black friday

Technology to Survive Black Friday

If you are fighting, taking down people in the aisle, or sleeping outside, you need a little help with your Black Friday shopping. Remember: it is the season for giving and humanity, not attacks in the toy aisle and the middle finger near the tablets. Relax. We are a virtual world, and virtualization can help you avoid a Black Friday circus. We take a look at how technology can help you survive black Friday, unscathed and without an arrest record.


  1. Collaborate with the cloud

Every Black Friday strategy needs a game plan, and every strategy needs a team. Don’t tackle Black Friday alone. You need to establish a team that is quick, organized, and tech-savvy. Get the troops ready a couple days before and pour over the ads. Sit down or collaborate via with cloud with a strategy for shopping. Determine what you need, find out where the deals are, and assign each person a task. It is best, if you can to take more than one person to a store if you have a large shopping list for that retailer.

  1. Tablets for deals

Get on your tablet and start researching the products. Read reviews, find the deals, or simply wait until Cyber Monday to make the purchase online. Sometimes spending just a few dollars more is worth it when your sanity is on the line. It is also a good idea to find the original price for the product. Is it really a deal? While you are in line, you can be doing online shopping as well, because the lines are just as brutal.

  1. ParkMe for a quick exit

If you need to make a quick exit, park so your car is facing out of the space. This will help you avoid accidents, and you can see better when leaving the space. You can just get in and go. Before you head out, download a parking app that allows you to locate your car quickly. ParkMe is one of the most popular parking reminder apps.

  1. Apps for price comparisons

Download a price comparison app, such as the ShopSavvy Barcode. The app sends you sales alerts, provides you with price changes and reviews, and it allows you to scan barcodes, QR Codes or Data Matrix to find the best deal online or at another retailer.

  1. Apple Pay or Google Wallet for purchase protection

Use your credit cards when you are shopping, but don’t lose sight of your budget. Input your credit cards into your virtual wallet on your cell phone, and scan for easy purchases. Using your credit card provides you with the best protection for all your purchases, from returns to warranties and defects, your credit cards provide you with protection your debit cards or cash cannot. You may also earn cash back if you have a rewards card. Remember: Use the money you planned to spend on Black Friday to pay off the credit card, and lock your phone while you are out.


One last tip: The Starbucks app now allows you to order your coffee ahead of time. While you are out, order your coffee and swing by to pick it up so you can avoid the lines and you can make a clean getaway.

streaming movie services

Best Streaming Movie Services

At this moment, an entire generation of movie watchers has no idea what a Blockbuster is or what it is like to take a trip through the rows of movies in a Hollywood Video. Now, we can stream movies with the click of a button or a controller toggle. We do not have to wait weeks for someone to return the hot releases, and we definitely do not have to pay a fee forgetting to rewind the movie before returning it to the store. It’s no wonder why we have switched from video stores to streaming. Many companies now allow user to rent and stream movies, but which services are the best? We have a few suggestions.

Understanding the Best Streaming Services

The streaming service you select depends on a few factors: how often you watch movies, the type of device you use for streaming, and the types of movies you seek (new releases, classics, or foreign titles). The list does not include Apple or Google Play services.

  1. Netflix

Netflix is the number-one streaming choice for consumers. Movie junkies who love documentaries, Indie films and hard-to-get titles often choose to Netflix. However, the $7.99 a month is often only worth it if you binge watch Netflix-exclusive shows and other television series. Netflix isn’t known for having new releases, and some titles are still only available on DVD, which you have to pay more for to have the titles delivered to your home. The cult following Netflix has acquired in a short amount of time certainly should change the way business is done and how often new titles are released.

  1. Vudu and M-GO

Vudu is a movie streaming service that does not require a monthly fee. The service is ideal for users who do not watch movies all the time. At $2.99 to $4.99 a pop, the benefits of rent-as-you-go are not as attractive as monthly subscriptions. M-GO is a similar service. Many times, if you cannot find a recent movie on any other service, you can find it on M-GO. M-GO even has a section titled ‘Favorites Not on Netflix.’ Ouch. Users can rent a movie from $4.99 and can buy from $13.99.

  1. Amazon

Amazon prides itself on having the new titles Netflix does not carry. Amazon has over 150,000 videos, and 40,000 titles are available with an Amazon Prime subscription. Netflix offers 75,000 bonus titles. An Amazon Prime membership costs $99 a year, and it cannot be billed monthly. Amazon Prime is one of the only services that also allows individual title rentals with Amazon Instant Video. If you do not want all the benefits of prime, a-la-carte rentals start at $4.99 and purchases start at $14.99

       4. Hulu

Hulu Plus is $7.99 a month. Hulu is ideal for viewers, who want to be caught up their favorite television shows or news stations, but the verdict is still out about the movie streaming service, and Hulu is one of the only services that makes viewers sit through ads. Chances are you will not recognize many of the movie titles listed on the site.

Texas Charity

Texas Charity Roundup

Giving to charity feels good. Knowing that the charities you support are truly making a difference feels great. How do you find the good ones? Below is a list of some local Texas charities, some with national ties.

Whether it’s your money, your time or your hand-me-downs, you can help the less fortunate members of your community. First, we’ll showcase a few worthwhile causes that are currently accepting monetary donations directly or via a fundraiser.

Double-Click Computer Project

The Double-Click project increases independence for people with disabilities by giving them access to reasonably priced, refurbished computers for personal finances, and communicating online. The project is a multi-organizational initiative to aid Texans with disabilities. Easter Seals Central Texas partners with the Texas Technology Access Program and Goodwill Central Texas to provide the computer and basic technical assistance.

Double Click Project offers a loan program for those who have no other resources to attain a refurbished computer. A person with a disability living in Texas may contact the ESCT-CHS offices for the opportunity.

Project MEND, a Pass It On Center

Project MEND, Medical Equipment Network for those with Disabilities provides medical equipment and assistive technology to low-income people in Texas.

Assistive technology (AT) is any item that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of disabled individuals.

Types of AT:

  • communication boards
  • special computers
  • prosthetics, walkers, braces, wheel chairs
  • special keyboards
  • screen readers, telephone communication software
  • electronic devices, educational software, mobile power lifts

The Pass It On Center: National Collaboration for the Reutilization and Coordination of Assistive Technology. This is a concept that was born out of need. From humble beginnings as a grassroot campaign, Pass It On has grown to providing Assistive Technology nationwide to those people who would otherwise go without.

Volunteer Opportunities

Time is a valuable commodity as well. There are many volunteer opportunities in Texas, and many more nationwide.

Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children

Being a sick kid is no fun, but being a sick kid stuck in the hospital is worse. Volunteers at TSRCH have programs for Adults and Juniors to help bring some normalcy to kids that are in the hospital. From helping in the kitchen to playing games with the kids, volunteers really make a difference in making a difficult time a little happier.

For more information, or to apply:

North Texas Food Bank

Volunteers are critical to keeping this organization up and running. As a distribution center, the NTFB sorts and packs food for 250 partner agencies -serving over a hundred thousand Texans. Some of the 250 partners could also use a hand; grocery delivery to seniors, stocking school pantries, and even working in the community gardens.

In-Kind Donations

While gathering the charities for this list, I located several web pages dedicated to accepting in kind donations all over Texas. There are so many worthwhile ones, that I found it too difficult to narrow it down to just two or three. In every city, there are non-profits looking to feel a need.