Monday, July 30, 2007

Quality products

Whenever I go to buy something, I always have a debate with myself: is it worth it to buy a high quality (but VERY expensive) version of the product, or buy the lower quality (and sometimes dirt cheap) version? It's a complex question made even harder by the fact that some mid-grade brands try to pass themselves off as high-grade (Bose comes to mind, but are they even mid-grade?). Not that there is anything wrong with mid-grade (I buy plenty of mid-grade stuff... looking for the "best" at a price range I'm willing to swallow).

It involves balancing the overall price of the product, how long it will likely last, how frequently it will get used, and how good a job it will do.

A perfect example is cordless drills. I finally decided to go with a cheap one made in China because in order to get a cordless drill that is really worth having, you have to pony up quite a bit of money. Instead, I got the cheap one for the small projects and will get out my corded drill for the major ones.

Here's a list of some of the higher-end brands for things:
This could also expand into a list of things to beware of.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Fun stuff

Origami has always interested me. I think somewhere I have bookmarks for some sites, and I'm sure there are more - although perhaps not this serious.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Displaying data

There is so many ways to display data... just look at digg's cool tools for watching their stories. IBM has a tool for generalized data sets, it appears.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Savings: absolutely worth it!

Neat blog post about energy savings.
And for the machine I'm about to build: how about a high efficiency power supply? /.
Also need to investigate power savings in the form of ACPI for Linux.

"Deal sites":
  • digg discussion
  • moneysavingexpert (mostly UK stuff?)
  • xpBargain seems ok, but almost lists too much stuff. Same with techbargins
  • dealnews has decent categories
  • I like Spoofee's listings better, although maybe it lists too little. Need a happy medium
  • and of course, the kings, Fat wallet and Slick Deals (which has a better interface than FW)
General shopping sites I've found good deals at:
  • Typical: newegg/chiefValue,, tigerdirect, macmall
  • Smaller: 6thAve, J&R, Butterfly, Vann's, Crutchfield (during sales), Abt,,, (although beware of shipping delays that cause you to be ineligible for mail-in rebates), "Monitor outlet"
  • Hit or Miss: Abes
  • Beware: zoommania (lists things they don't have, and may not sell items unless you buy overpriced accessory packages) and Regal camera

And then we have savings as in money savings:
but be sure to check out the banks before you send them your money!
Speaking of saving money... Beware the planners.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Customer support

Digg has a link worth keeping to a useful site on how to actually get hold of someone for customer service.

The Internets

Speed testing:
  • Miranda arl speed test
  • same as web100 NDT at Stanford which lists several other speed test sites
  • A huge list is here.
  • Simple, but effective:
  • Speakeasy is just rebranded Speedtest
  • Note that it might be affected by window size - maybe try tuning window scaling (RFC 1323).
Cable modem info... worth knowing before calling the cable company about poor bandwidth:
  • DocsDiag - cable modem diagnostics - can grab current config (like speed ratings)
Domain hosting, in somewhat of a priority order:
  • Dotster
  • namecheap (reseller for ENOM, not a registrar?) Find discount code. Excellent reviews.
  • GoDaddy supposedly has excellent customer service, at least compared to:
  • 1and1 (fast cheap and reliable, but lots of reports of poor customer service)
  • yahoo
  • 777
  • / - use discount/coupon code ""
Also, .info domains are dirt cheap.

My current (RCA /Thomson DCM310) cable modem responds like all good modems should, to Example while connected:

Forward Path: Return Path:
Signal Acquired at 615.000 MHz Connection: Acquired
SNR: 34.0 dB Frequency: 36.0 MHz
Received Signal Strength: -13.4 dBmV Power Level: 50.5 dBmV
Micro-Reflections: 37 dBc Channel ID: 3
Modulation: 256 QAM Modulation: 16 QAM

Update: What if I need to get around a firewall that my cable company puts up? Wired has an article that is worth reading on that topic.