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Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Joys of Saving Money

Couponing is now a verb. Keeping in mind that part of the text in the title of my blog, is Money Saving, it shouldn’t be surprising that I am doing a post on coupons.

I don’t think you need to be either indigent or retired to clip coupons although sadly those two things often go hand in hand. Even the phrase clipping coupons has passed out of the vernacular as many coupons are now printed not clipped. I particularly like grocery coupons that I can redeem for double the face value as long as it is under $0.99. I have been sneered at for couponing by those who feel that coupon clipping (or printing) is demeaning. Au contraire I say, it makes no sense to leave money on the table. If you are planning on purchasing dinner rolls and you can save $1.50 off of your favorite brand by clipping a coupon, you have to be an idiot not to save the money. Admittedly prior to being retired, I didn’t have as much time to seek out coupons as I do now. I didn’t need to read all of the columnists at the AARP site to realize saving money with coupons makes serious sense.

Coupons aren’t just for groceries or hard goods. You can use coupons for travel. Travelocity provides coupons that you can use for vacations. Inputting a Travelocity promotion code can save not just the couple of bucks you can save at the grocery store but can save you a couple of hundred bucks on your vacation.

Savings.com just doesn’t list coupons, they have a blog and they have interesting links as well. My favorite column on their blog is Wacky Product Of the Week. I suspect I will be one of the geeks lined up to buy the Transformer thumb drives after all I was one of the few adults I ever saw to have a Decepticon decal on the back of my car.

The bottom line on money savings is that it pays to clip, print and redeem coupons. It can save you a ton of money, there are a wealth of websites that can point you in the right direction or print the coupons right to your printer. Savings.com, the site that brought you this post, is one of my favorites.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Joys of Aging


Recently a good friend regaled me with his lost car keys story. He was in Walmart buying a new TV remote for his 94 year old father. After acquiring the remote he headed for the front of the store. On the way out the door he started doing the pat the pocket for the car keys. Crap, they weren’t in his pocket, he must have dropped them somewhere from the front door to the electronic section. He carefully traced his steps back to electronics but alas, no keys. He asked the electronics clerk if he had found his keys. The electronics clerk asked him who he was. He reminded the guy he just bought the remote, drew a blank look from the clerk and asked him again if anyone had turned in a set of car keys. After being informed no keys had been turned in, my pal started to panic. First how would he get back to his Dad’s apartment? Then he thought, oh crap, if my wife didn’t bring her keys with her, the closest key is 1000 miles away. Walking despondently to the door, he thought he would check the car, in case he had left the keys in it. Imagine his surprise when he reached the car and discovered he had left his keys in the car, along with his wife who was impatiently waiting.

Damn, it is fun growing old.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Inkjet Cartridges and Razor Blades

An earlier post mentioned my frustration with trying to make an old Okidata 10ex work with my Vista laptop. That was a dream that remained unfulfilled. Since I like being able to print out stuff, even on vacation, I went to Walmart and bought the Canon iP2600. The setup was a bit tedious but simple. It prints fast and the quality is exceptional. I printed out some photos yesterday on their sample photo paper and they were excellent. No matter how you cut it , this printer is an exceptional bargain. This printer cost $32.00 plus tax at Walmart.

I don’t do much printing when I am on vacation but I like having a printer. I look at the convenience and off set the $32 with running to a Kinkos to print out a boarding pass and I am ok with the expenditure. Now the sad part, when the printer runs out of ink, I will throw it out and buy what ever is at the same price point. Replacement inkjet cartridges are $36.00 plus shipping or tax depending on where I get them. Canon brand cartridges are a couple of bucks more. Hmm, I can toss the printer and buy a new one for $32 or spend $4.00 more and buy cartridges. Seems like a no brainer to me. I have the time to set up the new printer and considering how technology progresses, it will be better than this one. Printer companies have adopted the old cheap razor and expensive blade philosophy and they can’t seem to get beyond it. They often lose money on the printer planning on recouping it on the cartridges. If all of would just dump the printer and buy a new one every time a set of cartridges cost more than the printer, perhaps, just maybe perhaps, they would start to price ink reasonably.

I know, it is a fond but never to be fulfilled dream.

If your printer is popular enough then you will be able to save money on the cartridges. I changed over to generics on my home printer and save $12/cartridge and since my printer at home uses 7 cartridges, do the math. Generic cartridges save me big bucks. I have only had one in two years that failed out of the box. I get them at the supermedia store. There are ways to get around the high cost of printer ink but it isn’t always easy.

No compensation what so ever was received for this post.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Making Old Printers New, Maybe.


I mentioned in a previous blog I am on a vacation. I lugged an old Okidata 10ex laser along to leave in Florida. I figured once the drum needed changing, I would just recycle it. Since I have thee of them it would be no loss to abandon it. Since my laptop doesn’t have a parallel port I had to figure out how to hook up the laser to my laptop. I found a male USB to Female DB25 adapter at Buy.com for $8.97 with shipping which allowed me to plug my parallel cable into the laptop. I tested the connection before I left home and after fooling around a bit, I got it to work.

I dragged the laser down here to Florida and set it up. If you are familiar with lasers then you know that moving them can be problematic. The older lasers had a tendency to bleed toner over the entire printer if tilted. I shrink wrapped the toner cartridge and covered the drum to insure I had no mess. That all worked, no mess.

Sadly the rest of it didn’t go as well. The laser self tested just fine. The problem was I tested the adapter on a desktop running XP. My laptop is running Vista. No matter what I tried, Vista would not allow me to print to that laser. I found on MS’s site a caveat that intermittent problems might exist doing what I was trying to do. Intermittent for me was two test pages in two hours. Once again I experienced the “gotcha ya” of the OS world.

BTW I did find a USB to parallel centronics which allowed elimination of the parallel printer cable. It was $12.97 at Buy.com and it worked just fine with my son’s laptop. He is using XP though. This is not a paid blog and I received no compensation what so ever from Buy.com or anyone else for writing it.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Seasonal Internet


I’m on vacation but as most Internet junkies I am loathe to be out of touch. I brought my laptop and as backup for the laptop, I brought my PDA which is wireless enabled. I purchased a Comcast approved modem and added seasonal Internet to my TV package. BTW I heard about the seasonal package by word of mouth, I still haven’t seen it on any Comcast site. It turns out in touristy areas like Florida; Comcast has a program that allows you to go month to month on Internet access.

The Comcast representative wanted me to have their tech come out to install my modem for $50.00. Since installation was putting a splitter on the cable and sending one cable to the TV and the other to my laptop, I felt I could handle it and I saved the $50.00 installation fee. Once the modem is attached, you call Comcast and provide them with the mac# that is on the modem and you are in business.

For $25.00 a month I get a slow but reliable connection to the Internet. Slow as compared to what I have at home but lightning fast compared to the 56k modem I once used. (For you youngsters, connection use to be over phone lines using telephone modems.) So instead of spending $4-$8/day on crapachinos at the local Starbucks just so I could get connected, I am spending less than a dollar a day to keep the dreaded, cold turkey effects of Internet withdrawal. Check where you vacation, they too, may have seasonal Internet.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Kindle, Slate or i-Pad; Much Ado About Nothing!


Much ado about nothing comes to mind with all the hype over the release of the Apple i-Pad or the HP Slate. Who knows what Apple originally intended, the bottom line is that their tablet is designed for a “rich multi-media experience”. The HP Slate was originally conceived as an e-book platform that also gradually morphed into a rich multi-media Swiss army knife. I think the pundits are missing the boat. A good e-book platform at a $99.00 price point would be a run away best seller. Another notebook without a keyboard is likely to be not so much.

I’m an avid reader. I have 75 books loaded into my pda which also has a version of Excel and Word as well as a version of media player. I purchased an infrared keyboard for it and with it’s built in WIFI it is an adequate substitution for a laptop that fits in my pocket without looking like I am overly glad to see you. The screen is way smaller than a Kindle but bigger than my cell phone. I own it. It is paid for and I own it. See where I am going? Why would I pony up $300.00 or more to buy another gadget that I can read on?

Looking at the inevitable, I will eventually buy either a Droid or an i-phone when Verizon picks it up. If I am going to spring for that incredibly annoying $30/month data package then I am going to read books on that puppy, take pictures with it and yes, use it as a phone and it will still fit in my pocket.

I can get a digital photo frame with a 7”LCD for $50.00 that plays music, has speakers, takes sd memory and usb flash drives. It has a remote and I can watch a movie on it if I want to load the movie onto a flash drive. Why, oh why are the e-book and rich multi-media toys over $300.00? Why didn’t some young smart ass just take the guts out of the existing pda technology and add in a larger screen? The PDA technology has been amortized, it has been researched and it works well, marry it to a larger screen and retail it for $150.00 and people would buy it.

I’m a tech-nut. I love this stuff but I still find myself wondering if anyone ever does a focus group or marketing survey to see what the price point might be to sell some of the new toys. $49.99 and I would have a e-book reader, $100.00 maybe, $300.00 or more, not a chance and I love this stuff. How are they ever going to sell it to people who are luke-warm or anti-tech?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Online Reseller Ratings



As online purchases become ubiquitous it is easier to find yourself purchasing from a charlatan. Here is a site that I use to get a modicum of information regarding online resellers. Of course, use common sense when looking at the review. If it is a brand new site with 5 absolutely wonderful reviews, they may be the site owner’s family. Conversely if there are some simply scathing reviews scattered amongst a preponderance of good reviews there may be some mud slinging involved. I have found the site useful and hope you will too. This is not a paid review, this is my opinion only and I have received no compensation of any kind for writing it. If, by chance, you use the site and discover that I have saved you from a purchasing faux pax worse than death, please feel free to click on my donate money button and pass along some of your savings. LOL
 Money Saving Tech Tips