 staff members of it’s staff as a result.
    Irish Currency –
    Researchers tested money for cocaine and 100% of the Irish bills had traces of cocaine on them. Now there were only 45 randomly selected bills in the test but that’s still pretty high. More at Yahoo!
    An Inconvenient Truth –
    A Seattle School has banned it’s schools from showing An Inconvenient Truth unless they show opposing views. The bible says the world will burn up in the end and this movie doesn’t show opposing views. From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer

    I saw most of these stories in The Week which I really like (I get the printed edition). They don’t write a lot (most?) of their articles, they get from other sources. They reprint some political cartoons and have a few columns I like such as “Only in America” (which contained the Seattle School article)

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    Written By: Gary on January 7, 2007 No Comment

    Pict1918-1So there are somethings we really take for granted but it just isn’t the same everywhere else. For instance:

  • Medicine – While I was at the farmicia (drug store) I saw a family come in to get a single (1) Allegra tablet (the are actually individually wrapped). Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to see how much one was. With my insurance, which I’m very thankful for, I get a three month supply for only $2 (via mail-order). I don’t have any idea what they paid, but I’m sure it was more than two-and-a-half cents, but maybe not, you never know. I’m assuming they cost enough to where you don’t keep a jar of them at home.
  • Coleman cooler – Here’s what we would consider to be a normal sized Coleman cooler (one of the larger ones, not the small ones that just hold a 5 pack). It’s about $63, that’s a lot of money here. We talked to a waiter last night (at a the nicest restaurant I’ve ever been to in Costa Rica) and he makes about $30 a day including tips, now remember things cost less here but that’s still two days wages here. At minimum wage it’s probably a 1/2 days wages, and remember that’s minimum wage.
  • Health care – so many of the places are remote it can be hours to a hospital, and that’s only if you have a way to get transportation to where you are when you need the help. I don’t think there’s even one here in Jaco, you probably have to go to Punteranes or San Jose (about 2 hours, maybe a little less).

    I’m sure I’ll add to this list as I think of more…

  • Written By: Gary on January 7, 2007 2 Comments

    Cr Montezuma Big MapSo we really liked Montezuma, I’ve never been in that peninsula in Costa Rica and I’ve always wanted to go there (I think it’s called the Nicoloyia Nicoya Peninsula). We just kept extending our stay a day here and there and ended up staying four nights. We’re really glad we stayed an extra day or we would have missed the island of Tortuga (more on this later). It’s a very small town, just a few streets but it’s very laid back and I’ll definitely go back!

    Seems like a bit of a surfer town, but we saw very little surfing, even though there were lots of places to rent/buy surfing supplies. The water seemed very clear but part of that may have just been because the sand is so dark in Jaco. Speaking of Jaco, it seems like it’s a bit mini-Jaco before it grew, maybe if you could roll it back 30-40 years.

    Here is a street map of Montezuma. You can see all the busineeses on this map. If there is nothing listed it’s probably just trees or sand. Size-wise most of the hotels only have 10-15 rooms so they don’t take up much room. Most of it is concentrated in the top have of the map with Chico’s Bar (#14) at the center o the town, we stayed at El Sano Banano (#9) which is really close to the center.Things did seem less expensive in this town, but don’t assume and be sure to check the menu’s prices before you sit down. Generally (but not always) if a place lists the cost in US Dollars they are more expensive. FYI, no ATMs in this town so make sure you have cash, especially since many places will give you a better deal for cash than charge (mostly noticed this with tours, transportation and hotels).

    It’s way more laid back and it’s a bit of a hippie/rastafarian/bohemian crowd that seems to have settled in there. Some just seem to be traveling for a while and stop for a few months or years and others just seem to have moved there. There seems to be a few Ticos (Costa Rican people) who have relocated up that way as well, they just think it’s more relaxed than some of the other places they’ve been.

    Written By: Gary on December 29, 2006 One Comment

    We’re here, were safe and everything is great! We tried to rent a car but nothing available that we could drop off in Jaco (well, there was a $325 SUV, but I wanted a $60 car) so we took a two hour cab ride. Got dropped off at the hotel and just caught the sunset and then we checked in.

    Hit an ATM (although we panicked for a second when the first bank didn’t like either of our cards but the next banco was fine) and got 100,000.00 colones from the machine (about $190.00). Got some dinner and stuff (soda, juice, water, gatorade) for the hotel room . On the way back we saw some internet places so I’m heading out to see if I can connect my computer (to post this messages) and stop at a pay phone to call Mom to say I’m alive!

    FYI – Did if you are leaving the country your bank or credit card company will make a note in their file if you let them know? Then they don’t think any of it is suspicious activity. We did this, so I knew it shouldn’t be that!…

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    Written By: Gary on December 15, 2006 2 Comments

    A few months back I mentioned that Skype was allowing free outgoing calls to US & Canada for free for the rest of the year. Well the year is almost up and it looks like they’re going to charge $30 a year for unlimited outgoing calls. Please note that it doesn’t matter where you are in the world, it’ll be free outgoing calls to the US and Canada from anywhere.

    Skype logoHere’s the important part: It’s only $15 for the first year if you sign up before January 31. 2007. Plus it looks like they give you $1.25 in international calls and $50 in coupons towards other Skype equipment.

    Now you can still buy blocks of calls from Skype to the US for 2.1 cents a minute, so if you’re not going to use it that much (I probably won’t) then it’s probably not a deal, but if you do, it’s certainly a deal for the first year, they second year you’ll need to make 1400 minutes to break even.

    If you lived out of the country it might be a deal, but there might be better ways for international calling if I needed it all the time, I just don’t use it that much. I think I’m still using the original block of $20 worth of minutes I purchased (about $8 of that left since April 2005).

    It’d be great for your kid in college if they had high-speed internet in their room!

    The question is for my trip to Costa Rica, will I have good enough internet connectivity for me to save $15 in calls? I did use Skype to place my hotel reservation for the first few days in Costa Rica it was easy to use and I think pretty cheap a minute to use it.

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    Written By: Gary on November 25, 2006 No Comment

    FirststeplogoActually since I mentioned the local shelter in the last post I thought I’d mention their next fundraiser at Ikea. It’s $25 to get it and you get 15% off your purchase at Ikea (only on December 10th). Plus in the evening they’ll have entertainment, food, desserts and other drawings (at least they usually do at these types of events). Check out the website and flyer for more information. Oh and Santa will be there too!

    If you donate $100 you get a bag with goodies and a Swedish food basket from Ikea (and your name mentioned in the newsletter). More than that ($250-$5000) and you get more tickets, more stuff in the gift baskets, signage at the event, and larger mentions in the newsletter (up to a full page). Be sure to click on the link to the PDF flyer to get all the details….

    Written By: Gary on November 17, 2006 No Comment

    Millionaire raffleSo Michigan is doing a special lottery. Only 500,000 tickets will be sold! Five $1,000,000 winners will be drawn, Ten $100,000 winners and Seven-hundred-fifty $1,000 winners will be drawn. You have 1 in 100,000 of being a millionaire and 1 in 645 of winning at least $1,000. Half the tickets are sold already!

    “The odds of being hit by a car on the way to buy your lottery ticket are higher than that of actually winning”

    I think I heard Robin WIlliams say that, but I can’t be sure.

    What I don’t like is the tickets are $20. That’s a lot of money for some families. I really wish they’d retool the lottery to have more winners. If the lottery prize is over some huge amount, let’s say 25 million, if the big prize doesn’t win they should keep drawing until they hit a $1,000,000. How cool would that be? A million dollar winner each drawing instead of no winner for weeks and it gets up to some outrageous amount. They should also draw a few more winning numbers and give away a few $50,000 and several hundred $1,000 winners, that would be awesome. It would barely affect the huge prizes and think of all the happy winners.

    I was looking for something for the gift exchange at work, usually it’s goofy gifts or a gift certificate, this is something a little different…

    Of course I’ll get one for me too!

    Written By: Gary on November 16, 2006 3 Comments

    Hey everyone, there’s a Woot Off today!!!

    This means instead of one Woot all day, they add a new one every time an item sells out!

    UPDATE: It’s Friday and the sale is still going on. (As I’ve said before, Woot has great sales once a day and a Woot Off is non-stop sales all day).

    UPDATE 2: It’s all over. It lasted almost two days…

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    Written By: Gary on November 12, 2006 One Comment

    So when I can’t find a free offer for a magazine I’ll generally trade airline miles (you can gift the magazines to others too). I generally use a different airline every-time I fly so I never get enough miles, so instead of wasting them I’ll trade them for miles. Obviously if you use all of your miles this isn’t a good option for you. Sometimes an airline will mail me an offer like this (more likely it’s from the magazine) and I’ll fill out the form (calling the number on the form often reveals other magazine choices) don’t be afraid to say you want 3 years (the max), just write it in. Otherwise, I’ll use these web sites:

  • https://nwa.mpmvp.com/magazine/choose.asp – This is for NorthWest Air and I’ve used this. It says new subscribers but I’m sure I’ve used it for renewals. You could modify the URL for some other airlines, such as American, Midwest and Delta.
  • http://www.magsformiles.com/ – I’m not 100% sure I’ve used this one (I think it offers you a bunch of other crap before you complete the form), a lot of the mags here you can get real cheap on-line or sometimes free (especially for the Zinio digital editions).
  • http://points.com/ does something similar (I think they run one or both of the above) but it seems more complicated and I’m not finding magazines in the list anymore…
  • Written By: Gary on October 29, 2006 No Comment


    Get a free Schick Quattro Razor. Very little information required (address / birth date) and you have to watch a very quick (interesting) slideshow before you hit submit. Watch the slideshow, it’s customized for you (it’s mildly entertaining).

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    Written By: Gary on October 14, 2006 No Comment

    Freewifi1006So I took a survey and they gave me this code from the results of a survey, but it appears gave the same code to everyone (and it doesn’t require any registration). So really, it’s just free WiFi for me and I’m showing you my coupon (I’m not recommending you actually use it).

    Locations include (but not limited to) Avis, Barnes & Noble, Caribou Coffee, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, The UPS Store and a lot of airports. Check the web site for more locations. The original (much larger) coupon says it does not include their McDonald’s locations (but I haven’t tried yet).

    I’m at B & N and there is a flyer that says you can get WiFi for as low as $1.99 if you are a Yahoo DSL subscriber, but I couldn’t find any info at their site related to that but I did find this. Seems like a great deal if you have them as your service provider!

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    Written By: Gary on October 13, 2006 No Comment

    So I thought it was going to happen when prices were dropping a few weeks ago but it didn’t happen. Today when I was driving I saw it or $2.05 but it was really windy and I was kind of in a hurry. But later, I had just pulled into the house and the cell rang and Kelly said, “It’s a $1.99 over by your house”. I was really surprised since I had just drove by the station she mentioned and didn’t notice any thing. So I hopped back into the car and saw the slightly closer gas station was also $1.99, they was a little bit busy but I got a pump right away!

    By the way the stations in question are in Dearborn (Michigan) at Schaefer + Maple (just south of Michigan) and another at Schlaff + Michigan (just west of Schaefer).

    In the last two months, gas has dropped about one dollar in our area (and most of that was in the range from 9 weeks to 3 weeks ago) it’s only just started dropping again the last few weeks.

    I know I talk about gasoline prices a bit but it’s one of those recurring costs that you notice. Electric and natural gas, you know when the bill is high but you don’t really know what you’re paying “per gallon”. Plus I get excited when I get a deal :)

    Written By: Gary on October 11, 2006 No Comment

    I think there’s a Woot Off tonight! “What’s Woot?” you ask? Woot is a deal site that offers one (1) deal a day starting at 1 am EST. Sometimes they last until morning, sometimes they only last a few minutes. Some items are new, some are OEM, some are refurbished. Shipping is $5 whether you buy one item or three.

    A Woot Off is a special day where ones a Woot is sold out, they put another one up a few minutes later. Some items they have very limited amounts so the item doesn’t last very long. And you don’t know how long the sales are going to last (depends on how things sell). Be sure to to check it out…

    FYI – The item everyone wants is the ever elusive BOC (Bag Of Crap) which is a random grab bag of stuff (for a dollar or so). Since shipping is $5 no matter if you buy 1 or 3, get three.

    I’ve never been able to get one of these yet :(

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