Shopping blog postings

Shopping Postings - Page 2

Earliest: December 13, 2003Latest: February 21, 2021Total: 70
December 4, 2016

Waiting at Limited Supply Sales

Waiting for Toys R Us

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

Never know when it's Black Friday

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

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

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

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

Get Committed

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

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

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

Essential Items to Bring

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

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

Additional tips

  • Keep Drinks and Food to a minimum. You don't want to leave to go to the bathroom.
  • Bring a Buddy, and you can tag team between waiting in line and warming up in the car.
  • Listen to the information provided by the store employees. You may want to share some information later on.
  • Communicate with Social Media. Find out what the lines are at other locations.
  • Talk to people around you, as you may learn something interesting about the sale or other items for sale.
  • Bring an extra chair or blanket. You may help someone that didn't come prepared.
November 26, 2016

CE Marks

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

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

C E Mark

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

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

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

November 20, 2016

Black Friday 2016 Watch List

Black Friday2016

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

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

Macintosh Software

These are the Big Five Macintosh applications that I am watching

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

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

Hardware List

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

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

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

Cloud List

Where I am watching

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

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

Black Friday Reminder

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

A quick store visit now will save you frustrations later!

February 28, 2016

Kindle Word Runner

Kindle Chapter

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

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

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

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

January 16, 2016

Amazon Shipping Status

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


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

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

January 10, 2016

Joby Grip Tight Gorillapod

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

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

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

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

Olympus on Joby

The word Joby appears in the mini circle:

Joby Grip Tight Gorillapod

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

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

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

December 6, 2015

Yankee Shopping Ideas

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

Yankee Swap Idea

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

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

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

  • $20 Technical Toy
  • $15 Gift

Good luck with your Yankee Swap gift buying!

December 1, 2015

Black Friday Shopping Tips

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

November 30, 2015

Thing Charger

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

Thing Charger

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

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

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

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

November 27, 2015

Black Friday


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

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

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

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

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

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