Is the NVIDIA ION platform worth it for home theater PCs?

There has been a lot of buzz around nVidia’s ION platform, and the central question being addressed in this post is simple. Is the nVidia ION platform really worth the money? If you’re planning on building or buying a media PC for a home theater, then the simple answer is yes.

What is nVidia ION?

The nVidia ION platform consists of an nVidia chipset which is connected to Intel’s Atom processor. The Atom is a very small processor that is not powerful enough to display any sort of decent graphics or video. In short, the Intel Atom processor lacks the ability to play video, making it seemingly worthless for home theater PCs. Luckily for Intel, nVidia’s chipset saves the Atom processor by making it useful for home theater computers. The ION chipset contains a graphics processing core which is more than capable of displaying flawless high definition, video. 720p, 1080p, everything plays flawlessly with the nVidia’s ION chipset because it can do the complex and computationally intensive task of displaying high definition video. Of course, the ION platform is fully capable of outputting with a regular DVI or HDMI connector, making it ideal for connecting it to your television. Without the ION chipset, you can not connect an HDMI connector to a computer with an Intel Atom processor. Period. Intel’s default chipset is extremely primitive when compared to the ION.

Other advantages

Aside from being able to flawlessly play HD content with the ION chipset, there are other advantages as well. The ION uses about the same amount of power on average as Intel’s default chipset. This means you aren’t going to need any additional fans or any noisy components in order to keep the computer cool. The ION is also advanced enough to enable playing 2d and 3d games on your computer. Intel’s chipset for the Atom processor is simply too primitive to play any sort of modern game. Having said that, please keep in mind that the ION is not, and is not meant to be, a high end gaming solution, but it can play most modern games at reasonable settings.

The cost

This blog is about saving money, so what sort of cost will the ION add to any computer? Reports have been claiming that the addition of the ION graphics processor will add approximately 50 dollars to the total cost of the system. This is actually pretty reasonable considering that it allows you to play and display video in true HD quality, even with the puny Atom possessor. The ION is worth every penny because there is simply no alternative. If you’re building or buying a media or home theater PC, the absolute best choice is anything with nVidia’s ION processor inside.

Posted under Shopping, Technology

This post was written by admin on May 24, 2009

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California’s failed renewable energy programs

If you live in California, you’re likely all too familiar with all of California’s green and renewable energy initiatives. Many of these eco-friendly programs are funded by taxpayer’s dollars. However, I’m going to let you in on a little secret that California doesn’t want you to know. Many of the renewable energy programs in California are dysfunctional at best.

Last week, I decided to take a trip to Death Valley National Park. In the 500 miles of driving I did, I passed by two wind farms. The first wind farm I passed was small, only containing about a dozen wind turbines. Because the turbines were built on top of a hill, it was easy for me to drive and keep an eye on the turbines for a couple minutes. None of them were turning. That’s right, not a single wind turbine was turning, and that means no electricity was being generated at all.

Later, I passed a much larger wind energy farm, containing at least a few hundred wind turbines. I kept a close eye on them, and I’d guess that only about 10 percent of them were turning. It appeared that many weren’t even pointed in the right direction to capture any wind. Maybe it wasn’t a very windy day, but it looked like an absolute economic disaster.

The fact of the matter is that the technology needed to make reliable, clean, renewable energy just isn’t here yet. Sure, there are reliable sources like hydroelectric dams, but California’s wind energy programs are a complete failure. There is absolutely no excuse to have a wind farm where barely any of the wind turbines were spinning at all. On my way back a few days later, perhaps 25 percent of the turbines were functional. Still, I shudder to think of how many tax payer’s dollars are wasted on trendy yet dysfunctional systems. The state of California is nearly broke, and the taxes have been increased very recently. Yet the state still manages to lose an incredible amount of money to projects that barely work.

Posted under Politics, Saving Electricity, Technology

How to burn salt water as fuel

In the ultimate quest to save money, people often look at how to save or reduce their gasoline consumption. There has been a lot of buzz about promising technologies like HHO, or burning salt water as a fuel instead of gas. First, let me be very clear; HHO technology is nothing more than a scam. Many HHO venders use pseudo-scientific explanations and videos of electric cars (which don’t use HHO) as a well to sell their fake gas-saving product on the unsuspecting masses. But this article isn’t about HHO; it’s about burning sea-water as fuel.

About 70% of the planet’s surface is covered with salt water. This means that if there were a way to burn the sea-water and use it as a fuel, it would completely solve all of the world’s energy problems. There has been a lot of buzz about an invention by John Kanzius. His invention uses radio waves to actually burn saltwater. The chemistry is a bit complicated, but for now, it’s confirmed that 14 MHz signals do indeed ignite saltwater.

This is great, isn’t it? Well, there is no such thing as a free lunch. Unfortunately, the amount of power needed to generate the radio waves exceeds the amount of power produced by burning the saltwater. Unless an even newer technology is developed, this means that it is impossible to generate any power from seawater. It’s an unfortunate truth, but it is what it is. So the next time to you a Youtube video about the saltwater torch, just remember that an enormous amount of electricity is used to generate the flames, and that electricity has to come from somewhere! While it was an interesting discovery, it is extremely unlikely that this technology will ever be able to power cars, power plants, or anything else. Save your money and don’t buy any fuel savings devices that claim to work by burning saltwater.

Posted under Avoiding Scams, Saving Gas, Technology

This post was written by admin on March 1, 2009

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Mozy is a waste of money

You’ve probably seen commercials for Mozy.com, and wondered if it’s worth it. Mozy.com is an online business that allows you to back up your data online for free. The idea is very straightforward, and protects you in case your hard drive fails, or your computer is stolen, or catches on fire, etc. But the real question is, is Mozy.com worth it?

The simple answer is no. It is simply not worth your money to use Mozy in order to back up your data, and here’s why.

  1. Free online backup exists from many different companies. For example, you can open a free Gmail account and store all of your documents online for free that way. Because Google owns and operates Gmail, you can bet that the data is backed up. Microsoft backs up all their source code in an old military bunker to protect their assets in case of nuclear war. I wouldn’t be surprised if Google took similar measures.
  2. Mozy will cost you $4.95 a month. This is a whopping $59.4 a year! Much cheaper alternatives exist, and will be discussed shortly.
  3. Mozy uses fear tactics in order to take your money away from you. It’s not worth doing business with any such company.

Cheap or free alternatives to Mozy

  1. If you only have a bunch of small word documents to back up, just upload them to Gmail. Simple, quick, free, and safe.
  2. If you have a few gigabytes of data that needs to be backed up, get a 4GB USB key for $20 dollars. If you go this approach, be sure to store the USB key somewhere safe, preferably in a different building from your computer in case of fire, earthquake, etc.
  3. If you have many gigabytes of data that needs to be backed up, chances are they will take forever and a half to upload online. It might be worth it to get a cheap, $50 external USB hard drive and use that to back up your data. Remember, that will cost less than Mozy does in one year. Some hard drives even come with software for automatic backup. I have an external Seagate hard drive where I can simply push a button on the hard drive to initiate backup. This is appropriate if you want to update and backup files frequently.
  4. Mozy can actually help you find your laptop in case someone steals it. Well, there are free alternatives for this as well. http://adeona.cs.washington.edu/ The idea is that if someone steals your laptop and is stupid enough to connect if to the internet, you can get their IP address and ask the police to retrieve your laptop at said address.

What not to do

However you choose to back up your data, do not burn CDs, DVDs, or blu-ray discs. These methods are not reliable as all of these recordable mediums degrade over time. I’m not kidding. If you’d like, burn a CD or DVD, leave the disc in the sun for a couple days, and then try to use the disc in your computer. USB keys are the absolute most reliable solution. I’ve never seen, or even heard about USB keys that stopped working. Hard drives are also very reliable. And again, using Gmail to store a handful of documents online is also extremely reliable.

Posted under Saving Money, Shopping, Technology

This post was written by admin on February 21, 2009

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Adsense vs. Associated Content

Making money online can be fun and rewarding, but it can also be very hard work! You’ve likely seen many sites promising to make you rich quick by taking surveys or writing articles, but there is much more to the story. This article is going to be about making money with Adsense versus making money with Associated Content.

Using Adsense to make money

Adsense is Google’s advertising program. You can place Adsense banners and advertisements on your website. When people view the advertisements you can get a very small fraction of a penny. When people click on an advertisement, you get anywhere form a couple cents to perhaps a dollar. Yes, there are advertisements that pay even more, but they are very uncommon.

Pros of Adsense

  • Can be very profitable if you get a lot of traffic to your website
  • Dynamically adapts to the content of your web pages, which increases advertising relevance
  • Owned by a major company that is not going to go bankrupt any time soon

Disadvantages of Adsense

  • You must own your own website. Typically, these can cost money to operate
  • Payout starts at $100

If you’re trying to make money online, Adsense only makes sense if you’re planning on having a website which gets at least 10 unique hits a day. If you can’t get this many hits a day, not only will you probably lose money just by operating the web server, but it could take you a very long time to accumulate a hundred dollars, which is the minimum payout. So you should really only use Adsense if you’re prepared to spend some serious time to build a quality website.

Using Associated Content to make money

Associated Content is an interesting website where you can make money simply by writing articles. Not only do they pay you up to a couple dollars for each article you write upfront, but they also pay you $1.50 for every thousand views you get. There is no risk in using Associated Content, and there are no fees or expenses.

Pros of Associated Content

  • You are paid for each article you write, generally in about two weeks after submission.
  • The payout for Associated Content is only a $1.50, which means you’ll get paid much sooner than Adsense
  • There is no risk. There are no operating fees.

Cons of Associated Content

  • Associated Content only pays $1.50 for every thousand views. This is much lower than what you can make with Adsense or other advertising programs

Using Associated Content (AC) to make money certainly makes sense if you only plan to write a small number of articles that probably won’t get too many hits. For example, I wrote an article for AC and received $3.77 upfront. Unfortunately, the article has been online for several months and has had less than 20 views! So if you don’t expect your articles to receive a lot of traffic, then it certainly makes sense to use AC to make money.

The Verdict

If you don’t expect your articles to receive a lot of traffic, or if you don’t want to spend an enormous time building and managing your website, then it’s best to use Associated Content. Otherwise, Adsense is a much more effective way for you to earn money. However, you must be prepared to work in order to generate traffic to your website; otherwise you may never hit the minimum payout with Adsense. If you have a website, but you plan on writing some articles which may not receive many hits, it might be wise just to place those articles on Associated Content. I use both my website and Associated Content in order to make the maximum amount of money on the internet.

Posted under Making Money, Technology

This post was written by admin on February 20, 2009

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Download Jeff Paul’s Websites on Rapidshare

You’ve likely seen Jeff Paul’s infomercial about how you can make internet millions with his money making system. You’ve seen the testimonials and the two incredibly hot girls in bikinis hosting his infomercial. But what if you want to try Jeff Paul’s money making system for free, without paying any money at all? Well, you’re in luck, because I’m going to save you more time and money than you can imagine. First, I’m sorry to say that it’s not possible to download Jeff Paul’s money making websites on Rapidshare, Megaupload, or any other file sharing service. The reason for this is that Jeff Paul’s money making websites don’t exist. That’s right, you heard me. Jeff Paul’s shortcuts to internet millions is a scam, plain and simple. But wait, in the infomercial, Jeff Paul says for a little money you can get 10 free websites, right? Well, wrong. Like I said before, Jeff Paul’s shortcuts is a complete scam, and the commercial is full of flat out lies. I’m going to save you some serious time and money by telling you to just walk away, it isn’t worth it. For $50 or so, you get a package with some vague information about how to make money on the internet, but you don’t get any websites as promised. Then, for thousands of dollars, they try to upsell you their internet website packages. These websites need to run on their servers, and they charge you absurd amounts of money for it. Remember in the infomercial when Jeff Paul said you’ll get new money making websites every month for free? Well, that simply isn’t true. You’ll be charged hundreds of dollars. Once Jeff Paul has your credit card number, he will never, ever stop charging you every month. It is not possible to cancel Jeff Paul’s program. The only way to have the payments stop is to cancel your credit card. Sure there are plenty of people who make money on the internet, but not with kits like Jeff Paul. Keep searching, and eventually you’ll find a genuine opportunity.

Posted under Avoiding Fees, Avoiding Scams, Hidden Fees, Making Money, Saving Money, Technology

This post was written by admin on February 7, 2009

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How to lower your Comcast bill

If you use Comcast for your cable television, chances are that you’re paying way too much money. Don’t worry, this article should teach you how to easily, and quickly reduce your Comcast bill. If you’ve been paying the standard Comcast rates for television for several months, you’re account is probably eligible to receive a discount for the next six month. This discount is not automatic; you have to explicitly ask for it. Asking for your Comcast monthly bill to be reduced is very easy. Go to Comcast.com, login with your account, and choose live chat support. Simply ask if you’re eligible to receive a lower price for cable. If you are, Comcast will reduce your bill for cable television by half for six months, starting after your current billing period. If you pay 60 dollars a month for cable TV like I did, you will probably start paying 30 dollars a month for six months. This is a total savings of $180. The process of asking Comcast to reduce your bill takes less than 15 minutes if you use their online live-chat support. Sure, you will receive a note on your account saying that you requested your bill to be reduced. Because you never know what notes they attach to your account, it’s always best to be as polite as humanly possible. And that’s really all there is to it! Take 15 minutes of your time and save close to two hundred dollars! Saving money is really that simple!

Posted under Avoiding Fees, Saving Money, Shopping, Technology

This post was written by admin on February 5, 2009

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The questions no HHO seller can answer

Some people claim that a miraculous new technology called HHO can dramatically reduce the amount of gas used in your car. The idea is to use electricity from the car’s alternator to separate hydrogen and oxygen from water. This gas, called Brown’s gas, or HHO, is then fed back into the fuel mixture which is then fed into the internal combustion engine. Supposedly, HHO make the burning of gas more efficient, and thus lowers the gas mileage of the car. This all sounds reasonable; there are some big questions that remain to be answered.

Why isn’t HHO made by any major car manufacturer?

Ford, GM, Toyota, Chrysler, you name it. No major automobile manufacturer has ever acknowledged HHO as a legitimate and proven technology. People who sell HHO related products have many excuses. Some say that the car companies are involved in some conspiracy theory with the gas companies. Unfortunately there is no evidence for this. Instead, what we see is that cars with higher gas mileage sell better, thus creating incentive for car makers to create low gas mileage vehicles. Other HHO sellers say that HHO is so new that it hasn’t been incorporated into vehicles yet. This argument is laughable, especially since scammers have been selling HHO products for years.

How can such a small amount of HHO gas improve gas mileage by so much?

This is another fun little question that HHO sellers have a lot of trouble answering. Electrolysis doesn’t make very much HHO. In fact, you would need a huge HHO system in order to produce barely enough gas to power a lawnmower on idle. Now think about this for a second; how can such a miniscule amount of HHO gas be enough to make any noticeable difference in a car engine? The answer is that it can’t.

Related Articles

Advertising tactics of HHO sellers and scammers

Why HHO devices aren’t made by major car manufacturers

HHO scammers bend the facts

Fake videos promoting the HHO scam explained

Posted under Avoiding Scams, Saving Money, Technology

This post was written by admin on January 4, 2009

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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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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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