What to look for in a monitor

What to look for in a monitor

Most buying guides for monitors assume you’re buying a really expensive monitor for gaming. But there’s a lot more to look for than refresh rate and response time.

A good monitor can last 10 years and multiple computers, so it pays to make a good decision when buying one, even when you’re not spending $500. There can be a significant difference even between two $100 models, or between a $60 model and a $70 model, that will save you money in the long run.

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Building DOS gaming PCs

Building DOS gaming PCs

The ultimate DOS gaming PC is a topic that I’ve seen come up in forums frequently, and that I’ve been asked directly a number of times. I guess since I published advice on running DOS games on Windows PCs on two continents, people figured I knew something about that. I guess I fooled them!

The trouble is that no single PC can really be the “ultimate” DOS game machine. Well, not if your goal is to be able to optimally run everything from early 1980s titles designed for the original IBM PC up to the last DOS version of Quake. I learned that the hard way in 1995 or 1996, even before Quake existed. Read more

Taming Office 2013’s appearance

A couple of months ago I upgraded to Office 2013 at work. I liked it, but around the same time, my eyes started burning. I never made the connection, but then last week, when a coworker upgraded, he mentioned his eyes were burning, and he made the connection.

He found this guide for toning down Office. We both recommend the dark gray scheme, which is much easier on the eyes than the default harsh white scheme.

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Buy as much computer as you need

Veteran IT journalist Guy Wright advises not to buy any more computer than you need. Wright was a prominent Commodore journalist, so he’s been thinking this way for literally decades. I grew up reading the magazines he edited in the 1980s and 1990s–yes, really–so it’s not surprising that I would agree with him.

I saw a couple of points worth clarifying.

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Tinkering isn’t dead, but it is changing

When Radio Shack announced its bankruptcy, I read more fears that the age of tinkering is dead than I read laments for the store.

I follow the logic, because Radio Shack was the only national store chain that ever tried to cater to tinkerers. But I don’t think people abandoning Radio Shack means tinkering is necessarily dead. I have plenty of indications that it’s still very much alive, but it’s also very different from how it used to be.

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Tips on buying used stuff

I just found a Lifehacker piece on buying used stuff without getting ripped off. I have plenty of experience in this area.

The key, I think, is to deal in person, and test as much functionality as you can before handing over the cash. Read more

How to build Lifehacker’s retro coffee table on the cheap

Lifehacker posted a nice weekend project this week, a retro coffee table, but the price tag seems steeper than it needs to be. If you’re craving some retro goodness but think $300 is a bit much to spend to play old video games, I have some ideas for you.

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Memories of the land of blue shirts

Internet pal Rob O’Hara reminisced about opening a Best Buy (presumably) megastore in 1994. Interestingly, that summer I was doing basically the same thing, only in Illinois. And I lived within driving distance, so they didn’t put me up for the night, though as I recall they did provide at least one meal a day, and I really think they provided two. After all, we worked really long shifts.

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Exceptional–as in exceptions–budgeting

Consider the following scenario:

In [a consumer finance] study, the authors, Abigail Sussman of Princeton University and Adam Alter of New York University, ask you to imagine that one of your favorite bands is performing nearby. The ticket costs more than you would ordinarily spend, but you have never seen this band live and decide the experience is worth the cost.

The next week, your television breaks and you buy a pricey replacement because you only buy a new TV once every few years. A week later, you are celebrating your 10th wedding anniversary. Since this is a once-in-a-lifetime event, you decide that the occasion warrants a splurge.

Here’s how I would handle that sequence of events–a sequence of events that the study found many people Read more

Best Buy needs to clone Micro Center, not Radio Shack

So Best Buy is planning to close 50 big-box stores, downsize others, and try to focus its efforts on selling cell phones, tablets, and e-readers.

Sounds to me like they’re trying to become Radio Shack. Read more