Black Friday Aftermath

Black Friday morning I stood outside a Staples store waiting for it to open at 6:00 so I could purchase a few things on sale. Fry’s opened earlier, but I deliberately decided not to go there until after the opening rush. I had a list of a few things from the various stores that I wanted, but highest on the list was a $100 shredder on sale for $20. That is how low I have fallen!

Not many years ago, Black Friday was a real adventure with a sheaf of ads and a mapped out course. Several times I arrived home with over $600 worth of rebates to fill out. That might have been the peak of Black Friday sales because for the last few years, I have only noticed some good prices on a few high-end things and a spattering of other bargains.

Or it might be my own perception. After all, I now have at least one of anything you could ask for, and more flat screen televisions that is polite.

Still, there I was in the pre-dawn darkness standing in a cold line outside a store with a few hundred colleagues, who were not talking as much as they used to in the heady old days of bargain hunting camaraderie. Having this time more or less by myself, my mind wandered a bit. First off, I was uncomfortable because it was 36 degrees outside, and I pay good money to live in Southern California were that is not supposed to happen. Long gone are the days when my friends and I in Michigan would walk between classes in jeans, a shirt with light sweater, and wind breaker-and not feel particularly cold. I would think that my discomfort was due to many years of being spoiled by good weather, but later I saw a bulky young man walk out of the store with his goodies. He was wearing shorts and tee, and looked quite comfortable. No, I fear age is more responsible than weather.

So do you agree with me that the Black Friday luster has faded? The hoopla is still there, even greater, but the substance seems to have faded.

Still, I think it is a nice touch that the various store have adopted the civilized habit of passing out vouchers for the most highly desired items to people standing in line in the order they arrive. That avoids certain mayhem at the laptop and television counters. Another nice touch is the line monitor who makes sure the checkout goes smoothly. After standing in the cold for hours and then pushing through to get that special laptop, people get a little testy when they are in a 45 minute wait to check out and someone cuts in front.

What was your experience?

Android Phone Holiday Buying Guide, Part 3: AT&T

With the holiday season just around the corner, the carriers are planning their annual rush of new phones. We are halfway through our guide to Android phones on the major carriers,  bringing you handy guides to all the great phones available, so it’s easy to compare and make the right decision. Next in the lineup is AT&T. AT&T has never had as many Android phones as the other carriers, but has a few good options if you’re looking for an iPhone alternative on the carrier.

The Motorola Bravo has a unique design and MotoBlur

Motorola Bravo
AT&T has announced a trio of discount priced lower-end Android phones in time for the holidays, and the Bravo looks to be the best of the bunch. With a unique, rounded design, 800MHz processor and and a 3.7 inch screen, it looks like the Bravo will be able to run with the big boys like the G2 and Droid X.
The Bravo has Motorola’s much-maligned MotoBlur Android modifications, but should still be a solid choice for anyone but the most hardcore Android fans. It should also be helped out by the specs on this phone, which are much nicer than many of the other MotoBlur phones, which just lag since the interface is too CPU heavy.
Overall the Bravo looks like one of the best phones in AT&T’s slim Android lineup. Motorola makes solid hardware and despite Motoblur it seems that this phone would be a good, low-price choice. Officially $120, but can be had for a penny from with a new contract.
The Captivate may be a few months old, but it remains the best Android phone in AT&T's lineup.

Samsung Captivate
The Captivate has been out since July, but it remains the most solid choice in AT&T’s Android lineup. With a 1Ghz “hummingbird” processor, and a beautiful 4-inch Super-AMOLED display (Samsung’s exclusive technology), this phone powers through apps and looks great.
The Captivate is part of the Galaxy S line of phones, which have an iteration on every major carrier: The Fascinate (Verizon), Vibrant (T-Mobile), and Epic 4G (Sprint) join it to take the world by storm.
The Captivate has been rooted, modded, and generally broken apart, so the TouchWhiz UI can be easily removed if you don’t like it. Samsung’s Super AMOLED screen is one of the nicest phone screens I’ve ever seen, and knocks the pants off of the iPhone 4 display in an outdoor environment. Any Android fan would be very happy with this device, and it makes a great gift as the price is only dropping. Amazon has it for a penny.

Caveman Behavioral Traits Might Kick In At Thanksgiving Table Before Eating

Frank Kachanoff was surprised. He thought the sight of meat on the table would make people more aggressive, not less. After all, don’t football coaches feed their players big hunks of red meat before a game in hopes of pumping them up? And what about our images of a grunting or growling animal snarling at anyone who dares take their meat away from them? Wouldn’t that go for humans, too?

Kachanoff, a researcher with a special interest in evolution at McGill University’s Department of Psychology, has discovered quite the reverse. According to research presented at a recent symposium at McGill, seeing meat appears to make human beings significantly less aggressive. “I was inspired by research on priming and aggression, that has shown that just looking at an object which is learned to be associated with aggression, such as a gun, can make someone more likely to behave aggressively. I wanted to know if we might respond aggressively to certain stimuli in our environment not because of learned associations, but because of an innate predisposition. I wanted to know if just looking at the meat would suffice to provoke an aggressive behavior.”

The idea that meat would illicit aggressive behaviour makes sense, as it would have helped our primate ancestors with hunting, co-opting and protecting their meat resources. Kachanoff believed that humans may therefore have evolved an innate predisposition to respond aggressively towards meat, and recruited 82 males to test his theory, using long-established techniques for provoking and measuring aggression. The experiment itself was quite simple — subjects had to punish a script reader every time he made an error while sorting photos, some with pictures of meat, and others with neutral imagery. The subjects believed that they could inflict various volumes of sound, including “painful,” to the script reader, which he would hear after his performance. While the research team figured that the group sorting pictures of meat would inflict more discomfort on the reader, they were very surprised by the results.

“We used imagery of meat that was ready to eat. In terms of behaviour, with the benefit of hindsight, it would make sense that our ancestors would be calm, as they would be surrounded by friends and family at meal time,” Kachanoff explained. “I would like to run this experiment again, using hunting images. Perhaps Thanksgiving next year will be a great opportunity for a do-over!”

Evolutionary psychologists believe it is useful to look at innate reflexes in order to better understand societal trends and personal behavior. Kachanoff’s research is important because it looks at ways society may influence environmental factors to decrease the likelihood of aggressive behavior. His research was carried out under the direction of Dr. Donald Taylor and Ph.D student, Ms. Julie Caouette of McGill’s Department of Psychology, and was presented at the university’s annual undergraduate science symposium.

William Raillant-Clark @ McGill University

Walmart Goes “Groupon” with CrowdSaver

With only weeks left until the holiday shopping season kicks off, Walmart has launched its version of social-driven group buying: CrowdSaver. Powered by Facebook, CrowdSaver is an application that will list a deal on Walmart’s fan page, however, it will only activate once enough people “like” the deal. Once the required fan threshold for the deal has been reached, the discounted price will be available for the product at

Walmart CrowdSaver takes on Groupon

This is the key difference between established group buying sites like Groupon and Tippr, and Walmart’s new CrowdSaver. While prices are set for Groupon coupons, the popularity of the coupon does not affect the price point. However, with CrowdSaver, you must share with and recruit your friends to “like” the deal to unlock the discounted price. For the price to drop, the deal must go viral via and within Facebook, bringing back Facebook users to Walmart’s fan page.

Walmart’s innovative combination of Facebook and group buying power has potential. Over one third of the U.S. population uses Facebook, which is built to share information and data. Group buying relies on the viral potential of social media for a deal’s success. Walmart has the potential for developing a huge fan and customer base by merging what has become viral coupons into an inherently viral platform.

Unfortunately, unlike Groupon and other group-buying sites, Walmart’s discounts are less than desirable. A 42″ Plasma TV was only unlocked for an 18% discount; most group-buying coupons range between 30-50% off, if not more. If anything, it looks like Walmart is only using CrowdSaver as an incentive to bring customers to its Web site without losing a penny of profit.

We will likely see the true potential for of CrowdSaver if and when Walmart unleashes larger discounts, such as during Black Friday. Or, when someone else takes the concept and hikes up the discount, first.

What do you think? Is CrowdSaver worth it?

Thinking Of Flying This Holiday Season? You Better Book Early

With you have plans to make it home for the holidays this year, you better heed the warnings and book your flights early. Most airlines have cut back on the number of available flights since 2008, and there is about 12 to 15% less capacity. Also fares have increased about 20 to 30% so expect to pay more. But what is going to make this an especially busy holiday season is the fact that many fliers did not go home for the holidays last year. Pressure is sure to mount as grandma insists you come home this year or face banishment from the clan. LOL

On a serious note, this is what is being said about flying this holiday season:

This year the holiday travel window is narrower than usual since the holidays fall on weekends. Consumers normally have a 16 to 19 day window for travel, but with both Christmas and New Year’s Day falling on Saturdays this year, the peak travel period shortens to 14 days, experts say.

The time to book (or at the very least, shop around) is now. Prices may go down if you wait until closer to your departure date, but Seaney and Parsons predict the opposite: Planes will fill up fast.

“The first mistake travelers make while poking around online is searching for more than one seat, even if you have multiple people traveling together,” Parsons said.

Don’t forget to factor in peak travel surcharges. Most of the major carriers add $10 to $30 on top of published fares during the busiest travel periods.

Days around Thanksgiving with added charges include November 19-24 and 26-29, with the highest surcharges on November 28 and 29. Around Christmas and New Year’s, December 17 to 24 and December 26 through January 3 will be subject to peak travel surcharges, with $30 charges on December 23, 26 and 27 and January 2 and 3, according to Farecompare.

Be flexible on dates for the best fares. According to, the cheapest days to fly are Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. The cheapest time to fly is typically the first flight out in the morning.

I am glad we are staying home this holiday season. It seems that trying to get home for the holidays may be more expensive and challenging than in previous years. But let’s face it. Flying during the holidays has always been anything than satisfying, unless you like large crowds, canceled flights and bad weather.  You also get to sit with people around you sneezing, coughing and sharing their germs.

What are your plans? Will you be flying home this holiday season?

Comments welcome.

Source – CNN Travel

'Weekend Effect' Makes Makes People Happier Regardless Of Their Job, Study Says

There should be an image here!From construction laborers and secretaries to physicians and lawyers, people experience better moods, greater vitality, and fewer aches and pains from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon, concludes the first study of daily mood variation in employed adults to be published in the January 2010 issue of the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology. And that ‘weekend effect’ is largely associated with the freedom to choose one’s activities and the opportunity to spend time with loved ones, the research found.

“Workers, even those with interesting, high status jobs, really are happier on the weekend,” says author Richard Ryan, a professor of psychology at the University of Rochester. “Our findings highlight just how important free time is to an individual’s well-being,” Ryan adds. “Far from frivolous, the relatively unfettered time on weekends provides critical opportunities for bonding with others, exploring interests and relaxing — basic psychological needs that people should be careful not to crowd out with overwork,” Ryan cautions.

The study tracked the moods of 74 adults, aged 18 to 62, who worked at least 30 hours per week. For three weeks, participants were paged randomly at three times during the day, once in the morning, the afternoon and the evening. At each page, participants completed a brief questionnaire describing the activity in which they were engaged and, using a seven-point scale, they rated their positive feelings like happiness, joy, and pleasure as well as negative feelings of anxiety, anger, and depression. Physical symptoms of stress, such as headaches, digestive problems, respiratory ills, or low energy, also were noted.

The results demonstrated that men and women alike consistently feel better mentally and physically on the weekend. They feel better regardless of how much money they make, how many hours they work, how educated they happen to be, or whether they work in the trades, the service industry, or in a professional capacity. They feel better whether they are single, married, living together, divorced, or widowed. And, they feel better regardless of age.

To tease out exactly why weekend hours are so magical, the researchers asked participants to indicate whether they felt controlled versus autonomous in the task they were engaged in at the time of the pager signal. Participants also indicated how close they felt to others present and how competent they perceived themselves to be at their activity.

The findings indicated that relative to workdays, weekends were associated with higher levels of freedom and closeness: people reported more often that they were involved in activities of their own choosing and spending time with more intimate friends and family members. Surprisingly, the analysis also found that people feel more competent during the weekend than they do at their day-to-day jobs.

The results support self-determination theory, which holds that well-being depends in large part on meeting one’s basic psychological needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness. This study, conclude the authors, “offers one of the first substantive and theory-based explanations for why wellbeing tends to be more favorable on the weekends: People experience greater autonomy and relatedness, which are, in turn, related to higher wellness.” By contrast, write the authors, the work week “is replete with activities involving external controls, time pressures, and demands on behavior related to work, child care and other constraints.” Workers also may spend time among colleagues with whom they share limited emotional connections.

The study also raises questions about how work environments can be structured to be more supportive of wellness. “To the extent that daily life, including work, affords a sense of autonomy, relatedness, and competence, well-being may be higher and more stable, rather than regularly rising and falling,” the researchers conclude.

Susan Hagen @ University of Rochester

[Photo above by KK+ / CC BY-ND 2.0]

[awsbullet:working for the weekend]

Taking Better Holiday Pictures

Q: I just can’t seem to take a decent picture with my digital camera. Pictures are always blurry, too bright or too dark. What am I doing wrong? — Gina

A: It’s the holiday season once again and taking lots of pictures with a digital camera that’s been sitting in a drawer is a common scenario for a lot of people.

Digital cameras are quite different from their film cousins and understanding some basic elements will greatly improve the quality of your pictures.

First and foremost, unlike film cameras, most digital cameras don’t actually take the picture as you press the button, but slightly after. Holding the camera still for a few extra seconds after you press the button will do wonders for all of those blurred images.

If you can use a tripod, do so, as that will provide even better stability. If you don’t own a tripod, you can create a ‘poor man’s tripod’ with a large piece of string.

Measure out a piece of string about twice your height and tie the ends together. Next, you’ll need a screw that fits into the tripod mount on the bottom of your camera (take your camera to a hardware store for best results).

Tie one end of the loop to the screw and insert it into the bottom of your camera. To use the tripod, simply step into the loop (standing on top of the string) then pull your camera up to your viewing area.

With your feet at about shoulder length, you should see a triangle between them and the bottom of the camera. To adjust the height, simply change the distance between your feet. The best part is that it’s cheap and easy to carry around!

Light is the biggest factor in taking any picture, especially with digital cameras. Understanding the characteristics of your specific camera in various settings ahead of time will help you make good decisions while shooting.

The obvious tip is to read through your owner’s manual, but I think I might have met two people in my entire life that have actually taken that advice to heart. If you hate reading tech manuals, here’s another way to figure out what the settings on your camera will do.

Most cameras have a dial with lots of little icons that most users generally ignore. Start in the fully auto setting taking any kind of a picture indoors. Now change to the next setting on the dial and take the same picture again. Repeat this process until you get all the way around the wheel.

Do the same thing outdoors in natural light then download all the pictures to your computer. Look at each picture and make mental notes on what the differences are in each setting so you can understand which icons become your alternative ‘go-to’ selections for indoor and outdoor picture taking.

The other big issue with lighting is the flash. Most folks let the camera decide or more accurately, ‘guess’ when the flash should be used. If your indoor pictures are creating unnatural skin tones or lots of harsh glare, take another picture without the flash.

Also, don’t assume that because you are outside, you don’t need the flash. Instead of torturing your subjects by putting them in the sun, find a shaded area and turn on the flash. Your subjects won’t be squinting and the skin tones will likely be more natural (the best distance for the flash on most point and shoot cameras is 4 to 6 feet).

The biggest thing to remember is that since you won’t be ‘wasting film’ by taking lots of the same picture, get into the habit of taking multiple instances of the same picture at various settings.

Ken Colburn
Data Doctors Computer Services
Data Doctors Data Recovery Labs
Data Doctors Franchise Systems, Inc.
Weekly video tech contributor to
Host of the award-winning “Computer Corner” radio show

On This Thanksgiving Day What Do You Have To Be Thankful For?

I am writing this the day before Thanksgiving Day and wanted to share some thoughts with all of you who read this. First off, since some of you may not be familiar with Thanksgiving Day here in the U.S., it is a day in which we celebrate with family. The celebration is to give thanks for the things we have in life, whether it be good health, or wealth or whatever else that we are thankful for.

The origins is in myth that the Pilgrims broke bread with the Indians when the Pilgrims arrived in the new world. The myth also has it that the Indians shared turkey with the Pilgrims, so usually a bird is cooked on Thanksgiving Day. My husband and I are having all of our children and grandchildren into out home this holiday and yes, we are cooking the traditional turkey.

As I reflect back this past year, I am thankful that our family has been in good health. No one in our family has lost their jobs and all are able to put food on the table. We celebrate that our grand children will learn the values of our family including our belief in God and our Lord, Jesus Christ. We thank Him for being with us always and in his guidance as we make our way through life.

These are the things I am truly thankful for.

What about you? What are you thankful for?

Flu Subscription Gizmo List


If you could choose any one geeky gift this holiday season, what would it be? Money is no object. Let’s just close our eyes, and pretend that someone out there has very deep pockets, and wants to buy us each the gift of our dreams. How do you narrow down your list? Do you know what you’d want? Is it possible to choose just one thing?

For me, I honestly couldn’t choose. There are a lot of geeky things I want. Many of them are expensive, which is why I don’t already own them! Even if I were rich, I still couldn’t afford to keep myself happy with all of the gadgets, gizmos, devices, and toys that are out there for sale. Places like ThinkGeek taunt me with all of the cool stuff they have. How could I ever decide?

It seems a lot of you are getting into the holiday spirit. I came across several posts on our sites today revolving around Thanksgiving and even Christmas. It put me in such a holiday mood that I turned on some Christmas music earlier, and let it play over my live stream. I listened to it and hummed along as I caught up on everything going on in our community.

My new HP Photosmart Premium all-in-one machine connects to my entire network — and prints coupons for me!

There are five exercises you can do to reduce the pain and tension in your shoulders and neck after spending hours at your computer.

Help come up with a new teaser for Geeks!

The Sony DSC-WX1 may just be the coolest — and most functional — camera I’ve ever owned.

Newspaper subscriptions are continuing to decline. Do you still receive a printed copy?

Are you looking for an easy way to come up with a great new domain name?

New research explains why the bird flu has not reached pandemic proportions.

SWATting is using technology to hurt others.

Are you already using Dropbox to transfer files?

Could Chrome have a new competitor?

What types of computer deals will you find at Walmart for Black Friday?

GoToAssist can help you provide instant support to clients, friends, or family members.

How do you handle file indexing issues within Windows 7?

My teeth are yellow and falling out! (And yes, I love LEGO a little too much!)

Healthy Life Network is looking for your recipes.

Chrome operating system — is stateless the way to go?

Will there be a real estate book from Google?

Check out the hottest new freeware and shareware.

Take back parental control with freeware that allows you to decide what Web sites can be accessed from your family’s computers.

Apple is sounding off on the iPhone worm.

Post your funnies on bLaugh!

Managing your mobile device isn’t as difficult as you may think it is.

What types of punishments work best for today’s kids?

Customize System Restore in Windows 7.

Rediscover your computer’s true potential and performance by running a regular scan with Optimize 3.0! This little piece of software will now do more than ever before to boost your speed, increase your stability and enhance your security.

Walmart – This Holiday Season Will Be Flat For Sales

This may come as a little surprising coming from the worlds largest retailer, but Walmart is predicting that sales may be flat this holiday season. This will not be good news for many retailers that are struggling to survive. Walmart is actually enjoying increased sales for 2009, since more people are looking for ways to save a few bucks. Walmart also contribute their robust sales to lower food prices as well.

In a recent news article the retailing giant also stated:

Last week, the retailer announced $3.2 billion in third-quarter income, and a record 84 cents per share in profit.

“The sales environment continued to be difficult this quarter, but customer traffic is up throughout the company. We gained market share, especially in the United States, the United Kingdom and Mexico, as customers around the globe.

Earlier this month, the retailer announced a series of weekly price cuts on thousands of items across all departments. Wal-Mart has frequently in the past lowered prices to undercut rivals and generate sales volume. Its economy of scale allows the company to procure items at a lower cost than its smaller rivals.

Which does make one wonder how other vendors will be able to maintain lower pricing and lower profit margins trying to compete against Walmart. What do you think? Does Walmart have an unfair advantage over other retailers because of their size?

Do you shop at Walmart and why?

Comments welcome.


Thanksgiving Banshees And Jive Turkeys


Can you believe that Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and Christmas is but a few weeks away? I was aghast yesterday when I walked into a store that was playing Christmas carols… until I realized what the date was. Holy crap! Where did the year go? I haven’t even started to think about holiday shopping yet — never mind actually DOING any shopping.

After I had my little panic attack, I sat down to check out what was going on around our community. Lo and behold, people are talking about the upcoming festivities. They’re figuring out what to cook with their turkeys, and what the hottest new gifts are for this year. Geez, I’m way behind, aren’t I?

I was happy as hell to see that the holidays aren’t the only thing that people are chattering about. Thankfully, I found many interesting and informative blogs and threads on a huge variety of topics to keep me busy… and to get my mind back OFF of the holiday season. I’m just not ready quite yet!

If you’re not searching in real-time, you’re not doing it right!

AT&T responds to Verizon with EDGE coverage.

Balloon Boy’s parents will face sentencing next month for their hoax.

What is there to do in Florida?

The MPAA joins the IRS as an entity that is above the law.

We couldn’t do what we do every day in the community if it weren’t for the help we receive from the awesome folks at Citrix. Let Citrix help you grow your business.

What are your thoughts about halogen ovens?

I received the best email flame EVER in recorded history.

How can we spread holiday cheer during war time?

Do you practice proper textiquette?

Lightning does strike twice — Microsoft admits to two mistakes in one year.

Remove vocals from songs using Audacity.

What is the best thing about Hawaii?

CompUSA and Circuit City are being resurrected from the dead.

The skyline in Honolulu is beautiful. What does it look like where you live?

The Banshee music player is gaining new features.

What happens when you have a solution — but no problem to solve?

How much do you pay for cellular service every month?

‘Tis The Season For Malware Attacks

As Valentine’s Day grows near, so do the ongoing email attacks that are coming into the inboxes of unexpecting PC users everywhere. At my house however, this has not really been a problem. All of the POP mail here in my hole is combed heavily with the Bayesian filter known as POPFile, which runs on an old Zonbu Mini now powered by Ubuntu. My wife’s Mac, however, relies on Gmail to do the work and overall has performed well to prevent this sort of stuff from getting through.

But what about all of those people out there still rocking along with their XP or older Windows installations, likely running something “super secure” like Outlook Express with all of the HTML readability enabled to ensure maximum damage can be done with ease? Who speaks for them? In truth, the end user is generally on their own and the sad fact of the matter is that with each holiday, we see people running into the same problems with malware year after year.

Years ago when I was getting ready to retire my own PC repair business, I made it a point to switch people over to OS X if at all possible, or at least lock down their existing XP systems as much as possible. I often found that simply creating a Limited User and designating them as the “Internet” user worked wonders for avoiding malware surprises.

Then again, I guess there is no perfect solution for all circumstances. With that said, what do you use to protect friends/family/clients from their own bad PC usage habits? Are you simply playing damage control as it happens? Or instead, perhaps you have a tidbit of wisdom to share with the community? Whatever it may be, hit the comments and tell us about how you keep those around you safe as malware comes “a knocking.”

Windows 7 Now Scheduled For Christmas 2009…..Maybe?

The original rumor had pegged the release of Windows 7 around mid-2009. Now it seems that the release may come arounf Christmas time of 2009. Microsoft has changed their policy for those who buy Vista computers and when they will be able to upgrade to Windows 7 for free. The new date could be April 30, 2010 for the free upgrade.

In a recent article it states that:

Citing purported confidential memos from Microsoft, had earlier reported that the Windows 7 Upgrade Program will begin July 1 of this year.

That would mean that any Vista PCs purchased between then and Jan. 31, 2010, would be eligible for free upgrades to Windows 7.

TechARP reported today that those Windows 7 upgrade DVDs should be delivered by PC makers to customers by April 30 of next year. These dates are “open to change,” TechARP reported.

The veracity of the report “seems reasonable to me,” said Rosoff. “If they’re soliciting OEM feedback now, that points to a possible release in time for holiday 2009.”

Microsoft declined to comment on the TechARP report.

One could assume that systems running Vista would be ‘Windows 7 Capable’ since they are basically the same operating system. Windows 7 should actually run a little better according to those who have tested the new OS.

But the big question is how many people will actually be buying a new computer this year or in 2010? With the economic picture still in the crapper, Microsoft and OEM’s may not see the average consumer willing to fork out any monies for a new computer when they struggle to put food on the table.

Just my 2 cents. What do you think?


On Geeks: Star Wars, LEGO, And Games Giveaway


I think you’ll appreciate this.

If you want one of those gifts, you know what you gotta do (HINT: read the directions found at the link). You can get LEGO Wonderland, Star Wars Smiles, or Family Game Night — the choice is totally yours. It’s EASY to enter – you’re crazy if you don’t at least leave a comment!

Don’t say we never did anything for you. Oh, and you’re also welcome to join us tonight for the launch of!

Don’t say… oh, wait. I already said that.

Yours Jinglebelly,

Chris Pirillo

Visit Geeks!

Alek’s Controllable Christmas Lights For Celiac Disease Are Online!

For the many who have asked, the Controllable Christmas Lights for Celiac Disease are online for 2008!

There are three live Web cams and X10 powerline control technology system so Web surfers can not only view the action, but also *control* 20,000+ lights. Heck, you can even inflate/deflate the giant Santa, Elmo, Frosty Family, SpongeBob SquarePants, and Homer Simpson — D’OH!

The Web site is totally free (and totally fun) and is one of my zany ways of raising awareness & soliciting donations for Celiac Disease; my two sons have this condition, so it’s personal for me.

If folks are so inclined, you can make an optional donation directly to the University of Maryland Center for Celiac Research. Over $30,000 has been raised with holiday lights — go figure!

While people around the world (154 countries last year) enjoy seeing the lights ON, environmentalists will be happy to know that they can turn the lights OFF with a click of the mouse. Better yet, this is the 5th year I’m using wind power and even though it is “clean” energy, I even did a carbon offset contribution for the 0.6 tons of CO2 for the ~MegaWatt-hour of power consumed — that’s about the same as one cross-country airline trip. Finally, by providing viewing via Web cam, you don’t need to burn fossil fuels by driving around to see Christmas lights; Al Gore would be proud!

But HEY, the couple bucks a day in electrical costs are well worth the joy it brings to people (especially the kids) when they see the display in person and/or on the Web . There’s even a hi-def option, so gather your family around the large screen and open up some eggnog as the chestnuts are roasting on an open fire.

So surf on by, tell your friends, blog about it, spread the word, etc. Merry Christmas and HO-HO-HO!


P.S. A surprise fan favorite last year was the aptly named Burrito Reindeer. The fine folks at radio station KIYU in Galana, Alaska first pointed out this interesting visual oddity as it brought some Christmas cheer to the remote Yukon. They did a promotion and ended up raising $1,000 for Celiac Disease in 2007. In 2008, they made another $1,000 charitable donation — WOW! Read more here.