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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.

Most Recent Articles

Case Study 3: Using a Micro SD Card as the Hard Drive of a Dell Precision M20   2-27-20

I found a Dell Precision M20 at a local thrift store for $20 a few months ago. It seemed to be in good shape physically, but it was missing the hard drive and hard drive caddy. Most computers you find in thrift stores are missing parts. Some are completely gutted, like the Gateway KAV60 that became Case Study 2. Though the Precision M20 wasn't a great deal, I decided to buy it and take my chances on getting it working again... Read More

When It's Time to Buy a New Computer   2-20-20

We all have different computer needs, levels of patience, and budgetary constraints that affect our decision about the right time to buy a new computer. Sometimes buying a new computer only costs a little more than repairing the old one. Sometimes a decision is arrived at by weighing the monetary value of the time that will be saved with a new computer versus the money paid for it. Often, the decision comes down to a consideration of an individual's wants or needs versus the amount of money he can afford to spend... Read More

How to Make Superior Technological Choices   2-13-20

As our world comes to increasingly rely on new technological solutions to old problems, we experience both positive and negative results. In the 1970's, for example, the United States built nuclear power plants so quickly that energy companies had difficulty finding contractors with sufficient expertise and resources. Sometimes,... Read More

How to Save Money by Streamlining Your Streaming Budget   2-6-20

So, your daughter wants to watch "Chilling Adventures of Sabrina" on Netflix, your wife wants to watch "The Americans" on Amazon Prime, and you want to watch "Star Trek Discovery" on CBS All Access, but you can't afford to pay for all three streaming services? There's a way around having three, four, or five streaming service bills that you have to pay every month... Read More

How to Create an Onion Site Mirror of Your Lighttpd-Hosted Website   1-30-20

The BBC and Propublica now have onion site mirrors that allow visitors to anonymously read their news articles without being blocked or monitored by any government. For those who are not familiar with them, onion sites can only be accessed over The Onion Router (TOR) network via the TOR browser. The TOR network is an encrypted, anonymizing network that prevents user's IP addresses from being revealed to websites they visit on the clearnet (the regular Internet). The TOR network operates "on top of" the clearnet. While some news organizations may need onion addresses to reach readers in countries with totalitarian governments, for most of the rest of us running our own websites, having a website mirrored at an onion address is mostly about the "cool factor" of having an onion address... Read More

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 (Last Updated: 1-31-20)

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 (Last Updated: 2-18-20)

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 led 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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Buying a Computer
Cheaper Options for Consumers
Computer Repair
Core Articles
Decentralized Networks
Online Freedom and Free Speech
Online Services
Online Privacy
Computer Security
Seen on the Internet
Online Forums and Social Networks
Software and Operating Systems
Website Creation and Hosting

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