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The Cheapskate's Guide to Computers and the Internet

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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


Should You Buy a NAS? (5-20-19)

For those who may be unaware, NAS is an acronym that stands for Network Attached Storage device. A NAS is basically a low-powered computer with a large hard drive, or perhaps several large hard drives, that connects to a network, so that anyone on the network may have access to the files on the drive(s). This article addresses the advantages and disadvantages of owning a NAS, so that you may better understand if owning one may be worthwhile for you... Read More


The Digital Identity Problem (5-14-19)

The internet has been in widespread, world-wide use for more than twenty years, but we still lack adequate methods and systems for verifying the identities of individuals on line. Many experts have expressed their thoughts about the inadequacy of user-defined passwords for identity verification. They point out that users often create weak passwords. Users often lose passwords, requiring a backup system which is itself inherently less secure than a strong password and more prone to social engineering. And, users often use the same password on multiple accounts. Experts also point to numerous data breaches in recent years as proof of the lack of sufficient security around the protection of users' passwords on corporate and government servers... Read More


ZeroNet and the Future of the Internet (5-8-19)

Until recently, the conventional wisdom was that the internet is beyond the control of governments. How naive the conventional wisdom sometimes is. The thoughtlessness behind this position is beginning to be obvious to even the most naive as China becomes more successful at using it's "Great Firewall" to isolate its people from any website of which it does not approve and Russia experiments with "shutting down its internet connection"... Read More


Traveling with a Laptop (4-29-19)

For the past two-and-a-half years, I've been traveling a lot with my laptop. Having spent many hours on line researching the best approach, I can tell you that some of the advice I've found there is wrong... Read More


What will Happen when We Decide that Computers are just Devices to Access the Cloud? (4-23-19)

It is a sad fact of life that as a technology matures, enthusiasm for it wains. People stop being interested in understanding the technology and become simply "users" of it. In my opinion, this began happening with computer technology almost three decades ago... Read More


How to make Your Router More Secure on the Internet (4-15-19)

Many consumers are unaware of the critical importance of their routers in protecting them from internet threats. A router prevents hackers and bots from being able to see your computer from the internet. If a hacker can't see your computer, he can't hack your computer. Although router hacking is less common than computer hacking, it's prevalence is rising, because it is both harder to detect and harder to reverse... Read More


How to Buy a Laptop in 2019 that You will Likely still be Using in 2029 (4-8-19)

As I have written before, the laptop I use most these days was built in 2008. I bought it used on Ebay for $55 in early 2016, and I haven't had any significant trouble with it since. But, if I were to put aside my cheapskate tendencies and buy a new laptop in 2019, this article covers what I would be looking for as I shop... Read More


17 Months with My PirateBox (4-2-19)

I've now had my PirateBox up and running continuously for 17 months, so I think it's about time I wrote a review... Read More


How Powerful a CPU do You Really Need? (3-27-19)

For decades we have been conditioned by computer hardware and software vendors and computer salespeople to buy faster, more expensive CPU's than we really need. One of the conditioning techniques has been the incitement of fear through the threat of obsolescence. Although Moore's Law was true for decades, it is not true today. The good news is that since Moore's Law no longer holds, the threat of computer obsolescence is now a mostly an idle threat... Read More


Is Technoaddiction Real? (3-18-19)

I'm not sure there is an official definition for the word "technoaddiction", so I'll define it as a condition enabled by technology that is severe enough to cause a person to compulsively waste time and/or money to the point of significantly negatively impacting his life. That's a pretty broad definition, so I'll try to narrow it down for the purposes of this article... Read More


How to Avoid Internet Scams and Thieves (3-12-19)

A year or two ago, my brother-in-law's email account was stolen and used to ask his friends for money. Three years ago, my mother bought a mattress online, despite my warning, and had a very difficult time actually getting what she paid for. I believe it was only because she called her bank soon afterwards that she was able to get the bank to take action. These are just two of a vast number of anecdotes about scams that occur on the internet every day... Read More


Websites that Offer Free and Private Services (3-5-19)

By now, almost all of us have heard the saying about services provided over the internet, "If you don't have to pay for the product, you are the product." We know that usually means giving up information about ourselves that service providers can use to make money. They usually make money by selling our information to advertisers. For example, I think it's safe to say by now that most Gmail users know that Google reads their emails and sells the non-identifying information it finds to advertisers... Read More


A Quality, Multipurpose Laptop that is also Dirt-Cheap (2-28-19)

You don't need to spend a lot of money to get a useful, multipurpose laptop. Back in early 2016, I gave myself the challenge of finding the cheapest, usable, multipurpose laptop. Cheap means used. But I wasn't looking for any old piece of junk. I wanted a quality laptop, one that would last for at least a couple of more years. My requirements for a multipurpose laptop were... Read More


UEFI and why I Hate It so Much (2-22-19)

UEFI stands for Unified Extensible Firmware Interface. It is the standard for the firmware that plays the role that the BIOS (Basic Input/Output System) most often filled before about the year 2012 of interfacing your computer's operating system with it's firmware. Firmware is the "software" in the chips (or microcontrollers) that control each piece of hardware in your computer... Read More


Why I am Dropping Namecheap and am Seriously Considering Dropping Gmail (2-16-19)

Namecheap is my domain name registrar for my website, a situation which I am in the process of correcting. The problem with Namecheap is that when I travel, use a proxy service, or a VPN--anything that causes their computers to believe that I am in a different physical location--I can't access my account without a huge hassle... Read More


Alchemy, the Hundredth Anniversary of the Proton, and the Singularity Point (2-11-19)

The singularity point (also known a the infinity point) is the point where computers become more intelligent that human beings. Some say this will happen by the year 2045. Some say it will never happen. Elon Musk and Steven Hawking think it will bring about the end of mankind. I don't know what will ultimately happen to mankind and when, but I do know this isn't the first artificial intelligent "revolution" that we've been through... Read More


What Your Computer May Look Like in 2029 (2-5-19)

This is my vision of what computers could look like in the year 2029, because the technology most likely will be available to support it. But my vision may never see the light of day, because computer companies prioritize profits far above consumers' needs... Read More


What Happens to Recycled Computers? (1-28-19)

Several years ago, I volunteered for a day to help out at a thrift store run by the headquarters of a nationwide church organization. That day, in addition to the many carloads of other things donators provided, we accepted computers, monitors, and printers. Among the computers were five or six nice-looking laptops. I was told to take all the computer equipment and put it in a pile for the computer recyclers to pick up later. I was also told that the thrift store didn't really like people donating computer equipment, because it had to pay the computer recyclers to take it away... Read More


2019 Survey of Features You Want in Your Next Laptop (1-22-19)

I have some theories about how laptop manufacturers decide which features to incorporate into the laptops they design. Having some hard data could either support or refute my theories, but either way, hard data should be useful to help explain why laptop manufacturers make the decisions they do. I would imagine that I am not alone in wondering about this topic. So, if you would, please use the survey form below to tell me which features you would be willing to pay for, if you could find them, in your next laptop. After enough of you have responded, I will share the results in a later article... Read More


How to Create a Family Website (1-16-19)

My project for myself last week was to create a family website. Although I'd been considering it for years, I had never gotten around to it. Now that I have, I've found it to be an interesting challenge, both technically and socially. I've found the two biggest issues so far to be usability and security... Read More





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