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.
Continue reading What to look for in a monitor
Someone asked me recently for a cost comparison of MTH Realtrax vs. Lionel Fastrack. Both are similar O gauge track systems with plastic roadbed. MTH’s system has been on the market a few years longer, but Lionel’s is more popular, in spite of being more expensive.
Let’s figure out just how much more expensive it is.
Continue reading Cost comparison of Realtrax vs Fastrack
A fellow Marx collector asked recently for information about sets containing the elusive Marx windup 490 (also sometimes called the mechanical 490), so I thought I would share what I know about set number 452.
Continue reading Marx train set 452
The Lionel LW Trainmaster is a 125 watt transformer that Lionel produced from 1955 to 1966. They are reasonably durable and Lionel made them for a long time. That means you can find them easily on the secondary market. They can be expensive if they have their original box and paperwork. But if you just want to run a train and don’t care about the paper, you can get a serviced LW for $50-$60, and an as-is one for under $40. At 125 watts, it’s the most powerful single-handle transformer of the postwar era.
The LW is a quirky transformer so there are some things about if you need to be aware of if you have other Lionel transformers, but as long as you keep those in mind, it’s a fine transformer that will serve you well. The quirks have nothing at all to do with reliability. Lionel just designed its layout a bit differently than many of their other models. In some ways it’s the ideal accessory transformer. We’ll cover that later.
One thing to keep in mind: Unplug the LW when you’re not using it. It doesn’t have its own power switch. I plug my transformers into a power strip and turn all of them on and off with the strip’s on/off switch.
Continue reading All about the Lionel LW transformer
Someone asked me recently about the Lionel CW-80 and how it compares vs older transformers. That’s a fair question, and one that tends to stir up a lot of emotions on train forums. So I’ll try to present the pros and cons in a fair manner.
Continue reading Lionel CW-80 vs vintage transformers
I’ve been asked a few times now for my recommended DD-WRT settings, or at least my good-enough settings. I think that’s a great idea, so I’ll walk through how I configure a DD-WRT router. Follow these steps and I can almost guarantee you’ll have the most secure network on your block.
For the purposes of this tutorial, I am going to assume you are configuring DD-WRT as your primary router.
Continue reading Recommended DD-WRT settings
When will SSDs be cheaper than hard drives? Based on history, it’s possible to make an educated guess, and I’m going to do it.
Back in 2011, I noticed that historical hard drive pricing fell in line pretty nicely with Moore’s Law, and predicted that SSDs would do the same. I predicted that SSDs would reach 25 cents per gigabyte sometime in 2016, and was wrong. They hit that price in 2015. So I was late by a few months.
But I’m still willing to try to predict when SSDs will cost less than hard drives. I’ll predict when they’ll hit parity too.
Continue reading When will SSDs be cheaper than hard drives?
Many years ago, I wrote something titled Memory Buying Secrets. That post is lost to history, thanks to migrations in this site’s early years, but there are a number of things you need to know when you’re buying memory that can save you money and frustration, so I figured I would revisit that topic today. Here are my tips for buying computer memory, based on decades of experience. Continue reading Tips for buying computer memory
I’ve long recommended hard-coding your DNS settings as a performance and reliability enhancement–here’s my guide for that–but it turns out it can be a security enhancement too.
Botnets targetting routers aren’t new at all, but there’s a particularly nasty one named Moose running around right now. Among other things, it changes routers’ DNS settings to point to rogue DNS servers that allow the attackers to steal your social media credentials, furthering the bot. Continue reading How hard-coding your DNS can improve your security
I’ve been hearing the same new idea at work for about 10 years. The idea is pretty straightforward: Since my home PC updates itself whenever it wants and I don’t have problems, why don’t we do the same thing at work so we won’t need expensive update deployment tools?
There are generally two problems with that.
Continue reading Why shouldn’t corporations just let software auto update?