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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 reason you may want to buy there is that this 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

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 just can't find one as easily as they would be able to if we didn't "recycle" so many of them... Read More

The Basics of Repairing and Upgrading an Old Laptop Computer (9-26-19)

I strongly suspect the reason most people pass up great deals on used computers is that they're afraid of getting one that breaks soon after they buy it. While there is always that risk, in my mind, paying as little as 5-10% of the price of a new laptop for a used, yet functional and useful one, far outweighs the risk. So, I have decided to explain the basics of laptop computer repair and upgrade... Read More

How to get a Blazingly Fast Laptop for Under $200 (9-19-19)

If you have been reading my articles on this website, you know that I believe most people are paying far, far too much money for the computing power they're getting. This is most likely because consumers still have the mindset that they had before the death of Moore's law, sometime around 2005. Before that, they were forced to buy a new computer every few years to avoid obsolescence. Since Moore's Law is now dead, I have said repeatedly that from a cost-per-computing-power perspective, you are now far better off buying a used, quality business laptop than a new consumer laptop... Read More

The Best Internet Browsers for Old Computers (9-12-19)

This article is a continuation of the one I wrote last week, How to Surf the Internet on a 13-Year-Old Laptop. Based on my brief trials of 15 purported "light and fast" browsers, I will give my impressions of their speed and utility... Read More

How to Surf the Internet with a 13-Year-Old Laptop (9-6-19)

Many people falsely believe they need the latest and greatest computer to surf the internet. The truth is that, next to ISP bandwidth, software, not hardware, is what causes many consumers' computers to run slowly on the internet. To illustrate this, I decided to take an old, cheap computer, install fast, light-weight software, and see how well it surfs the internet. In this article, I'll present a comparison of the internet-surfing performance of this old laptop to that of my much faster core i7 laptop... Read More

A Discussion of the Major Operating Systems: Apple IOS, Android, MAC OS, Chrome OS, Windows, and Linux (8-30-19)

In the 1980's and 1990's computer manufacturers competed not just on the basis of hardware superiority but also by providing better software. Most millennials are likely too young to remember the computer operating system battles that began in the early-to-mid 1980's and ran until some time around the mid 1990's. That was back when Apple and Microsoft were duking it out over who would control the desktop computer market. During that period, essentially every competitor who sold a computer with a different operating system either went out of business or switched to Windows... Read More

How to Choose an Inexpensive, Multipurpose Laptop (8-22-19)

So, you want to buy an inexpensive laptop that will do everything well. Unfortunately, finding a laptop like this is not an easy task. Contrary to what you might expect, it seems that almost all multipurpose laptops on the market today suffer from being either too expensive or having a fatal flaw or two that prevents them from being able to perform well at everything you might reasonably expect them to be able to do... Read More

The Technologically-Challenged Internet User's Guide to Online Privacy (8-15-19)

When considering online privacy, many uninformed internet users ask the naive question, "I have nothing to hide, so why should I be concerned about my privacy?" There are many good reasons that honest, law-abiding citizens should be very concerned about their privacy.... Read More

A Death Certificate for Free Speech on the Centralized Internet (8-8-19)

I was prompted to write this article by the demise of the 8Chan website a few days ago and by the ensuing flight of some of its users to ZeroNet... Read More

Cellphones, Tablets, and Laptops with User-Replaceable Batteries that You can Buy New in 2019 (8-5-19)

Last week, I noticed that the battery was swelling in my Hauwei Union Y538 Android smartphone that I bought about 3 years ago for $20 at Best Buy. I went back to Best Buy to see if they had a replacement battery and was told that they no longer carry cellphone batteries. That didn't surprise me, because I knew that very few cellphones still have user-replaceable batteries... Read More

Sources of Free Online Entertainment (7-29-19)

The internet contains an astoundingly large collection of free entertainment. It comes in the form of movies, music, podcasts, documentaries, video clips, books, and more. This article provides links to some of the higher-quality free entertainment in each category... Read More

How to Fight against the Assault on Crytocurrency Privacy with OpenBazaar (7-23-19)

In 2008, when Satoshi Nakamoto published his paper Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System (pdf), he wanted to provide a system for privately transferring money directly between individuals via the internet, without involving a centralized third party, such as a bank. Those of us who understand the need for privacy, know there are many good reasons for demanding privacy. Today, the banks of developed countries have managed to successfully insert themselves into and eliminate privacy from nearly all cryptocurrency transactions... Read More

Android TV Boxes are Cheap for a Reason (7-15-19)

When it comes to Android TV boxes I'm somewhat ambivalent. On the one hand, having a small, inexpensive, dedicated device that sits on your TV that you can use to play games, listen to music, watch Netflix and recorded movie files, surf the internet, and install other applications onto is a great idea. On the other hand, the applications that come with Android TV boxes just don't seem to work very well... Read More

How to Access the Interplanetary File System (7-8-19)

The Interplanetary File System (IPFS) is a peer-to-peer, distributed computer network that can be accessed from the internet. Some might call it a new internet separate from the regular internet... Read More

The Next Internet (7-1-19)

Strong parallels can be drawn between today's open-source peer-to-peer networks (AKA decentralized networks) and the personal computer industry of the early 1980's... Read More

6 Reasons for Maintaining Anonymity in Your Online Social Networks (6-24-19)

In a recent conversation, some additional reasons for maintaining anonymity in our online social networking were pointed out to me. I had not seriously considered them, because I had not understood the degree to which some troubling problems have begun spreading surreptitiously through our western world... Read More

Cheaper Alternatives to Cellphones and Landline Phones (6-18-19)

Several options exist for those who would like to have cheaper telephone service... Read More

My Search for Alternative Social Networks (6-12-19)

Giant social network websites like Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, and Google Plus have some significant problems. One is that users have no real control over anything that happens there and, therefore, often zero recourse when they are treated unfairly. The way users are treated is completely at the whims of the companies that own these sites... Read More

The Cheapskate's Over-the-Air (OTA) DVR (6-6-19)

Because there is nothing like watching a TV program whenever you want, the DVR is the best invention since the VCR. I say that a bit tongue-in-cheek, because DVR's fulfill the same role as VCR's but are not as good for a number of reasons... Read More

Why You should Dump Your Bubble-jet Printer and Buy a Laser Printer (5-31-19)

Sometime in the late 1980's or early 1990's, daisy wheel printers went out of fashion and were replaced by bubble-jet printers. For the next twenty years or so, we couldn't get our hands on a daisy-wheel printer--except maybe at a thrift store, if we were lucky... Read More

Trump Trade War may Increase Cost of Your Next Computer, but It's Unlikely to be Made in US (5-24-19)

David, one of my fellow college students in the early to mid 1980's, was a unique individual, a free spirit, outgoing and outspoken. He liked to have fun, and he liked other people, and everyone I knew who knew him liked him. David worked his way through his first two and a half years of college looking through a microscope. He worked for Motorola quality control in one of their semiconductor fabrication plants (fabs) finding flaws in silicon wafers... Read More

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