Archive for December, 2009

Day 11:

Can you believe I made the nice list this year? I can prove it –  check out this video: Santa’s video

Greg’s Teacher deal of the day – Just in the Nick of time (get it? – Nick?). Finally, a netbook below $250 again. A netbook is a small notebook (not a book about nets). It has a low-voltage processor and a small screen. It’s handy for traveling, connecting to the Internet and using Office apps – what you use your computer for most of the time.

This one has the usual stuff: card reader, webcam, wireless, 1 gig of memory, 160gig hard drive. The downside is it has a 3 cell battery. That means it will last 2.5 hours between charges at best. Still, if you need to put a computer under the tree, this may be your best bet. I still think prices will come back down after Christmas if you can wait.

Lenovo netbook – $230 and free shipping at Newegg

Greg’s Teacher download of the day – You bought the computer and plugged it into the Internet with NO ANTIVIRUS? And now you’re calling me because you could build a bicycle faster than the thing boots up. (Why is it that when people describe how slow their computer is they feel the need to list all the things they can accomplish before it boots up?)

Here’s my secret to getting the bugs out and it won’t cost you anything but some time.

Download and install Avast. Answer yes to the option to scan at restart. Once it has dealt with your viruses and malware, uninstall it and install Microsoft Security Essentials. This will stay active on your computer and help to prevent further problems.

Avast download

Microsoft Security Essentials download

Bryan’s Tech deal of the day – My deals today don’t really have a theme. ADD could be the theme I guess. At any rate. I’m sure you’ve thought to yourself, “Man I wish my shoe had a calendar on it.” Make that dream a reality with Calendar Tape (9.99). Make anything (yes, even your shoe) a calendar. Also, a Math Clock (26.99). Make reading time require a calculator. At least it would require a calculator for the likes of me. And now, for something completely different. A Remote Light Switch (24.95). Turn on/off anything you can plug in. It’s dimable (although I won’t advise dimming that brand new LCD TV you just got) and can attach to a wall if you feel like being pedestrian with your REMOTE switch. It doesn’t support a ground wire (aka that three prong plug thingy), so no refrigerators, computers, etc.

Bryan’s Tech website of the day – You’re staring at your computer wondering where in the web you want to go. Stop puzzling and go to stumbleupon.com. Give it some of your favorite things and it’ll find websites about them! WARNING: Extremely addicting.

Day 10:

Greg’s Teacher deal of the day – Set your phasers to stun! Looking for the ultimate gift for the techno-nerd on your list. He (I’m gender stereotyping but let’s be real, the only woman I’ve ever seen handle a phaser correctly is Uhuru) has to have this for some serious street cred.

Star Trek Original Series Black Handle Phaser – $15

This is the real deal. Notice it’s a black handle phaser. Clearly superior to the blue or green handle phasers. And if you need further support of the authenticity, just read the product reviews from people who have purchased it. (Seriously – you have to read these)

Greg’s Teacher download of the day – Looking for a fun way to review a unit with your class? Trying to make it like a game show to engage the kids? What’s the game show we all try to imitate for this kind of thing? Fear Factor…what? No, no no…. think like you’re over 30. Jeopardy, of course. And I know, in an effort to integrate technology, you’d like to do this with Powerpoint. If only you had step-by-step instructions. Well here they are:

Powerpoint Jeopardy templates and instructions

No more excuses. Get busy.

Bryan’s Tech deal of the day – Bring a little cheer to your desk with the USB Fiber Optic Christmas Tree (9.99). Plug it in to any USB port and it glows with Christmasy joy.
Bryan’s Tech download of the day – Tired of Outlook running slowly or not at all? Try Thunderbird. It’s made by the same people who make Firefox, the second largest browser in the world. Fast, full featured, and easy to use.

Day 9:

Greg’s Teacher deal o’ the day – For those of you with a drawing hand, Sketchbook allows you to make amazing freehand digital graphics. This is a later version of the very same software that Michelangelo used to paint the Sistine Chapel. The hard part for Michelangelo was getting the printer to work on the ceiling.

Autodesk SketchBook Pro 2010 – $70 at Amazon

You can use the software and draw pictures using a mouse, but to take it to the next level you’ll need a drawing pad. Here’s an entry level candidate.

Wacom Bamboo Drawing Tablet – $59 at Amazon

Greg’s Teacher website of the day – Toondoo.com

ToonDoo is a cool, comic-creating tool that allows you to create your own cool comic strips with just a few drag ‘n drops ‘n mouse clicks! Check out the site to see how it can be used for classroom projects, reports, etc.

Bryan’s Tech deal of the day – Here’s a bluetooth headset with style and function. Noise cancelling and multiple connections make this a good buy.

Samsung WEP850 – Originally $89.99 now $10 ($60 Instant $10 MIR) at Newegg

Bryan’s Tech download of the day – Aviary is a suite of applications that allow you do almost anything with any type of media. Image editing, audio editing, vector images, image effects. Everything but video editing. They also have a good number of tutorials.

Day 8:

Bryan’s Tech deal of the day – Want a way to liven up that boring Christmas party (besides putting on that rockin’ santa sweater)? Take a look at the Shock Ball (13.99). It’s like hot potato, but with electricity! How “shocking” 😉 ;)! In the description of this next one it says for adults to put this on a kid’s cake, but I’d love to see these on my birthday cake. They’re colored birthday candles (2.99). No, not the boring ones that are just colored wax. The flames are colored! :O. These next three are gifts for those people who are really smart. It’s a way to say, “Yeah, you’re smart, but my gift is smarter.” Put that brainiac in your life in their place. First is the Irregular IQ Cube (9.99). Basically a Rubik’s Cube with a couple of triangles thrown in. Think about that for a second. Now the Megaminx Duodecahedron Puzzle (10.99). Is your brain sizzling yet? Try the V-Cube 7 Supercube (44.99). At that price it’s honestly more of an investment than a toy, but just look at it. Ow. I think I just popped some neurons. Now for mind blowing. The 12 Surface IQ Pentagon (59.99). The picture speaks for itself. That’s what you’ll have to solve in hell.
Bryan’s Tech website of the day – Happy Hanukkah!! Here’s a Dreidel website. Hours of spinning fun!

Greg’s Teacher Deal of the Day – Nostalgic toys – remember electronic football? Not the Mattel handheld game but the Coleco vibrating football board? The one where when you turn it on, the plastic players are supposed to move forward but usually end up spinning in circles? And the quarterback’s arm has a rubber band in it so it can fling the football which you lost after playing the game twice and ended up using a spit wad? What a great toy. Here’s a video if you don’t remember – Coleco football

You can relive your glory days for only $40 – Excalibur Vibrating Football

Greg’s Site of the Day – Mind exercises keep you busy for hours and ward of Alzheimers at the same time. Find tons of brain games at this site:

playwithyourmind.com

Day 7:

Greg’s Teacher Deal of the Day – Let me take this opportunity to wish everyone a happy Computer Science Education week. Did you know that by 2016, current government projections show that more than 800,000 high-end computing jobs will be created in the economy making it one of the fastest growing occupational fields?

Which is why no child is too young to get a gadget (nice segue right?). This product could be the difference between your child getting a plush job as an animator at Pixar or becoming a high school multimedia teacher. If only I had a Fisher-Price My Toon TV when I was a kid, I could be making millions creating talking race cars.

This device plugs into a TV to display an image. Use the camera to take a picture of someone’s mug and place it on an animated figure of your choosing. Select a song from the preloaded music or plug in your MP3 player. The cartoon then dances across the screen to the music. Sing and dance along. Loads of fun for $15 at Walmart.

Link to Fisher-Price My Toon TV

Bonus deal (TODAY ONLY) – I had to throw this in due to the number of baby showers going on around here. Disney store’s deal of the day is a create-your-own fleece for $10 plus shipping. Choose the color and character and for a small additional fee, add a name.

Link to the Disney baby blanket

Greg’s Teacher Download (or website) of the day:

Can’t figure out how to stop Word from double spacing? Think you have to be a genius to edit video? Want to make your own Christmas card in Publisher? Just ask Lynda. Lynda.com is a site with a huge collection of training videos. While they charge for unlimited access, there are an impressive number of free videos that don’t require an account.

Link to Lynda.com

Bryan’s Tech deal of the day – Today is all about caffeine. Let be preface by talking about caffeine overdose for a second. A caffeine overdose can be achieved by taking 150 to 200 milligrams of caffeine per kilogram of body weight. Overdose is also contingent on caffeine tolerance. Now, with the disclaimer out of the way, Caffeine Soap, Caffeine Lip Balm, Powder Power, Crackheads (espresso beans), Black Black Gum/Candy, Jolt Gum, Caffeine Body Wash, Foosh Energy Mints, Time Release Caffeine Capsules and Caffeine Breath Spray.

Bryan’s Tech download of the day – In line with Greg’s how to website, here are three websites to tell you how to do just about anything. Instructables is a lot more nerdy than the other sites. It focuses on neat stuff to do with LEDs and science, although I looked on their homepage today and they have chocolate peppermint bark, a shoe tower and snowflake cutting. eHow is a lot more organized than Instructables. It has a lot of general knowledge that people in the business know, but the rest of us are probably in the dark about. Like how to turn off the check engine light, for example. wikiHow is like eHow but it’s not managed like eHow is. eHow strives to be professional while still letting anyone post. wikiHow just lets everyone post. Ergo, you get good stuff like begin glacier climbing, and you get bad stuff like parking lot etiquette.

Day 6:

Greg’s Teacher deal of the day – You’ve seen the stats. Kids are too sedentary. Here’s a fun game that will definitely get them moving and can be used in the classroom. SHOCK BALL! Yep – no explaining the rules here. It’s high tech hot potato. Turn it on and pass it around. It will be obvious who is holding the ball when the timer goes off. Powered by double A batteries, this tennis ball sized toy will deliver a fun jolt via the metal plates on the surface.

Not recommended for small children. And if grandpa has a pacemaker, it may be the last game he ever plays!

Shock Ball – $13.99

Greg’s Teacher download of the day

Free Christmas music MP3s. These freebies are from Amazon. You will need an Amazon account to download but it’s free.

Sampler Claus – Mahalia Jackson singing Silent Night – It doesn’t get any better. Although Frank Sinatra singing It Came Upon A Midnight Clear is pretty cool too.

Link to Sampler Claus

Or if you gotta have a little Hallelujah Chorus in your Christmas, here’s a link to a free classical Christmas music

Link to Classical Christmas MP3 album

More contemporary stuff:
Casting Crowns – Joy To The World
Jars of Clay – God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
Sixpence None the Richer – Silent Night

Bryan’s Tech deal of the day – Big huge MP3 players are awesome. Big screen, holds lots of files and usually plays games and/or videos. But what if you want something smaller? Something you can easily lose. Try the Micro Sport MP3 Player straight from Japan. 4 GB of memory and no bigger than two sugar cubes (not counting the other ear bud of course).
And now for something plush. Tribbles (Star Trek), Giant Plush Microbes and Petri Dish Plush Microbes.
Bryan’s Tech download of the day – This is for all you stargazers out there. Stellarium lets you view the sky as you would in a planetarium. If anyone has a planetarium, it can actually be used with a planetarium projector. Celestia lets you view the solar system (and even the galaxies) while flying around in space. It has a bunch of plugins for everything from Star Wars and Star Trek to the Hubble telescope and every single one of the known stars and galaxies. The extra content can be found here.

Day 5:

Bryan’s Tech deal of the day – Who doesn’t love bacon? Thinkgeek.com has a menagerie of bacon products. They have bacon gumballs, gummy bacon, Squeez Bacon, bacon lip balm, baconnaise, tac bac (or tactical canned bacon, for those not in the know), bacon salt, bacon mints and bacon jellybeans. BACON!!
Bryan’s download of the day – A little more practical than bacon, Dropbox allows you to sync files between your computers. It gives you 2 GB of storage online and a folder in your My Documents folder (or where ever you want to put it). Just put a file in that folder (or change an existing file) and it automagically syncs. Also cool, it has Windows, Mac, Linux, iPhone and Web versions. You can also share files and folders you have synced with someone or anyone. It keeps a history on every file so if you make a mistake and save something you can revert back to a previous version (30 days for free). There are paid options which gives you more space and unlimited file versions. Also, as with many of my downloads, it’s portable.
Greg’s Teacher deal of the day – I’m doing the best I can to find a deal for a desktop computer for under $400. They’re hard to come by this year. I’m going back to the old, reliable Dell Outlet deals. Here’s an idea of what you will find there:
Inspiron 537s
dual core processor
640Gb hard drive
Windows 7 home premium
1 year warranty
$389 (no monitor but free sound system if you buy today)
These computers are cheap because they have been refurbished, or are scratch and dent items but the warranty is same as new. The inventory changes constantly so I can’t give you a link to any particular computer. So I guess what I’m saying is “here’s the store’s website – good luck.”
Gamer system for under $500. This computer has “teenage boy” written all over it. Similar specs to the system above but a better graphics card and a way-cool looking case. You can order this from Sam’s Club for $498 with shipping included.
Greg’s Teacher download of the day
How many times during the course of the year do you need a stopwatch for a classroom assignment? A countdown clock would be even better, right? How about a countdown clock that ends with a bomb explosion? Checkout online-stopwatch.com