When The Pumpkins Roll Out

Mere nanoseconds after Hallowe’en, the holiday shopping season looms.For gifts or yourself, herewith a few shopping, safety, and money-saving tips. 
 
Irony, thy name is Pencil.
Apple’s new iPad Pro is a drool-worthy tool for those in the visual arts, design, or marketing; adding the hilariously-named Pencil (a remarkable $99 piece of technology in a white plastic tube) makes it utterly seductive (fun demo here). For the rest of us, it's a huge, very expensive, very fast and powerful tablet that almost replaces a laptop if you also buy its detachable keyboard ($169) and a cover ($59+). Minimum total cost, north of $1,000.
 
Meanwhile, at the other end of the Amazon
For the price of the cheapest iPad Pro, on the other hand, you could buy NINETEEN of Amazon’s most basic Kindle Fires—a small, light, perfectly adequate color tablet on which you can read books, watch video, email, surf the web—pretty much anything except use Apple’s content. Practically stocking-stuffer prices, and look for even better discounts in the countdown to Black Friday; many deals have started already.

Amazon Prime subscribers with ANY tablet, by the way, can download some video content free for offline viewing. Load up on episodes of your favorite series before you board a flight and you won’t mind the middle seat as much. 
 
Couch Potato Heaven
In the ongoing battle for your TV viewing, Apple and Roku both have fancy new devices out. Tough choice; CNET does a terrific comparison in this video review.
If you're a big consumer of iTunes music and video, by the way, or you'd like to gift them, note that iTunes gift card packs are discounted at Costco and Sam’s Club; you can even buy them online.
 
Blasted Cell Phone Bill
There’s been some recent uproar about changes to iOS that may have caused your data use (and your cell phone bill) to climb. This well-written article walks you through a bunch of tips to keep your bill from spiraling out of control.

And if you are an ATT customer with an iPhone 6 or later, you now have the option to turn on WiFi calling, which should help keep your voice minutes usage down. Info here.  
 
Safety tip
Buying a new phone, or getting tech support at a store? Never, EVER give passwords to the nice salesperson to enter for you: type them in yourself, even if it takes longer and feels awkward to do so. They’re probably honest and trustworthy, but it’s not worth the risk.
 
And in Honor of Thanksgiving
"One of Google’s [self-driving] cars once encountered a woman in a wheelchair, armed with a broom, chasing a turkey. Seriously. Unsurprisingly, this was a first for the car. So the car did what a good human driver would have done. It slowed down. . . and let the situation play out. Then it went along its way. Unlike a human, though, it did not make a video and post it on Instagram." --Alex Davies, Wired.com, 10/5/15