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  • Quick roundup of shopping tips

    Home Forums AskWoody blog Quick roundup of shopping tips


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      • #21279

        No doubt you’ve been bombarded with computer shopping tips, with every outlet and its sibling slashing prices this week. Many people have asked for my
        [See the full post at: Quick roundup of shopping tips]

      • #21280
        Canadian Tech

        Very interesting — how much we think alike, Woody.

      • #21281


      • #21282

        I posted this under the Win7 thread where others discussed it, but it belongs here.

        I have been recommending Mac to all those I support for several years. I have converted several. A few are REALLY non-techies and they love them. (The learning curve is not as great as what you read – cannot be as some of these people are VERY technically challenged). They in turn recommend to friends and family.

        iMacs for those who are not mobile. MacBooks for those who are mobile. It does NOT have to be the latest model and for the non-technical user it does not have to be the most powerful hardware. There are lots of bargains out there and many of the places have no-tax and free shipping.

        My 2011 13″ MacBook Pro (non-Retina, the one with the CD drive that was just discontinued by Apple) runs Mac OS Sierra (the latest) without a hitch.

        – Amazon has lots of Macs.

      • #21283

        Great! Got an Amazon link to any particular Mac that you like?

      • #21284
        rc primak

        Your Links need some HTML adjustments. The Targets are coming up Blanks. End-Quotes appear to be missing in code. I had to modify every link I followed in the Google Search Box before I could see the product links.

        The ZenBook UX 305 has been removed from product availability at both Amazon and ASUS. It is superseded now by the ASUS ZENBOOK UX390UA-XH74: I haven’t seen much of a Street Discount yet for this model. Save $50.00 and shipping is free at Amazon.



        Looks like a really sweet machine if you want to spend the money on it. Uses Win 10 Pro instead of Home. They’re up to 7th Gen Kaby Lake Core i7, which raises questions about installing Windows or any dual-boot, but otherwise sweet. Be aware this model is not touch screen.

        For “Desktop PC” I would also add a category for very small form factor PCs like my Intel NUC. For its size this is a fast, cool running and capable machine. And very configurable with the right peripherals. No problems with dual-boots (6th Gen Intel processors — haven’t tried their newer 7th Gen or Skull Canyon Core i7 configurations). Lids from GoRite can expand possibilities even further. Can be bought preassembled and pretested if desired or build your own as I did, and I’m not a hardware genius.

        For a wired keyboard, Das Keyboard 4 looks very sweet indeed. I already have a backlit wired keyboard for my NUC, so I’m good but jealous.

        The Logitech Performance MX Mouse operates over a 2.4 GHz wireless connection. I live in a wireless-dense apartment building, and I worry about security for all WiFi peripherals here. So while this looks like a very good mouse, I have had to go with a mouse and keyboard which use Bluetooth technology. Which creates some stability issues in both Windows 10 Pro and Ubuntu Linux. But I won’t compromise on wireless input device security here.

        Have a happy Thanksgiving, Woody and everyone!

      • #21285

        Thanks! Links getting changed momentarily. (That’s what I get for using the Amazon affiliate tools!)

      • #21286
        rc primak

        In my post I meant that 7th Gen Intel Kaby Lake processors raise some questions about dual-booting with Linux, not just Windows.

      • #21287

        If you purchase a refurb from Tiger Direct, don’t get the extended warranty.

        I bought 2 refurbs a while back (2008?) from Tiger Direct, along with the extended warranty on each. One of them developed a problem, so I wanted to get it fixed. As I recall, I asked them to ship me the replacement part, and I then would return to them the defective part. However, my only option was to return it to them for repair, which as I recall meant that I had to pay shipping to get it to them, and then be without the computer for a while while it was being repaired, an unacceptable “solution”.

      • #21288
        Canadian Tech

        The only company I ever dealt with that handled hardware warranty claims well is Dell. The essentially contract it out. Service is done at the home/business.

        As for warranties:
        Desktop: If it runs for 2 hours, chances are very, very high it will continue to run for years. Most likely failure is the DVD drive which is easily replaced by anyone with a Phillips screw driver and $20. Next comes a hard drive, which in a desktop is good for at least 5 years (not speaking of SSDs)

        Very delicate and easily damaged. Parts are almost all proprietary which means only the OEM can repair it well. This leads to very high service costs. Notice that very few will offer warranties beyond 3 years. Tells you something about life expectancy. If you use the notebook in different places, you want to carry a max warranty. If not, save your money.

      • #21289
        Lurks About

        For those with older computers considering replacement, if Windows is not really necessary one might save some money by installing a Linux distro. Once up to speed, you might get very few support calls or need to do many support visits. This depends on the condition of the hardware, some is not worth trying to recycle.

      • #21290

        “Want a “real” laptop? (“Real” = Windows, for you tongue-in-cheek mansplainers.) Stay away from the Surfaces, even though Microsoft has them on sale. Why? Ask somebody who owns one.”

        Can Woody (or any other expert) recommend a Windows 10 tablet with touch screen and backward facing camera. (I need it for Instagram and don’t want a smartphone.)
        I’ve never owned anything but a PC (many of them) or had any O/S other than Windows.

      • #21291

        If you want tablet primarily, you’ll want a 2-in-1. But watch out for the keyboards, they tend to wobble around like a bowl of jelly.

        If you don’t want a keyboard… Have you considered getting an iPad or Android tablet?

      • #21292

        Also, upgrading a video card in a desktop is easy. That, adding memory and switching to SSD, can add years of useful life.

      • #21293
        Noel Carboni

        My suggestion:

        If you have somehow avoided doing so up to now, switch from HDD to SSD.

        Even better than an SSD? A whole bunch of SSDs in an array.

        I bought a few TB of SSDs in 2012 for my main workstation and it’s been the best investment in computing I’ve ever made, bar none, since the mid 1970s. Zero problems to this day, and still delivering best-in-show performance. Bonus: Today they’re half to a quarter the price I paid back then.


      • #21294

        Get an iPad and stay out of trouble.
        Windows is useful only for PCs and servers.
        Microsoft lost the competition for tablets or phones.
        An Android device, although cheaper with give you as many headaches as Windows.

      • #21295

        The 24-inch Dell monitor does look good. The 16:10 aspect ratio is somewhat hard to find now that the industry has forced consumers to accept 16:9.

        I find 24-inches and 16:10 perfect for working with Word docs alongside each other or a PDF. If your Word is set up appropriately, it displays such side-by-side views of 8.5 x 11 pages at actual size.

        It is also closer to the 1:1.5-ish aspect ratio of full-frame and APS-C digital cameras, which means they can be viewed full-screen (and will exactly fill the screen) without cropping as aggressively as would be necessary with a 16:9 display, which equates to a 1:1.77 aspect ratio.

        The Dell monitor’s IPS panel is also a plus. IPS is often considered the best panel type for photo editing, though MVA panels have come on strong the last few years. Both are much better than the common consumer grade TN panels, which tend to vary image-wise depending on the viewing angle.

        I don’t like LED backlighting but that’s about all there is today.

      • #21296

        What about buying a new desktop computer pre-loaded with Windows 7 Pro, via downgrade rights? Pros? Cons?

        In HP’s case at least, these “downgraded” computers are new machines built to your spec, not hardware they are trying to clear out.

        I also see a large number of refurbed Win7 Dell, HP, Acer and other machines on such sites as, many at very reasonable prices. I assume that when these are gone, they’re gone, so this season’s Black Friday sales might be a good time to take a look.

      • #21297
      • #21298

        I’ve been using 1920 x 1200 for about five years now. I type a lot – and love the aspect ratio.

      • #21300
        Canadian Tech

        Those systems are “refurbished” computers coming off lease. I think you can expect to see those for a long time to come.

        There is a trap. They don’t come with a re-usable Product Key. Should you need to change the hard drive or re-build, you are probably out of luck.

        A lot of people got caught in the free Win10 thing and then could not re-install Win7.

      • #21303

        Hey, Mr.Leonhard, Happy “eating turkey ’til your pants button pops off and flys across the room” day. Can you plug in Ethernet cables to Chromebooks or are they only Wi-Fi friendly?

      • #21307

        Then you will appreciate the parallel with what has been happening with Windows. The panel industry imposed the change to 16:9 upon consumers because it cut costs by allowing the same panels to be used for video (where 16:9 has long ruled) and office or “productivity” work.

        I’ve been watching developments in this field for about seven years now and have yet to see a persuasive argument that 16:9 is better or more productive for desktop computer work, including photo editing. It was just done to save the manufacturers money.

        Note that I did not say “increase their profits.” The extent to which they pocketed the savings vs. passed them along is unknown. I’m perfectly comfortable with the hypothesis that most of the savings were passed through to consumers. We live with that kind of thing all the time, uneducated consumers driving change in the direction of mediocrity and lowest common denominator, which literally is what 16:9 displays are.

        End of rant. Just thought it might be of interest.

      • #21312

        That’s what inspired me to investigate. But it doesn’t get into the pros and cons of systems running on Win 7 Pro via downgrade rights.

        In particular, if such downgrade rights are limited to a certain number of machines already built or soon to be built, then now would be the time to consider them. If not, then it would still pay to know the pros and cons.

      • #21317

        If you are looking for a new Windows 7 Professional computer that is pre-installed with Windows 7 Professional (no need to downgrade it from Windows 10), see the “business” selection at Dell.

        As of last week, they had 17 listings for such machines.

        I got one for under $300.

        For 10% coupon code instructions, rewards cashback program instructions, etc.,
        see a string of about 8 posts from me that start here:

        If you want to buy a new Win7 system, look at this

      • #21322

        My keyboard recommendation:

        I don’t like the extra number pad on the right of a keyboard. So I was overjoyed a few years ago when I found that they make “tenkeyless” keyboards (mainly for the gamer market).

        I don’t play games on the computer, but I am a fast typist and I like to be able to move my right hand quickly back and forth between mouse and alphabet-part of the keyboard, and eliminating that number pad helps.

        Also, I have a keyboard drawer/shelf under my desk, and the tenkeyless keyboard fits great in it, alongside the mousepad. A normal-size keyboard is a little too big for my keyboard drawer/shelf.

        I also love mechanical keys on a keyboard. I can’t stand the milquetoast keyboards these days, no heft, no key height, no resistance, no noise!

        If you want to, you can get into all sorts of different types of mechanical keyboards, cherry blue, brown, I don’t know what all.

        Mechanical keyboards are usually on the expensive side, but do not have to be.

        In recent years I have tried a couple of mechanical tenkeyless keyboards, and my favorite is:

        The Razer Tournament Edition Blackwidow “tenkeyless” clicky mechanical keyboard 2014.

        The price is normally about $77 at Amazon.

        It’s all-black, it is sturdy, it is reliable, it doesn’t scream “I’m a gamer” (especially when you turn the optional lighting features off).

        They also have a mechanical-but-silent version (no clicky sounds).

        To have a look at these at Amazon, please click through Woody’s Amazon affiliate link in the top right corner of this page and do a search.

        Other retailers:

        Staples online (or in-store) and Walmart online (or in-store) do not have the exact one that I love. Theirs might be the silent one — there is something different about it, it has a different model number.

        Best Buy online-only has the one that I love, but in the store they don’t offer it, and you can’t order it for in-store pickup.

        Target doesn’t have it.

        Frys does have it, both online and in-store.

      • #21324

        Noel, do you have a preferred brand for your SSDs?

      • #21325

        Just letting people know — not just for today, but for anytime:

        If you click on’s Amazon affiliate button that is up in the top righthand corner of this page, and then you place an order on Amazon, a percentage of your order on Amazon will be donated to Woody’s website, at no cost to you.

        Your order doesn’t have to include one of Woody’s computer books, or even computer-related stuff: he will get a percentage donation from Amazon from every order placed through that button.

        Also: he is not shown your name and address and he is not told what you have bought, so it is an anonymous process from your side.

        So please remember this throughout the year when you head to Amazon to do some shopping, especially when you are getting some “Black Friday” deals, doing December holiday shopping, and so forth.

        Woody says that the Amazon cookie will be persistent on your computer for 1 day, but so many of us have our cookies set up to be automatically deleted, and also we delete them manually (I do several times a day, as a habit), so it would be safest if you popped over here to and clicked on his Amazon button to start a new order, every time that you do want to order from Amazon and you simultanously want them to donate to a proportion of the order total.

        It’s a great way to contribute to, anonymously and at no cost to you.

      • #21326

        Please be aware that U2412M does not have HDMI connection. The other Dell models in the same class have it.

      • #21327

        As far as antivirus/security programs, I like
        (and contributor LizzyTish also likes)

        *Norton Security*

        Here are two current deals for that, which you can get online:

        1. For a very good price, with little hassle

        Amazon Prime members can get 15 months (= 3 extra months)

        of Norton Security (5 devices)

        for $19.99.

        People who are not Amazon Prime members can get it for $29.99.

        Woody’s affiliate link to this listing is:{{linkCode}}&tag=askwoody07-20&linkId={{link_id}}

        2. For FREE, but with considerable hassle

        If you don’t mind messing around with a rebate and signing up for a newsletter so you can get a coupon code, Fry’s will be selling

        Norton Security (3 devices)
        Norton Utilities (3 machines)

        for FREE

        on Friday.

        (But you do have to mess around with a rebate and signing up for their email newsletter so you can get a coupon code.)

        It is the offer at the very end of the following page, on the left side of the page:

        In-store deal

        I have only seen this mentioned on the internet and have not confirmed it myself, but there is apparently a FREE Fry’s deal to get Norton Security for 10 (TEN) devices for FREE on Friday.

        You have to have a certain code, do a rebate, and apparently you must go into a Frys store on Friday to get it.

        If you are interested in that, please look it up on the internet – it will be described on various deal sites.

      • #21328

        I think you’ll see new PCs with Win7 pre-installed drying up by early next year.

      • #21329

        I don’t know of any Chromebooks with built-in Ethernet. Adapters are cheap, though.–13-accessory-every-chromebook-owner-should-carry.html

      • #21330
        Canadian Tech

        What will happen to those millions of Win7 machines on lease mostly to businesses? There are a huge number of them still on lease.

      • #21331
        Bill C.

        For a tablet, I would strongly echo ch100 iPad recommendation. I was never real big on iPads until I got an iPhone and now if I was getting a tablet, I would go iPad. Very low drag and useful as a TV tool and quick reference.

        My experience at the Apple store when I got my iPhone was one of the best I have ever had ever! with their sales staff and advice. I was one of the last flip phone users in my state… ;). I had it for 11 years. The Apple Store staff was able to set me up, transfer my contacts from the non-USB phone and give a brief 5 minute tutorial, plus some advice on what to enable and disable for my situation (Siri is off.)

      • #21332
        Noel Carboni

        All my SSDs are OCZ Vertex 3 models. I have 6 of ’em (480GB each) in my workstation and 3 of ’em (120 GB each) in my server.

        They’re considered “outdated” today, but I can say from experience that they work very well indeed in a RAID setup. Zero glitches in 4+ years of hard use. And how many systems do you know of that can copy a 1.7 GB file in about a second?

        It wasn’t cached before I did that command either. Note the raw direct I/O speed:


      • #21333
        Bill C.

        Thanks wdburt1. That is very interesting info. I wondered why there was not a wide variety of 1920×1200 monitors available when I bought my last monitor.

        I use a 1920×1080 27″ monitor. I picked that size because the viewing area of my old Dell 19″ 4:3 (1280×1024 native) flat panel was 12.5″ tall. With the 27″ it is now 12.75″ and I can edit 2 pages side by side. I prefer not to use scroll bars for writing as I cannot see how the document looks format-wise.

      • #21334
        Noel Carboni

        >I don’t like LED backlighting


        I’ve been using an LED-backlit Dell U3014 (30 inch) panel for 3 years now.

        – There’s no flicker. The light is just solid on, even though I have the brightness set way down from its max (9 of 100).

        – It draws half the power of the two older 20″ CFL-illuminated monitors I have on both sides.

        – The viewing angle is very wide, without a significant shift in gamma.

        – The illumination is fairly even, though not perfect. It’s a good bit better than the old ones though.

        – Everything is crisp and sharp.

        – The factory sRGB mode yields a very good calibration, though it has a greater gamut for someone who needs it.


      • #21335
        Bill C.

        I bought a refurbished Lenovo T420 for cheap to replace an old AMD laptop that would not hold a battery charge.

        The first one had a bad battery, the second was fine. (FWIW, both were not Lenovo labeled batteries) I fully updated and then replaced the Win6-64Pro 7200rpm HDD with a 320GB SSD and installed Ubuntu 16.04. It is my wife’s email and browsing laptop. She is quite satisfied with LibreOffice for productivity. Granted she had been using Ubuntu 12.04 since 2011, and was vehemently opposed to a Windows machine.

        I was shocked how fast it boots and is able to process a 250MB Linux update. I still have the old HDD if we need to revert to Win7 (highly unlikely).

        Another feature to look for in a laptop is whether the memory and or HDD (and sometimes the battery) is user replaceable or upgradable. Lenovo and Dell are very good about their business models being accessible without disassembling other components. The business refurbs also have less crapware.

      • #21336
        Noel Carboni

        >have yet to see a persuasive argument that 16:9
        >is better or more productive for desktop computer
        >work, including photo editing.

        I can make such arguments. I have one 16:9 central monitor and two 4:3 side monitors turned up sideways. I posted a link to a photo in another response, below.

        – For software development, it’s possible to edit two source files side by side without using unreasonably small fonts or limited line length. Imagine a .cpp and .h file visible simultaneously, with the contents visible at a glance.

        – In the same vein, it’s possible to compare two source files side by side. Anyone doing software development knows how important it is to be able to review changes at a glance. For merges, where 3 files can be side by side it gets even more important to have a wide display.

        – Not to belabor the advantages of side by side work, but being able to open a browser to online API documentation and at the same time have the code under development right next to it is also very, very good. Software development is all about juggling an inhuman number of complexities.

        – Ever do any accounting? Do your taxes? Being able to have several spreadsheets open at once arranged side by side when transcribing numbers is a huge boon.

        – My dSLR takes 3 by 2 ratio photos. Such a photo fits well on a 16 by 9 display with some window chrome, an option bar, and some icons across the top and bottom. In my case I ALSO have two additional side monitors (e.g., for Photoshop panels), so the entire central 16:9 monitor can house the photo under edit and ALL the Photoshop functions are available at a glance.

        – You claim commonality between making TV monitors and computer monitors helps keep costs down… How is that not good? Being able to afford an even bigger 16:9 monitor because the prices are overall lower is in no way a disadvantage.

        – Ever do any work with command lines (CMD or especially the very wordy PowerShell)? It’s helpful to be able to see a long command line without wraparound or having it be truncated by the edge of the window.

        – Arranging wide Explorer windows one over the other facilitates Details view and being able to efficiently drag and drop to copy or move files.

        – And of course, who doesn’t watch the occasional video on their monitor?

        My personal experience, which goes back to the 1970s, is that my productivity has most definitely been higher with 16:9 monitors whenever I’ve been lucky enough to have them. I’ve most definitely been able to juggle more details and make fewer mistakes.


      • #21337
        Noel Carboni

        P.S., I made a mistake above – my U3014 is actually 16:10 (2560 x 1600 pixels).


      • #21338

        Interesting advice, cutting through the fog.

      • #21339

        Thanks for the advice. I assume that the “trap” you refer to pertains to the new machines that come with Win7 Pro installed via downgrade rights from Win 10 (to use Hewlett-Packard’s phrase).

        When I was poking around on the web about this, I found a lot of forum discussions about the problem you mention. IIRC, a number of people suggested that because the machine has a valid Win 10 license key, Win 7 Pro could be reinstalled by using a valid Win 7 Pro key, even by borrowing one from a friend. I don’t pretend to understand how that would work, but quite a few people claimed that it does.

      • #21340

        Then I’m glad we’re discussing this now.

      • #21341

        At the risk of going off-topic: LED backlighting comes in a couple of variants, the most common of which is W-LED. It’s been awhile since I got into this subject, and I’m doing this from memory, but W-LED produces white by applying a yellow filter to a blue LED’s. Its output of blue light is therefore significantly higher than of green or red.

        Other types of LEDs, particularly the GB-R type, emit a more balanced light. But apparently they cost a lot more to manufacture.

        Some people are more sensitive to blue light than others; I happen to be one of those who does not like to have a bright blue light shined in my face all day long, and for that reason I prefer old-fashioned CCFL backlighting, even though LED’s consume less energy and last far longer. CCFL tends to have a more balanced color output. Side by side with an LED display, its light tends to look more yellow.

        A couple of years ago, a federal agency–the Centers for Disease Control if I recall correctly–issued a warning a couple of years ago concerning the harmful effects of exposure to excessive blue light emitted by computer monitors.

        Not long after that, manufacturers began promoting some displays as “low blue light” or offering a feature that allows the user to reduce the blue light emitted, which does nothing more than mess with the color balance (not great if you’re doing photo editing). The fact that the manufacturers must resort to advertising that a monitor can be tweaked to do less of what it would otherwise do, should put us all on notice that there is a real problem.

        Hope that answers your question. These issues were thoroughly explored in the displays forum at [H] for several years.

      • #21342

        I dimly recall reading that the best use of an SSD in a desktop computer was to boot from the SSD and keep files and folders etc. on the conventional hard drive (or somewhere else).

        This was back when SSDs were fairly new and people worried about whether an SSD would last more than eight years or so, because SSD’s always write to unused space (terminology?) rather than overwrite. It also took advantage of SSD speed.

        Is this approach correct?

      • #21343

        I think one big advantage of a clicky keyboard is that you can detect typos by ear.

        When I have been writing for several days and my typing is really up to speed, I find that I begin to type by ear. The sound will tell me whether I missed a key or even struck the wrong key.

        I got hooked on Gateway’s AnyKey keyboard over twenty years ago and stayed with it. While technically a rubber-dome keyboard, the AnyKey somewhat resembles a clicky keyboard in terms of its touch. A few years ago I researched what might be available that was similar, and came up with a Northgate model and Das Keyboard.

      • #21344
        Canadian Tech

        NO. That is not what I meant. Some of these “refurb” machines are installed with a refurb one time only licence. At least that is my understanding? I know during the free Win10 crisis, a lot of people did not like it and then tried to re-install Win7, but could not because of problems with the Product key that was either invalid or something.

      • #21345

        Here is another FREE Norton deal

        It is free after rebate


        Symantec Norton Security with Antivirus Deluxe – 5 Devices

        price of $60,
        then you get a $60 manufacturer’s rebate

        expires 11/24/2016 (today)

      • #21346
        Noel Carboni

        A better approach IMO is to go all SSD, make one huge drive C: with all SSDs operating simultaneously via RAID 0.

        Possibly add internal and external HDDs (e.g., Western Digital MyBook drives) to store backups, low access data, etc.

        If EVERYTHING is served by all the SSDs at once, then EVERYTHING is accelerated. SSDs don’t bog down when multiple things access them simultaneously, because there is essentially no latency.

        There will be those who will say that having a monster C: volume yields problems with backup or data management or whatever, but I’m not having any such problems on any of the several systems on which I’ve exercised this strategy literally for years.


      • #21347
        Noel Carboni

        All reasonable concerns, but since you can both calibrate the output from a PC with good display drivers, and select things like color temperatures and specific R, G, B, settings on most monitors, you most certainly don’t need to settle for “bluish light all day”. In fact, I don’t know what’s been hyped about LED monitors, but CFL tubes put out way more ultraviolet light. That’s not all that good for your eyes either.

        I believe the Dell U3014 has special LEDs that do in fact add a very deep red light to the overall illumination. I don’t recall the specific name, but it’s a very good system. The high-end Dells can achieve a near 100% Adobe RGB gamut coverage because of it.

        In a practical sense, with my system set up as an sRGB reference environment, my Dell LED monitor shows colors that cover the sRGB IEC61966-2.1 gamut and are essentially the same as those from my CFL monitors on either side of it. Whites and grays look neutral – certainly not bluer on the LED monitor vs. the CFLs.

        I don’t doubt that there are other monitors that DO make bluer light, but don’t overgeneralize; it’s not true in every case.

        Perhaps the best solution is to save pennies and get a high-end monitor like one of the above-named Dells. Your eyes will thank you.

        I’m not sure I would recommend a high DPI 4K model just yet, though (especially not if you’re going to try to use multiples, where some are not high DPI)… Even today not all software is fully capable of dealing with the scale differences.


      • #21348
        Guest apparently has $25 off any $100 order today when using Visa Checkout.

        They have Amazon Fire Tablets (normally $49.99) for $33.33 today.

        and Amazon Fire TV Stick with Alexa Remote for $29.99 today.

      • #21349
        Vols and Jezuz

        Perfect gift for a gamer is a 120+Hz monitor. Once seen in-game, it cannot be unseen. A 24″ BenQ or Asus is a good bet.

        For the cash strapped, you can get a great office/gaming chair if you can find a used office furniture store in your area. They tend to have Hon and similar high-quality brand chairs in barely used condition for $100-150, which typically would have retailed new for $500+ MSRP.

        Glad to see that you are a fellow card-carrying member of the Das Keyboard master race. Look into some PBT keycaps for it (WASD Keyboards is a good place to start … I have the gray ones and they make a nice two-tone look on a Das Keyboard). Makes the clicks sound and feel more substantial and less hollow than the stock ABS keycaps and they feel better to the touch as well. ABS keycaps tend to get a ‘polished’ look and feel slippery to the touch as they wear, and they tend to pick up and show fingertip oils more easily.

        Another pro tip is to replace the MX Blue switches on the larger modifier keys (Shift, Space, Backspace, etc) with MX Greens, which are basically just Blues with a higher actuation force. I find the higher actuation force makes the larger modifier keys, with their added bulk and complication of having to use stabilizers under the keycaps, behave and respond better. If you know your way around a soldering iron, as I’m sure you do, then it would only take you a half-hour or so to do.

      • #21350

        Thanks for the clarification.

      • #21351
        Canadian Tech

        I did not know you could still buy monitors with CCFL backlighting. I believe they wear out in a few years and are unrepairable. At least that is my understanding.

      • #21352
        Canadian Tech

        All this talk of buying Norton Security makes me have to tell you a story.

        I have been doing this work (supporting a large number of Windows Computers) for a number of years now. Starting in the XP days. I was an advocate for Norton for most of that time. My clients could have nothing but Norton Antivirus on their computers. Note I said Antivirus not Security — more on that later.

        I had my problems with Norton. Periodically it would throw up errors and I learned that the fastest surest way to solve them was to uninstall/re-install. I got pretty efficient at doing that because it happened all too frequently.

        Then I learned that Norton would no longer be selling their pure antivirus software and in order to buy it, you had to get the whole enchilada. Knowing that was unacceptable to me, I went hunting for another antivirus only software offering.

        I found Bitdefender Antivirus 2015+. That was a bit over 2 1/2 years ago. Not one of my 150 clients’ computers has had an infection. I have never had a problem with the software itself.

        On antivirus Vs. Security. After working on a lot of computers, I discovered that diagnosing a problem with a Security package installed was frequently impossible. I learned that if I removed the security software, the problem became apparent. This did not happen just once but many times.

        After a lot of analysis, I learned that all the other stuff that was packaged with the antivirus software was causing the problem. When you take a close look at it, you discover that all that other stuff mostly disabled Windows programs and substituted their own versions of the same thing.

        So I decided that antivirus software is all that you need. I have stuck with that for the last at least 10 years with really great success. The last 2 1/2 years with Bitdefender really puts a cap on it. I really do not see infected computers over years over hundreds of computers.

        I bought 50 packages of this product for 3 computers for 2 years for $50CDN each. Net cost is $8.33 per year per computer.

        I should add that when I do logon to one of my clients’ computers, I routinely run ADWcleaner to clear up any malware that got there. If I find Ccleaner or Malwarebytes on their computers, I remove them. If I find any hint of any software that thinks it is for making a computer run better, I remove it.

        Net result of all this is about 150 computer that run very well.

      • #21353
        Bill C.

        Thanks for the WASD link. I really like what I saw.

        For a great deal on chairs, check if you have a Habitat for Humanity Thrift Store in your area. They do work with building housing for lower income people. The thrift store has lots of building materials and fixtures that are left over from a construction job, or removed from a demolition and are still servicable. I have picked up high end ultra adjustable desk chairs, solid file cabinets and even Mosler lock file safes for dirt cheap prices. I got a used $500+ desk chair for under $50 and a two drawer file cabinet for $50 that is not the imported flimsy light guage steel stuff you see now.

        Since it is dependent on what they get donated, you have to check in often and buy it when you see it.

        We now will take the pickup when we go near the store since purchases are carry away.

      • #21354


      • #21355
        Noel Carboni

        My two CCFL monitors are Dell 2001FP that have been in continuous service since 2004/2005.


      • #21356

        I began by saying that LED is all we can buy, and also noted that LED lasts far longer. CCFL backlights wear out; LED for practical purposes do not.

        In my case I have a choice because I determined which 24 inch 1920×1200 CCFL-backlit monitors I liked best and put several in reserve a few years ago. I rotate them annually to keep the caps fresh.

        I put about 3,000 hours per year on each of two monitors. One model has a feature that allows me to track both total and backlight hours. The usual standard is that the backlight is at end of life when max brightness falls to half of the original. Online estimates of backlight life range from 20,000 to 50,000 hours, with most credible estimates skewing toward the low end. Samsung claimed that one of my models should be good for 20,000 hours. I still have in rotation one monitor with just under 20,000 hours on it.

        A worn out backlight often can be replaced, but the repair probably would not be economical.

        I bought a couple of highly-touted LED monitors to see how I liked them, but sold them after a few weeks.

      • #21357

        Agreed here too. After seeing how highly Bitdefender was rated a couple of years ago, I installed it on one of two computers. I still have Norton Antivirus on the other, figuring there might be some value in subjecting transferred files to two different AV programs.

        Initially, Bitdefender was a little overprotective, but after whitelisting a couple of programs things settled down.

      • #21358

        Black Friday and Cyber Monday is a USA thing. Us ‘foreigners’ would love to drop in for a few days and buy up a load of bargains from your brick and mortar or online stores, but alas the tax man lurks in the shadows ready to take his kilo of flesh.

        I see the prices and compare them to Amazon in my country and I choke on my non-turkey dinner.

        I would love to replace 130 Windows Vista systems with 130 Chromebooks. I see a sweet R11 Chromebook (that meets our users needs perfectly) on sale at for $269 and the equivalent here (on sale) is $700 equiv. (with local tax incl.). I am supposed to jump for joy as shipping is free.

        Well Boxing Day is our big (I am choking again as I say this) shopping day. Really worthwhile stuff may see 20% off. More than 20% off is not so good stuff the vendors want to unload. 4K TVs, forget it.

        We foreigners are beyond envious.

      • #21359

        This is only tangential, and unlikely ever to be a concern for most of us,
        but it’s about keyboard sounds —

        A couple of days ago I stumbled across an article/press release by Univ. of California-Irvine about their research into decoding what people are typing on their keyboards by recording the keyboard sounds (e.g., when speaking to them on a conference call, when talking to them over Skype, when sitting next to them at an internet cafe, etc.) and running it through an analyzer.

        Irvine, Calif., Oct. 18, 2016 –

        “[When typing] on your desktop or laptop computer’s keyboard… you could be vulnerable to electronic eavesdropping, according to researchers at the University of California, Irvine and in Italy.

        …they describe a security breach whereby keystroke sounds, or acoustic emanations, can be recorded during a Skype voice or video call and later reassembled as text.

        […] Gene Tsudik, Chancellor’s Professor of computer science at [University of California-Irvine said], ‘We have shown that during a Skype video or audio conference, your keystrokes are subject to recording and analysis by your call partners. They can learn exactly what you type, including confidential information such as passwords and other very personal stuff.'”


      • #21360

        @Canadian Tech,

        I appreciate your perspective and hearing what works for you and your clients.

        In my situation, Norton Security, CCleaner, and MalwareBytes work great for me! They’ve served me well for years and they have never harmed my computer nor fallen down on the job.

        These programs are industry/market leaders and score well in independent testing.

        That doesn’t mean they are right for everyone, of course.

      • #21361


        In the last few years, the United Kingdom has developed a Black Friday shopping day, and even do Cyber Monday, although they don’t celebrate Thanksgiving as a holiday. It has mainly been pushed by retailers there, of course.

        If you are in a British-influenced country (enough to have the post-Christmas holiday of Boxing Day), then the Black Friday phenomenon, as pushed by retailers, might be coming your way before long.

        Last year I think there were some injuries in a Black Friday scrum in a Walmart-owned store called Asda. I’ll see if I can find the story…

        Here is a current news article that mentions the melee I was thinking of:

        ” – In 2014, shoppers were photographed fighting each other and tussling over bargains inside supermarkets

        – But today, there were a lack of queues in major retailers – which is a huge contrast to the madness of 2014

        – Experts said the shops were empty as people may have been put off by the ‘awful scenes’ two years ago

        The mayhem caused by customers fighting in the aisles during the infamous Black Friday of 2014 are a distant memory as shops were empty this morning after bargain hunters opted to stay safe and purchase the deals online.

        Many shopping centres and supermarkets across the UK were empty on Friday morning – despite many opening earlier to accommodate the anticipated rush which was seen two years ago.

        But it seems millions of customers stayed at home and splashed the cash on shopping websites – which resulted in a record-breaking day of sales.

        […] Britons are expected to spend up to £2billion on Friday, equivalent to nearly £1.5million a minute, and up to £4billion over the next four days – ending on Cyber Monday – as retailers make the most of the US shopping phenomenon.”


      • #21362
        Guest has a large Black Friday banner on the main page right now

        so does

        but does not

      • #21363

        Gee, just like the US!

      • #21364

        Ditto in Germany….without the mayhem, mostly

        The ads are for Black Friday not Schwartzer Freitag.

        Frohe Weihnachten

      • #21365

        Without the gunfire / deaths, though.


        And without the day off —

        since they don’t have Thanksgiving, they don’t have the day after Thanksgiving as a day off work (which a lot of Americans have, which is why it’s such a big shopping day for us), so it’s just a normal Friday in a normal workweek for them.
        That’s another reason there weren’t too many shoppers at their bricks-and-mortar stores on Friday.

        It would make more sense for their society if the last weekend in November evolved into being a big beginning-of-winter, pre-Christmas “sale” weekend (the Sat/Sun), rather than sticking to the Friday and the Monday in particular as occasions for a lot of discounts, because for them that Friday and that Monday have nothing to do with time off work, with a national holiday, with lots of people on the road travelling, with needing to decompress from all that familial time together.

      • #21366

        [ @Woody,
        oops, that was a vanishing thing over there!
        i understand why it was taken away
        but i hope you read what i wrote ]

      • #21367


        Oh, you’re talking about the automatically generated pingback notification, about Ed’s article? I generally delete pingbacks.

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