Cheap Computing

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April 13, 2014  7:41 PM

For Security Reasons, Perhaps We Should All Work Together in Offices



Posted by: Robin "Roblimo" Miller
cloud, data, Linux, malware, PC, server, storage

youhavebeenhackedA basic problem with working in “the cloud” is that we are sharing our work over the Internet, where the very act of sending and receiving data makes us vulnerable to security breaches such as HeartBleed. Since the cost of a data breach can be huge (ask anyone who works at Target), it is obviously a wise Cheap Computing maneuver to protect your data as much as possible. And once you decide to do that, you may decide Marissa Mayer was right, and we should work together in offices rather than in our homes or at other remote locations.
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April 7, 2014  5:56 PM

‘Cutting the cable TV Cord’ as Much as We Can



Posted by: Robin "Roblimo" Miller
free, software, video

cut-the-cordOur current cable, Internet and phone bill combo package from Brighthouse costs $150 a month. This is way too much for an older couple (us) living on Social Security and part-time freelance writing and video production. We need to, as they say, ‘cut the cord,’ and get along without cable TV. No problem. We can do that. But what about Internet? We *need* Internet service to make money — and besides, most of our non-cable TV entertainment (think Netflix) comes to us via the Internet. That means complete cord severance isn’t in the cards for us. :(
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March 31, 2014  7:10 PM

The Chromecast is Worth $35, but Won’t Change Your Life



Posted by: Robin "Roblimo" Miller
Android, buy, cloud, laptop, Mac, mobile, video, Windows

Chromecast-large I bought a Chromecast when they first came out in 2013, and ever since then I’ve been wondering what I should write about it. Finally I decided that yes, it’s worth $35, and it’s nice, but it’s not life-changing. It has changed the way we watch TV in one semi-important way, but that’s about it. So that’s what I’m writing about my Chromecast, along with one kind of cool business application I’ve found for it.
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March 24, 2014  6:00 PM

You Probably Don’t Need a New Computer



Posted by: Robin "Roblimo" Miller
Android, Apple, business, buy, laptop, Linux, mobile, server, storage, tablet, video, Windows, work

AcerLast week Acer sent me an email offering a touchscreen notebook for $299. With Windows 8, no less. I use my Android tablets as writing tools enough that, once in a while, when I’m using my old (Acer) notebook computer, I poke at the screen with a finger. Nothing happens of course — except my wife laughs at me. So for a mere $299 I could stop my wife’s laughter and have a brand-new notebook computer.
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March 17, 2014  4:19 PM

Attack of the Midnight Idea-Jotter



Posted by: Robin "Roblimo" Miller
Android, Apple, buy, enterprise, free, IT, laptop, Linux, office, PC, shipping, shopping, tablet, work

kb-handsI’m a midnight jotter. That is, I often have half-sentence ideas I put into my bedside tablet (it used to be a paper notepad) that don’t always work out as full-length blog posts but are worth a couple of sentences and maybe a link. So today’s post is two of those fragments strung together, starting with how retailers persist in committing suicide online.

I hurt my knee. This happens to us old people. My wife and I knew we had a cane around here somewhere, so we went looking for it. And we didn’t find it. I thought, “The heck with it. What did it cost? $10? $12? Did we get it at Walgreens? I think so. Let’s just go get another.”

Here’s three of the lowest-cost canes Walgreens sells: Lumex Folding Cane BlueMabis Men’s Traditional Wood Cane Walnut 1-inch – Nova Offset Cane in Maui Flowers.

Did you see the note, on the right side of each page, that says, Not Sold in Stores? Bummer. I can’t drive 2 miles to my closest Walgreens and buy one of these canes. I need to order it online, which means Walgreens has given away the biggest advantage they have over Amazon and other online vendors: Convenience. I mean… the whole *point* of checking Walgreens.com in this case is to see what they have for me in the local store. Sadly, what I learned is that the lowest-cost cane I can run up the street and buy from Walgreens is $24.95. Except, why would I buy it? I can get the kind of cane I want from Amazon for $10.19. Even with two-day shipping, it will only cost me $20.92. and I’m supposed to be in bed with my sore knee elevated for at least two days.

We’ve had this same experience over and over with electronic items ranging from USB cables to PCs. It’s irritating, isn’t it?

Enough of that. Let’s talk about tablet keyboards.

I have three of them, and I have come to the conclusion that a tiny keyboard *must* have a little bit of space between keys. I find that when I have the bit of space I make hardly any fumble-fingered mistakes, but when the keys butt up against each other I make lots of them. I’ve also found that even when you’re using a touch-screen device, it’s better to have a touchpad on your keyboard than to be poking at your screen all the time — especially if you start poking at the screen on your non-touch-screen laptop. That’s good for making my wife laugh, but seems to have little computing value.

keyboard

See the little spaces between the keys? They’re the key to a useful small keyboard.


March 9, 2014  11:34 PM

Falling in Love with Linux All Over Again



Posted by: Robin "Roblimo" Miller
Android, Apple, data, free, IT, laptop, Microsoft, software, Windows

LXDE logo

LXDE logo

Tra la la, tra la lee… the sky is blue and I’m skipping down the sidewalk, happy as can be. Except I’m not skipping anywhere, but sitting in front of my computer and loving the way it looks and acts with the LXDE desktop. Not Gnome, not KDE, not the newer default Ubuntu desktop environment, which I liked so little that I never found out its name. So I’m not falling in love with Linux as much as with a window manager or desktop environment — and one that can run “…on many Linux distributions including Debian, Fedora, OpenSUSE and Ubuntu. It is the standard for Knoppix and lubuntu. LXDE also runs on OpenSolaris and BSD. LXDE provides a fast desktop experience; connecting easily with applications in the cloud.”
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February 28, 2014  7:02 PM

Finally: The ‘Pocket Reporter’ is here. Yay!



Posted by: Robin "Roblimo" Miller
Android, buy, cloud, interview, mobile, recording, software, video

Irig handheldI’m writing this on my new ‘pocket reporter,’ which consists of my Samsung Victory (Android) phone, a tiny add-on directional mic, earbuds, a flexible tripod that doubles as a handle when doing hand-held work, and an external keyboard that isn’t as big as even a small laptop keyboard, but is way better than the on-screen keyboards on most cell phones or tablets. And the mic you see pictured to the left of this paragraph is one of my big “cell phone video” secrets, because it gives me far better audio than I get with my cell phone’s internal mic. And one other thing to notice: the iRig mics I’m using have output ports so you can plug in your headset or earbuds and monitor audio recording quality in real time.
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February 21, 2014  7:54 PM

Operating Systems Get Less Important Every Day



Posted by: Robin "Roblimo" Miller
Android, backup, buy, enterprise, FOSS, iOS, laptop, LibreOffice, Linux, office, shopping, software, storage, tablet, Windows

allOSLast month I posted this article: Cross-Platform Applications Save Time, Therefore Money. This month, let’s ask a related question: “If we use the same programs in all the operating systems we own, does it still matter which operating system we use?” My answer: “Your operating system choice matters less every day.”
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February 17, 2014  10:23 PM

Sadly Watching Sears Commit Suicide On the Internet



Posted by: Robin "Roblimo" Miller
Android, audio, business, buy, customer service, enterprise, location, online, sale, shipping, shopping, tablet

Sears_Outlet_-_05-11-2011
Sears has never been known as a discount store, but they’ve generally offered decent values on things like tools, work clothes, tires, and appliances. And sales? Sears on sale has always been hard to beat. And now they have SearsOutlet.com online, which has some suprising values — if you’re in the right place at the right time, and have a bunch of patience, because buying from the SearsOutlet.com site can be an exercise in frustration.
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February 7, 2014  10:32 PM

Why I Went Back to a Hewlett Packard Inkjet Printer



Posted by: Robin "Roblimo" Miller
Android, Apple, buy, Linux, Mac, office, PC, shopping, Windows, work

637-3035_PI_TPS2018880Many friends have told me I should buy a laser printer for my home office because it would cost a lot less per sheet to use than an inkjet. My response has always been, “I have a nearly paperless office, which means I don’t do enough printing that ink costs really matter to me.” So I keep using inkjet printers. I’ve tried many makes over the years, but I am back to Hewlett Packard, who made my first inkjet printer.
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