At the end of March, we announced the giveaway of an Apple TV. Requirements for entry were pretty simple: You had to follow both myself and The Frugal Geek on Twitter, and send out a Tweet of your own. We actually had a LOT of entries, y’all – more than a thousand of them!
There are a lot of things you can do with this gorgeous little device. Turn your television into a photo album. Listen to your music. Watch YouTube videos and listen to podcasts or Internet radio through your home speakers. Watch Netflix movies and television in HD. Rent your favorite shows on the spot – commercial free – for less than a buck per episode. (These are available the day after they air.) And of course, with the Apple TV you have instant access to the hottest new movies… usually the SAME DAY they release to DVD in stores.
Matt and I hooked up on Skype to do this giveaway, and I recorded the conversation using Call Recorder. It’s not a free application, but it does work very well. It’s simple to use: install the app and record and stop buttons will appear in your Skype window. You will have the ability to record video calls with picture-in-picture or split-screen mode! The files are saved as QuickTime movies, but you can convert them to MP3 files quickly. Drag your movie into the “Convert to MP3” utility within the app and it will automagically convert the file for you. You can then email it to someone or share it via a website.
When Matt came to me with an interest in doing a giveaway, I jumped at the chance. We announced it with a video, and received some amount of negativity from the community. Most of this came from our International audience. They weren’t happy to be left out. We had to explain – repeatedly – that our hands were tied. Giveaways are governed by various country laws, and there’s nothing we can do to change those obviously.
With nearly 1100 entries, Matt’s Twitter account quickly gained hundreds of new followers. My account even received a few new subscribers, which blows my mind. To have this type of positive feedback – and entries for the giveaway – made the negativity worth having to deal with. We want to try to do a monthly giveaway, and are going to work hard to try and accommodate the International folks.
This entire giveaway came about when Matt was visiting his local Fry’s store. He noticed some silly Darth Vader lamps (which I happen to love!) which made him think of me. As he wandered into the next aisle – the Apple product aisle – he remembered how welcoming and accepting our community has been. He’s been blogging full time for a few months now on the Lockergnome Frugal Geek blog, and has submitted a few excellent videos to our YouTube channel. All of his work is full of money-saving tips for geeks… something we can all use.
Matt realized there’s no better way to say thank you than with a sweet piece of hardware. The Apple TV weighs only a half an ounce, but it packs some serious punch. You’ll find a lovely A4 CPU – the same chip that runs your iPad, iPhone and iPod touch. There’s a 6-watt power supply and a slew of ports: HDMI2, Audio, Ethernet and Micro USB slot (which Apple says is for service and support).
I was all for this opportunity, since Matt is such an active contributing member of our community. I love that Matt helps people save money – and time. I constantly Tweet out coupons, deals and even links to freebies of all types. Some may accuse me of spam, but I really do enjoy helping people save money. There’s value we provide – beyond the gifts.
Matt collected all of the names – just under 1100 of them – of the people who entered the giveaway. He put that list into the Random Number Generator site and a winner was chosen!
Congratulations to Casey Bryan from North Hollywood, California! You have just won yourself an Apple TV!
Thank you to everyone for participating. Keep your eyes peeled for our next giveaway.
Streaming content into your home is more than just some passing fad. Thousands of people have already “cut the cable cord” in favor of set-top boxes such as the Apple TV. Using a device like this gives you more control over the content you are watching. It’s also cost effective – it will cost far less than traditional cable or satellite programming. The Apple TV is a fantastic device – and this one could be yours.
This tiny little black box (it’s just under 4″ square, sits about an inch high off the table and weighs just .6 ounces!) packs a lot of punch. Inside, you’ll find the A4 CPU, the same chip that powers the iPhone 4, iPad, and iPod touch. There’s a built-in 6-watt universal power supply and several ports: HDMI2, Optical Audio, Ethernet, IR receiver and a Micro-USB slot that Apple claims is for service and support.
It supports a slew of different formats. For video, you have:
- H.264 video up to 720p, 30 frames per second, Main Profile level 3.1 with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps per channel, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats.
- MPEG-4 video, up to 2.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pixels, 30 frames per second, Simple Profile with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats.
- Motion JPEG (M-JPEG) up to 35 Mbps, 1280 by 720 pixels, 30 frames per second, audio in ulaw, PCM stereo audio in .avi file format.
Audio files supported include HE-AAC (V1), AAC (16 to 320 Kbps), protected AAC (from iTunes Store), MP3 (16 to 320 Kbps), MP3 VBR, Audible (formats 2, 3, and 4), Apple Lossless, AIFF, and WAV; Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound pass-through. And for photos, you can browse anything ending with .JPEG, .GIF and .TIFF.
So what can you DO with an Apple TV? I’m so glad you asked! Turn your TV into an HD photo album. Listen to your extensive music collection. Browse and play YouTube videos, watch your favorite HD podcasts, and listen to Internet radio through your home entertainment speakers. Watch Netflix movies and television on the device in HD and with Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound when available. Rent your favorite TV shows on the spot, commercial free and in HD for just 99¢ per episode as soon as the day after they are aired. And of course, with the Apple TV, you get instant access to all of the best movies – usually the same day they are released to DVD.
Are you drooling yet? Are you ready to win?! Anyone in the United States is eligible to enter. I apologize to those of you in other countries. International laws and restrictions prohibit us from running contests worldwide.
Jump over to your Twitter account and make sure you are following the Lockergnome account as well as the one for the Frugal Geek. Once you’re following both of us, send out a Tweet stating the following: LockerGnome is Giving Away an Apple TV http://bit.ly/fcyJRE @LockerGnome @FrugalGeek. The giveaway is open from now until April 15th. One winner will be chosen at random who meets all qualifications laid out in this paragraph.
Are you using a set-top box? Which one do you prefer – and why?
Trying to organize and use all of the content on your iPad can be a nightmare. You may need to buy different apps to open, read or consume different types of media and files. This could potentially cost you quite a chunk of change – and give you one massive headache. Your iPad stores documents, PDF files, music, eBooks, images and – well – I’m not sure if I want to know what else you have on that thing. The point is, there are an ungodly number of different types of files to be organized and opened. This is where Zen Viewer HD will come in handy.
This app is a little powerhouse. It will unify your content into one place – read, watch, store, organize, protect and record your audio. View PDF files, documents, images. Listen to your music. Watch your videos and movies. The Zen Viewer HD allows you to do ALL of these things. Heck, you can even change the skin of the app itself if you don’t like the way it looks out of the box.
The Zen Viewer puts you in control of your files. Rename, compress, email and password protect your files and folders with a click of the button within the app. Why not download owner’s manuals or user guides for your favorite products and save them on your iPad? Forget searching for hard copies that you likely threw in the garbage at some point in time. Free up the space in your file cabinet – or get rid of the dang thing completely. Keep everything on your iPad – and then manage it with Zen Viewer.
Did you know that this little app can manage:
- Document Formats – pdf, epub, rtf, txt, csv, doc, docx, xls, xlsx, ppt, pptx, Pages, Numbers, Keynote, vcf, htm, html, xml, cbr and cbz.
- Image Formats – jpeg, gif, bmp, png, tif, cr2, nef, ico, cur and xbm.
- Audio Formats – m4a, mp3, wav, aiff, aac and caf
- Video Formats – mov, mp4, m4v, m-jpg
That is one heck of a lot of variation and choices. There are also a few special features you’ll be interested in:
- Enhanced file searching – Browse through your libraries and files using any of several different preset features. Choose your preset type by file extension or genre.
- Easy File Transfers – Transfer through iTunes, certain web sites, WiFi and servers.
- Resize your library – Need more room in your library? This is the app for that!
- Compress or decompress your content – Zip or unzip your files and folders for easier storage or transferring.
Are you convinced yet? Great! If you would like to win a copy of Zen Viewer HD, you will need to enter today – Monday, March 14th, 2011, before 11:59pm PST. All you have to do is click that cute little Twitter button at the bottom of the post, and you’re automatically entered. Five people will be chosen at random to win a copy of their very own tomorrow, March 15th, 2011.
How do you manage files on your iPad?
It’s no secret that no matter what platform you are using, there will be rude commenters. With this new giveaway, we decided to reward those of you who do NOT fall into this category!
You could get this Lenovo ThinkCentre M75e desktop computer and 2 ThinkVision L1951p monitors. To qualify, all you need to do is say something nice in the comments section for the video. Be sure to leave your comment on YouTube itself – not here on the blog.
Kelly will pick her favorite nice comment and award the lucky person the computer. Deadline for sharing your comment is Midnight 18 February 2011.
The Dell Vostro is likely the best laptop for business use that I have ever come across. It’s light and fast – and I’m happy to be giving one away thanks to Dell!
This Vostro V130 sports an anodized-aluminum case, zinc hinges and magnesium-alloy palmrest. There’s no flimsy plastic here, folks. The vivid 13.3-inch WLED display, full-size keyboard and spacious touchpad don’t weigh it down: it starts at just 3.5 pounds.
Under the hood, you’ll find a nice Intel Core i3, 4GB of RAM and a Mobile Intel HM57 Express Chipset. You’ll find all of the usual goodies you’d expect with a laptop these days, such as an integrated webcam, USB ports and a card reader.
I know, I know – you want to know how to win this baby! It’s quite simple, honestly. You need to head over to Twitter. On your way there, think about how you make a good first impression in your line of business. It doesn’t matter what business you work in – you still need to make a good first impression.
Send a Tweet giving your best “first impression” advice or business tip, and be sure to include the hashtag #tradesecrets. Any Tweets which include the proper hashtag will automagically be pulled into the Dell Vostro Facebook Page and entered into the contest!
You have to hurry, though. One winner will be chosen at random at the end of the weekend! Good luck.
Trey Ratcliff has taught several thousand people how to do HDR photography through workshops, his award-winning tutorial, his book “A World in HDR” and now a video tutorial. This video tutorial normally sells for $99.00, but we’re giving away three copies to a few lucky people.
Trey is best known for his site, StuckInCustoms, which has become the #1 Travel Photography Blog on the internet with around 350,000 visits per month – including one from his mom. He’s also on Flickr and SmugMug, where his photos have recently passed over 45 million views. His work first became popular after he had the honor of having the first HDR photo ever to hang in the Smithsonian.
Trey’s work is nothing short of breathtaking, and any budding photographer should want to learn at his feet. This video tutorial will open your eyes to an entirely new world, allowing you to let your inner creative side shine.
One man who recently purchased this video said: “Viewing Trey’s HDR DVD series is like finding a mad scientist’s book of secret formulas. His screencasts immediately dispel the barriers and hurdles of achieving stunning HDR images. This series is worth every penny.” The praise doesn’t get any better than this.
So! How can you win!? It’s quite simple, folks: Make sure you are following me on Twitter and have liked my Facebook page. Leave a comment on this blog post telling me why you would like to win a copy. The contest will run now through Monday afternoon (January 24th) at 3PM PST. Three winners will be chosen at random and contacted via the email address left with the comment (so be sure you put your actual email address!). That’s all there is to it!
Happy picture taking!
This is Google TV. I am more than grateful to the team at Google for sending this unit to me, and for showing me how I can help all of YOU win one for yourself. I have to tell you – this piece of hardware is simply stunning. The quality is far beyond what I had expected. Besides, what could be cooler than watching YouTube videos on a big screen television?
Google TV is a new platform for television that combines your normal TV programming with a full web browser, Android apps and a simple way to search through all of it. It’s even easy to switch between TV and the web without having to change inputs on your television set.
With Google Chrome and Adobe Flash Player 10.1, Google TV lets you access everything on the web. Watch your favorite web videos, view photos, play games, check fantasy scores, chat with friends, and do everything else you’re accustomed to doing online.
If you’re a video producer like I am, you’re going to love this. Google TV gives web video stars the change to be a TV star. Google TV users can even bookmark your YouTube channel onto their TV home screen. This makes your content appear one click away from whatever they are already watching.
Google TV will come pre-loaded with apps like Netflix, Twitter, CNBC, Pandora, Napster, NBA Game Time, Amazon Video On Demand and Gallery. Starting early next year, apps from Android Market will work on Google TV as well. As I already said in the video above, the quality and clarity of this Sony television is just – fantastic. I cannot imagine anything better to surf the web with, including my beloved Mac Pro and dual 30″ monitors. This TV set puts those to shame. Seriously.
I’m sure you are ready to know how you can win one of these for yourself, aren’t you? Google is graciously giving YOU the chance to win. The contest ends on December 22nd, so you’ll have to hurry. 100 people will win a 46″ Sony Google Internet TV on January 20th.
To enter, simply create a video describing why you’re excited about watching the Internet on TV. You can upload your entry as soon as you’re ready – and please make sure you’ve read the official contest rules. Your video cannot be longer than one minute, so be creative with your time – and good luck to everyone!
Thanks again to Google. This Sony in my office is now my new best friend. Why are YOU excited about Google TV?
When the good people at Roxio asked if we wanted to take a look at Roxio Creator 2011, I jumped at the chance and tagged Dylan to do the honors for us. His work is solid, and I knew he’d give an honest review. From what I’ve seen in this video, Roxio Creator 2011 is a fantastic overall application that will fit most of your media needs. We’ll tell you later in this writeup how to win one of three copies for yourself!
Roxio Creator allows you to edit in 3D, and create standard-definition and high-definition Hollywood-style 3D movies on DVD from 2D and 3D input. Free 3D glasses are included with your purchase!!!
Easily edit your standard and HD videos. Add picture-in-picture effects, titles and scrolling credits. Rotate video with one click, auto-adjust color, brightness and contrast. Access and share the videos and movies on your PC from the Internet virtually anywhere, anytime.
Trim unwanted parts, combine multiple tracks together, normalize the volume across the mix and add fun effects. Create advanced playlist projects with crossfades, transitions and audio mashups. Dylan reports that this software is quite good at audio editing. He would know, as he’s a professional podcaster and works with audio files every day.
The photo-editing portion of the suite is not one that Dylan felt comfortable enough to do an in-depth review of. He admits to not being a photo editor. However, he found the software to be intuitive and simple to use… yet allowed him to make photos look very VERY good with just a few easy clicks.
If you’re looking for an all-in-one suite, Roxio Creator 2011 just may be the one for you! If you’d like to win one of three copies for yourself, make sure you’re following me on Twitter. Send me an @ Tweet and include the hashtag #RoxioCreator before noon eastern time on Friday, December 17th. Three people who do this will be chosen at random to win a copy for themselves. That’s all there is to it!
Now that I have my iPhone 4, I had to decide what to do with the iPhone 3GS. I could sell it. I could put it up for auction. I could keep it for a backup device, since it’s still in excellent shape. Some of the chat room members wanted me to smash it or microwave it – neither of which I wanted to do. There were so many possibilites that I had no clue what the hell to do with the phone.
I decided I should call someone for advice. Like a dork, I tried using the iPhone 3GS to make the call. The call wouldn’t go through… duh. I had already transferred my service to the iPhone 4. No worries, I have a backup!
My assistant and Community Manager Kat answered the phone with a cautious “hello?” Instead of my asking her to do something, I simply hollered out “Kat – do you want an iPhone?” Her answer, predictably, was “uhm. Yes!!” Immediately, most of the chat room went nuts congratulating her, and showing their appreciation for what I had decided to do. One person, though, said “no fair! Why does that chick get a free iPhone?”
This phone isn’t exactly “free,” folks. You have no idea how much work this woman does on a daily basis for myself and the community as a whole. She puts in a LOT of hours, and is always right there when I need her. I can call, email or IM her with something pressing, and she literally drops whatever she’s doing to jump on the new task as though it were nothing.
Kat has helped hold the community – and me – together for just about three years now. I’ve said publicly and on the stream many times that I don’t know what I’d do without her, and that’s the truth. She somehow balances all of the work she does with volunteer work, and being a mom and grandma. She’s almost always in a happy mood, and will literally give the shirt off her back to someone who needs help. I’ve seen her go out of her way on so many occasions to help someone out.
If there is anyone on this planet who “deserves” this iPhone, it’s Kat. I know she’s thrilled to be getting it, and could care less that it’s not the new model. She’s never had a “smartphone” before, and is very much looking forward to this one. With the type of work we do, she really does need to stay connected, no matter where she may be. I know this iPhone will go a long way towards accomplishing that.
Kat says that since she’s never used an iPhone – she needs YOUR help! What free apps do you recommend? She doesn’t play any games. She’s interested in productivity, social media and music apps. She’s also on the prowl for a “cute” iPhone hard case that will protect well but still look “cool.” Additionally, since she helps me out with videos, reviews and the blog, she’s willing to test out any apps that someone may want to send her way and post about them here on my blog. If you want to reach out to her in that way, you can always Email her.
Kat – thank you for everything. You are a rock star. Those simple words don’t begin to express what you mean to this community.
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