More Than a Season to Buy

November 28, 2009

After making many Black Friday gift purchases and admittedly, an item or two for myself, I thought that today might be a good day to talk about  doing some maintenance on the karmic scales. That is to think of those less fortunate, who are not able to enjoy the benefits of the holiday season.

In the Techeap way,  it is important to get the most for your donated dollar, and I have some ideas to do just that.

The first is This is a site that finds out about businesses that are offering matching donations to various charities. In this way, the charity of your choosing is getting double the bang for your buck. There is, however, a limited number of charities available on the site, and some of them require a purchase from an online store before hand. The good of a double donation, however, will probably equal out buying a 5 ft. ethernet cord.

Another good option is This site is set up to allow teachers to announce a specific need they have for their classrooms. People then donate money to the classroom or project they like and the classroom shows pictures of the items in use. Some of this site’s projects are also getting matching donations from the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation.

Finally, if you are not able to donate money, and in these economic times, that wouldn’t be surprising. There are always volunteer opportunities that you can participate in. One site of the many that are out there to help find places to volunteer is The thing I like most about this site is how easy it is to find opportunities close to your physical location. In this way, you can save yourself the time and aggravation of traveling a great distance to donate your time.

Do you have any tips for getting that extra value out of your donations? Let me know in the comments.


TeCheap Winterized

November 13, 2009

As the temperatures start to cool off, in the Northern Hemisphere anyway, I have a couple of tips for you to make winter as tolerable as possible.

The first is a new offering from Google designed to help you avoid the flu. It’s the Flu Shot Finder overlay for Google Maps. Just enter your location into Google Maps and it will give you a list of locations near your area that are offering the seasonal flu shot, the H1N1 flu vaccine, or both. While you have to call to get fee information, it does give you a convenient list that you can call down to compare prices and double-check availability. (Thanks to Search Engine Land for the heads up.)

Last year, Google also came up with a map to track flu trends by tracking how often flu symptoms were searched for in different geographic areas. This map, at, shows a country breakdown, and if you click on any particular country, you can also get a state by state, or region by region map. There is also an interesting graph showing the time of each year’s flu season.

Along with keeping an eye on the flu, Lifehacker has some good tips on protecting yourself against wasted money on heat. Along with a couple of more standard tips, the tip most interesting to me involves attaching bubble wrap to your windows in order to add pockets of air. This helps keep the cold out and the warm air you are paying for in. The other nice thing about this method is that , if you are like me, you have a lot of bubble wrap lying around from packages that are sent from on-line retailers.

Since some of those packages may be holiday gifts, it is time to remember that Black Friday and the holiday shopping season are coming. I plan on talking more about Black Friday as it approaches, but the first place to find out info about it is They’ll have early looks at all of the ad scans that they can get a hold of and can let you know about some great deals.

Do you have any TeCheap ways of getting ready for winter? Let me know in the comments.