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The Cheapskate's Guide to Computers and the Internet

Computers on Desk

You need not spend large amounts of cash for decent computers and reasonable Internet services. If you know how, you can get these cheaply. This site is dedicated to showing you how.

Core Articles

When Buying a Computer, More Knowledge Equals Lower Cost   9-20-18

It seems that very few consumers of computers understand this one simple rule: the more you know about computers, the less you pay for them... Read More

Why are there so many Lousy Laptops?   9-21-18

There are so many really, really, awful, horrible laptops (and desktops) around. The question is why? And what should you do as a result? ... Read More

Laptop Beauty is only Skin Deep, but Functionality goes all the way to the Bone   9-21-18

Many people like their laptops like they like their women: thin and beautiful. Not that there's anything wrong with that. But, as with many women, there are disadvantages to laptops that are thin and beautiful... Read More

Know what You Need Before You Buy a Computer   9-22-18

Knowing what you need before you buy a new computer may save you a substantial amount of money and will greatly improve your chances of getting the computer you really want. Now, you may be thinking, "Of course I know what kind of a computer I need!", but do you really? Is the computer you're thinking of buying really the one you need? Or is it just the one you want? ... Read More

Know What You're Buying Before You Buy a Computer   9-22-18

The better you understand any computer you're considering buying, the more money you'll save and the more satisfied you will be with your purchase. Most consumers of computers know little about what they're buying. The common result is that they experience significant buyer's remorse when they get their new computer home and discover that it is low quality, frustrating to use, and/or doesn't do everything they want. The way to not fall into this trap is to do your homework before you buy... Read More

Know a Quality Computer when You see It   9-24-18

Being able to identify a quality computer is an important skill to develop over a lifetime of computer buying. Unfortunately, it is also a difficult skill to develop. Fortunately, there are some key features of quality computers. Most of these are more important to look for in laptops, because desktop computers tend to stay put and have more replaceable components: ... Read More

Buy a Computer at the Knee of the Cost Versus Time Curve   9-24-18

If you can live without the newest computer, you can almost always find the best value by buying at the knee of the cost versus time curve. Time is the time since the technology first appeared on the market, and cost is the cost to you to buy that technology today. The knee of the curve is where the curve transitions sharply from looking more like a vertical line to looking more like a horizontal line. The reason you may want to buy there is that is where you can get a great deal while still getting a computer that is eminently useful... Read More

Why used Computers can be such Good Deals   9-24-18

You hear a lot of trepidation out on the Internet when the question of buying a used computer comes up. It seems that most articles don't recommend it. The fact is that you can easily make a mistake. But as you make yourself more knowledgeable, your risk goes down. The risk never goes away completely, but you can learn what to look for and what to avoid. But why risk it? The reason is simple, the right used computer can be a really great buy... Read More

How to get a Cheap Laptop   9-25-18

The first steps in successfully obtaining an inexpensive computer that you will be happy with are: 1) knowing what you need, 2) knowing what you're buying, and 3) knowing quality when you see it. This article takes the process from there to show you where to shop or how to otherwise legally acquire a cheap laptop... Read More

How to lower Your Monthly Internet Bill   9-25-18

These days consumers can find themselves in the position of paying exorbitant prices for bundled communications services, including Internet. This article tells you how you may be able to reduce your cost for monthly Internet service... Read More

Why You should Absolutely be using Linux!   9-26-18

These days, everyone should be using Linux! I know that isn't going to happen any time soon, but I just have to say it again. Everyone should be using Linux! Being a cheapskate, I can't help being in love with the Linux operating system--even though at times, it's a painful kind of love. Here's why... Read More

Most Recent Articles

19 of the Best Android Smartphones Under $100   1-23-20

Many consumers seem to be unaware that great smartphones can be purchased for far less than $1000. I am truly baffled by this. I don't know whether consumers are buying very expensive phones because they don't know any better, or... Read More

How to Host Your Own Decentralized Site for Free on ZeroNet   1-16-20

Several months ago, I explained how to host your website on a Raspberry Pi 3 computer for $2 a year. This article will explain how to host your site on ZeroNet for free. Hosting a site on ZeroNet is much easier than hosting a website on the Internet from a webserver in your physical possession. Hosting fees and domain name registration fees are not charged for ZeroNet sites. No one will ever charge you a penny... Read More

A Review of the FreedomBox Software   1-9-20

I recently came across some information about a device called the FreedomBox that is apparently supposed to enable a novice user (someone with no webserver or Linux experience) to run a web server from his home. I wanted to find out more, so I downloaded the FreedomBox software, installed it on a Raspberry Pi Model 3B computer, and tried to set up the webserver. Continue reading to see what happened... Read More

A Guide to Restoring Your Internet Freedom at School, at Work, and in Countries that Block Websites   1-2-20

The following post recently drew my attention. It highlights the problem individuals face in trying to retain their Internet freedom while under the thumb of an authoritarian organization or regime... Read More

The Best Ultra, Ultra, Ultra Budget Laptops to Buy in 2020   12-16-19

Since 2019 will end in a few days, I felt this would be an opportune time to be just a tiny bit critical of the many articles that will be written about the best laptops to buy in 2020. I'll do that by giving some recommendations of my own. However, instead of recommending laptops costing in the range of $350 to $2000, as nearly all the others will, my price range will be just a tad lower. I'll recommend the best laptops to buy for under $100, including shipping charges. Yes, obviously, these laptops will be used... Read More

The Problem of Long-Term Offline Data Storage for Consumers   12-12-19

Governments and large corporations recognize that long-term data storage is a problem without an easy solution. While they can afford to spend millions of dollars for data repositories buried inside mountains in the Arctic or for writing data onto quartz glass platters with femtosecond lasers, the average consumer is forced to take a cheaper approach... Read More

A Curated List of Online Forums   12-05-19

Thanks to the policies of Facebook, Reddit, and other giant online social networks and forums, smaller social networks and forums appear to be making a comeback. Whether due to political pressure, or as a result of efforts to maximize advertising profits, many large platforms silence users and refuse to acknowledge their desires for privacy or anonymity. Seemingly every month, new embarrassing revelations about Facebook's user-unfriendly policies feature prominently on major news organizations' websites. The result seems to be that some people are beginning to relocate to smaller, more relaxed platforms, where money and politics are less influential and a sense of community is more apparent... Read More

Sometimes Newer Technology is Not Better   11-28-19

Living in a technologically advancing society funded by capitalism means regularly being presented with new technological solutions to old problems. Sometimes these solutions are awesome. I would never replace my laptop with a typewriter. I can write with either, but laptops make writing so much easier and faster, once one has overcome the substantial learning curve. But often, newer solutions are not better... Read More

My Fantasy: A Cellphone I can Use as a Desktop Computer   11-21-19

I've been waiting ten years to buy a cellphone that I can use as a desktop computer (or laptop computer). Where is it?! ... Read More

Running a Small Website without Commercial Software or Hosting Services: Lessons Learned   11-14-19

Before I brought my first website on line last year, I read a lot of mediocre advice about website building. The problem with nearly everything I read was that it was geared toward creating and running a website using commercial software and a commercial website-hosting company. This advice would have lead me to build a website just like everyone else's--harvesting visitors' data, displaying the mandatory advertisements for the software I was using, and advertising for the hosting company as well. I wanted a personal platform for conveying information, not just another revenue stream for corporate America... Read More

Going Dark: Looking for the End of the Internet, Part 1   11-07-19

The title of this article is a play on words, because "the end of the Internet" can mean two things. I mean both. I'm looking for the undiscovered places at the edges of the Internet, and I'm looking and waiting with anticipation for what may replace the Internet--a next Internet, or next Internets. Perhaps, if it occurs, the next Internet will be what many now call "the darknet". Perhaps it will be something completely different... Read More

An Introduction to the I2P Distributed, Peer-to-Peer Network   10-31-19

I recently decided to foray onto the Invisible Internet Project (I2P) network and write about what I found there. The I2P network is a distributed, peer-to-peer network that allows users to interact with others via chat rooms, forums, and email. Users can also take advantage of various other I2P services: gaming, file sharing, search, and RSS aggregators. According to one survey, the I2P network has more than 140,000 users, with an average of about 25,000 actively connected at any given time... Read More

What I've Learned from My First Six Months on ZeroNet   10-24-19

I've been a daily user of ZeroNet now for 6 months. During that time, I've found it a delightful way of "meeting" (if only virtually) interesting people and discussing interesting ideas as well as many technical topics. I've communicated with other ZeroNet users from all over the world, and I've been able hear what they think and feel about the situations that are developing in their countries. ZeroNet is where I first learned of... Read More

Case Study 2: A Thrift Store Gateway KAV60 Laptop   10-17-19

A couple of weeks ago, I came across a Gateway KAV60 (LT2016u) laptop for sale in a local thrift store for $9. It turned out to be such a waste of $9 that I decided to make it a case study of what not to buy... Read More

What You can do with a 13-Year-Old Laptop   10-10-19

I think many people far under estimate the capabilities of old laptops. Based on experiences I've had with friends and relatives, and also based on what I've heard others say, I believe many consumers are still under the impression that they have to have a fairly new laptop with a core i3 to core i7 processor to do the things they want to do every day with their computers. When I go on line to see what others are doing with their old computers, I see some mentions of running Linux, but most articles discuss "recycling". In other words, they don't seem to think they can use old computers for what they're doing every day with their Windows 10 computers... Read More

Case Study 1: Repairing a Dell Latitude D400 Laptop   10-3-19

In the United States, we waste far too many old computers by giving in to the pressure to hand them over to "recyclers", companies that destroy computers and ship them to land-fills in third-world countries. Most of these computers are still useful, and many people who can't afford to pay several hundred dollars for a brand-new computer would like to have one. They may just have difficulty finding one for a good price, because we "recycle" so many of them... Read More

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