Where to buy cheap yachts

In times of economic hardships, there are great deals to be had. Many people own yachts and other boats, and hardly ever use them. This is great news for you! Because of economic downturns, people no longer want to pay to have their boat tied to a dock every month, especially if they hardly ever use the boat.

If you really want to buy a boat at a reduced price, take a look at craigslist.com. There are many boats worth more than a hundred thousand dollars being sold for a mere twenty thousand dollars or less! Best of all, it seems like many of the boats for sale on craiglist.com also have a slip which comes with the boat. Of course, you will have to start paying slip fees every month, but you won’t have to worry about hunting and searching for a marina with a slip available. Best of all, it appears that many of the boats being sold on Craigslist come with liveaboard approved slips, which is great news if you are looking to live aboard your boat.

In short, if you buy a slightly used boat on Craigslist, you’re bound to save many tens of thousands of dollars. If you’re looking to buy a boat, this should be the first place you look.

Posted under Saving Money, Shopping

This post was written by admin on December 28, 2008

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AT&T Pay as you go phones cost more than you think!

This article is mainly about AT&T Go phones, but plans from other companies such as Verizon are very similar. Cell phone plans can be very expensive, and range anywhere from thirty to a hundred dollars a month. This is a lot of money, especially if you don’t talk on your phone very much. Why pay thirty dollars a month for a phone you only plan to use a couple days a month?

If you don’t talk on your phone much, you may have already looked into pay as you go phones, of simply Go Phones. Unfortunately, these phones can also cost you a fortune to use. First of all, there is a daily activation fee of one dollar for AT&T. This means that if you don’t use your phone for a particular day, you don’t get charged anything. This may seem nice, but there’s a catch which will be discussed later. Every day that you use the phone, you are automatically charged a dollar. And by ‘using the phone’ I mean it. If a telemarketer calls you, and you say ‘no thank you’ and hang up immediately, it’s too late. That two second phone call just cost you a dollar and ten cents. One dollar for the daily activation fee and ten cents for the two seconds…what a bargain.

10 cents for two seconds?

That’s right, everything is rounded up. AT&T advertises that they charge ten cents a minute, but in reality, everything is rounded up, and it really makes a difference. If you call someone and their phone is busy, each attempt will cost you another 10 cents even though you used the phone for less than a second. AT&T, Verizon and Cingular Wireless are exceptionally greedy companies that will do anything to take your money away from you. In short, phone calls are not pro-rated. Instead, they just round everything up and charge you as much as they possibly can.

Internet on a Go Phone

If you want to access the internet on a Go Phone, be prepared to pay a fortune for it. You will pay for both the length of time, and the amount of data downloaded. What’s worse is that the phone is intentionally designed so that the internet button is incredibly easy to press by accident. For example, if you want to see the list of missed calls, you could very easily press the internet button by accident. If you haven’t used your phone for a particular day, and accidentally hit the button right in the center of your phone, you just lost a dollar and ten cents.

Text messages

If you want to view or send text messages with your Go Phone, just forget about it because it’ll cost you a fortune. First of all, be prepared to receive hundreds and hundreds of spam text messages. These messages advertise anything from Viagra to high school diplomas. If you view a text message you just received and find out it was just a spam text message, that’s too bad for you. You just lost a dollar and ten cents.

Conclusion

AT&T has intentionally rigged their Go phones to steal as much money from their customers as possible. The interface to navigate the main menu is intentionally designed to trick people into accessing the internet. I’m going to go as far as to say that AT&T actively promote spam text messages as an effort to get people to check their messages and therefore give AT&T more money. The very fact that a two second phone call can cost a dollar and ten cents is proof enough that the Go phone just isn’t worth it.

How to save money on cell phones

Here’s what you can do to save some serious money. Figure out which of your friends use AT&T, and Verizon, etc. Then only give your number to people in your network. In network phone calls are free, and that’s the only practical way to use your Go phone without paying any money. You can either pay money hand over fist for erroneous and inflated fees, or you can carry two or even three phones and use them for free. It’s your choice.

Posted under Avoiding Fees, Saving Money, Shopping, Technology

This post was written by admin on December 27, 2008

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Jeff Paul’s Shortcuts to Internet Millions, a full review

If you’re reading this, chances are good that you’ve already seen Jeff Paul’s infomercial detailing his shortcuts to internet millions. If you haven’t seen it, just imagine two girls in bikinis interviewing people who claim to have made millions with Jeff Paul’s system.

The truth

The truth of the matter is that Jeff Paul’s Shortcuts to Internet Millions is a scam, plain and simple. You really shouldn’t believe anything you hear from the infomercial because the information is factually incorrect. Jeff Paul’s scam is fairly simple. Once you pay $50 for your package and shipping, you will quickly realize that the pamphlets sent to you contain useless information. No, you don’t get 10 free self-running websites as promised, nor do you get any method of generating any income whatsoever. The girls in the infomercial lied to you. At this point, they attempt to upsell you. They say that if you really want their self-running website kits, you have to pay thousands of dollars upfront. Not only that, but they can charge up to several hundred dollars a month, every month, just to run your websites.

The natural question is if these websites actually work, and generate real revenue. The answer is not really. The chances of you ever being able to make a penny from any of the websites they give you are probably less than one in a thousand. If you think you can beat those odds, then you should really be in a casino.

One interesting thing about Jeff Paul’s scam is that if you decide to cancel, that’s too bad for you. It is impossible to cancel your plan. You will not be able to receive any response via email, phone, fax, or mail. THE ONLY WAY TO CANCEL THE PROGRAM IS TO CANCEL YOUR CREDIT CARD. Jeff Paul is a really classy guy, I’m sure.

Posted under Avoiding Fees, Avoiding Scams, Making Money

This post was written by admin on December 23, 2008

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Roland HP-207 review

Roland is known for making high quality digital pianos, and the Roland HP-207 is certainly no exception. The Roland HP-207 is one of the most realistic digital pianos out there, with a price tag of about $3,600 -> $4,500 depending on where you buy it.

The Touch

The first thing I’m going to talk about is how the keys feel. First of all, the keys on the Roland HP-207 are textured to simulate ivory. Some people like it, other people don’t. Frankly, I’d prefer the keys to be smoothly textured. I just assumed the HP-207 I was playing in the store had dirty keys! But don’t worry, even if you don’t like it at first, you’ll get used to it.

An important feature of the HP-207 is the escapement feel of the keys. You know when you press a piano key down slowly; you feel a little notch toward the bottom? Well, apparently that’s called the escapement. The HP-207 is one of the extremely few pianos which have this, and it really adds to the realism. The escapement feel is one of the reasons I choose the HP-207, just because it makes playing the keyboard more realistic.

The last thing I’ll mention about the feel of the keys is the weight. All the keys are weighted appropriately, so the keys to the right weight more than the keys to the left. Few other keyboards do this, and it really makes a difference. The only problem I have with it is that the keys are all a bit too heavy. As a kid, I spent two months every summer, for seven summers at Intelochen, a camp for the fine arts. I can honestly tell you I’ve played more than two hours on over a hundred different pianos. Almost all of the pianos I have ever played take less effort to push the keys down. This isn’t a major problem, but it would certainly be nice if the keys were just a little lighter.

Sound Quality

On the first page, I talked about the quality of how the keyboard feels. Now it’s time to talk about how the keyboard actually sounds. The Roland HP-207 is equipped with stereo speakers, which are of decent quality. If you play high pitched sounds, you can expect to hear them more from the right side as you would on a real piano, which is nice. Before, when I said that the speakers are decent, that’s exactly what I meant. If you play the HP-207 with a good set of professional headphones, you can expect the sound quality to be *much* better. I almost always use headphones with my Roland HP-207 for that reason alone.

The Roland HP-207 comes with every instrument imaginable, but I’m going to focus on the three ones you want to hear about; the grand pianos. Roland sampled sounds from three different pianos, and that is what you get. The first piano sounds like a Steinway, and it’s definitely my favorite. You can configure how far up you want the lid of the virtual piano to be, you can configure the 3d effects, damper resonance, the sound of the hammer, and any other aspect of the piano you can think of. In short, you can effectively duplicate any piano you want to by tinkering around with all the settings. Frankly, the Grand Piano 1 sounds great in its default setting.

One last thing I’d like to mention is how they sampled the instruments. Roland did a really great job with sampling the pianos. If you press a key down very hard and very fast, the sound is much different than if you were to press a key with medium speed and force. Many digital pianos simply base the volume off of how fast the key is pressed down, but Roland uses a more sophisticated sampling technique for the HP-207.

Features

Aside from being able to configure the piano to sound any way you want, the Roland HP-207 is loaded with features. For example, you can plug a standard USB key into the keyboard, and record music and store it on the USB key, which is awesome. A lot of pianos still use floppy disks, which are old. Roland only guarantees that the piano will work with a special Roland USB key which is overpriced. I tried it with a normal, 4GB USB key, and it worked just fine. I would recommend you save a little money by NOT buying a Roland USB key. A cool thing about recording music is that you can play it back at a faster tempo, which I like a lot. Of course, the Roland can play MIDI files from the USB key as well. There are many features to split the keyboard into two if you want to have different instruments assigned to each half of the keyboard, or other similar situations like that. There is a metronome, but unfortunately I can’t find a way to turn the volume of the metronome down without turning the volume of the piano down. It’s not a major problem, but I’d love it if the metronome were quieter. Honestly, there are so many features on this piano I can’t name them all, nor do I even know them all. There aren’t very many buttons on the HP-207, but it almost certainly has all the features you need.

Other Details for the Roland HP-207

There are a couple improvements which could’ve been made. For example, the music stand is fairly flimsy. Normally, I’m used to breaking a music books back on the music stand of my old grand piano. The music stand on the Roland HP-207 is much too flimsy for this, and may actually break. The music stand is also not as tall as one might expect. If you want to use loose leaf sheets of music, you will probably have to put another book on the Roland to support the loose leaf sheet.

The piano comes with a music books with some surprisingly good classical and romantic masterpieces in it. So if you bought the piano but forgot your music, you’re sure to find something great in the Roland’s book. My only complaint is that the book is small, and uses very small notes. It’s difficult to read it!

The bench is typical of digital pianos, and that’s not a good thing. The height is not adjustable, and I’d love it if the bench were an inch shorter. Since almost all digital keyboards come with these types of benches, it’s perfectly normal, but very annoying.

As you can see in the photo above, the HP-207 is ideal if you don’t have a lot of spare space to place a piano. Like most other digital keyboards, the HP-207 is smaller than an upright piano.

Conclusion

Overall, the Roland HP-207 is an excellent digital piano. The piano is loaded with any features you can imagine, with special attention paid to the three main piano instruments. The sound quality is excellent with good headphones, and good with the built-in speakers. The keys feel much more realistic than many other digital pianos, which is one of this keyboard’s best strengths. If you are serious about playing piano, then the HP-207 may be the right piano for you. This piano and the price tag are clearly aimed towards people who are more serious about playing piano, so if you’re just planning on playing once in a while, you might want to consider a cheaper Roland model.

Posted under Shopping, Technology

This post was written by admin on December 16, 2008

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The Best and Worst Microcontroller Kits

Selecting the right microcontroller kit may seem like a daunting challenge, mainly because there are hundreds of kits to choose from. Here’s a list of the best and worst microcontroller kits to help you guide your way!

Microcontroller PIC

These 8 bit microcontrollers are by far the simplest and cheapest microcontrollers available. Being 8 bits, these microcontrollers aren’t very good at floating point arithmetic, but are good at many other tasks. You can even build an El Cheapo Programmer for these microcontrollers for a couple dollars, which is very cheap. Use these microcontrollers if you have a fairly simple project, and you don’t mind programming in assembly language. There is a C compile available, but that costs money. You can buy a microcontroller and make a programmer for less than twenty dollars.

Microcontroller PIC32

These microcontrollers are simply awesome. PIC32 microcontrollers have every interface you can imagine, including CAN, I2C, SPI, RS-232, and more. As a bonus, there are usually plenty of I/O pins to satisfy even the most complicated projects. Of course, being 32 bit helps out with floating point arithmetic.

MAKE Controller Kit

The MAKE controller kit is a decent microcontroller with plenty of I/O pins. The controller kit makes it easier to get access to all the pins on the chip by using easy access terminals. Many other microcontroller kits make it much more difficult to gain access to all the pins. The cost is about $110.

Thames & Kosmos

This microcontroller kit is for kids age 12 and up. Most websites sell these kits for $150, but I’ve found some websites which sell the kits for as low as $120. These kits are pretty expensive for what you get, but this is definitely the most kid friendly kit around. I would not recommend buying this kit if you a professional engineer.

BASIC Stamp Kit

Okay, I have to be honest about this one. In my opinion, the BASIC stamp kits aren’t very good. Stamps are very small, very simple microcontrollers, and you use the BASIC language to program them. Sure, they’re easy to program. Unfortunately, these microcontrollers seriously lack in features. If you’re doing a project which requires many I/O pins, or communicates over a bus protocol like I2C, I wouldn’t recommend a BASIC stamp kit. These kits are usually cheaper, but sometimes it’s better to pay a little more and get a decent microcontroller kit.

Posted under Saving Money, Shopping, Technology

This post was written by admin on December 13, 2008

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Use Rapidshare Plus 3.0 as your Rapidshare download manager

You can either download files from Rapidshare as a free user, or as a premium user. Of course, this is a blog about how to save money; so naturally, we’re going to focus on that.

Free users have to wait for a minute or two before being allowed to click the download button. After downloading a file, Rapidshare forces you to wait 15 minutes before starting the next download. If you are trying to download 20 or more files, it can take many hours!

After trying several Rapidshare clients, including Jdownloader and RapGet, it seemed like Rapidshare Plus 3.0 is the only program that actually works!

It’s incredibly simple to use. All you have to do is paste the links which you wish to download, and then click the start button. The process doesn’t require you to set up anything, and it worked first time, first try. Using Rapidshare Plus 3.0 to manage your Rapidshare downloads is useful, convenient, and free!

Find more info and download links for Rapidshare Plus 3.0 here

Posted under Saving Money, Technology

This post was written by admin on December 9, 2008

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The cost of going green with geothermal systems

The idea of saving the environment while saving money at the same time may sound appealing, but the truth is much more complicated than that. Today, I’m going to focus on geothermal systems for reducing heating and cooling costs.

What are geothermal systems, and how do they work?

Geothermal systems are generally used to reduce heating and cooling costs. Fairly deep underground, the temperature of the earth is very stable for any particular area. This means that if the soil twenty feet below your house is 60 degrees in the summer, it will also be 60 degrees in the winter. Geothermal systems basically run pipes deep beneath your home and pump water through the pipes. Water is commonly used to transfer heat from one place to another. In the summer, the water will be 60 degrees and can be used to cool your home.

Geothermal systems do generally decrease the bill drastically for air conditioning. You don’t need to run giant air conditioners to cool your home, because you can simply pump water through some pipes instead. However, the actual cost is enormous.

The true cost of geothermal systems

Sure, geothermal systems are environment friendly and use much less power than other air conditioning systems. But let’s look at the actual numbers for a minute. Geothermal systems can cost you anywhere from $30,000 to $50,000 depending on who you get the quote from. Does your air conditioning bill cost you thirty thousand dollars? The answer is no. It makes absolutely no financial sense to buy such an expensive system just so you can hope to save on your air conditioning bill in the future. Many people may think it is wise to invest now in something that will save money in the future, but the numbers just don’t add up for geothermal systems.

Don’t invest out of fear

Many people invest in such expensive systems for fear of what their heating and air conditioning bill will be in the future. What you spend on your heating bill today may not be what you spend on your heating bill ten years from now. Most people assume that the cost will always go up, but that is not necessarily true.

Don’t go into debt for green solutions

Most people don’t have thirty thousand dollars lying around, which forces them to take out a loan in order to buy a geothermal system. The cost of the loan would almost certainly offset any savings they would hope to get from the geothermal system. If you have a mortgage on your home, buying a geothermal system would essentially limit how fast you could finish your mortgage. The bottom line is that the actual cost of financing a geothermal system will probably be equal to or greater than the amount of money you save in heating and cooling bills.

Alternatives to geothermal heating and cooling solutions

The main alternative to geothermal heating and cooling solutions is common sense. That’s right, common sense. Turn your thermostat down a couple degrees in the winter, and up in the summer. If you don’t use all the rooms in your house, try using a space heater instead of a central heater. Alternatively, you can block the air vents to certain rooms and continue to use central heater. The bottom line is that there are a million things you can do to reduce your cost of living without having to buy an expensive ‘green’ solution. Remember, the reason green solutions are not standard on every home is generally because the cost of green solutions is enormous.

Posted under Saving Money, Technology

This post was written by admin on December 7, 2008

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