Monday, March 31, 2014

T-Mobile's latest UnCarrier move: removing employer discounts

Over the past year, T-Mobile's new policies have ushered in a new wave of changes to the way the US wireless industry works. It was the first national operator to introduce phone-financing plans, early upgrades and free international roaming; additionally, it also offers to pay your cancellation fee if you break another carrier's contract to move over. It appears that such practices must come at a cost: CEO John Legere announced that beginning April 1st, T-Mobile will no longer offer its Advantage Program, which features monthly emp loyer rate plan discounts, to new customers. Existing beneficiaries will see the deduction removed from their accounts on April 25th. As a consolation, affected subscribers will now receive a $25 reward card every time they get a new phone.

First, we'll dive into what this entails. Most wireless operators broker deals with corporations in which employees of that company get a percentage Deal News on their monthly rate plan -- often, the discount increases as more employees sign up for service. Typically these incentives will range from 5 percent to as much as 30 percent. By removing them, many customers may find themselves with a noticeable change to their bill. If you're a government employee (including military), you're exempt from this transition and you'll continue to receive your usual discount.

In a blog post, Legere explained his reasoning behind the change:

"The old programs were designed to help big carriers close big corporate contracts, with employees as bargaining chips. We aren't playing that game anymore. This change is about simplifying wireless for everyone ... including employees of small and large companies alike."

Legere maintains that despite this move, the value of T-Mobile's Simple Choice plans are still much better than "the other guys." Unsurprisingly, he's positioning this modification as another in a string of UnCarrier initiatives to prove that his company's changing the game by separating itself from the rest of the industry. In a series of tweets to disgruntled customers, Legere answered concerns by saying that not all of T-Mobile's customers could take advantage of these discounts, and he wanted to apply the cost savings to the entire subscriber base instead of reserving them for exclusive deals.

Many of the company's earlier changes have been immensely successful -- Simple Choice, Jump! and unlimited international text plans are just a few examples. But there are also a few recent policy changes that haven't been as popular: Last month T-Mobile adjusted its Jump! early upgrade plans so you could only upgrade once you've paid off half of your phone, and earlier this month it bumped unlimited data rates up $10.

Arguably, these aforementioned changes may simply be side effects of those UnCarrier moves that have proven quite successful. After all, incentives (such as free international data) come with their fair share of costs, and T-Mobile needs to compensate for those losses somehow -- especially since Legere announced that the company would continue adding more UnCarrier plans in the future. "This is just one more step in the [UnCarrier] movement," he said. "And, we're not done yet."

[Image credit: Getty Images]

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Kindle Fire Sale: Amazon Tablets Starting at $119

Not one to shy away from discounting its own tablets, Best Buy has knocked down the prices of its Kindle Fire HD and Kindle Fire HDX tablets for a limited time.

You can grab the entry-level Kindle Fire HD 7″ for just $119 for the 8GB version, which is $20 off from the regular price. As for the flagship Kindle Fire HDX slates, the 7-inch model can be had for $199 for the 16GB version, while the 8.9-inch variant starts at $339. This is a $30 and $40 discount, respectively.

The most recent Kindle sale was just earlier this week, when Staples knocked off $30 from Kindle ereaders and tablets, but this is the first time in almost two months that Amazon itself has had its Kindle Fire lineup on sale, where it discounted its Kindle Fire HDX for Valentine's Day.

Of course, the discounted prices are with Special Offers intact, meaning that you'll see advertisements here and there, but you certainly can't beat the price. If you can handle the occasional ad, $119 is a fantastic price for a decent tablet, and it's pretty much an instant buy considering you're only paying that much dough for something that you'll get a ton of use out of if you take advantage of Amazon's various services regularly.

The Kindle Fire HDX is the newest addition to the Kindle lineup, coming with faster internals and a higher-resolution display, as well as a new customer support feature called MayDay, which allows you to immediately get on the horn with an Amazon customer support rep through your Kindle Fire HDX tablet in case you're having any troubles.

The Kindle Fire HD and HDX have been discounted several times this year, and Amazon has never been shy about chopping the price on its own hardware. You can usually take advantage of Kindle hardware sales throughout the year, so there's almost no reason not to wait for a good deal on a Kindle ereader or Kindle Fire tablet.

Based in Indiana, Craig covers a variety of mobile technology topics, but focuses on iOS and the jailbreaking scene. You can follow Craig on Twitter or shoot him an email at [email protected] .

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

News Briefs - March 26


The Citizens to Preserve the Character of Skaneateles is scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 26 at the Skaneateles Historical Society Museum at the Creamery. The public is invited to attend. For more information, call 685-8336.


The kickoff meeting of The Peregrine Way support group is slated to take place at 6 p.m. Thursday, March 27 at The Athenaeum, 150 E. Genesee St., Skaneateles. Gatherings will take place on the last Thursday of every month from 6-7 p.m., and the group is open to all caregivers to share ideas and suggestions while supporting each other. For more information, call 685-1400.


The Skaneateles YMCA and Community Center will host Parents' Night Out programs Fridays from 6 to 9 p.m. The program will run March 28. A snack of pizza and drinks will be served, along with non-stop activity. Space is limited, and the cost is $10 per child and $25 per family for Y members and $20 per child and $35 per family for the general public.


The Athenaeum, 150 E. Genesee St., Skaneateles, will host Ladies Tea at 2 p.m. Friday, March 28 with a special presentation by the Museum of Science and Technology on "The Apothecary." The event is free and open to the public. Reservations are requested. Call 685-1400 for more information.


A free community dinner will be held at St. Andrew's United Methodist Church, 4264 Jordan Road, Mottville, from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Saturday, March 29. The menu consists of chicken and biscuits, garden salad, hot and cold beverages, and desserts. Everyone is welcome to come celebrate spring. The dinner is sponsored by the church's Mission/Outreach Committee.


Sustainable Skaneateles and EarthWorks are slated to host their second annual celebration of Earth Hour, starting at 6:45 p.m. Saturday, March 29 with a showing of the film "The City Dark" in the parish hall at St. James Episcopal Church. The event will then move to Thayer Park to celebrate Earth Hour 2014 from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. Attendees are asks to bring their own reusable mug, as the Skaneateles High School Environmental Club will provide complimentary hot chocolate. Both the film and the Earth Hour celebration are free and open to the public.


The Athenaeum, 150 E. Genesee St., Skaneateles, will host a gospel music concert featuring musicians from The Vineyard at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, March 30. The concert is free and open to the public. For more information, call 685-1400.


Gallery 54, 54 E. Genesee St., Skaneateles, will feature the work of Wayne Schapp and David Goldman throughout April. Schapp creates one-of-a-kind heritage boxes from aged and weathered pieces of wood and gnarly root systems. Goldman creates sculptural clocks and tape dispensers from vintage and extinct mechanical machines. Goldman will demonstrate his methods for repurposing, designing and assembling his sculptures from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 12.


Snake Oil Glassworks will host its next First Friday event from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, April 4. The gaffer will demonstrate how bowls and plates are made.


From noon to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 5, Connie Smith will demonstrate painting on turkey feathers at Gallery 54. 54 E. Genesee St., Skaneateles. Smith paints realistic images of wild animals on turkey tail feathers. Gallery 54 carries her pieces, including images of deer, salmon, wolves, bear, loons, and cardinals.


Skaneateles Summer Theatre is scheduled to present its annual Evening of Broadway Romance dinner cabaret at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, April 5 at the Welch Allyn Lodge in Skaneateles Falls. Hors d'oeuvres, dinner, dessert and coffee will be served in between musical sets. Tickets cost $50 per person, and reservations can be made online at or by calling727-4614. Tables of 8 and 10 can be reserved.

This year's theme is Fools for Love, showcasing show tunes that represent the amusing or unusual side of love. Starting off the evening with "Razzle Dazzle" from the musical "Chicago," the group will feature voices singing solos, duets, trios and several ensemble numbers. The group will end the evening with a preview of this summer's SST production of "Shrek." Cast members include Skaneateles Summer Theatre veterans Karen Bartlett, Mary Jo Clary, Meg Clary, Steve Condie, Janet Kringer, Jeffrey Kringer, Kristy Schroeder, Pam Spear, Alex Spear, and Josh and Cait Wilmot and features Anna Egert, SST's accompanist.

This event helps fund the annual Skaneateles Summer Theatre summer production, which is in its 17th year.


The Skaneateles YMCA and Community Center will offer an American Red Cross CPR/AED for the Professional Rescuer Review Class at a cost of $90. The course will take place from 9 a.m to 12:30 p.m. April 6, from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. May 11, or from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. June 1.


Mirbeau Inn & Spa, 851 W. Genesee St., Skaneateles, is presenting a new series of Wellness Talks led by Melissa Weinberger of Nuravita Chiropractic, Yoga & Wellness Care in Skaneateles. With topics ranging from overcoming fatigue to the scoop on reading food labels and GMOs, guests will gain insight on a wide variety of topics over the course of the program and have the opportunity to ask questions at the end of each session. Talks will take place bi-monthly on Tuesdays from 7 - 8 p.m. in the Provence Room. The schedule is as follows: April 8 - What's Really In Your Cereal Bowl?, April 22 - Raw Dairy: Healthy or not?, May 6 - Tired of being tired? Overcome Your Fatigue, May 20 - Sugar Blues, and June 3 - Myth: The Harder You Exercise, the More Weight You Will Lose: Learn Why. Admission is free for spa members, and guests can participate for $10 per session. Tickets can be purchased at the spa desk. For more information, call 877-647-2328 or visit


Adventures in Art is a class for 7 to 12 year olds and is designed to stimulate the imagination while exploring a variety of media and subject matter. Through carefully planned lessons, students are introduced to basic concepts of color and design and will begin to acquire a basic art vocabulary. Projects are varied and may include drawing, painting, sculpture, collage and printmaking.

Classes run from 3:45 to 5:45 p.m. Thursdays at the First Presbyterian Church, 97 East Genesee St., Skaneateles. Classes culminate with a student art show. Materials are included, but students should bring a smock. Classes are taught by Colleen Lisson, a New York state-certified art teacher. The cost is $125 for six lessons, and the spring session will take place April 10 to May 22. Contact 685-0678 or for more information.


The Athenaeum, 150 E. Genesee St., Skaneateles, will host Sue Alexander for a night of entertainment at 6:30 p.m. Monday, April 21. The concert is free and open to the public. call 685-1400 for more information.


The Skaneateles YMCA and Community Center is slated to host a Red Cross Lifeguarding Course with Waterfront Skills module from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 21-25. The course costs $335 and includes Lifeguarding certification, Waterfront Skills certification, CPR/AED certification, Lifeguarding text book and CPR mask. Call 685-2266 to register.


The Peregrine Way Caregivers Support Group will meet at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 24 at The Athenaeum, 150 E. Genesee St., Skaneateles. Call 685-1400 for more information.


The Skaneateles YMCA and Community Center will offer an American Red Cross Lifeguarding Recertification Review Course with Waterfront Skills module at a cost of $195. The course includes CPR/AED and First Aid certification. The course will take place from from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. May 19-20 or from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. June 16-17.


The Skaneateles YMCA and Community Center will offer a Red Cross Lifeguarding Course with Waterfront Skills module offered at a few different dates throughout the rest of the winter and into spring. Classes will meet from 6 to 9 p.m. Fridays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays. Courses will take place on the following weekends: May 16-18; and May 30-31, June 1. The course costs $335 and includes Lifeguarding certification, Waterfront Skills certification, CPR/AED certification, Lifeguarding text book and CPR mask. For more information, visit Call 685-2266 to register for a class.


Waterman Primary School is accepting kindergarten registration for eligible students for the 2014-2015 school year. To be eligible for kindergarten, a child must be 5 years old on or before Dec. 1, 2014. If you received registration information in the mail, send it to Waterman School as soon as possible. If you have not received registration information in the mail and you have an incoming child, contact District Registrar Colleen Jones at 291-2218.


Registration is open for the final Skaneateles Labor Day Race Weekend. The 10th year of racing starts Saturday, Aug. 30 with the Skinnyman sprint coverage map Triathlon followed by the youth MiniSkinny for ages 5-14. Sunday, Aug. 31 brings the Escape from the Judge Open Water One-Mile Swim and Skaneateles 5K Road Race. The I'm All That competition encompasses all three adult races over both days.

This is your last chance to join the fun in these exciting events. Completing 10 years of extraordinary success, SkanRaces is committed to making this last racing weekend the best ever.

SkanRaces, a true charity, is a not for profit (501c3) volunteer organization supporting wellness and healthy lifestyles for all ages and abilities in central New York. Race proceeds fund a wide variety of programs. For more about donations, volunteering or race information, maps and registration, go to


Schweinfurth Art Center is looking for artists for the its summer exhibit, cARTography: artists as mapmakers. The exhibit will run from June 6 to Aug. 17 and will feature art related to maps and map making. Work may be in any medium, including but not limited to painting, works on paper, photography, collage, assemblage multi-media and installations. It is expected that the exhibit will include work that explores geopolitical themes, environmental issues, historic or cultural themes, and more. Artists who are interested in being considered should send or email the required information to the art center by March 28. Images can be submitted on a CD via mail, through DropBox, through email, or through a link to the artist's website. There is no entry fee.

For details on how to submit artwork, visit For more information, call 255.1553 or email Administrative Coordinator Monica Hastedt at


The Skaneateles Republican Committee is seeking individuals interested in serving on the Skaneateles Republican Committee. Those interested are asked to send a letter to P.O. Box 294, Skaneateles, NY 13152 or email by Feb. 4.


Village Code Enforcement Officer John Cromp encourages homeowners and contractors initiating building projects to apply for proper permitting early. "It's never too soon to start your project application process," he said. Some village building projects could require approval from as many as four village boards. Approval of permits takes time, he said, and could delay projects by several weeks. Cromp may be reached at 685-3440.


Looking to get out of the house this winter with your kids? Moms and Kids Childcare Co-op is accepting new families with children ages 4 months to 5 years. For more information, visit or email Jennifer at


The Skaneateles Library now provides free access to the world's most popular consumer online genealogy resource. Ancestry Library Edition is simple enough for beginners, yet provides deep and broad content that will help veteran genealogists advance their research. More than 7,000 databases and 200 billion images deliver information from census data, vital records, directories, photos and more. Ancestry Library Edition is available on library computers or on laptops and other personal devices using the library's WiFi connection. While users can get started any time, the library will offer a workshop on using this resource in early 2014. For more information, contact library director Nickie Marquis at 315-685-5135 or


The Skaneateles YMCA offers The Little Lakers afternoon enrichment program for children ages 4 to 6. Trained staff engage the children in Learn to Skate, Learn to Swim, Gym and Swim, Art and Music and additional learning through play activities. There are two schedule options to choose from, full-week and three-day timeframes available. Financial assistance is available and will be awarded on an individual basis. Application forms are available at the Y's front desk at 97 State St., Skaneateles. Call 685-2266 for more information.


Skaneateles High School maintains an active military service board in the main lobby of the high school to honor those community members (or former members) who are serving now. The board is for all members of the Skaneateles school district and members of the Skaneateles community. Names of former students and community members who are actively engaged in any branch of the services are welcome. Send the names and branches of service to Sandra Taylor at or contact the main office of the high school.


The Skaneateles Veterans Memorial Committee welcomes service members and their families to apply for a spot on the plaque it is collecting of those in the armed forces serving, or having served, in Iraq or Afghanistan. The person must be from Skaneateles. Fill out of form online at, under the Public Notices tab.


The Journal relies on its sister newspaper The Citizen's sports desk for sports coverage. To ensure local teams' scores are included in the coverage, report game scores by calling 282-2257 or email Besides reporting scores, people are welcome to suggest player profiles, remind writers of big upcoming games for possible coverage, and inform writers of upcoming fundraisers. Parents, coaches and students are encouraged to call.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Banana Republic Accidentally Lets Customers Stack Coupon Codes, Notices, Cancels Orders

Rules are rules, and getting some special deals requires playing by the rules. If a company's website lets you use multiple coupon codes together, then that means that the codes can be combined, no matter what the coupon fine print says, right? Well, no.

Using multiple coupons together is a practice that veteran bargain-hunters call "stacking," and e-commerce sites generally don't let you do it, because then the deals would be too awesome. The Gap family of sites does, but it isn't allowed on all codes. One handy code that gave customers 40% off two regular-price items could be stacked with a 25% off Buy Cheap, and online deal-hunters rejoiced. Then they stopped rejoicing when Banana Republic started canceling their orders.

The experience of one Fatwallet poster was typical:

I never received any emails (checked both inbox and spam) since Friday, so I called. I was told (after waiting for about half an hour) that my order had been cancelled because using more than one promotion at a time isn't allowed. Apparently, even though the website allowed it, it was mentioned somewhere in the fine print.

The CSR offered to apply the 40% off promotion, but when I had her break down how much each item would cost, the base prices were higher than when I originally placed my order, so that even 40% off was really only ~30% off for some things. Totally not worth it.

We've discussed in the past how companies aren't liable for pricing errors, and that also applies to errors in their system that let customers get away with things that they normally can't. Does that mean that Gap should have canceled all of these orders because the customers got too good a deal? In some cases, customers claim that the extra savings they go through using both coupons was only a few dollars, so the cancellations were automated or executed on principle.

We contacted Gap about this coupon mess, and will let you know what they have to say if they get back to us.

Get 40% off your on-line purchases with code @ Banana Republic [FatWallet]

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Super cool Japanese-import Toyota Hilux Surf for sale - Autoweek

<Reviewp>This 1988 Toyota Hilux Surf SSR Limited checks all the car geek's insufferable minutiae -- and then it keeps going with it. It's a limited edition. It has low miles. It has a five-speed manual. It is a diesel. It has all the transfer cases you could ever want. It is four-wheel drive. It is right-hand drive. Its rear window folds down. Its fiberglass comes off with ease, thereby transforming it into a safari vehicle for less-than-reputable " wildlife parks." It has that cool inclinometer in the center that reminds us of bouncing around in our uncle's 1995 Mitsubishi Montero.

Most brain-warpingly shocking of all, it is a 1980s Toyota whose frame doesn't yet look like the wreckage of the Titanic.

Ah, it was a simpler time -- back when an SUV was just a pickup with some fiberglass bits nailed to the back, a time when rear seats weren't there for comfort and convenience so much as they were there for insurance purposes. (Many luxury 2+2s still adhere to this principle.) We would say this is the ultimate survival rig to flee from those clichéd zombies, or to enable the writing and distribution of anti-technology manifestos, if it wasn't so achingly rare. And in accordance with its rarity, no price has been listed. (We've left a message posing as interested buyers, which is as close to those local news "hidden camera investigations" as we'll get.)

Just think -- in an alternate universe, it's these 80s JDM nostalgia trucks that are bringing big bucks at all the collector car auctions: Rust-free, numbers-matching, one-of-one, extensively optioned Hilux Surfs and SR5 4x4s ballooning in value! Did you see? Last week, an unrestored 4Runner was pulled out of a barn in Yakima -- no floorboard rust! Barn find! Sold for six figures! Some guy's Marty McFly replica went for $90,000! That's insane. Hey, come back to my place, they're televising the Mecum sale -- yeah, that's right, there's an Isuzu Raider headlining the thing. Big bucks. I'll pick you up in my 426 'Cuda. You know, the numbers-matching one. Yeah, I still have it. For the life of me, nobody wants to buy the damn thing.

Get more car news, reviews and opinion every day: Sign up to have the Autoweek Daily Drive delivered right to your inbox.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Triple Coverage: Back Up Your Computer in Three Ways

For years, everyone has told you that you should be backing up your computer on a regular schedule - even though it's a pain to do so - lest you lose precious data to a crash, to malware, to theft or just irreversible failure. But everyone has been wrong. In fact, you should back up your computer in three different ways, continuously. And it is easier than ever to do.

In particular, you should do a massive, automated, constant backup to a cloud service. Why? Because, if there's a home burglary, fire or flood that causes the theft or destruction of both your computer and any local backup drives, you'll still have an up-to-date copy of your documents, photos, videos, music and other files you've saved.

Though this is only one part of the three-part plan I use and recommend, it can be the most daunting. So for the past few weeks I've been testing a cloud-based backup service called Backblaze, which costs $5 a month, or $50 a year if purchased on an annual basis, for an unlimited amount of data and unlimited file sizes.

I backed up 300 gigabytes worth of files from my MacBook Air using Backblaze (which also works essentially identically on Windows PCs), and then tested restoring files in various quantities and via various methods. Both the backup and restore worked very well, and the service kept monitoring the Mac in the background for any new or changed files, and automatically uploaded them.

Back to the details of my Backblaze experience in a minute. First, let me explain the three-way backup system I suggest.

For starters, I advise using one of the online sharing and syncing services, like dropbox download, to synchronize the most important data files - documents, photos and such - between the cloud and a folder on your PCs or Macs. These could also be the files that change most often, or which you are using most frequently at any given time.

By syncing them continuously, and among multiple machines, you are performing a sort of backup. But Dropbox and similar services are likely to be too expensive for most people to use as an online backup repository for all the user-created files on their hard disks. For instance, a Dropbox account large enough to hold my 300GB of uploaded files would cost $499 a year.

Second, make a comprehensive local backup, using an external hard disk. This disk can either be physically connected to the computer or it can be a drive connected to your network. Such a backup includes not only all the data you've created, but also the operating system and apps, and can be used to fully restore the computer.

There are lots of backup programs that can do such backups, but you needn't spend extra cash. Both the Mac and Windows operating systems have built-in full-system backup utilities. On the Mac, it's called Time Machine. In Windows, it's called System Image Backup. Time Machine lets you restore individual files or the entire computer, and works continuously. In Windows 8.1, there's a separate utility for continuously backing up and restoring files - but not the whole system - called File History. System Image Backup must be run manually.

Finally, back up all the files and data you create to the cloud, continuously. That's where Backblaze comes in. There have been services like this for some years. The best known are likely Carbonite and Mozy. But I recommend Backblaze, or a competitor called CrashPlan reviewed in 2012 by my colleague Katie Boehret. In my view, their basic plans have fewer limitations, and in our tests they worked well.

By default, Backblaze backs up every user-created file, automatically and continuously, even if it's not in the main file libraries on Windows, or your home directory on a Mac. The idea, the company says, is to spare users from instructing a backup service what to include, or finding that the service missed something.

However, Backblaze doesn't back up the operating system or programs or temporary Internet files. So you can't use it to entirely restore a lost or ruined computer.

The service works via native Backblaze apps that run quietly in the background on Mac and Windows. It claims strong security, saying it encrypts all the data right on your computer before transmitting it, during the upload, and then again on its servers. You can even add a second password beyond your account password.

It took 12 days to complete my initial backup, but yours might be shorter or longer depending on the amount of data and the speed of your Internet connection. Backblaze doesn't throttle or limit the upload speed, except to leave some upload capacity available on your computer for other tasks. But network interference on the Internet itself can slow down the process.

The company says a typical user backing up the same 300GB of data I did would find it took 16 days for the initial backup.

After the first time, your backups are much faster, because you add or alter only a fraction of the data amount you start with. Backblaze says it doesn't bother backing up exact duplicate files on your hard disk, and compresses those files it can compress. But it says that when restoring files and folders it restores duplicate files as many times and in as many places as they originally existed, and decompresses anything it compressed.

Backblaze also includes external drives connected to your computer in its backups. However, it deletes their files from your backup account if you disconnect the drive for more than 30 days.

In my tests, the backups have gone smoothly, even though I used the computer in multiple locations with multiple network speeds. The service keeps you posted and in control, when you wish, through a system-tray menu on a PC, or a menu dropdown on a Mac.

Backblaze offers three options for restoring lost data. You can download any files you choose, either from the Web or using a download utility. Or, if you have a lot of files, the company will send them to you on physical media, for an added price. You can choose either a 128GB flash drive for $99, or a hard disk of up to three terabytes for $189. You get to keep the drives for any use you like after you receive them.

I tested two of the methods - downloading and the USB drive - and found that both worked perfectly and quickly. I was even able to restore files backed up from the Mac on one of my Windows 8 computers. And I was also able to retrieve files from my Backblaze backup using the company's iPhone app.

I like and can recommend Backblaze. But I recommend even more strongly using it as part of a three-part backup system.

Monday, March 10, 2014

How do I redeem an iOS app promo code / download code?

App Best Buy can be redeemed with iTunes on a computer. To use a promo code or download code open iTunes and navigate to the iTunes Store.

The quick links section will be visible on the right side of the iTunes store window. Click redeem and enter your AppleID password if prompted.

Enter the promo code in the Code field and click the Redeem button.

Promo codes can also be redeemed on an iOS device. First open the App Store, iTunes Store or iBooks Store on your iOS device.

Scroll down to quick links at the bottom of the Featured section and tap Redeem. Sign in with your AppleID if prompted, then enter the content code.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

[Deal Alert] Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition Drops To $499.99 For 16GB And $529.99 For 32GB On Amazon

We've already had one pretty good deal on a Samsung Note tablet today, but if you'd like something with a little more oomph, Promotional">Amazon is offering some significant discounts on a newer model. The Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition is now $499.99 for the 16GB model and $529.99 for the 32GB model on Amazon's main listing. That's a savings of $50 and $70, respectively.

Now, that's still really freakin' expensive as Android tablets go, but since Samsung doesn't seem to be letting go of its high and mighty pricing any time soon, this is probably the best deal you'll get on a new version of this particular model. And it could be worse: the similar Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 is the same price on Amazon for the 16GB version, and it's got less RAM and no stylus function. The core specs for the Note 10.1 2014 Edition are a 1260x1600 screen, a Snapdragon 800 processor, 3GB of RAM, and an 8MP rear camera. It does run Android 4.3, while the newer Tab Pro models use KitKat.

Should you buy one? From a purely economic perspective, this tablet is still a tough recommendation, to say nothing of the faux leather and awful physical navigation buttons. But if you've been drooling over one for the last few months, now you've got a better deal to consider. This doesn't appear to be a sale, so I expect this is Amazon's new standard price for the Note 10.1 2014 Edition. You get your choice of black or white models, and as usual, Amazon Prime users can get free 2-day shipping.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Digital discounter sets terms for $130 million IPO, a digital network of Coupon Code, online coupons, loyalty card promotions and mobile coupons, announced terms for its IPO on Tuesday. The Mountain View, CA-based company plans to raise $130 million by offering 10 million shares at a price range of $12 to $14. At the midpoint of the proposed range, the company would command a fully diluted market value of $1.1 billion., which was founded in 1998 and booked $168 million in sales for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2013, plans to list on the NYSE under the symbol COUP. initially filed confidentially on October 25, 2013, and plans to price the week of March 3rd. Goldman Sachs, Allen & Company, BofA Merrill Lynch and RBC Capital Markets are the joint bookrunners on the deal.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

'Pinball Arcade' Developer FarSight Studios Looking to Create Their Own Original Tables

<Deal Todayp> Developer FarSight Studios have done a marvelous job of recreating dozens of classic real-world pinball tables in their Pinball Arcade [$0.99 / Free] game since early 2012. Now, according to an interview with the BBC (via Polygon), the studio is looking to create their own original pinball tables.

FarSight's vice president of product development Bobby King tells the publication that they've been in talks with "some of the famous pinball designers from the past" about developing these original tables. One of the key factors in this is that developing a table from scratch for a digital game is much less expensive than building a physical version. If they can create original tables that prove popular and fun in their Pinball Arcade game, then it could even make sense to create an actual physical version of those tables.

There's nothing like having a collection of all-time classic pinball tables in your pocket with Pinball Arcade, but it's interesting to think about what famed pinball table designers could do with brand new original table creations. As King says, "Those cost considerations [of the past] are irrelevant when machines are designed only to be built in the virtual world, so imagine what these guys could do if they were given carte blanche." It's an interesting prospect, and we'll be keeping an eye out for any more news from FarSight about them creating their own original pinball tables.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Which Cell Phone Provider Is the Best?

It's hard to believe that cell phones have now been around for more than 40 years. The first cell phone was created by Martin Cooper and his Motorola team in 1973. The phone, called DynaTAC, wasn't actually sold to consumers for another decade. Now, three decades later, cell phones are an integral part of people's lives. In fact, 91 percent of Americans own a cell phone. With so many people using these devices, cellular companies are raking in the dough. Many Americans become loyal customers of specific carriers due to habit, because they like a particular phone offered, or because of excellent customer service.

Yet, people often grumble about the reliability, cost, or plan availability of their particular provider. The task of finding a new carrier can be daunting, but 10TopTenREVIEWS came out with a ranking of the best providers for 2014 that is a great place to start. According to the research, Verizon Wireless ( NYSE:VZ) is the best overall carrier, followed by AT&T ( NYSE:T), and then T-Mobile ( NYSE:TMUS). The article below includes a summary of the top five ranked carriers.

1. Verizon Wireless

Verizon takes the number one spot with an overall ranking of 8.58/10. The company covers 98 percent of Americans. The carrier also has 100 percent coverage in urban areas, 95 percent in rural areas, offers 4G LTE in 506 markets, and offers superb customer service. Verizon's contracts and the number of days allowed to return a phone are similar to other carriers. Although AT&T has slightly higher 4G download speeds, Verizon earned overall better rankings. The main issue with Verizon is the cost of the plans, which can get very expensive. However, when one weighs the many benefits of Verizon, the cost seems somewhat less important.

2. AT&T

AT&T ranks just below Verizon with an overall ranking of 8.5/10. As mentioned before, AT&T has the fastest 4G LTE speeds, and it also offers many different phones. However, while 4G LTE speeds are excellent, the coverage only includes 424 markets. In addition, while AT&T offers many plans, those plans can be expensive. Further, the company's network is not as strong as Verizon's, and rural coverage can be especially lacking, with only 75 percent of rural areas covered. AT&T earned an 85 for customer service, which amounts to a steady B compared to Verizon's A+.

3. T-Mobile

Coming in at number three is T-Mobile - which you might recognize from the awesomely hilarious Bill Hader commercials that have launched over the past few months. T-Mobile received an 8.38/10 overall ranking because of the carrier's unlimited data plans and affordable prices. However, the coverage is not as strong as Verizon or AT&T offers, with only 75 percent of urban areas and 50 percent of rural areas covered. T-Mobile only has 143 4G LTE markets, but the download speeds are just a hair behind Verizon. Another negative for the carrier is the ranking it received on customer service, which came in at only 45 percent. Still, T-Mobile is an affordable carrier if it is available in your location.

4. sprint customer service

With an overall rating of 7.75/10, a low customer service score (50 percent), and spotty coverage (65 percent in urban areas and 55 percent in rural areas), Sprint ( NYSE:S) certainly isn't on the same playing field as Verizon and AT&T. Still, it offers unlimited data as well as international calling. Sprint also features many different phones with various capabilities. Sprint family plans are also popular, and although the network is not always solid, Sprint is offered nationwide. This is particularly effective for people who travel frequently or families with college-age children.

For the past few months, the company offered a program called Sprint One Up, but that ended January 9. The program used to allow customers who purchased an eligible smartphone while agreeing to pay 24 monthly installments for the device to trade the smartphone in after 12 consecutive months of payment. Customers would then be given a new smartphone and a new contract. Although the plan has ended, if Sprint brings this plan back, this deal could greatly increase its customer base.

5. MetroPCS

MetroPCS's ( NYSE:PCS) excellent customer service helped earn it a 7.53/10 ranking. The company received a 90 percent for customer service, second only to Verizon. MetroPCS also happens to be a prepaid cell phone carrier, which equals no contracts. After the initial price of the phone, the monthly plans are affordable, starting at $40 per month. MetroPCS also offers unlimited text, data, and talk on a 4G network, as well as discounts when families have multiple phones on one account. The company does have limited coverage, including 75 percent of urban areas and 50 percent of rural areas. The carrier is now owned by T-Mobile and runs on its network.

The article also ranks Aio Wireless, Cricket Wireless ( NASDAQ:LEAP), Boost Mobile, U.S. Cellular ( NYSE:USM), and CREDO Mobile. One additional cell phone provider that is not mentioned in the ratings is Tracfone. Tracfone offers prepaid options as well as monthly plans. For some people, the prepaid option can be perfect. Consumers can choose from many different phones and must purchase minutes regularly, depending on which plan they select. The service days expire after a certain amount of time (30 days, 60 days, 90 days, or up to a year.) The prepaid option can be ideal for people who work from home and have a land line; others who may want a cell phone for only emergencies; or for young children. Many of the phones also have text and internet capabilities.

More From Wall St. Cheat Sheet:

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Vito: Sixers will need discount to pay for Turner

<Deal Todayp>PHILADELPHIA — The other night, Oklahoma City's Royal Ivey and Hasheem Thabeet were featured on Kiss Cam. Ivey, the former 76ers guard, didn't seem to mind. Thabeet, on the other hand, didn't want anything to do with the gag. He stood up from the bench and walked out of the camera shot.

It's not uncommon for players, like Ivey and Thabeet, to crane their necks and glance at the big screen during games. Evan Turner swears he isn't one of them.

So Saturday, in first- and third-quarter timeouts, Turner promises that he did not see a message that flashed across the Wells Fargo Center's screen — advertising 25-percent discounts on Sixers apparel bearing his name and number.

"I couldn't care less," Turner said. "I don't pay attention to what goes on (off the court) during the game."

Maybe the Sixers are simply trying to move product at an affordable price. Or maybe they're attempting to sell off Turner's gear prior to the Feb. 20 trade deadline, when he may no longer be with the team.

That's conjecture, anyway.

Turner's future with the Sixers, meanwhile, isn't up for debate. The fourth-year swingman is in the final year of his rookie deal. The Sixers have until June 30 to extend to Turner an $8.71 million qualifying offer. That's unlikely to happen, though doing so would allow the Sixers to match any offers the 25-year-old gets this offseason.

Without that qualifying offer, Turner will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason.

It seems inevitable that Turner and the Sixers, the team that drafted him second overall in 2010, will sever ties at the conclusion of this season, if not sooner.

"Me, personally," Turner said, "I'm kind of anxious to see how it all works out. I don't really think much of it. I'm kind of curious. Other than that, I don't sit there going, 'It's this. It's that.' It's whatever."

Questions regarding Turner's future with the Sixers seem to surface whenever he experiences extreme highs or extreme lows, a symptom of his game that has dogged him since Day 1. He had stretches of single-digit scoring last season. He's had stretches this season of the opposite, during which he's recognized that he's the Sixers' top scoring option on a green team.

Just last week, Turner scored a career-high 34 points in a win at New York. Afterward, Sixers coach Brett Brown lauded him.

"He ends up making big shots at big stages of the game and shows an incredible array of skills," Brown said. "He showed a variety of ways he's able to impact a game, from rebounding to a 3-point shot to making shots with two or three hands in his face to guarding Carmelo (Anthony) well. That's what I saw in him."

Turner, in his second full season as a starter, is experiencing a career year. He's the league's 25th-highest scorer, leading the Sixers with an average of 18.5 points per game. Additionally, Turner is averaging at or near career-high totals with 6.1 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game.

Brown's up-tempo system also has aided Turner's amped-up production. With more team possessions per game, and more minutes and more shot attempts nightly than Turner has ever averaged, it only makes sense that Turner is thriving.

At what price would the Sixers wish to continue their partnership with Turner? Probably not at Turner's terms. And it's likely Turner will seek a deal similar to those agreed to by players from his draft class prior to the expiration of their rookie deals. John Wall, the No. 1 pick that year, got a five-year, $80 million pact from Washington. Derrick Favors, the man selected right after Turner at No. 3, picked up a four-year, $49 million extension from Utah. And No. 5 pick DeMarcus Cousins earned a four-year, $60 million deal with Sacramento.

It was only three months ago that Turner told reporters he's "going to get money," whether it's with the Sixers or with someone else.

"That statement blew up, like the Philly media does," Turner said. "They put that nonsense out there and make it sound like I'm something I'm not. I've always been about playing hard, making my team better and leading the team. Up until I'm done here or whatever, I'm always going to prepare to win, be successful and keep getting better day in and day out.

"Obviously, for good or bad, I hold Philly near and dear to my heart, you know what I'm saying? I was drafted here, I grew here. I saw some great times here. It's always a good place in my heart. I can't say anything negative."

Turner is not worth that much of a financial commitment from a team in rebuilding mode, one that's built upon buying low, selling high and taking flyers on unclaimed prospects and unwanted projects. The Sixers are expected to have somewhere in the ballpark of $30 million in available salary cap space next summer, but unless Turner — like his merchandise — comes at a discounted rate, the Sixers aren't buying.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

How to get the best deals on holidays

When should you book a summer family holiday?

If you're organised you may well have booked your family summer holiday already. If you haven't it's Best Buy to book sooner rather than later to take advantage of tour operator offers, such as free child places or low deposit schemes. "Most hotels issue early-booking offers of up to 30% off, with expiry dates in December-January, or sometimes February," says Emma Barnett, co-founder of family specialist Totstoo. "In rare situations, when the hotel hasn't yet released their next year's rates, we can sometimes guarantee the same price as the current year's rates, avoiding (typically) a 10% increase."

When is the best time to book a camping holiday in Europe?

Predictions that the UK economy is set to outgrow the rest of Europe should lead to some competitive prices at European campsites, according to Dan Yates, founder of outdoor accommodation specialist, so those planning an overseas camping holiday should book now to take advantage of the keen pricing and early-bird specials.

That's not to say there won't be last-minute bargains too, particularly if the UK has a good summer. "If holidaymakers decide to stay in the UK, site owners and tour operators will be keen to offload inventory," says Yates.

The best time to book a Eurocamp holiday is between now and 5 March, when there are a number of special offers available, including a 20 per cent price reduction at selected sites during July and August. A selection of parks, including St Avit Loisirs in the Dordogne and Playa Joyel on the Costa Verde, are currently available at Easter for £35 per party for a family of two adults and up to four children.

Michelle Betley Jones, national sales manager at Eurocamp, advises, "Where possible, opt for ferry travel as a cost-effective way to reach your holiday destination. Midweek Dover-Calais ferry crossings can be included in a Eurocamp holiday package at a cost of just £55 per family (based on a mid-week Dover-to-Calais crossing with P&O Ferries for one car and up to nine passengers).

What sort of deals can you get last-minute?

"The days of hundreds and thousands of last-minute bargains are over as tour operators are now much better at assessing the number of holidays they are likely to sell and pre-book rooms and flights accordingly," says Sean Tipton of the Association of British Travel Agents (Abta).

But if you're flexible with your holiday plans and can travel when demand is low, then a last-minute deal can be a good option. For example, seven nights' all-inclusive at the Vergina Sharm, Sharm El Sheikh costs £193 per person, flying from Luton on 3 February through the Holiday Discount Centre.

Michael Edwards, regional director of Intrepid Travel, says small group tours are often discounted within eight weeks of departure. "The reason is that small group tours typically have just 10-12 passengers, so they need to fill as many places as possible to cover fixed costs, such as transport and the tour leader." Intrepid currently has a range of tours on sale with a 25% discount.

Should you book a Christmas/New Year's Eve/Valentines cottage a year in advance, or wait for a last-minute deal?

Again, book as early as possible, especially if you want a larger cottage in a particular location. Late-availabilty cottages tend to be for smaller groups. See the Guardian Travel's guide to cottage companies.

Is there a cheapest day of the week to fly?

The industry tends to say that Tuesday is the cheapest day to fly because it's not a big day for business travel, but Maire Bonheim, publisher of Travelzoo, says typically the cheapest flights are Tuesday through to Thursday. Andy Washington, managing director of, advises people to "fly early - early morning flights are often cheaper and there are fewer chances of delays."

When is the best time to book a ski holiday?

Every skier and snowboarder wants to be near the slopes and lifts, so your ideal hotel, chalet or apartment will be snapped up fast. Research by Crystal Ski shows that over 70% of families book at least six months before travel. If you've set your heart on a particular resort and accommodation or are locked into dates book as early as possible," says Crystal Ski's product director Ian Davis.

"For the low-season dates [ie outside of New Year, February half-term and Easter], the closer you book, the better the deal - but only if you don't mind which resort, accommodation or when you travel - and don't be surprised if there's nothing suitable available," adds Davis.

If it's a transatlantic trip, for example to Whistler or Banff in Canada, then the early bird always gets the worm, says Craig Burton, managing director of Ski Solutions. "Hotel, flights and lift passes will all be at their cheapest if you book before 31 August for the season ahead."

While February half-term 2014 is almost fully booked, there is still good availability for Easter 2014 because it falls at the end of April, according to Burton, although he advises booking a higher altitude resort, or north America so late in the season.

He adds, "The dates for 2014 New Year's Eve ski packages fall at a good time, with most departures this year on Saturday 27 or Sunday 28 December, perfect for those wanting to have Christmas at home before escaping after Boxing Day. New Year 2013 was almost fully booked by October, and we expect even more demand next year."

When is the cheapest time of the year to book and travel...

Winter sun: " January is a good time to pick up a bargain - there are currently some great winter-sun deals to the Canaries, Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco," advises Steve Campion, managing director of the Holiday Discount Centre. "But the best time to get a cheap winter break is to travel at the end of November or early December, before the busy Christmas and new year rush."

Summer sun: The earlier the better is the mantra, especially if you want to guarantee a particular area or specific accommodation. Chris Wright, managing director of Sunvil, says: "For destinations that are popular - Greece, for example, is set to be very popular again in 2014 - then booking early is a must. Putting something together yourself at the last minute is tricky, as the low-cost carriers' flights will generally be expensive and rarely discounted. If you don't care where you go or where you want to stay, then for the cheapest holiday book the day before you travel."

Australia and New Zealand: The Antipodes are always popular over Christmas. It's cheaper to travel before 9 December or thereabouts, advises Maire Bonheim from Travelzoo. But the cheapest fares are often snapped up as soon as they are released (10 to 11 months in advance - click here for our guide to when seats are released for sale). The lowest fares to these destinations are in their winter (May/June).

The Caribbean: The best time to travel for the cheapest deals is between May and September. Edward Light of Caribtours says, "This is when the hotels have the best special offers, and airfares are at their cheapest. Generally speaking, the weather at this time is good - yes, the odd tropical shower but hot, sunny and certainly better than the UK."

Light reiterates the need to book as early as possible: "If you know your dates and can commit in advance, book as soon as the flights go on sale. There may be occasional sales, but usually this is as cheap as the flights are going to get."

US: January and February are considered the peak season for booking long-haul flights as most airlines launch special offers. The off-season months, normally September to March (avoiding festive period), are when prices to the USA are the most keen, according to Karen Niven of Bon Voyage. "It's best to book for this period as early on in the year as possible (January-February), as the major airlines release their special offer fares then. Unlike European holidays, American holidays are not normally reduced in price for last-minute bookings, as the lower airfares have already been gobbled up at the beginning of the year. The nearer the departure date, the higher the airfare," says Niven.

If it's a city break, you will nearly always be better off booking a package rather than going independently. For example, Trailfinders is currently offering Virgin Atlantic flight-only return to Boston for £441, but the same flights plus seven days' car hire costs costs £485.

Asia: "In most tropical areas, the months of May, June and October tend to be the best value as this is generally when the lowest air fares/hotel rates and promotional offers - such as free nights - all kick in together," says David Kevan of Chic Locations.

Once you move into July to mid-August, the air fares zoom up, as tourists and overseas students from Asia all want to travel then. "As a guide, the difference between travelling on 30 June and 1 July, for example, would be at least £250 per person," says Kevan.

"Most of the Far East resorts tend to have a flat rate from May to October, however there are some notable exceptions such as Bali, Koh Samui, east-coast Malaysia - all places where the weather is particularly good in mid-summer and their hotels tend to apply a supplement from July to mid-September."

Self-catering: "The majority of family bookings are made in January, according to, so it makes sense to book as early as possible. "We do get new properties on our books so a late deal can arise, but it's best to book early to avoid disappointment. It tends to be just small cottages left last minute," says Emma Seymour-Sloan, marketing manager of

City breaks: "For European city breaks, you'll probably get the best prices from now until the end of March," says Maire Bonheim of Travelzoo. From then onwards prices tend to go up because the weather starts to improve. August and the second half of December, when business travel drops off, are also good times for city break deals in the UK and continental Europe.

Can you ever haggle with a tour operator or travel agent?

You're unlikely to be able to haggle with a tour operator, but if you join a loyalty scheme, you'll be the first to hear about offers. "Sign up for e-newsletters with your preferred airlines, hotels or travel portal, as they'll often alert you to offers and sales before general release as well as flag their best offers, so cutting down on your browsing time," says Steve Campion, managing director of the Holiday Discount Centre.

Monday, January 20, 2014

V2 Cigs Offers 10% Discount on Disposables and Accessories

Miami, FL -- ( SBWIRE) -- 01/20/2014 -- V2 Cigs, the world's highest-volume online retailer of electronic cigarettes, offers a 10% Promo Code on all V2 Disposables and V2 Accessories. This sale lasts for two days only, Monday, January 20th and Tuesday, January 21st.

"Our accessories and disposables are popular with our loyal customers," says V2 Cigs Co-Founder and CEO J. Andries Verleur. "This sale is perfect for those who want to add to their collection of accessories or stock up on single-use e-cigs to share with family and friends."

This two-day sale offers shoppers a chance to save 10% on the V2 Portable Charging Case XL. This popular accessory can fully charge a V2 Standard Battery up to eight times while away from a power source. With featured indicator lights, the V2 Portable Charging Case XL accurately tells how much charge is available in both the case and the battery inside. Able to connect with any USB port and compatible with the V2 Car Adapter and the V2 Wall Adapter, this convenient charging case is a favorite of V2 fans on the go. With enough space to store any length of V2 Battery, plus an extra V2 Battery or three V2 Flavor Cartridges, the V2 Portable Charging Case XL offers style and function for any modern traveler.

Customers can choose from three state-of-the art colors: Graphite, Stainless Steel and Glossy White.

Customers who love the instant gratification of V2 Disposables find big savings through this offer. V2 Disposables are available in V2 Red (American Tobacco flavor) and V2 Menthol (Refreshing Mint) and come in 1.8% nicotine strength. The V2 Disposable is more lightweight and longer lasting than anything offered by the competition. Designed with a soft tip, these single-use e-cigs have an attractive look and feel.

Shoppers taking advantage of this promotion can receive a V2 Cigs Disposables 400P 10-pack for less than $50.

V2 Cigs offers free, flat-rate shipping. All discounts are applied at checkout.

About V2 Cigs
V2 Cigs is America's No. 1 online retailer of electronic cigarettes. The company's flagship website, is currently ranked in the top 1,500 websites in the nation, and receives more than six million monthly unique visitors, as tracked by online web-metrics provider V2 Cigs has distinguished itself as a leader in the industry for its ever-expanding product lines, powerful vapor production and great taste. V2 Cigs provides a smokeless alternative to conventional cigarettes at a fraction of the cost. For more information, please visit

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Medical marijuana in Oregon: Post-prohibition liquor store in Portland now will deal in a new product

Eighty years ago, a modest storefront on Northeast Sandy Boulevard opened to little fanfare. Given a bureaucratic name that offered no hint of what was sold inside, Store No. 2 was one of four places in Oregon where residents could legally buy a bottle of booze after more than a decade of Prohibition.

When Store No. 2's doors opened in the winter of 1934, it signaled the end of speakeasies and bootleg liquor.

Now, history is repeating itself at the vintage storefront. The space is set to open Tuesday as Pure Green, a medical marijuana facility.

Matthew and Meghan Walstatter, Pure Green's owners, are among the growing ranks of Oregon marijuana entrepreneurs moving the market for the drug into the mainstream. Longtime cannabis consumers and growers, the Walstatters saw last year's passage of House Bill 3460, the state's dispensary law, as a chance to enter the lucrative marijuana business.

"This is the time to be doing this," said Meghan Walstatter, sitting in the cornflower blue lobby of the former liquor store.

The Walstatters, who grew up in Connecticut and have a 4-year-old son, have grown their own marijuana since 2005. Matthew Walstatter, 39, said he's smoked cannabis since he was a teen and today relies on the drug to cope with chronic nausea and other symptoms from a gastrointestinal disorder. Meghan Walstatter, 37, described herself as an occasional marijuana consumer who uses the drug for a range of health concerns.

"We came out of this community as opposed to people who just see a chance to make a buck," Matthew Walstatter said.

The couple fits the profile of the typical marijuana business owner in Oregon, said Alex Rogers, who owns Ashland, Medford and Eugene clinics where patients can get doctor referrals for medical marijuana. Rogers said entrepreneurs in Oregon's nascent cannabis industry generally have ties to the state's robust medical marijuana community.

"We do not see the corporatization of cannabis in Oregon yet," said Rogers, who's organized an upcoming series of conferences for marijuana entrepreneurs in Oregon

The success of businesses like Pure Green, he said, depends on the owners' expertise in marijuana and their knowledge of the latest consumer and medical trends when it comes to the drug.

"You need to know what you're talking about and be up to date with cannabis medicine," he said.

The Walstatters plans to supply some of the marijuana sold at the shop. They'll rely on other Oregon medical marijuana growers to flesh out their offerings.

Matthew Walstatter said he hopes to offer about 20 strains at any time, as well as marijuana-infused candies, soda and ice cream, and marijuana concentrates, like hash oil, which is made by extracting tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, from the the cannabis plant.

"Basically," Walstatter said, "the idea is to create a clean, friendly professional environment where patients can come and get medicine, vaporizers and glass and get educated. We want to distinguish ourselves."

Though Oregon was among the first states to allow marijuana for medicinal use, the state hasn't permitted retail sales of the drug. An industry of medical marijuana retailers has cropped up in recent years, but those establishments have been unregulated and, in some places, shut down by local police. Beginning March 3, the Oregon Health Authority, which oversees the state's medical marijuana program, will open a registry of retailers who for the first time will be permitted to sell cannabis to medical marijuana cardholders.

The Walstatters' story highlights some of the challenges facing marijuana entrepreneurs. The federal prohibition on marijuana means banks are reluctant to do business with entrepreneurs like the Walstatters, who have to Promo Code mostly in cash. (The couple plans to install an ATM so customers can get easy access to cash.)

Finding a willing landlord also proved difficult. Matthew Walstatter figures he called hundreds of commercial property owners, real estate agents and property managers before settling on a space formerly occupied the one-time Store No. 2, which went on to become Hollywood Liquors.

And if prospective landlords worried about landing in the federal government's crosshairs - pot remains illegal under federal law, after all - Walstatter filled them in on the August 2013 memo from the U.S. Department of Justice, announcing the feds would take a largely hands-off approach to legal marijuana sales in Washington and Colorado.

A Lewis & Clark Law School grad, but not a practicing attorney, Walstatter said he and his wife, an urban planner by training, were determined to leave a good impression.

"We took great efforts to not come across as a head shop," said Walstatter, as a commercial refrigerator was rolled into the shop. "We wanted to come across as professional as possible."

The couple knows they're taking a risk by opening their doors before the state registry opens. But the shops' hazy legal status has done little to slow the proliferation of dispensaries - with their telltale green crosses -- especially in Portland, where law enforcement has generally greeted the establishments with a yawn.

Matthew Walstatter, who's got a marijuana business lawyer on retainer and has pored over 30 pages of rules for medical marijuana retailers, is certain the couple's business will meet all of the state's rules prior to opening. They figure they'll spend about $25,000 to meet the state's security requirements alone.

Those rules, for instance, call for cameras positioned at entry points to the building, in the room where marijuana is stored and in the area where transactions take place; the Walstatters said they plan to go even further.

"We're going to have the entire place on camera," he said.

Today, the storefront at 3738 N.E. Sandy Boulevard offers no trace of its role in Oregon's Prohibition history.

The shop's grand opening in February 1934 - along with that of three other state-licensed liquor stores - was reported on the front page of The Morning Oregonian. The headline: "Cash line forms in liquor stores." Receipts at Store No. 2 totaled $142.50.

Oregonians needed a permit to buy booze; they cost $1 for the year.

"The stores opened - inauspiciously at 11 a.m. with no hurrah and bottle purchasers did not open their purses with any measure of import until evening approached," the newspaper reported. "Permit sales marked the opening hours of the infant industry."

"This is a pretty amazing historical parallel," he said. "If you're the kind of person who believes in synchronicity rather than coincidence, it seems to tell us we were headed in the right direction."

Added Walstatter: "We thought it was a good sign."

Oregonian news researcher Lynne Palombo contributed to this report.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Broken Age Act One review: Kickstarter's darling is a charming, shallow half-game

<Promo Codesp>After all this time, it's finally here-the game that kickstarted Kickstarter, that brought crowdfunding to the mainstream. Once known only as Double Fine Adventure, then renamed Broken Age, it was a golden promise: point-and-click adventure legend Tim Schafer was going to take the gloves off the wall for one more fight, returning to the genre that made him famous with games like Grim Fandango and Day of the Tentacle.

Well, he did take the gloves off, and Double Fine did make a game, but whether or not you'll enjoy it I think largely depends on why you play(ed) old-school point-and-click adventures.

In other words, when you asked the Tim Schafer to make another adventure game, why? Was it because you love Schafer's worlds? Or was it because you loved 1990s LucasArts adventure games?

Classic charm

Broken Age tells two stories that you can theoretically swap between at will, though I never had reason to. Instead I played one story to completion, then played the other.

There's Vella, who lives in the bakery-themed town of Sugar Bunting-a town set on sacrificing her to the evil monster Mog Chothra. Vella's grandfather remembers a time when Sugar Bunting was called Steel Bunting, though-when they were the most feared town in the land. While everyone else prepares to send Vella to her death, he reminds her of a time when Steel Bunting fought the Mogs and implores her to do the same.

And then there's Shay, whose existence is as safe and quiet as Vella's is imperiled. Shay is trapped in a spaceship built for babies. He goes on missions with all the danger of a Legends of the Hidden Temple episode, yearning for a bit of adventure but "imprisoned" by Mom, a well-meaning artificial intelligence whose sole purpose is to keep him safe. After all, he's the last hope for his dying planet.

While I don't think Broken Age as memorable as Grim Fandango or Psychonauts, it's clearly a Tim Schafer/Double Fine production. World-building is what they do best. Every single frame is gorgeous, and the game resembles an interactive children's book more than anything else.

Vella's half of the story is particularly interesting from an art standpoint, since her quest against Mog Chothra leads her through multiple distinct (fascinating) regions. You typically spend about half an hour-at most, forty-five minutes-in each area, so there was plenty of room for Broken Age to stretch its legs and show off.

Shay's half is more restrained. You're on the ship. Then you're on the ship. Then you float through space a bit, but you're still basically on the ship. Then you're-surprise!-on the ship.

And you know what? Despite the limitations, it's a great ship to explore. There are a lot of clever sci-fi references sprinkled throughout (Soylent Dreams cereal, anyone?) and the core "child's plaything" conceit makes for clever design. Your ship travels through space courtesy of a grizzled old robot named Space Weaver, who literally knits patterns into the ship's navigation and quickly became my favorite character.

But it says something about Broken Age when the environments in Vella's story take at most thirty to forty-five minutes apiece, and when Space Weaver-a character with one purpose and few lines-is my favorite character in the game.

Broken Age is missing one key aspect: depth. And it's missing it in so many places.

There's a sparseness to Broken Age. The game is beautiful, but it's a passive beauty. Frames are crammed with visual detail, but 95% of it is static background. A frame with five objects to interact with-even if "interact" just means "Shay or Vella provides commentary"-is a crowded frame in Broken Age. Too many areas have a single object.

And it's not just environments. Broken Age has tons of potential which it rarely capitalizes on. Characters are disposable, given one purpose and then cast aside. I mean, Jack Black voices a soft-spoken cult leader who licks feathers and loves yogurt, and he does a fantastic job...for the maybe fifteen or twenty lines he's given. Then he's gone.

It's lucky the game looks so great on the surface, because so far "surface" ismost of the game.

Which brings me to the last point I'm going to make about narrative-splitting your narrative when it wasn't originally intended to be split is awful. I understand the reasons: Double Fine ran out of money, whether you like that reason or not, and needed to fund Act Two of the game off the first half's profits. But episodic stories only work when they're planned that way from the start. Just splitting a singular story in half? Not so much.

It's all about structure. Episodes work because they form a larger arc in the long run, but each singular episode contains a beginning, middle, and end.

Broken Age halfheartedly tries to fit a beginning, middle, and end into its story, but it doesn't quite make it. The beginning drags on, and the "end" (such as it is) feels rushed. Which is a shame, since the end is the most fascinating part of the story so far.

Shay's story is particularly egregious-his entire half feels like set-up to a larger tale that's then cut short right before it begins. Vella at least gets a halfway decent arc before it's over.


And then we come to the puzzles-the other half of the adventure genre, and the part that's harder to get right.

Broken Age is easy. I say this as someone who is typically terrible at adventure games. I got stuck daily during The Longest Journey, and Secret of Monkey Island? Forget it, I got stuck on the first real puzzle.

Now, the act of "getting stuck" is subjective. The places where I'm going to get stuck are different than the places you'll get stuck, because you're not going to make the same connections I do.

But wow. Let me say it again: Broken Age is so easy. I got stuck once, and it was nothing a night away from the computer couldn't solve. I've seen people posting consistent numbers for how long this first half took them to beat, so I know it's not just me-four hours is the norm, with three for those who ran through the game and never bothered to interact with the (sparse) scenery or skipped over the voice acting because they read subtitles faster.

On the one hand, simplicity is good. One of the reasons point-and-click adventure games "died" to begin with was the absurd, opaque logic behind most of the puzzles. "How would I ever figure that out?" was a common refrain with those 90s LucasArts games.

There's a balance, though, and Broken Age feels a bit too much like Shay's "Baby's First Spaceship!" setting. Broken Age wants you to solve puzzles, but the solutions are often so glaringly obvious that there's no satisfaction when you've moved on-no "a-ha!" moment.

Once you remove the difficulty, adventure games play like one long, interactive film with a few dialogue choices. This can also make for a good game (see TellTale's output recently) but Broken Age's dialogue isn't a game in and of itself-it's simple dialogue trees, straight out of those classic adventure games. You go through each option one at a time, people say things, you listen. You're not making moral choices here, nor would I expect Broken Age to be that kind of game.

The dialogue is smart and snappy, but more would be nice.

But what is offered...if you're coming to Broken Age because you want a challenging, wacky adventure game in the vein of Day of the Tentacle, you're going to be disappointed.

Personally, the story on offer was enough to keep me engaged even as I churned through the puzzles, but if you're coming to Tim Schafer's table hoping for a classic LucasArts adventure...well, just don't. Don't come to the game expecting that.

Bottom line

Broken Age gets a lot right-certainly enough that I'd call this Kickstarter story a success-but it's a shallow victory. "More" is the key word, here. I want more depth to the characters, more dialogue for incidental characters, more difficulty for puzzles, more objects to interact with.

Oh, and more story, obviously. After all, half a story is half a story, no matter how beautiful the art.

Broken Age is still full of potential. There's room for the second half (whenever it releases) to plumb the depths of both settings, giving us more characterization for both Shay and Vella and wrapping it all up in a shiny emotional bow. Perhaps that's not feasible on the project's shoestring budget, but I'll hope for the best.

Note: At PCWorld we don't score episodic releases on a per-episode basis. Broken Age will receive a rating after Act Two is released.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Slideshow: New Airbus price changes comparison with Boeing

Fresh off a record year, Airbus this week announced new prices on its line of passenger jets, raising them by an average of 2.6 percent based on its standard escalation formula.

Airbus' prices were already higher than rival Boeing's on most comparable aircraft, a gap that now widens from where it was when Boeing raised its prices in August 2013.

Airbus COO of Customers John Leahy said in a press release that the new pricing "reaffirms the unbeatable value of Airbus' modern, fuel-efficient aircraft family."

Fuel is an airline's biggest expenditure, so the operating cost over time has to be factored into what they are willing to pay for an aircraft.

We'll leave fuel-efficiency claims for another day and for now focus on just the listed Best Deals of comparable aircraft.

Boeing, it should be noted, also had a record year in 2013 in terms of both deliveries and total backlog.

It bested Airbus on deliveries - 648 to 626 - while Airbus held the edge in backlog with 5,559 unfilled orders to Boeing's 5,080.

Airbus also came out ahead in terms of net orders, 1,503 to 1,355.

Those numbers all show increasing demand for both company's passenger jets, many of which carry Wichita-built or designed components.

So, click through the adjoining slideshow to see how some of Boeing's average prices compare to the new prices from Airbus. Seating capacity can vary depending on the layout of the aircraft. Where available, this comparison lists capacity in a typical two-class layout.

Both companies list their average prices on their websites, though customers typically buy aircraft from both at discounted prices.

You can also take a look back here to see what those Airbus prices were before.

Daniel McCoy covers aviation, manufacturing and automotive.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Deal With Your Leadership Crisis Now, Bayelsa PDP Tells APC

<On Salesa href="">The leadership of the People's Democratic Party (PDP) in Bayelsa State has called on the National leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) party to urgently wade in to calm frayed nerves before it degenerates further to disrupt the existing peace and progress in the State.

The PDP, whose call came through a statement signed by its Chairman, Col. Sam Inokoba (Rtd), noted with serious concern the rising tension among the three factions of the APC in the State led by former Action Congress of Nigeria leader, Ebikibina Miriki, Richard Kpodo and Tiwei Orunimighe, all claiming leadership of the party in Bayelsa State.

While commending the State Government's recent statement on its commitment to the protection of lives and property of all law abiding citizens and residents, including the APC and any other legitimately registered political party, the PDP said it was lending its voice to that of the State Government to urge the APC National leadership to, as a matter of urgency, resolve the brewing imbroglio and announce its authentic leader in the State, stressing that, "the State cannot afford to be thrown into undue chaos and crisis as a result of APC's failure to put its house in order".

Col. Inokoba also reminded the leadership of the APC at the National level that two of its factional leaders were on the Police wanted list for various offences and both men had since been on the run.

"We are therefore calling on the national leadership of the APC to be mindful of the type of characters they may be considering as party leaders in the State, since it has been duly established that they (Richard Kpodo and Tiwei Orunimighe) are on the wanted list of the police.

"Similarly, we call on the national leadership of the APC to hid the advice of the State Government on the use of Kpodo's personal house as the party's office in the State, knowing full well that the same building along with several others in the Etegwe/Edepie area of Yenagoa, have been earmarked for demolition over six months ago by the State Government in order to make way for the second flyover bridge," the statement read.

Col. Inokoba explained that the clarifications over the building had become necessary, to ensure that the PDP in the State or the PDP-led Government would not be accused of suppressing and intimidating the opposition.

"The house will sooner or later be demolished and the the wanted men are bound to be apprehended by the police the moment they show up in the State as they plan to do in their bid to formally launch the party in the State.

"You can be rest assured that once this happens, the PDP will be accused of being behind the demolition and also fingered as the mastermind of the plot for their arrest, forgetting that, they had long been declared wanted by security agencies in the State," he said.

The PDP Chairman further said that the government was demolishing a number of houses, not for any other reason, but to construct projects that would make life more meaningful for the people of Bayelsa and add beauty to the State capital, Yenagoa.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Coupon Corner: Some may have fallen on savvy-shopping wagon

There are a few steps you can take to get back to shopping smart:

* Go into your pantry and take stock. What's almost gone? These are the items you want to find a deal on now to avoid paying full price for them on your next trip to the store. You might not find a spectacular deal, but aim for saving at least 50 percent. Use an online-On Sales database to search for any coupons for them.

* Look at what caused you to fall off the wagon. Were you burnt out? Had you been spending two hours a day looking at coupons? Or were you just not seeing the savings you wanted? Find out what caused you to stop couponing. If you were spending too much time, set a time limit on your couponing. Set aside an hour a week to look at the sales and prepare your trips. If you were burnt out, it's often because you take on too many stores. Chose just one grocery store and one drug store and focus on finding their deals. Whatever the reason, pinpointing it can reduce the chances of going back to paying full price.

* Get motivated by finding an item that is free this week and get it. Walking out of the store with a new free item may give you the boost you need to remind you of how far you can reduce your spending - and get you in the savvy-shopping mood again.

Your stockpile didn't dwindle over night, and it won't be replenished overnight. But taking a few steps now can renew your desire to spend less on the items that you need and want.

Jessie Alonzo runs For information on saving money visit the site, or

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

5 Cheap Tech Stocks to Buy Now

Jeff Reeves, Editor of

Tech stocks are undoubtedly at risk of overheating after a great run in 2013. But finding cheap stocks to Amazon Deal in the technology sector isn't impossible ... if you know where to look.

Sure, social media is full of froth, with LinkedIn ( LNKD) sporting a forward P/E of almost 100 and recent IPO Twitter ( TWTR) racing up over the holidays. Finding cheap stocks to buy in this corner of the tech sector seems nigh impossible.

Elsewhere among tech stocks, you've got once-battered players like chipmaker Micron ( MU) that have soared by triple digits in short order on turnaround hopes. No luck there, either.

But there are thousands of tech stocks of numerous flavors, and not all picks have run up to extreme valuations just yet.

If you are looking for cheap tech stocks to buy, you have to look at unsung companies that have been overlooked by the rest of Wall Street. And it also helps if you have the patience for dividends and long-term growth instead of the desire to snag a short-term momentum trade in a fashionable name.

Consider these five cheap tech stocks as bargain buys for the New Year:

Article printed from InvestorPlace Media,

©2014 InvestorPlace Media, LLC