Get Cash To Buy The iPad 3 By Selling Your Old Tech Gear

In case you were living under a rock today, Apple announced the third generation iPad today, featuring HD video playback, better this and all of that.  So, for you early adopters who are dying to upgrade from what you’re currently using, eBay is offering really amazing prices via their Instant Sale option where they will buy your product outright from you.  eBay buys a plethora of products but have setup this nice landing page showing prices for the most common tablets and similar tech products like phones and e-readers. Continue reading »

Why Do You Donate to Politicians?

In terms of politics, I am kind of a limp noodle.  I know I don’t take enough interest at the local level, where my vote really makes a difference and for the most part I’m pretty happy with the neighborhood I live in and the taxes are pretty fair, roads are in decent shape and quality of life is above the country average.  While I did vote for Obama in 2008 and follow him on Twitter for random updates, this morning’s tweets really pissed me off. I’m aware that he rarely writes them himself, however his campaign does and that’s where my anger is directed for flaunting these numbers, but all politicians are guilty of this.

Barack Obama Twitter

A minute later this was also tweeted:

If you follow me on Twitter you’ve probably already ready my reply.  Some quick math says that 98% of $29.1m is $28,518,000, divide that by $250 is 114,072 people, but it’s probably far more contributors since the tweet indicates or less. Continue reading »

Make Money with Twitter

Going back to the early 90’s when I first started to heavily use the Internet I wanted to make money doing it.  Back then I used it to get mailing addresses for a small business I had going in High School and wanted to mail out a sales flyer to generate sales via phone, it worked.  In the late 90’s I remember All Advantage, a pay to surf the web tiered affiliate program.  Shortly thereafter I started to build websites and the rest has kind of been a blur.  It seems everything on the web can be monetized, Twitter is just another means to make some money for those who use it.

Back in the summer of 2007 I joined Twitter and while four and a half years isn’t very long, it’s forever ago in technology times.  The micro blogging service was quirky and no one really had any full understanding as what they were supposed to do with it.  It wasn’t long before I asked WTF was I thinking using Twitter? and vowed never to update it again.  Well, I have, and a lot.  By 2008 I was finding useful reasons to use it and for all intensive purposes, it’s a staple in my tech life and virtually everyone I know.  Twitter is so large now that I see TV commercials who no longer advertise their website or even Facebook page anymore, they are simply promoting the use of a #hashtag, this goes for major networks too.

Make Money with SponsoredTweetsJust over three months ago I joined SponsoredTweets, a site that links advertisers and tweeters together.  The company has some very high profile celebrities and some quick searching on Google made everything here seem pretty legit.  You fill out a short profile, including tags of things that both interest you and that you talk about on a regular basis.  Based on the date you joined Twitter, the number of followers you have in relation to the number you follow and a few other specifications, SponsoredTweets suggests a price for you per tweet.  When I initially signed up I had about 920 followers and it’s suggest price per tweet for me was $1.27 based on the tags I chose. When an offer comes in, you can accept or deny it, then use the given guidelines to write a tweet which will both include a link to what the advertiser wants and a disclaimer of your choosing, such as #ad, Ad:, #sponsored and a few others to indicate this is indeed an affiliate link.  When you accept and write your tweet it’s then sent for review by the advertiser, if they approve it SponsoredTweets will automatically tweet for you within a given time frame that the sponsor chooses.  Provided a few people click the links, you’ll get paid.  Continue reading »

The Morning Call Newspaper Charges for Online Content, Will Fail Fast

The Morning CalMy local newspaper, The Morning Call which is owned by the Tribune Company, publishers of The Chicago Times and the LA Times, among other has announced it will be changing it’s online terms to paid content. It’s been nearly two months since the move was announced, but with the end of the free versions of online content readers are starting to become outraged. I’m going to make an attempt to point out why this is not only a bad idea but one that will ultimately bring an end to my local newspaper.

Full disclaimer, I get paid to write articles for other sites, I understand nothing in life can be free and those who create work, tangible or not, should be compensated. Randomn3ss has been a passion of mine for years as a way to explore my own writing and more specifically in this case, there is no option on The Morning Call’s website to leave comments for the article, which I find odd, so I’ll rebut it all here, piece by piece.

The Morning Call’s publisher is quoted as saying,

the decision to begin charging for digital content is based on readers’ strong demand for local news, features and sports on the Internet and mobile devices

Continue reading »

American Companies, Pay Attention, China is Coming

To say I love the Internet is a bit of an understatement.  So many facets of it, but with the development in the last decade with advancements in how we, Americans that is, shop, has been completely leveled.  Ordering pizza from the Internet is a possibility, placing an order for prints from your digital camera and picking up up in 20 minutes is a reality and most importantly, price comparison is extremely easy.  No longer are we confined to local driving distances, the whole world is accessible, and Google’s Beta program, originally called Froogle and now simply called Shopping, has helped pave the way.  It is here where American companies could shine, but China is coming full force.

My recent online shopping experiences have helped reinforce this. Continue reading »

eBay Coming in June: 5 Free Insertion Fees Every 30 Days

Great news for those wanting to list stuff on eBay, starting in June they will be waiving the insertion fee regardless of the starting price for 5 items.  This could save a decent amount of money if you choose to list your item at a higher start price without a reserve, since the newly revamped reserve fees now take a percentage of the final sale price.  Here’s the rundown:

eBay first 5 insertion fees free

All the info, details and fees can be found for this upcoming promotion set to start June 16th can be read here.  Take special note to the asterisks at the bottom, excluding Video Game Systems.

As always, review all of eBay’s fees before you list an item as you can typically expect an average sale to cost you at least 10% of the sale price.  I’m excited about this, it means I can try to sell something on eBay for free at the price I want to get, if it doesn’t sell I haven’t lost any money and can put it on Craigslist and deal with the low-ball offers people offer there.

“Outrageous” Saving Tips For a Slumping Economy

Today’s economy is tough.  Even the billion dollar bank businesses are asking for a hand-out, but with some creative thinking there are ways to save even in these rougher financial times.  These 10 tips are meant to be taken half seriously, but could end up saving you a good chunk of change.

Smoking Butts

I saw a man picking butts up off the ground at the park the other day.  Smoking is a gross habit that many people are addicted to, but that doesn’t mean you should be picking butts out of ashtrays or off the ground to save a few bucks.  Depending on where you live, a pack of smokes can cost you upwards of $7,  so it’s easy to understand why the people in the park are picking butts up off the ground.  Then again, maybe they’re just keeping the park clean, but I doubt it.

Car Engine Cooking

If you’re fortunate enough to have a car that is, your engine is a great source of heat that can easily be harnessed for cooking.  When going from point A to Point B, why not go ahead and have your meal prepared by your car just in time for arrival.

Here’s a Car Engine Cookbook called Manifold Destiny, the self-proclaimed One and Only car engine cookbook.

Free Rent…a.k.a. Camping

There are hundreds of campgrounds across the United States where camping with a tent is absolutely free, usually on state or government land.  There are dozens of guides out that do list free campgrounds, but if the economy is slumping, and you can’t find a place to sleep other than in your car/oven, then I doubt you’d be buying a guide, or have the cash to get gas.

Rest Areas

Most states allow sleeping in their rest areas, as long as you are in a vehicle.  I have traveled all across the United States more than once and have been quite content pulling into a rest area for some much needed shut-eye.  Only once have I ever been asked to move by a police officer, and that was in New Jersey when I was parked on a bridge.  I must have been extremely tired.  It looked like a parking space to me.  Don’t leave home without first checking out the Rest Area Guide to the United States and Canada.

Another great place is CouchSurfing.org.  Who says you have to be travelling to hitch a couch for a night?

Bus Tours on the Cheap

If you happen to get bounced out of a town for vagrancy and find yourself in a new locality, why not put some spare change to work and hop on a city bus for a tour of your new found home?  For about fifty cents, you can most likely get a good look at your new digs from the inside of a city bus.  If you’re really interested you can spring for the ten cent transfer and get another slice of the city, possibly scoping out some thrift shops and a soup kitchen or two.

Soup Kitchens

Most towns have a soup kitchen that’s available to anyone at all.  There are probably half a dozen that I can think of within ten miles or so of my home.  I don’t frequent them, but I have seen the gatherings when it’s time for dinner to be served.  If you’re in need of a hot meal, and you can make it to a soup kitchen, I think it’s the way to go.  Most are subsidized by local grocery stores, churches, and local organizations.

Dumpster Diving

Dumpster diving is similar to riding a moped, we’ve all done it but no one wants to admit to it.  There are lots of great treasures to be had in dumpsters.  Try your hand at dumpsters behind department stores, electronics stores, and even furniture stores.  Just one good item that’s been tossed could bring you a pretty penny from a pawn shop.  The pawn broker doesn’t need to know that the printer is broken, or that the chair you brought in isn’t an antique.  Just collect your cash, say have a nice day, I’ll see you when the first payment is due, and head on out.  He’s just going to sell it anyway.

Act the Part

It’s getting warm out now, and in our local park there is no shortage of free entertainment.  There’s a man on a bench daily that plays the banjo, a one-man band that dances a funny jig, and sometimes the city will even hire entertainment for the pedestrians.  If you have a particular flair for music, singing, dancing, or the hot new thing, Live Tweets!, then get yourself an old hat, throw it down next to a banjo-playin’ hobo, and get to it.

After scoring a few dollars, and with a hot meal in your belly from the soup kitchen or from your own cars engine, then you can afford that book on free campgrounds.

Free Entertainment

Now that you’ve been the entertainment, it’s time to get yours.  Libraries and book stores offer a great source of  free entertainment.  Heck, some bookstores even have nice comfy chairs to fall asleep in for hours at a time. Many libraries now offer free internet access, book readings, and even movies are shown once a week.  I would highly recommend you use these free sources of entertainment, but beware their cafe’.  They are extremely overpriced, but you may be able to score a sample if the Barista is in a good mood.  The “I forgot my wallet” should probably work.

Check out HoboModo Daily

Frequent the HoboModo section of  GizModo’s DealzModo Gadget Deals of the Day online.  There is no better source for the locations of free services, products, and eats. Why just yesterday, there was a coupon code for a free 8×10 photo from Walgreens, a free 2-Piece Grilled Chicken Meal at KFC, and a free magazine subscription.  If you don’t care for the magazine, get it anyway.  It could come in handy for kindling, padding for your refrigerator box bed, or to shoo flies away from the dumpster while you dive for goodies.

Do your local hobos a favor and keep a few printed folded up copies of this list in your pocket when you go to the city center or local park and throw one in the hat when you pass by.  You might just be giving them some much needed information.  A dollar or two wouldn’t hurt either.

The Cheapskate’s Manifesto: 11 Ways to Save by Cooking at Home

This is a long overdue follow-up to Mike Panic’s Cheapskate’s Manifesto.  This time, Mike and I focus on saving you money by cooking at home.  Mike already showed you how to get the most from coupon clipping at the grocery store, and hopefully you’ve been able to apply some of his ideas when it comes to buying food.  But what about stretching the food dollars you already spent?

In this article we feature a few tips and tricks that save money by cooking at home with what we already have.   Whether cooking for one, or a family, you will see that there are several ways to get more from what you already have in your pantry.

Larger Quantities, Less Often

Buying food in bulk will save you money, but allowing it to go bad before you use it will cost you even more.  Not everyone is a big fan of leftovers, but for me, it’s a reality.  I’m a single man living alone, so it’s difficult to cook one meal for dinner daily, since I eat lunch at work and rarely eat dinner.  The food I do cook for dinner will often provide me two to three lunches since most recipes will easily serve four.

Grains and Legumes

Take a look outside what might be your normal comfort zone of supersized meals with 64oz Big Gulp soda’s and look at the wealth of foods currently and seasonally available to you.  Most of the US assumes that with dinner they will get a 6-8oz portion of protein, usually in the form of meat, poultry or seafood, while a vast majority of the world makes do by sharing that same 6-8oz portion of protein with their entire family by using grains, legumes, and starches.

grains-and-legumes

Rice and beans will fill you up, provide you with much needed energy, and they store very well.  The same goes for dried pasta.  I’m partial to Basmati rice and buy it in a 10lb burlap bag. The last bag I purchased was right around $18.  Compare that with boxed instant rice or gourmet rices that sell for $6 in a one or two pound box and you’ve got one really good deal.  Store it in an airtight container and it will last you a very long time.  Long grain rice takes a bit longer to cook than instant rice, but it tastes better and is more nutritious.  Buy beans in bulk the same way.

Use A Crock Pot

A good crock pot will cost you around $30, will last for years, and takes minimal effort to cook with.  Search Google for crock pot recipes, sometimes called slow cookers, of which you will find thousands.

One of my more favorite uses is for lentil soup, which has only a handful of ingredients tastes great, and costs only a few dollars to make.  This recipe makes enough to feed eight people, and is freezer-friendly.  I also use my crock pot to make macaroni & cheese, BBQ pulled pork and countless other great eats other than soups.

Eat Seasonal Foods

Local farmers’ markets as well as the grocery stores are packed full of fresh locally-grown foods.  When foods are in season, especially locally grown, it often tends to be the least expensive and best time to buy.  Towards the end of summer my local farmers’ market has incredible deals on yellow flesh peaches.  Last summer I got about 12 pounds of peaches for $6, which is much more than I could eat in a weeks time.  When they were ripe I cleaned them, sliced them up, and placed them in small zip-lock bags and stacked them in my freezer.  They now get used right out of the freezer as part of my smoothie recipe, or I can thaw them out and make a cobbler, pies, or peach turnovers.  Bananas also freeze well.  When they get to be a bit too ripe, freeze them for banana nut breads, banana pancakes, or even smoothies.  This way you will have fresh fruits and vegetables all year long.

Freeze Leftovers

I’ve mentioned freezing a few times.  It’s not a bad word.  Properly sealed food will keep for 2-6 months in your freezer.  Like most people, I get sick of eating the same thing day after day, and I’ll use the previously mentioned lentil soup as an example.

A full crock pot of lentil soup will easily last me for lunch and dinner for nearly 4 days. At the end of those 4 days I’d never want to see another lentil again.  Making less than that in my crock pot isn’t an effecient use of energy, and not eating it all within a few days wastes food, thus throwing money away.  I will often use recycled chinese take out soup containers to put single servings of lentil soup in and freeze about half of the batch.  This allows me to pull a bowl of soup out of the freezer a month from the day I made it and still enjoy it without having to make a whole new batch.  Once you do this with a few items you’ve cooked in bulk, you can easily rotate through your own frozen food selection.  Be aware that certain foods freeze better than others.  Not all fish tastes good frozen and reheated, and the same goes for rice.

Freeze extra breads until you have enough to make homemade croutons for soups or salads.  Make your own seasoned breadcrumbs from extra breads or bagels.  They are much better than in the store and will save you at least a dollar or two.

When making pancakes, I use my electric griddle and make a large batch so I have plenty to freeze for later.  This way, I can just pull out a stack of pancakes and quickly heat them up for breakfast.

Use Substitutes

There are many foods that are fantastic substitutes for their more expensive counterparts, and they are sometimes healthier as well.  A perfect example of this is margarine for butter.  Margarine contains half the calories of butter, and is roughly one third the price.

Make Stocks

My freezer is always “stocked” with stocks.  I will buy five or six whole chickens when they are around 69 cents a pound, and process them at home.  I break down the chickens and make several separate packages of breasts, thighs and drumsticks, and wings.   All of the bones go into my large stockpot with a couple of carrots, an onion, celery, and it all gets covered with water and cooked on low, just enough so I can see a bubble once in a while, and then strained into a delicious chicken stock.  I separate the stock into smaller containers and freeze them for future recipes.  This is not only less expensive than store bought chicken broth or boullion cubes, but there is almost no sodium or preservatives, and I know it’s made of entirely fresh components.  (For you vegans out there, you can make some fantastic vegetable stocks the same way).

Small amounts of vegetables can be frozen for “soup starters”, such as carrots, onions, celery, corn, and even tomatoes.  It’s easier to dice the vegetables first so they can just be thrown right into the pot to cook

For a great tasting rice or pasta, use a vegetable or chicken stock instead of water to cook it in.  You will be amazed at the flavor!

Turn Off the Heat!

It’s a misconception that pasta needs to boil until the second it’s removed from the stove.  This is simply not true.  When I add pasta to boiling water, I stir it until it comes to a boil.  After one full minute of stirring and boiling, I turn off the heat, and don’t even cover it.  Boiling water is roughly 212 degrees.  Maybe one degree different if you live on Mount Everest.

pasta-boiling

In the time it takes for the water to come down to the ambient temperature, it will already be cooked.  This will not only will you save energy, but you will reduce the risk of having the pasta stick to the bottom of the pot.

More Than One Use…And a Little Imagination

Making stocks from chickens is a perfect example of this, but there are dozens of ways to use “by-products” for future dishes.

I went shopping two days ago and bagels were on sale for one dollar.  Most people see toasted bagels with cream cheese when they look at a bagel.  What I see is very inexpensive baked bagel chips, perfect with onion or everything bagels.  I also see bagel pizzas, hearty soup and salad croutons, and breakfast sandwiches.  All of which I make at home for a fraction of the price.

Corn Tortillas are extremely cheap where I shop, so they are a staple in my pantry.  I can buy a stack as long as my arm for less than two dollars.  Cut into triangles and baked or fried, I can make about twenty dollars worth if bought in a bag, and still have enough left over for taquitos, Mexican pizzas, or tacos.

And while i’m on tortillas, throw them in with the chicken stock you just made, and the vegetables you pulled from the freezer, a little cumin, salt and pepper, and you will have an amazing chicken tortilla soup.

Save Some Dough

Making bread at home is easy, cheap and tastes better than store bought.  The smell of bread baking at home is second to none, and the flavor is nothing like store bought.  At home I make cinnamon raisin breads, sourdough, white breads, baguettes, flatbreads, Naan, and even pizza dough and hamburger and hot dog buns.  It takes a little practice to be proficient, but nothing can replace the satisfaction and flavor of any of these homemade bread products.

dough

Yeast is relatively inexpensive.  Rather than buy 1/4 ounce packages for a dollar at the grocery store, you can buy a one pound block of quick-acting yeast at a restaurant supply store for around seven dollars.  Much less than the $64 a pound of yeast will cost if you buy it in small packages.

I’m sure you have flour, salt, and sugar at home. These are all that are needed to start baking breads, and saving you a huge amount at the grocery store.  I use unbleached all purpose flour, but you may also want to  try some whole wheat flours for a more healthy option.  Add some rolled oats, flax seed, sunflower, sesame and poppy seeds, and you can have an Artesian bread that you would pay $6 for in the stores.

Any baked bread or prepared dough can be frozen, so feel free to make a little extra for pizzas, rolls, and even breads.  I cut them into softball size portions, wrap them tightly and pop them in the freezer for later.

Keep Well Stocked

As I look around my kitchen, I see homemade spice blends, several bags of assorted beans for soups, several kinds of rice, a wealth of baking supplies, and seven shapes of dried pastas.

Any of these items, paired with a protein, can easily be stretched to save you cash, while feeding a whole army.

For proteins I have boneless center-cut pork chops I cut from a boneless loin bought for $1.49 a pound, and several bags of chickens that were 69 cents a pound that I broke down and portioned when I got home.

I have a freezer full of dough, homemade pancakes and French Toast, breads for croutons and crumbs, and topping for cobblers and pies.  There are diced vegetables, frozen berries, and even frozen mashed potatoes.

So save those small amounts of food that you would have otherwise thrown away, and soon your pantry and freezer will be well-stocked with foods that can be combined to create delicious dishes with just a little imagination.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to making more from what you already have.  Hopefully you will find some of these tips useful, and they will help you stretch your shopping dollar as they have mine.

Twitter Pro accounts confirmed, who would pay to use them?

Twitter has grown a user base to such extremes that even my own Mother asked if I was Twittering the other night after she saw it mentioned in an episode of Entertainment Tonight.  To my own amazement while flipping through the channels last night, one of the financial shows had a segment called Twitter Time but even after watching for several minutes, I couldn’t figure out how anything they were saying was relevant.  Twitter has become the buzzword for 2009 and more and more people are hoping onto the Twitter train, but is that a good thing?

Major news outlets including TV, newspaper, local media and magazines send out tweets with links to their articles, this allows people to stay up to date on current events.  Some, like @reuters have sent out nearly 25,000 tweets, often sending bursts of 10-30 within only a few short minutes of each other.  That’s a lot of information to digest, and the main reason why I don’t follow any major news outlet on Twitter.  For those of us who have tweets sent to our phones via SMS or use an app on iPhones, this leads to an unmanageable amount of information to deal with.

News outlets are only part of the problem, many other Twitter accounts are used solely to spread spam, bad links, or sell you something.  The problem is, Twitter has such an open API that forcing someone to pay for what they are already doing or have already incorporated into their online presence might prove hard to do.  There is talk of premium services, which can only mean worse things for the vast majority of “free” accounts as I see it.  I’d imagine premium services would be faster delivery of tweets, tweets delivered at a specific time or an unlimited amount of tweets per day or month.  What else could they possibly offer? What’s a price point that would entice someone to pay for the premium service? Would @guykawasaki pay $100 per month for it?  How about $500 per month?  With nearly 100,000 followers, every message he sends out is transmitted that many times, more if they are also sent to followers cell phones or retweeted, not only does that cost money from a server side, Guy often is promoting one of his online sites or answering a question from one of his followers, either way, it’s usually to gain traffic.  @the_real_shaq is approaching one half million followers and power user @kevinrose is responsible for shutting down his fair share of websites due to bandwidth limitations whenever she sends a link out to one of his 350,000 followers.  While Shaq and Kevin usually tweet about what they are doing or to stay in touch with fans and rarely push their own sites, Guy, Reuters, CNN, ABC, etc. do just that, advertise with little regard to the users who follow them.  Who should pay and why?

Speculation on the value of Twitter has ranged from $10 million dollars to nearly $1 billion dollars, yet the company turns a zero dollar profit, they actually don’t make money, it was never part of their business plan.  Like YouTube several years ago, it was built out of a need, to fill a hole, and now it’s struggling to figure out how to make money after they’ve declined several buy out options.  In my opinion, YouTube has suffered in the quality from a user perspective since Google bought them, as most videos have ads on them, which you must click to close.  Sure Google brought HD, more bandwidth and a better search algorithm to the plate, but in the end, it’s a better experience to watch a video at Vimeo than YouTube.  I won’t even bother going into a rant about how unstable Twitter is now, I’ve seen the fail whale too many times this week alone.

If this is the only way Twitter can generate income, so be it, just as long as they don’t start throwing in worthless tweets from bots in the hopes of generating income.  This paid pro account will be the tipping point to the success or failure of Twitter, as I’m sure there are a dozen other similar services ready to take their spot with a similar user interface and a real business model laid out.

Ironicly, as much as it sounds like a bitching session, this article will be tweeted from my account, @mikepanic, automaticly thanks to the open API and a plugin done for me.

Do you or would you buy groceries online?

Time’s are tough on nearly everyone right now, but everyone still needs to eat, wear clothing (optional for some I guess) and have a roof over your head.  It seems like every industry has had a spike in the retail cost, and while I’ve already shown you how to clip coupons for more than you thought, it still required a bit of time to do, driving to and from the store and spending time in the store.  The way we shop may start to change as costs rise and we all look for deals.  That’s where this article’s idea came from.

Amazon is one of the most well known and respected online retailers out there, and they just posted their most profitable quarter ever, proof that even during a recession there is money to be made and profits to be had.  While doing so, they’ve slowly crept into the food market, offering mostly non-perishable items for sale, both brand names and some lesser known companies.  Today on their site I took notice to an ad much like you see on the side here, offering 40% off groceries.  Could it be true?  Would Amazon still offer free shipping on orders over $25?  Some poking around through the grocery section led me to find out that yes, they do offer free shipping on a good portion of the food items they sell, and the prices are in-line and cheaper than my local grocery store!

What’s more amazing is that some of the products I buy on a regular basis are heavy, like this 6-pack of 32oz basmati rice, qualify for free shipping because it’s over $25.  That’s 12 pounds of rice!  I eat rice 2-4 times per week, and not having to haul it home, rather have it delivered would be awesome!  Five more minutes poking around the site and I realized that I could get most of the items that I keep in my cupboards for the same price as my local grocery store or less, and have them delivered to my house.  The time savings plus gas savings would really add up.

There are only two downsides that I can think of.  The vast majority of items I looked at were 2-packs, multi-packs or semi-bulk items, so if one bottle of ketchup lasts you 6 months, it might not be cost efficient to buy it online.  The other thing is the free shipping is qualified only for super saver, 5-9 day delivery.  That means you need to buy ahead of time, assuming it will take a full two weeks to show up.

I’m curious to know who is currently buying groceries online, or who would consider it?  Check out everything Amazon has at 40% off here.