Archive for the ‘Inbox Questions’ Category

Starwood 15,000 Points Promo Posts Fast!

July 26, 2007

From my inbox:

So I caved in and switched to the starwood card (The 20,000 point tickets to Brazil was the deal sealer for me, I can flip that for $$$$)
Card came a couple weeks ago and I spent $25,000 on it already.
Just checked my starwood balance and there is over 52,000 points sitting there!
10,000 for opening the card
2,500 for an additional card
15,000 for the 15,000 bonus
25,000 for base spend

You have made a convert of me!

Glad to hear it-and it’s good to know that the 15,000 starpoints post so quickly.
Don’t forget that once you spend $30,000 you’ll be upgraded to Starwood Gold Elite Status-Enjoy!

Reader Request: Brazilian Cell Phone Info!

June 26, 2007

Anon asked in a comment,
“Dan – quick question…
being that you are the Brazil maven…
I’m going to brazil this week for a wedding and I need a cell phone…
what’s my best bet?
Sterling electronics does not have rentals for brazil and I currently have a Sprint phone (no sim card)
any ideas?
thanks for your help!”

First of all, I’ll make the presumption that you are going to Brazil for the Slonim wedding-if so please send my regards to the family, especially Levi and Yehuda…

Photo: Yehuda Slonim(L) and I at the Lag Ba’omer Parade in S. Paulo, Brazil. Photo taken by Levi Slonim.

While there is CDMA service in Brazil with Vivo, they won’t activate your Sprint phone.

You have a couple options.

Option 1:
If you just want to be able to speak with one person back home then just sign up 2 phones for Nextel’s unlimited international direct connect plan.
They have a free 30-day trial, and you can talk to each other for as long as you’d like with the push of a button.

I thank G-d that I brought one with me during my past trip-and I wouldn’t go back to Brazil without one.

Option 2:
If you need to speak to multiple people in the US who don’t have Nextel you will need to buy (or borrow from someone) an unlocked world phone.
The reason that you need a world phone is because the GSM bands that we use here are different than in the rest of the world.
A regular unlocked phone in the US will only work on 850/1900 bands.
In Brazil they use the 1800 band of GSM service.
You can check which bands a phone has by searching the model number on a website like
You can check if a phone is unlocked by sticking in 2 different companies’ SIM cards and seeing if the phone works.

The cheapest company to sign up with is TIM.
They have stores in every shopping mall in Brazil.
The sim card is 19 Reais(about US$10) and includes R$5 of talk time.

To make international calls you will need a “cartão internacional,” an international calling card.

You can pick a card up at most of the newspaper/magazine stands that line the streets.

The calling card will cost between R$25-R$50.
The card will have 2 access numbers on it.
One is an 0-800 number, which is toll free.
When you use this number it will not cost any cell minutes, but it will cost a lot more card minutes.
To call to the US with the 0-800 number will probably be about R$1.50/minute.

Here is a link, in Portuguese, for a good international calling card:

The local access number will allow to talk to the US for very cheap-about R$0.09/minute, but you will need to buy an additional TIM recharge card for more cell minutes.

You can pick up TIM recharge cards at most of the newspaper/magazine stands, cards come in denominations from R$10-R$100, and local minutes are about R$1.30

Also incoming calls-even from the US are always free with TIM!

Hope this helps…

If you need more info, feel free to email me, and I can hook you up with some of my amigos brasileiros, who would be more than happy to take to you around town and help you out!
Also don’t miss out on some of the amazing restaurant deals you can get down there! (But don’t try smuggling back kosher mcdonalds stuff either)

Have a safe trip-Boa Viagem!

Reader Request: SD Cards!

April 25, 2007

Zak asked in a comment,
“Im leaving on birthright in a month, and staying the whole summer, and I need a second 2gig SD card. If you could find me one within a week or two that’d be swell.”

Hey Zak, enjoy Israel-I’m jealous of you!!!
Having a couple of high capacity memory cards is definitely the best way to go on a vacation!
I always take tons of pictures and then turn them into a beautiful photo book(which is so much nicer than having a bunch of loose photographs, or worse, having a bunch of digital files left on your hard drive that nobody will ever get to see) thanks to Shutterfly!

Here are a few good options, most of the best deals I found are from so you can save $10 if you open a new google checkout account, or save $5 off $50 for opening a new account

Option 1:
This will be just $12.95, but it requires a $22 Rebate:
2 GB SD Card Linky
$22 Rebate Linky(Limit:2)

Option 2:
This card is just $18.38, but you’ll need to get 2 of them, or add some other stuff to get free shipping if you aren’t prime.
2 GB SD Card Linky

Option 3:
This is a 2GB SD card for $19.95 shipped-no rebate to worry about!
2 GB SD Card Linky

Option 4:
Want a really big card? Here’s a 4GB SD card for just $32.99 shipped-no rebates!
4 GB SD Card Linky