Archive for June 2009

Weekend Deals from

Here are some deals from I’ve done quite a bit of shopping on I bought a bunch of HP photo printers for the family there last year, and I regularly check in for deals on DVDs, too. Here are a few deals that were brought to my attention recently. These offers are vaild until Monday, June 29.

6-26-2009 1-56-15 AMPhilips amBX Surround Sound Speaker system with Hawk PC game. This is a surround sound system which is ideal for computer gaming systems. Immerse yourself in the game. Regularly this system’s list price is $230, but is offering it for only $80 this weekend. I wonder what iTunes would sound like on this system? Or perhaps one of my Netflix downloads?

6-26-2009 2-27-38 AMViewSonic 22″(21.5 Viewable) Widescreen LCD Monitor. This is a full high definition 1080p monitor with a high contrast 18,000 to 1 contrast ratio for crisp images. It also has a DVI connection. This monitor lists for $295, but is offering it this weekend for $170.

6-26-2009 2-35-37 AM30 GB Apple iPod. This is an Apple factory reconditioned iPod. These iPods, generally, were purchased by people who changed their mind and returned the unit, or they found it was missing an accessory, so they exchanged it for another. These items have been repackaged for sale at the factory. New these iPods listed for $399. Normally sells these reconditioned units for $150, but this weekend they are offering a $50 instant rebate and free budget shipping. Your cost after rebate: $100.

TigerDirect deals for the day

TigerDirect is offering some great prices on some refurbished items this week. Just in case you don’t know, a refurbished items are “like new”. They were previously owned, but returned. Often these are cases where the original owner received it as a gift or discovered they had purchased the wrong item.  Once they were returned to the retailer they were sent to the manufacturer to check that the item was in re-salable condition.

Not all the items here are refurbished. If they’re refurbished, it is noted in the description.

Check out what is, in my opinion, the top deal of the day: The 42 inch HDTV from LG.

6-23-2009 2-56-07 PMSAVE $10 – Linksys Wireless G Router 54Mbps, 802.11g, 4-Port SpeedBooster. This is a recertified (previously owned) item. Only $29.99

SAVE $15 – Samsung 22X DVDRW Drive with a SATA connector. This is an OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) item, so there are no warranties, manuals, etc. This is for experienced PC builders. Only $29.99

SAVE $60 – Dragon NaturallySpeaking Standard version 10. Speech Recognition Software, so your computer types as you speak. Microphone needed of course. I recommend Logitech  USB headsets. Only $39.99

6-23-2009 2-57-29 PMSAVE $39 – HP 17″ LCD Monitor. This monitor has 1280×1024 resolution for crisp detailed images. It has an 800 to 1 Contrast Ratio, a 5ms response time for clean, non-blurry video for games and DVD playback. Uses a standard VGA connector that is compatible with most computers. Only $79.99 * Price after $31 MIR, rebate expires 07/15/09. Check TigerDirect for more details.

6-23-2009 2-58-43 PMSAVE $250 – Garmin Nuvi 680 GPS. Never get lost again with this GPS unit has a 4.3″ Touch Screen Display, an SD Card Slot, and Bluetooth connectivity. It also receives Dynamic Content From MSN (Microsoft NetWork). This is a refurbished itme (previously owned but recertified by the manufacturer). Only $149.99

SAVE $110 – Acer Aspire Netbook. Small light and extremely portable. Equipped with an efficient yet fast Intel Atom 1.6GHz processor, 1GB DDR2 RAM (memory), and a 160GB hard disk drive. The screen measures 8.9 inches. It uses the Windows XP operating system. And it’s blue. This, too, is a refurbished item for the great price of $219.9.

6-23-2009 2-55-00 PMSAVE $200 – Acer Aspire Notebook. Here’s an AMD Athlon powered notebook computer. The processor has a 1.6GHz clock speed.  The motherboard has 3GB of DDR2 RAM (memory). the hard drive holds 160GB of programs, files, photos, and data, etc. The screen measures 15.4 inches. This unit runs on Windows Vista. Did I mention this one’s been refurbished? Only $299.99

6-23-2009 2-53-50 PMSAVE $150 – eMachines Notebook. Here’s an inexpensive AMD Athlon 64 TF-20 powered notebook.  (1.6GHz clock speed). With 3GB of DDR2 RAM (memory), a 250GB hard drive, a dual layer DVD burner (RW) for burning up to 8.4 GB of data to a DVD. the screen measures 15.6″ diagonally, and it  runs on Windows Vista. Only $349.99

6-23-2009 2-51-35 PMSAVE $620 – HP Compaq Presario Notebook. This is run by a powerful Intel Pentium Dual Core T3400 processor with a 2.16GHz clock speed. It has an extraordinary 4GB of RAM (memory). Many computers today only have 2 GB of RAM, but I say, “Get all the memory you can.” The hard drive holds 250GB of data, the screen measures 15.6 inches, and it uses Windows Vista. Only $499.96* Price after $30 MIR, rebate expires 06/27/09. Check the link above for details from TigerDirect.

6-23-2009 2-50-42 PMSAVE $570 – HP Pavilion Notebook. Equipped with an AMD Turion X2 RM-72 processor with a 2.1GHz clock speed. This one has a nice 4GB of RAM (memory), too. The hard drive holds 320GB. The screen measures 17 inches (very nice for a notebook computer). Powered by Vista. And the case is a beautiful metallic bronze color. This is refurbished. Only $579.96


6-23-2009 2-49-30 PMSAVE $400 – LG 42″ LCD HDTV. I think this is the best deal today. This HDTV uses full high definition 1080p technology. The screen resolution is 1920×1080 (that’s where the 1080 in 1080p comes from. The “p” stands for progressive scan as opposed to interlaced. See the example below. The contrast ratio (black to white) is an impressive 15000 to 1. This is a 16:9 widescreen set with a 5ms reposnse time for clean, non-blurry images. It also has USB connections and 3 HDMI connections for the easiest audio-video connections. It uses Clear Voice technology, which focuses in on dialogue and conversation when background noise gets in the way. It also uses an Intelligent Sensor and AV Mode to enhance picture quality and overall performance. View your collection of pictures or listen to your MP3s via the integrated USB 2.0. Get your hands on this complete package today before it’s too late! Only $799.99!


Got a story to share? Have a question? Post Comments or Questions with the link below. Keep up-to-date with Skylarking: By Email or RSS Newsfeed or on Twitter. You can also send questions with Skylarking’s email form.

Video: Galactic Center of Milky Way Rises over Texas Star Party

A friend of mine shared this time lapse video link with me over the weekend. The video was posted on Vimeo, a video sharing web site.

The video shows a band of stars which make up one of the “arms” of the Milky Way galaxy — our galaxy. If you live in an urban or suburban area then it’s not likely you’ve seen it at night. Light pollution from street lamps, buildings, and homes wash much of the star light overhead, but if you are able to get far enough away from the cities (or find yourself in a massive night-time blackout) then you could see an arm of the Milky Way. I once saw it myself while camping at camp Epworth upstate in High Falls, New York in the Catskills, two hours outside of New York City about 30 years ago. Now there are two many lights even in that area for this sight to be seen. These photos were taken at Fort Davis, Texas which is about 8 hours from Dallas and 6 hours from San Antonio.

The video is comprised of a series of 810 photos taken with a modified Canon EOS 5D 12.8 MP Digital SLR Camera.

One photo was taken every 40 seconds over a 9 hour period. The shutter remained open for 20 seconds during each shot. The photographer, William Castleman, used a special “anti-alias (AA) filter” which allowed more red light to enter the camera. Specifically the type of red light emitted by stars and nebulas. He used a Canon EF 15mm f/2.8 Fisheye Lens which allows a wide field of view — 180 degrees in fact. He mounted the camera on a tripod and attached an external battery. Exposures were 20 seconds at f/2.8 ISO 1600.

Other equipment used by the photographer included:

He then processed the photos using Adobe Photoshop and created the video using Apple’s Quicktime Pro, and then editted the video using Sony Vegas Movie Studio 9.

Canon EOS 5D

Canon EOS 5D 12.8 MP Digital SLR Camera (Body Only)

Canon Fisheye EF 15mm f/2.8 Autofocus Lens

Canon EF 15mm f/2.8 Fisheye Lens

Canon TC80N3 Timer Remote Control

Canon TC80N3 Timer Remote Control


Adobe Photoshop Elements 7 (Windows)
Adobe Photoshop Elements 6 (Mac)


Apple Quicktime Pro


Sony Vegas Movie Studio 9 Platinum Pro Pack

Got a story to share? Have a question? Post Comments or Questions with the link below. Keep up-to-date with Skylarking: By Email or RSS Newsfeed or on Twitter. You can also send questions with Skylarking’s email form.

Resounding Flop

Oh, well.  Last week’s free Netflix offer went exactly the opposite of what I expected. I’m not quite sure where it went wrong.

When I offered to send a coupon for a free month of Netflix to everyone who subscribed to Skylarking by email last week, I expected to be swamped with subscribers. Well, maybe not swamped, but I expected I would be quite busy emailing coupons out at some point over the weekend. Specially when I saw my offer being retweeted on Twitter on two separate days.

Sadly, I ended up not having to send out a single coupon.

In some cases people subscribed, but never confirmed their subscription when the validation email from Feedburner arrived. I emailed these people directly, and had some of the emails I sent out bounce back with a “user unknown” failure.

Overall, I was looking to get maybe 50 to 100 new subscribers to Skylarking. I figured some of those subscribers would cancel their subscription after they received the coupon, and I was okay with that, but I received less than 30 new subscribers who either never validated, or the address they submitted was “user unknown” by their email service.

Fortunately, my subscriber drive was not a complete flop. I did pick up a handful of new subscribers by RSS feed, and I did note an increase in clicks on the feed, too. I am thankful for that.

Anyhoo (not a typo), I will try again.

Got a story to share? Have a question? Post Comments or Questions with the link below. Keep up-to-date with Skylarking: By Email or RSS Newsfeed or on Twitter. You can also send questions with Skylarking’s email form.


Thanks to the 26 people who subscribed to Skylarking today, but please check your email Inbox and Junk Folder because my Feedburner account says you haven’t activated your subscription yet. I can’t send you a Netflix coupon until you activate your subscription.

As for the 199 other people who read the post today, but didn’t subscribe: Are you already Netflix members? Please let me now in the comments below.

And thanks to the 50 current Skylarking subscribers for “clicking in” to Skylarking today, too.

Talk to you all soon. And watch out for a new contest here soon. I’ve got some more ideas.

Got a story to share? Have a question? Post Comments or Questions with the link below. Keep up-to-date with Skylarking: By Email or RSS Newsfeed or on Twitter. You can also send questions with Skylarking’s email form.

Try Netflix Free for One Month

netflixIf you’ve never ever used Netflix, but you’d like to try it out, then subscribe to Skylarking with your valid email address before midnight on the evening of Friday, June 12, 2009 and I will email you a coupon for one month of Netflix for free. Normally their free trial is only for two weeks, but this offer is for one full month of service. Quantities are limited on this offer.

Rules to Qualify

  1. Subscribe with a valid email address using the subscription form at the top right of the site.
  2. Activate your email subscription when you receive the “Activation” email message. (Watch your spam folders.)
  3. Only the first 100 +/- subscribers will get a coupon.
  4. When the Feedburner count at the top of the site reads around 145 to 155 then no more coupons will be sent. (To account for Feedburner’s update delay.)
  5. You will receive your coupon by email on Saturday, June 13, 2009.
  6. Your email subscription to Skylarking must be active through Saturday June 13, 2009.

Disclaimer from Netflix
Coupons expire on June 15, 2009. Current and previous Netflix members and their households are ineligible. Internet access and valid payment method required to redeem offer. Free Trial lasts for one month. Netflix will begin to bill your payment method for the Netflix plan selected at sign-up at the completion of the free trial unless you cancel prior to the end of the free trial. Subscription Periods: Your Netflix membership is a month-to-month subscription that you can cancel at any time. Click the “Your Account” button for cancellation instructions. No refunds or credits for partial monthly subscription periods. Membership & Trial Plans: The number of DVDs out at a time varies by plan. For example, 3 DVDs out at-a-time is $16.99 a month plus applicable tax. Blu-ray: An additional monthly fee applies for Blu-ray access. Delivery: One business day delivery based on more than 97% of our members being within one-day postal delivery zones. Netflix reserves the right to change terms and conditions at any time.

What Is Netflix?
I can’t believe you asked me that, but here it is straight from their web site’s About Us page:

Netflix, Inc. is the world’s largest online movie rental service, with more than 10 million subscribers. For one low monthly price, Netflix subscribers can get DVDs delivered to their homes and can instantly watch movies and TV episodes streamed to their TVs and computers, all in unlimited amounts. Subscribers can choose from over 100,000 DVD titles and a growing library of more than 12,000 choices that can be watched instantly. There are never any due dates or late fees. DVDs are delivered free to subscribers by first class mail, with a postage-paid return envelope, from 58 distribution centers. More than 97 percent of Netflix subscribers live in areas that generally receive shipments in one business day.

Got a story to share? Have a question? Post Comments or Questions with the link below. Keep up-to-date with Skylarking: By Email or RSS Newsfeed or on Twitter. You can also send questions with Skylarking’s email form.

Save $100 on the Sony Reader PRS-505 at Borders

borders1Borders and is offering $100 off on the Sony Reader PRS-505 eBook Reader. This offer is available to all Borders Rewards members. The offer is valid through this Sunday, June 14, 2009 in stores and online at

Not a Borders Rewards member? Not a problem. It’s free and easy to join. All you have to do is go to any Borders, Borders Express, or Waldenbooks store to pick up a Borders Rewards card — no purchase necessary. Then you can go to the Borders Rewards page at and register your Borders Rewards card.

Currently the top eBook Readers are the Sony Reader PRS-505, the Sony Reader PRS-700, and Amazon’s Kindle. The Kindle sells for $359, the PRS-700 is $349, and the Sony PRS-505 lists for $299. So you can get a PRS-505 for $199 with this offer for Borders Rewards members.

Technical Details

  • displays eBooks purchased from the CONNECT eBook online store
  • displays Adobe® PDFs, plus TXT, RTF, BMP, JPEG, GIF, PNG and Microsoft® Word files
  • plays MP3 and AAC files (protected files not supported)
  • internal 192MB memory (holds 160 typical sized e-books)
  • memory slot holds an SD Memory Card (up to 2GB capacity) and Memory Stick® Duo media (up to 8GB capacity)
  • Dimensions: 4.8 x 6.9 x 0.3 inches ; 9 ounces

Sony Reader PRS-505 Description
sonyprs505-2The PRS-505 features re-styled controls which more closely mimic paper page turns and allow for quick, intuitive navigation. The next-generation electronic paper display delivers fast response and high contrast for easy reading even in bright sunshine because it uses reflected light, not projected light like a computer monitor or TV screen does. Eight levels of gray scale provide for crisp and clear text, images, and graphics.

The PRS-505 allows you to carry a wide variety of reading materials whether they are on a cross-country flight, in a doctor’s office waiting room, or at a beach resort.  The Reader can handle a stack of books and other documents that people would rather not carry, yet offers a ‘book-like’ reading experience unavailable with other electronic devices. With the capacity to store up to 160 typical eBooks, the Reader can act as a mobile library. Imagine carrying 160 books in a 9 ounce package — anywhere you go.

Expansion slots for Memory Stick Duo media or SD memory cards make the device’s library practically limitless. The USB-based connection allows you to use the device as a portable drive for the direct transfer of documents, images and other files. A new auto-sync feature also lets you set up folders with books and documents that can be automatically synchronized when the device is connected to a PC.

boxsetsGetting Books

To get books for your reader, all you have to do is:

  1. Download books to your computer from the eBook Store from Sony
  2. Then transfer books to your reader via a USB cable

Other Offers for Borders Rewards members

Borders is offering 40% off on any two DVD box sets. This offer is valid with Borders Rewards membership only. Coupons can be retrieved online for registered Borders Rewards card holders. Offer is valid only in U.S. stores from 6/9/09 to 6/10/09. Offer not valid at Waldenbooks and Borders Express stores.

Got a story to share? Have a question? Post Comments or Questions with the link below. Keep up-to-date with Skylarking: By Email or RSS Newsfeed or on Twitter. You can also send questions with Skylarking’s email form.

D-Day or Tetris … You Decide

… or “Remembering My Grandparents on D-day”.

The past two days I’ve been trying to watch the movie Pearl Harbor (2001)  on cable. I had wanted to see this movie when it came out (despite the poor reviews) and I managed to catch the end last night, and the rest of it this morning … okay, this afternoon … when I woke up.



World War II is significant for my family in several ways. My grandmother was American and worked as a welder in the shipyards of Baltimore, and my Scottish grandfather served in the British Merchant Marines on a supply ship that crossed the Atlantic Ocean. Because of the war my grandparents from two different countries met, got married, and had a son, my father.

But I haven’t been thinking about playing Tetris at all lately, and I haven’t heard of anyone coming together over this game that is typically played solo.

“What in the world am I talking about” or “where am I going” you ask?

Well, after finishing the movie, and taking my laundry out to the cleaners, I turned on my computer and went online. My start page, as always,, and I am confronted by the Lego like logo today. “???” appeared over my head, shortly followed by “!!!”



Now, I know that Google uses a special logo design when they decide to signify some special event or occasion; so I just had to wonder what was behind the new logo. I clicked to find out and it took me to a page about Tetris’s 25th anniversary. It was launched on June 6, 2004 at the Soviet Unions’ Academy of Science by then 29 year old Alexey Pajitnov.

Of course, June 6, 1944, 65 years ago, was the start of the Normandy invasions by the Allied Forces that lead to the end of the war in Europe a little less than a year later. My grandfather survived the war, as did my grandmother. They married the year before the invasion, and my father was born shortly after.

Do a search for “June 6 1944” and D-day is all you’ll see in the results. No mention of Tetris.