Cheap Computing

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November 21, 2013  6:49 PM

The Best Linux Certification Exam Value

Robin Robin "Roblimo" Miller Profile: Robin "Roblimo" Miller

lpiRed Hat Certifications are the Gold Standard among Linux certifications. The problem with them is, unless your employer is paying, taking them can suck up all of your gold, and then some. There’s always the age-old question of whether certifications are worth having at all, but let’s assume for a moment they are. In that case, and assuming limited personal funds, I recommend Linux Professional Institute (LPI) certifications.
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November 14, 2013  12:17 AM

Why Tablets are Replacing Notebook Computers

Robin Robin "Roblimo" Miller Profile: Robin "Roblimo" Miller

acer I use two computing devices most of the time: a big old desktop PC for video capture and editing, and an Android phone for mobile web-browsing, checking email on the go, and as an electronic replacement for the paperback books I used to carry with me nearly every place I went. Now and then I carry a sub-notebook with an 11″ screen. But what would I do if I decided to replace my little notebook? I’d probably get a tablet. As will my daughter Katina, who needs to replace the now-broken laptop they’ve been using to run her husband’s business when they work from home instead from their office.
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November 7, 2013  2:39 AM

Good-Bye, Single-Model Cell Phone ‘Extended Life’ Batteries

Robin Robin "Roblimo" Miller Profile: Robin "Roblimo" Miller

IMGA0005I had an HTC phone that was pretty good, except for short battery life. Solution? An ‘extended life’ oversized battery for it, along with a humped battery cover. Life was good — until that phone broke and I got a SAMSUNG GALAXY VICTORY™ 4G LTE as a warranty replacement. The Samsung was a better phone in almost every way. The only problem was that my extended life batteries for the HTC phone were suddenly useless. But I will not have this problem again because I have found something better than ‘extended life’ batteries that only fit one phone make and model.
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October 28, 2013  2:22 PM

The eBooks are Too Damn High

Robin Robin "Roblimo" Miller Profile: Robin "Roblimo" Miller

ebook tabletYes, I’m ripping off New York activist/candidate Jimmy McMillan’s famous line, “The Rent is Too Damn High.” Mind you, I agree with Jimmy and love him. But I am also an eBook junkie, and I am telling you, the price for eBooks is too damn high. Music vendors learned that the best way to keep people from stealing their products online was to make it cheap and easy to buy them. The movie business has also learned this lesson. Why can’t book publishers learn it, too?
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October 23, 2013  9:51 PM

Making a Smartphone Into a Useful Camcorder

Robin Robin "Roblimo" Miller Profile: Robin "Roblimo" Miller

phone-holder cheapie

I have just gotten a new cell phone, courtesy of Virgin Mobile. It’s a SAMSUNG GALAXY VICTORY™ 4G LTE. My old “good enough” phone, an HTC EVO 3D, committed suicide by throwing itself onto the floor, so Virgin sent me the Samsung as a warranty replacement. I intend to use my new smartphone as a “rough and ready” camcorder, too. I have a serious Panasonic video camera, and a serious Canon, both with good shotgun mics mounted on them, but there are times when I want to take a video shot but don’t have them with me. That means I need low-cost, easily-carried accessories that can turn my pocket-sized smartphone into a passable camcorder. And they need to be cheap. (After all, the title of this blog is Cheap Computing.)
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October 17, 2013  9:28 PM

The Magical Mystery Switch All Your Electronic Devices Should Have

Robin Robin "Roblimo" Miller Profile: Robin "Roblimo" Miller

TzeenieWheenie_Power_On_Off_Switch_red_2The other day a young friend was telling me how her cell phone had become annoying. “Someone is always calling me or sending we a text or something,” she said. How awful! Getting bothered 24 hours a day, every day of the week. “How about turning your phone off when you don’t want to be disturbed?” I asked. “But won’t I miss calls?” she asked. “No,” I said. “People who have something important to say will leave a message. And texts will be in the system and will appear when you turn your phone back on.” The girl looked puzzled. “Yes,” I said. “The off switch is possibly the most valuable control you have on any electronic device. Use it wisely and often, and you and your devices will be happier and will probably live longer.” I couldn’t help adding, “Yes, if you turn your electronics off when you are not using them, both they and you will live long and prosper.”
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October 9, 2013  3:50 PM

Video Editing in Linux: Not Quite Ready for Professional Use

Robin Robin "Roblimo" Miller Profile: Robin "Roblimo" Miller

imagesI spend a lot of my time making and editing videos, and video work currently generates a majority of my earned income. I also prefer Linux to Windows or Mac, and generally back FOSS as both a philosophical concept and as an efficient way to develop software. So I find it a constant source of frustration that, at least for my purposes, there is still no good professional-level video editing software for Linux.
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September 27, 2013  11:13 PM

Two Cheap Phone Deals — From Best Buy, of All Places

Robin Robin "Roblimo" Miller Profile: Robin "Roblimo" Miller

logoMy last post was titled Goodbye, Contract Cell Phone Plans. It was about the joys of prepaid cellular service, and how it saved me all kinds of money. About four hours after I uploaded that post, my HTC phone died. A snickery person might say it died because someone dropped it onto a hard floor while standing on a ladder, but I was the only person in the room so that’s not possible. Or is it? (Blush.) In any case, Virgin Mobile is replacing it under warranty. Sadly, since my particular phone model is backlogged right now, that’s going to take a week or two. Despair? No way! I found a “good enough” Kyocera Event phone on Virgin’s website for $49.95, and almost ordered it. But my Cheap Computing instincts kicked in before I did, so I shopped around for that model phone. And I found it for $39.95. All right!
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September 24, 2013  10:51 PM

Goodbye, Contract Cell Phone Plans

Robin Robin "Roblimo" Miller Profile: Robin "Roblimo" Miller

motorola_bagMy first cell phone cost nearly $1000 and air time was $1/minute, with a minimum of $200 per month on a two-year contract. But I owned a limousine service, and that was better than having an answering service handle my calls. Then, like everyone else, I got a phone that was included with my carrier’s airtime plan — which cost $150 for unlimited use. Before long — Glory Be! — I found a carrier that didn’t charge for the first minute of incoming calls, which dropped my cellular bill below $99/month for the first time. Now I pay $35 per month for unlimited data and texts and five hours of talk, which is more than I ever use. And my phone plays music and movies, and I use it to read books more than for any other purpose. Talk about Cheap Computing! My $150 smarty-pants phone both computes and is cheap. And it does everything I need and then some.
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September 16, 2013  12:01 AM

More Video Teleconferencing Advice

Robin Robin "Roblimo" Miller Profile: Robin "Roblimo" Miller

logitech-b910-hd-webcamBack in January I wrote a post titled Nine Free and Easy Ways to Look Your Best in a Video Interview or Chat. In that piece I talked about simple things you could do (like smile, which most people don’t) to look your best on camera. Today I’m going to talk about why you may need a webcam better than the minimum-quality one I talked up in the “Nine Ways” post. And I’ll tall you why I no longer use Skype for remote interviews.
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