Black Friday Online Deals, Coupons and Specials

I love the deals offered in stores on Black Friday, but I absolutely despise the required trip to the store to get the massive discounts. It seems like you either have to be waiting outside the door at 4am or plan on the stuff you really want being sold out when you get there. Then there’s the issue of parking and fighting through the crowds of other people who are all chasing the same deals you are. Fortunately digital downloads don’t suffer from any of these problems. You can still get great Black Friday deals on software without having to venture out into the battleground of shopping madness.
Below is a collection of software specials I tracked down, including a few for those of you who are Mac users. These deals expire next week, so be sure to act immediately if you want the savings.

50% Off Specials

50% discount on all Uniblue products! Uniblue makes several system tweaking utilities designed to improve performance, prevent crashes and keep things running smoothly. SpeedUpMyPC, Registry Booster and WinTasks 5 Pro are the most popular Uniblue apps. All of their apps are 50% off if you use coupon code THKUN50%.
50% Discount on Dragon Naturally Speaking 9 You must use Coupon Code BLKDRG07 to get the discount. While I still find voice recognition less than perfect, Dragon NaturallySpeaking is the one app I’ve found worth using. Dragon NaturallySpeaking Standard is an effective way to talk emails, documents, and instant messages, without ever having to touch your keyboard. With some practice, it’s a great way to give your wrists a break if you frequently type.
50% discount on PDF Converter Professional 4 using Coupon Code BLKPDF07. ScanSoft PDF Converter Professional 4 is a complete PDF solution including support for creating, editing, and conversion documents to PDF format. It’s far cheaper than Adobe Acrobat and includes a couple of cool features like instant conversion of PDFs to interactive forms and the ability to convert PDF text to speech. This is the only real competitor I’ve found to Acrobat because it easily supports adding links and embedding images.

Multimedia Software

Get a FREE copy of Roxio Buzz ($19.99) with a purchase of Easy Media Creator 10. I believe this also still qualifies for an additional $20 Rebate on Easy Media Creator.
Or if you don’t need Roxio Buzz, there also the option to SAVE $50 when you buy Roxio’s EMC 10 and Back On Track 3 Suite Together.
23% discount on Pinnacle Studio Ultimate 11 using Coupon Code STUDIOULTBF. Pinnacle Studio Ultimate is one of the two video editing apps I use almost every day. The ulitmate version is definitely worth the additional features.

System Tools and Utilities

30% Off Registry Mechanic 7 – This continues to be one of the tools I use to avoid frequent operating system installs due to installing and uninstalling many applications.
25% off Webroot Childsafe for up to 3 computers. While the best way to supervise your kid’s computer use is to actually be there while their online, you can’t always catch everything. Childsafe does a great job of blocking objectionable sites, without making it impossible to navigate to legitimate sites. You can also get monitoring of your child’s Internet activity.
ACDSee has 4 different offers possibly the best of which is 2 copies of ACDSee 10 and a 1GB SD memory card. ACDSee has been making great imaging tools for as long as I can remember. These four Web specials are a great way to upgrade to new versions or add some useful tools to your sweet of photo apps.

Antivirus and Antispyware

30% Off Spyware Doctor which is arguably the most accurate spyware defense available. The freeware tools simply don’t keep up with the number of online threats and Spyware Doctor is consistently rated near the top by all reviewers.
25% Off Webroot AntiVirus with AntiSpyware and Firewall. If you aren’t currently running an AntiVirus application, you should be.
20% off Internet Security Pro from Trend Micro. This is among the most comprehensive security suites available.

Mac Special Offers

Buy Toast 8 Titanium and Get 3 Menu Style Packs for only $9.99 ($50 savings). Toast has long been the CD and DVD burning app I recommend for Mac users. It also includes a great tool for converting analog audio to digital formats.
$10 Off Parallels Desktop Parallels is a great solution for running Windows on your Mac hardware.
Save 30%! on Norton Internet Security 3.0 for Mac using coupon code BFNISM. I’m not entirely convinced Mac users need AntiVirus protection, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. This suite includes Norton AntiVirus, Firewall, Privacy Control and Alladin iClean.
If you don’t need the full Norton suite, you can still Save $5 on Norton AntiVirus 10.0 for Mac OS.

Top 10 Articles for 2006

Every year about this time I take a look at some of the most popular articles of the past year. A few of the top 10 were written in 2005, but remain among the most popular for 2006. My photo comparison of an iPod and Zune came in at #1 for the year in spite of having only 2 months to generate interest.
1) The Zune and iPod Photo Comparison remains one of the more popular posts. I’m hopeful Microsoft will announce something cool like the ability to share video downloads from Xbox Live Video Marketplace with your Zune to actually differentiate the Zune from other players. As it stands, the wireless sharing feature they tout so highly hasn’t shown much interest. I’ve never been anywhere to see another Zune in range. A friend of mine ran into another Zune owner in a public place, asked him if he could share a song, and ultimately freaked the guy out because he thought he might get a virus.
2) How to Copy Songs from Your iPod to Windows remains a popular topic. Third-party software remains the easiest way to accomplish this task.
3) How to Change the Windows XP Boot Screen is one of those customizations everyone wants to try at least once.
4)If you want to Sync Your iPod with Windows Media Player 10 (or now Windows Media Player 11) you need third party software to make it work.
5)Easy DivX to Xbox 360 Streaming is still a bit elusive. I think the Zune software makes this easier, even if you don’t have a Zune, but the best experience for all media sharing with an Xbox 360 remains via Windows Media Center Edition.
6)How to Play RMVB Files is a question on many minds. This format is growing in popularity thanks to open source Helix project. While many people in the U.S. continue to have mistrust for RealNetworks, people outside the U.S. are finding thier file formats to be among the most efficient.
7)How to Convert RMVB Files is closely related to How to Play RMVB.
8)Convert Movies for your Sony PSP remains a question on many minds. I wrote this article ages ago. The method I describe for converting PAL DVDs for PC Playback is easier for all DVDs at this point, but the PSP article has been around longer and remains more popular.
9)Easy Xbox 360 Wireless Networking is something we all need. It’s easy enough to put an Xbox 360 on your wireless network. The real trick is to have enough bandwidth to stream files to the Xbox 360 while performing other wireless tasks throughout the house.
10)How to Sync Google Calendar with Outlook is one of my personal favorite finds for the year. CompanionLink for Google Calendar is a better solution than the original free method I described.

Friends and Neighbors

Big news in Western Washington during December was the massive windstorm that wiped out power for hundreds of thousands of residents. Fallen trees accounted for many of the outages. In the early morning hours of 15 December 2006, a tree from the house to our West completely uprooted and fell on our power, cable and telephone lines, barely missing direct impact with our car. As this was an isolated incident, not a blown transformer, it received low priority causing power to remain off until sometime on 20 December 2006. Initially, the car couldn’t be moved because it was surrounded by fallen power lines, further complicating the situation.
I was lucky enough to miss out on this power outage while working on a project in Mountain View, CA. My family was not so lucky, enduring several days of relying on a decorative fireplace as the primary source of heat. Hotels weren’t an option – the only one vacancy I could find online turned out to be a hotel that went out of business. Fortunately we have some great friends and neighbors who came to the rescue.
Shortly after the outage, my good friend Bre checked in on Robin to make sure she and Wyatt were okay. The neighbors to our East were kind enough to run a heavy duty extension cord from their house to ours, allowing Robin to use a space heater in addition to the largely useless fireplace. The neighbors also kindly accommodated with access to a warm shower. These were both welcomed gestures making things more manageable in an otherwise difficult time.
In checking in on a few of my Seattle friends, it seems that power was a hit or miss commodity around the city. Chris and Ponzi were both initially without power in Issaquah, but were lucky enough to have a gas stove and fireplaces that remained functional throughout. After they got their power back in Issaquah, Chris and Ponzi welcomed Robin and Wyatt into their home, providing the first warm night’s sleep in several days.
Now that power is restored, I’m looking at ways to have a better backup plan for the house, including a generator to power heat for the home when the utilities fail. Hopefully we won’t have another massive outage like this one anytime soon, but I’d rather be better prepared next time. Batteries of various kinds are great for short term solutions, but just aren’t up to the task. In the meantime, it’s great to have friends we can count on in a crisis.