Friday, January 31, 2014

2014 Fantasy Outlooks: Oakland Athletics

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After two straight American League West titles and two straight ALDS losses to the Tigers, it appears that Athletics general manager Billy Beane's "stuff" still doesn't work in the playoffs. It may not work particularly well in Fantasy either. Though Beane's squad had more than enough power and pitching to earn a postseason berth, they were short on elite players and well-rounded talents who are sought out by Fantasy owners.

Consistent with their reputation for exploiting market inefficiencies, the A's were led by an overlooked 27-year-old catcher-turned-third baseman ( Josh Donaldson), a 33-year-old outfielder who finally turned in his first 20-20 season ( Coco Crisp), an injury-prone shortstop who managed to deliver a full season's worth of games ( Jed Lowrie), a platoon first baseman ( Brandon Moss) and a 40-year-old contact pitcher ( Bartolo Colon). Yoenis Cespedes, probably the most recognizable Fantasy entity coming into 2013, couldn't clear the bar he set as a rookie, when he was a top 20 Rotisserie outfielder. Difficulties in making contact helped to shave 52 points off Cespedes' batting average, as he languished with a .240 mark and No. 33 ranking among Roto outfielders.

Despite the team's collective success, you could easily get through the first three or four rounds of your upcoming mixed league drafts without seeing a single Athletic go off the board. Still, Donaldson and Cespedes are legitimate early-round options (if not the very early rounds), and Crisp and Moss can be targeted in the middle rounds, particularly in Roto leagues. Colon is out of the picture, having signed with the Mets this offseason, but Sonny Gray and A.J. Griffin are solid candidates for your mixed league rotation. New closer Jim Johnson is also an appropriate pick for the middle rounds. Lowrie, outfielder Josh Reddick, catcher John Jaso and starting pitchers Jarrod Parker and Dan Straily are all players worthy of late-round fliers.

The A's did lose a few key pieces from their 96-win team, but they found solid replacements during the offseason. Colon and closer Grant Balfour departed via free agency, but Beane signed Scott Kazmir and traded for Johnson to take over for them. Kazmir is another name to add to your late-round sleeper list after completing a successful campaign with the Indians last year. The team also added bullpen depth by trading outfielder Seth Smith to the Padres for Luke Gregerson, and they maintained their outfield depth by acquiring Craig Gentry from the Rangers.

Fantasy teams don't usually face the same payroll constraints that the A's do, so they don't have to mimic the franchise's no-stars approach. That said, the organization still offers plenty of players who can help Fantasy owners win a title this coming season, if not the centerpieces to build a team around.

Injury-risk sleeper No. 1 ... Scott Kazmir, starting pitcher

Kazmir gave us a nice comeback story last year, just by virtue of cracking the Indians' rotation and staying there through the end of the season. What he accomplished, especially from late June on, was actually much more impactful than simply winning and keeping a job. Kazmir gave owners strikeouts all year long, and his 4.04 ERA and 1.32 WHIP obscure how dominant he was over his final 18 starts. Over that three month-plus stretch, he posted a 3.06 ERA and 1.15 WHIP, as he threw more than two-thirds of his pitches for strikes and recovered from poor early luck with hits on balls in play. As long as Kazmir doesn't revert to his prior history of injuries and wildness, he has a shot at pitching like a top 30 starter.

Injury-risk sleeper No. 2 ... John Jaso, catcher

Jaso's first season in Oakland got off to a slow start, as he hit just .252 with one home run through the end of May. His Fantasy owners didn't get to enjoy the fruits of a midseason revival for long, as Jaso's year was done for good on July 24 when he was concussed as a result of taking foul tips off his mask in back-to-back games. Any time a player returns from a concussion, it's a risk to assume they can pick up where they left off, but Jaso is in a situation that is as close to ideal as possible. He will spend most of his time as the designated hitter, spared from the rigors and injury risks of catching, and assuming he is healthy, Jaso should be able to amass more than his previous career high of 404 plate appearances. Given that you may be able to get the likes of Geovany Soto, Alex Avila or Welington Castillo off waivers in a two-catcher mixed league, it's worth giving Jaso a try with a late-round pick, as there is minimal cost if he doesn't work out. If all goes well, he could provide a decent batting average and power with a high on-base percentage.

As part of a crowded infield situation a year ago, Lowrie headed into spring training looking poised for a utility role, but he emerged as the starting shortstop. Then Lowrie did something unprecedented, turning in a full season in a regular role. He finally answered the question, "What could Lowrie do if he could just stay healthy for a full season?", and the answer was to his owners' liking. Hitting .290 with 15 home runs, 75 RBI and 80 runs, Lowrie finished fourth in standard Head-to-Head scoring among shortstops and seventh in Rotisserie value. Lowrie was aided by his career-high batting average and 45 doubles, which were partially boosted by a drop in strikeouts but also by a 28 percent line drive rate. That's more than 10 percentage points higher than his rates from each of his three previous seasons, and it has regression written all over it. Health permitting, Lowrie should be able to provide 15-plus homers for the third straight season, but don't be surprised to see his batting average and doubles total plunge. Despite his lofty rankings from 2013, Lowrie is best viewed as a late-round option this spring.

Prospects Report

Addison Russell's stock has been enhanced by his rankings on top prospects lists, and he put up stats in the California League that back up the hype. Then again, lots of hitters do in that hitter-friendly circuit, but Russell's home park in Stockton is not an especially favorable environment. The 20-year-old shortstop could bring his power-speed combination to Oakland sometime this season, making him worthy of a flier in deeper leagues. ... Michael Ynoa may be the best known of the A's current pitching prospects, but Raul Alcantara is younger, fared much better after making the jump from Class A to Advanced Class A, and doesn't have Ynoa's history of elbow injuries. Both pitchers should be targeted in deeper dynasty leagues. ... Other than Russell, first baseman Maxwell Muncy is probably the prospect closest to the majors, but he may not arrive this year, and when he does debut, he may not hit for much power. ... Outfielder Billy McKinney and third baseman Renato Nunez are still working through the lower minors, but both have sufficient promise to merit a pick in dynasty formats.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Al Melchior at @almelccbs .

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Amazon Attacking Barnes & Noble On Campus?

Review-storefront.png"> The homepage for Amazon's new UC Davis store. Amazon promotes things students might want to buy most.

While Barnes & Noble may be struggling right now as a company, it's mostly the Nook digital media division that's dragging down earnings - both B&N's chain of retail stores and college bookstores are showing relatively healthy revenues and profits, despite the intense competition from Amazon and other booksellers.

Now, Amazon, perhaps not content to best Barnes & Noble on the ebook battlefield, is going after the retailer in one of its strongholds: the college campus. Amazon has formed a partnership with University of California, Davis to create an online storefront geared specifically toward the university's students.

Barnes & Noble does the same thing in the physical world, operating nearly 700 college bookstores across the country, including at Ivy League schools like Harvard and Yale, state schools like Indiana University, and community and technical college systems. Through the first half of the company's fiscal 2014, its college division had sales of $963 million. In fiscal 2013, it had nearly $1.8 billion in sales.

For the Amazon deal, UC Davis Stores, the company that operates the university's retail network, will get about 2% of revenues from purchases through the new online storefront. A scholarship has also been established that will use store revenues.

"The collaboration is a win-win for the university and its students," UC Davis Stores director Jason Lorgan said in a statement. "The site complements the existing UC Davis retail operations and provides additional items that we're unable to provide. We expect it will generate significant revenue for the university and do not believe it will harm our in-store sales."

Whether deals like this harm UC Davis Stores sales is an open question and, now, an ongoing experiment. Less immediately clear is if such a deal will put a dent in one of Barnes & Noble's healthiest businesses. In 2013, the college bookstore segment showed modest 1.1% growth while both the company's other divisions shrank. The retail segment, which is roughly three times the size of the college business, shrank by about 6% and the beleaguered Nook digital business shrank by nearly 17% in 2013. Losses at the retail stores seem to have stemmed somewhat in 2014 while the bleeding at Nook has intensified.

Requests for comment from Amazon on its college strategy were not responded to before press time.

"The new program is a way for Amazon to better serve our university student customers," an Amazon spokesperson said in an email to me. "By collaborating with the college bookstore, we're able to complement the on-campus selection, offering students millions of items at great prices with free two-day shipping through Amazon Student. And when students shop with Amazon through this program, they support their university. We think it's a win-win."

The spokesperson went on to confirm that the program is a pilot and Amazon hopes to roll it out to other college campuses.

Barnes & Noble as a whole is struggling on many fronts. A disastrous holiday quarter exposed massive losses at Nook. The company is being sued by shareholders and a class action complaint was recently filed. And the appointment of Michael Huseby as the new CEO has signaled to investors, employees and observers that the break up and sale of the company may be imminent.

Observers have predicted that Nook will be sold or shuttered and at least one investing industry observer cheered that notion. One industry analyst speculated that Wal-Mart could buy Barnes & Noble in an effort to bolster its book sales competition with Amazon.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Your ultimate mobile office: The tools you need to work on any device

Whether work follows you out of the office or your office is wherever you happen to be, you can't be tied down. You need to edit documents, access files, track projects, and more, from your laptop or from any major flavor of mobile device. Here are the tools anyone needs to get work done anywhere.


Microsoft Office 365

We have to mention Office 365, but we also have to note a few caveats. With a one-year subscription ($100), users get access to all of Microsoft's programs on up to five Windows or Mac computers, plus mobile access on up to five smartphone and tablet devices. Apps are available for Android and iOS, and the app is preinstalled on all Windows Phones.

Office 365 has a big cross-platform weakness: the limited apps for iOS and Android.

That said, using Office 365's companion apps on Android and iOS is a bit of a nightmare, with feature omissions and weird quirks plaguing the overall experience. Perhaps worse, you can't use Office Mobile on your iPad or Android tablet, so owners of such devices are shortchanged.

Kingsoft Office

When PCWorld reviewed Kingsoft Office 2012, we called it the best Microsoft Office alternative you've never heard of. And you can't argue with free. The 2013 version boasts further improvements, including a ribbon interface that looks and acts astonishingly like that of Office on the PC. Kingsoft also has good mobile apps for iOS and Android.

Kingsoft Office isn't perfect, however. Although you can open documents in all Office formats, including the newer .docx format for Word documents, you can save them only in the older .doc format.

Google Drive

Google Drive includes a powerful word processor, spreadsheet creator, and presentation maker that you can use anywhere you have a Web connection, or offline with any device running the Chrome browser. And unlike Office 365, Drive provides solid mobile applications for Android and iOS. You'll find an app for Windows Phone as well, though reviews on it are mixed, and the app was functional but a bit buggy in our experience.

Google Drive is a cloud-storage service and a remarkably full-featured (and free) Web-based productivity suite rolled into one.

Of course, Google Drive also offers a fully integrated cloud-storage platform with 15GB of free storage space and the option to add 100GB to 16TB of capacity via a monthly subscription.

Not married to Google? It has some competition, too.

Cloud storage

dropbox app

Dropbox's mobile apps integrate nicely with iOS and Android.

With Dropbox, you get 2GB of online storage at no cost, and you can unlock additional storage (up to about 15GB to 20GB can be had for free) for performing certain tasks such as enabling automatic upload of pictures on your mobile device. Dropbox subscription plans add 100GB to 500GB of storage for $100 to $500 per year. For the admittedly hefty prices, you get priority access to Dropbox's support team and more bandwidth allowance.

Dropbox has apps for PC, Mac, and Linux on the personal computer side, and mobile apps for Android, iOS, BlackBerry, and Windows Phone. What sets it apart from the other services is how it deeply integrates with each operating system. On Android and iOS, for example, you can set the app to automatically upload pictures you take on your phone to your Dropbox. On your PC, you can keep a separate folder for Dropbox so that you can easily upload files to the cloud.

Microsoft SkyDrive

SkyDrive has iOS and Android apps but integrates best with Windows Phones.

Microsoft's SkyDrive gives users 7GB of free storage. Subscription plans add 50GB to 200GB of storage for $25 to $100 per year-a bit cheaper than other options. Users can access SkyDrive files via a Web app, or through apps for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone.

Surprise: SkyDrive is deeply integrated with Windows 8, RT, and Windows Phone. On Windows Phone, SkyDrive is built into the Photos hub, so you can easily save pictures and videos to your SkyDrive storage. On all Windows platforms, you can save and access your Office files anywhere, and they look good on all devices from phone to tablet to PC. The service works well on other platforms, but the experience will always be a bit better on Windows devices.

Scheduling and task management

Nothing against the calendars in Outlook and Drive, but these third-party apps can add key enhancements. is a simple-to-use cloud-based task list that lets you set target completion deadlines, add reminders, and of course, remove tasks from your list as you complete them. Each step takes just a few seconds, meaning you'll be more likely to use the tool than tire of it-something that can't always be said for the arduous processes of full-fledged programs such as Microsoft Outlook or Google Calendar.

The app is available on both Android and iOS, and a Google Chrome extension lets you manage your tasks from any PC, Mac, or Linux computer. The company behind also provides a Calendar app, Cal (iOS and Android), that connects to your task list.


A simple and free online scheduling tool, Doodle makes it easy to figure out when everyone in a group is free. Instead of tearing their hair out trying to reconcile everyone's conflicts, the meeting organizer sets up a survey with potential dates and times for the meeting. Each participant responds with their free times, and then the meeting organizer can set up the meeting right from within the Web app.

Users can connect their Google, iCloud, Outlook, or Microsoft Exchange calendars. Doodle is accessible via any Web browser. The Android and iOS apps inexplicably cost $3 each and are inferior to the experience you get in a mobile browser.



Evernote needs no introduction. With Evernote, you can quickly jot down notes complete with pictures and audio clips, set reminders, or add to-do lists, all of which then sync to the cloud so that you can view them on any device.

Evernote Premium users ($5 per month or $45 per year) get offline note-taking capabilities on mobile devices, better collaboration tools, passcode locking, more upload capacity, and smarter searching. A Presentation Mode for your notes is a cool feature limited to Mac users for now.

Evernote offers mobile apps for iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and BlackBerry, as well as for Windows 8 touch devices. You can also install apps on nontouch Windows computers and Macs by way of Evernote's download page.

Microsoft OneNote

OneNote's wheel-based control scheme (Windows 8 app pictured).

OneNote lets you take notes digitally as you would in a typical composition notebook, and you can create different "notebooks" for different topics. Apps are available for Android, iOS, Windows Phone (app preinstalled), and Windows 7/8/RT, and with Office Web Apps on any Mac or Linux device.

The Windows 8 app is where OneNote truly shines, not surprisingly. In addition to taking notes with embedded images and spreadsheets, you can capture anything on your Windows 8 screen using the Share Charm and add annotations to make the image meaningful. We'd like to see Microsoft include this feature in all versions of the OneNote software.

Handy extras

When you're on the go, having tools to connect with your colleagues-or directly to your office PC-can keep you from running aground. Although this arena sees significant competition, the following two tools offer the best feature sets-and they're free.


Now owned by Microsoft, the Skype videoconferencing and calling service is available on all major platforms, including Windows, Mac, and Linux computers and Windows Phone, Android, iOS, and BlackBerry mobile devices. Not surprisingly, Skype is deeply integrated into Windows 8.1 and 8.1 RT, and it also integrates with the People Hub on Windows Phone 8.

The thing everyone loves most about Skype is still present: Phone and video calling between Skype clients is free, and Skype users can call a mobile or landline telephone anywhere in the world for a modest per-minute fee.


TeamViewer is a free application that lets you access your Windows, Mac, or Linux computer remotely from your Android, iOS, Windows Phone, or Windows 8/RT device, provided that your main computer is powered on and has the TeamViewer app installed.

TeamViewer makes it a snap for you or a cohort to control your PC from afar, on mobile apps and proper PCs alike. (Android app pictured here.)

In our testing, we easily connected to our Windows and Mac machines from an iPhone, iPad, Nexus 5, and Windows 8 tablet device, and each worked fairly smoothly.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Travel Deals and Steals for Sunday, Jan. 19


Celebrate National Learn to Ski & Snowboard Month at Mountain Creek in Vernon, N.J. It's the closest major ski resort to New York City - and now there's a "Bring a Friend" promotion.

Steal: Weekdays through Jan. 31, buy one "Learn-to-Ski" or "Snowboard Package" at $99 and get one free. This includes: a limited terrain lift ticket, rental equipment, helmet, and a one-and-a-half hour group lesson for you and your friend (holidays not included).

Experience: Every day through Feb. 28, grab the "3X Guarantee." This means three anytime beginner lift tickets, three helmet and equipment rentals, and three 90-minute group lessons for $129.99. Mountain Creek guarantees that students will be embracing their inner Olympic athlete and making turns unassisted in just three visits - or Mountain Creek will keep teaching you for free.

Book it! Coupon at or by calling (973) 827-2000.


Discover the wildlife, fresh cuisine and stunning scenery of Bora Bora in French Polynesia.

Deal: The "Romantic Getaway" island experience includes five nights at the St. Regis Bora Bora, with rates starting at $4,125 per person. Also in the deal: internal round trip airport transfers, coach class air by Air Tahiti, one night at the InterContinential Papeete Tahiti, five nights at the St. Regis Bora Bora and a shark-watching tour. There's breakfast for two daily and one three-course dinner for two. There's even a guaranteed upgrade from the overwater bungalow to a superior overwater villa at the St. Regis Bora Bora. This offer is valid for bookings by Jan. 31 and travel before March 31.

Experience: Just one hour by plane from Tahiti, Bora Bora is a pristine tropical paradise with snow white sand beaches, clear waters and the creamiest butter (yes, butter) you will ever taste anywhere on the planet. The scenery is lush and tropical, blooming with hibiscus and strings of lagoons hiding the most elegant black pearls in the world.

Book it! Online at or by calling 1-800-227-9246


Spend a whole lot less for much more fun at the Ft. Lauderdale Marriott Harbor Beach Resort & Spa.

Deal: Book by Feb. 28 and save 20% off lowest available rates. Rates currently start at $299 per night. The offer is valid for stays now through March 31.

Experience: This sprawling beachfront property lays claim to the area's largest private beach and is just minutes from many of South Florida's hotspots. Nearby Las Olas Boulevard has 17 blocks of cafes, shopping and art galleries. Get a great view of the area with a riverfront cruise, which departs from the Las Olas Riverfront Marketplace nearby.

Book it: Visit and enter promo code D3Q.


Enjoy world-class golf and save on a beachfront suite at the five-star CuisinArt Golf Resort & Spa in Anguilla.

Deal: Book the "Suite Escapes" package and stay four nights in a beachfront suite - and get the fifth night free. This deal includes: complimentary breakfast, airport or ferry greeting and WiFi. Rates start at $875 per night.

Experience: All beachfront suites come with a private terrace overlooking views of neighboring St. Maarten. Guests love the Greg Norman golf course, state-of-the-art spa and pristine beaches. The resort is also home to the Caribbean's first hydroponic farm and the island's first Japanese restaurant, Tokyo Bay.

Book it: Online at and select the "Suite Escapes" promotion. The offer's valid through Dec. 20.

Conway Confidential is a content syndication provider specializing in travel, food and lifestyle.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Sports Authority Coupon 2014: 15% off Coupons, Printable Coupon & Deals

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The Sports Authority coupon code is the best way to save money on purchasing gym equipment or the latest and greatest gear from the sports world at a very reasonable cost. This Sports Authority coupon code will allow customers to get the opportunity of saving on different versions of accessories that can be used for outdoor activities and the amount of money that customers got as their savings can be used to purchase other products that they might need. Sports Authority coupons provide additional discounts off the original price. These Sports Authority coupon codes are exclusive unadvertised deals and are not published outside of Sports Authority's affiliate networks. Consumers must hunt Sports Authority coupons down through the internet. The discount is calculated when the ordering is processed. To use the Sports Authority coupon code, consumers must enter it on the check out page before they submit their ordering.

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Cheaperseeker provides not only Sports Authority online coupons, promotions, and discounts but also for hundreds of other top stores throughout the US and around the world, so remember to check over at before doing any online shopping at or other online store to make sure the prices paid are as low as possible.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Deal could come as early as today to protect DIA art, Detroit pensioners

A Online Deals-works-mediators-would-protect-art-pensions-Detroit-bankruptcy">deal to use foundation money to protect the Detroit Institute of Arts' collection and Detroit's pensioners from the consequences of the city's bankruptcy could be announced as early as today, according to sources familiar with the negotiations.

One source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said talks are at a delicate stage and there are "a number of moving parts," including what role the state would play in any deal.

But there's a 50/50 chance the " grand bargain " will be announced today, the source said, in part because of concerns about inaccurate speculation.

The foundations, which range from nationals such as Ford and Kellogg to local institutions such as Skillman and the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, were preparing Sunday to make a joint statement that reflects their enthusiasm at being involved in efforts to help the city get back on its feet.

Darren Walker, CEO of the Ford Foundation in New York, has reportedly taken a lead role in structuring the deal and bringing other foundations into it.

Gerald Rosen, chief judge of U.S. District Court in Detroit, is the mediator in the city's bankruptcy case and called the foundations together in the fall to discuss ways to help with the DIA and the pensions.

DIA officials declined comment Sunday, and pension officials could not be reached.

If a deal is brokered, it would be a breakthrough in addressing the two most contentious issues in the city's bankruptcy proceedings.

DIA in peril: A look at the museum's long, tangled relationship with Detroit politics and finances

Interactive gallery: Detroit Institute of Arts masterpieces: What they're worth

Mark Stryker: DIA's future intertwined with Detroit's

Sources say the deal taking shape would have the foundations give between $300 million and $500 million to fill a portion of the funding shortfall in the city's two pension funds. Emergency manager Kevyn Orr has said that shortfall — mostly in the city's general retirement fund, not the one for police and firefighters — is as high as $3.5 billion.

The foundation money won't fill the gap entirely, but sources said it's intended to soften any blow retirees would be asked to take in the bankruptcy. If managed properly, it's also possible that the foundation money could be invested and eventually grow to pay an even larger share of the pension shortfall, which is projected to materialize over the next 30 years.

In exchange for the money given to pensioners, the museum would not be asked to sell any art or otherwise monetize its collection. Under the deal, the museum and its collection would eventually revert to state control, likely under an authority that would ensure that the DIA would never again face the possibility of having to sell its treasures to pay municipal or state debt.

There are several sticking points in the deal — a major one being what role the state would play.

Sources say the foundations have insisted that the state chip in on the effort, and that to date, no agreement — on the amount of state help, or the terms — has been reached. Some sources said the state's share could be as high as $100 million, paid over 10 or 20 years; other sources have said the amount being asked of state officials was lower.

It's possible any state contribution would have to be approved by the Legislature.

State Sen. Roger Kahn, R-Saginaw, who chairs the appropriations committee, said he hasn't been approached about money for the museum, but "that could come and I would consider that."

There also is concern, according to sources close to the negotiations, about the implication of a change in DIA ownership on the millages that were passed last year in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties to provide $23 million a year to the museum for the next decade. Negotiators plan to talk soon with county executives to be sure that the deal to save the museum's art doesn't wipe out the millage agreements. The foundations' help is contingent on the millage money staying in place.

Sources also say there are concerns about the future management of the pension funds. The police and fire pension fund is better managed than the general fund is, but there are questions about whether the foundations will give money without new management in place for both funds.

Rosen already has brokered a tentative agreement between Detroit and several banks over a 2005 credit swap deal. He has worked for weeks with the foundations and others to shape a deal to save the city's art museum and help retirees.

Deal: All of Amazon's Kindle Fire Lineup is $30 Off

Discount is running a promotion that slashes $30 off of all of their Kindle Fire tablets as a "thanks to customers for voting Amazon #1 in customer satisfaction" yet again. The deal includes discounts off of the brand new Kindle Fire HDX models (both 7 and 8.9) and the regular Kindle Fire (both 7 and 8.9). The Fire HDX 7 can be had for as little as $199, while the HDX 8.9 drops to $349. The regular Kindle Fire HD drops to an insanely low $109 price, which the HD 8.9 slides in at just under $200. Not bad deals.

The HDX models are Amazon's top tier line that can compete with almost any other tablet on the planet in terms of specs. We're talking high-res displays (1920×1200), Snapdragon 800 processors, the newest version of Amazon's Android skin, custom Dolby Audio, "state-of-the-art" dual-band, dual-antenna Wi-Fi, and their 24-7 Mayday video support chat.

At checkout, use the code "MAYDAY30″ to see the discount.

Amazon Links: Kindle Fire HDX 7 ($199) | Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 ($349) | Kindle Fire HD 7 ($109)

Sunday, January 12, 2014

New D.C.-Based Price-Comparing App Launches

The D.C. tech scene now has another home-grown app. PriceSpotting-a free app that allows users to compare prices of items at local stores-launched this week and is available for iPhone and Android users to download.

Here's how it works: Users can search for items on the app to see which local store is offering the product at the lowest price. Or users can scan items while they're at a store to see how its Coupon Codes with other retailers. If the item isn't available in the app's database , users can upload it themselves so that others can eventually search for it. The success of the app depends on whether people contribute to its inventory; as an incentive, users earn points for the items they upload, which can be redeemed for cash or special sales.

"We help consumers save money and time for local purchases," says Neil Kataria,the CEO and founder of D.C.-based Blue Tiger Labs, the company that developed PriceSpotting. Kataria said during the beta-testing stage of the app, about 5,000 users submitted about 3 million prices (for around 219,000 unique items) in D.C. Next, Kataria says he plans to expand the app to San Francisco and Atlanta.

"It takes four to five seconds to enter some prices," says Kataria. "It's incredible, incredible just to see the activity during the testing period."

The app debuted this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Blue Tiger Labs launched PriceSpotting alongside another one of its homegrown apps: Mobile Merchant, which allows shopkeepers to manage their inventory digitally.

Blue Tiger Labs has its office in Chinatown and currently has 13 employees, nine of them based in D.C.

The apps received money from a number of investors including Mark Ein, chairman of Kastles Systems.

Friday, January 10, 2014

T-Mobile will now pay $350 for you to leave AT&T, Sprint, or Verizon

Just as predicted, T-Mobile's latest hyped-up plan to change the cellular industry is this: the company will pay your early termination fee if you agree to switch. Starting tomorrow, the company will pay you up to $350 per line to cover early termination fees and release you from a contract with AT&T, sprint plans, or Verizon.

Unfortunately, there are quite a few catches. You'll also need to trade in your existing phone, buy a new T-Mobile phone, sign up for a new T-Mobile plan, and even port your existing phone number to T-Mobile - in case you weren't going to do that anyway.

T-Mobile also won't be paying out a lump sum of $350, but rather the actual amount you pay your existing carrier if you break your contract to switch. You'll need to send proof to T-Mobile directly at this website or mail it to the company, and presumably wait for your money. You do, however, get an instant credit for trading in your existing smartphone at the time of the deal, with T-Mobile paying up to an additional $300 depending on the phone you trade in, and you won't have to pay right away for your new smartphone since T-Mobile is making almost all of them $0 down on contract.

"We're giving families a 'Get Out of Jail Free Card.'"

Unsurprisingly, T-Mobile is trumpeting the idea as a bold new idea. "We're giving families a 'Get Out of Jail Free Card," writes Legere in the press release. But in many ways, AT&T just beat T-Mobile to the punch. Last week, AT&T announced that it would pay $200 for every line that T-Mobile customers switched over to its own network, an offer that also requires those customers to buy a new AT&T phone.

"Try the network, try what we're doing, and if it doesn't work, these pricks will pay you to come back!"

At the time, Legere called AT&T's promotion a "desperate move," accusing AT&T of trying to buy customers back, and his own plans aren't that much different. However, as Legere points out on stage, the fact that both T-Mobile and AT&T are paying you to switch could be pretty great.

"Try the network, try what we're doing," Legere asks. "And if it doesn't work, these pricks will pay you to come back!"

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Deals on the Slopes: January 9 edition

Here's what's happening on the slopes of some of New Mexico's ski areas

College Days @ Red River

January 5, 2014 - January 15, 2014

Talk about a deal! You're still not finished with your Christmas Break until you've come to the mountains! $35 lift tickets and $15 rental equipment, just for bringing your Student ID. Come visit for fun activities, too! Including some contests where you can fight your rival school's students, live music, great ski fun.

More info at 575-754-2223

Buy Tickets Discount and save up to 25% at Angel Fire

November 8, 2013 - March 17, 2014

Winter Reservations are now open! This year buy your Lift Tickets more than 7 days in advance of arrival and save money over the Window Rates guaranteed! Save up to 25% online.

Deals at Sipapu

* Get deep discounts on lift tickets every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday in January:

* Buy 1 lift ticket, get 1 FREE on Tuesdays!

* Wednesdays are Car Load Days: everyone in one car (limit: 6) skis for $50.

* Thursdays are Local Appreciation Days: all lift tickets are $25 or less! No ID required.

* FREE Lodging Days are available nearly everyday: buy one $44 lift ticket and up to four people stay slopeside for FREE.

* January is Learn to Ski Month! First-time skiers and snowboarders get a free 2-hour lesson with a lift ticket purchase, and beginner packages are available starting at $49 per guest! For details, visit