How to destroy a computer hard drive

When you get rid of a computer hard drive, it’s important to get rid of it properly. Your hard drive probably contains a lot of sensitive information on it, like tax returns or loan applications. Here’s how to destroy a computer hard drive when you need to.

Let’s set some expectations here. Making the data impossible to recover isn’t something you can do without a drive shredder. But you can make it so difficult and expensive to recover that nobody will bother. That’s good enough. If it costs $10,000 to recover the data from your drive, a thief isn’t going to do it, due to the risk that you don’t have $10,000 to steal.

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Save money on appliances

Save money on appliances

If you want to know how to save money on appliances, I have some unconventional advice: Buy used. Yes, really. Here’s how to buy used (or refurbished) appliances and save big money without getting ripped off.

I’ve had a number of friends get hit recently with appliance breakdowns they couldn’t afford, and since I’m a landlord, I’ve probably bought a lifetime’s worth of appliances in the last┬áseven years. A dead appliance doesn’t have to turn into a financial catastrophe.

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Not quite a new floor in a bottle, but…

There are several acrylic floor finishes–sometimes mistakenly called wax–that promise they’re like a new floor in a bottle. That’s a bit of an exaggeration, but if you have reasonable expectations, they definitely can make a floor look better and easier to clean. And depending on how you use them, they can even make the floor last longer.

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How I freed a seized-up garbage disposal

I’m sure all landlords have a story like this, but let me tell you my garbage disposal story. I don’t know what the last occupant put in that disposal, and I don’t want to know. What I do know is that it was completely seized up and wouldn’t run.

The motor hummed, which I know from years of tinkering with old Lionel and Marx electric trains that meant the motor wasn’t completely dead, so I had to find a way to free up whatever was keeping the motor from turning.

The usual fix is to use a garbage disposal wrench (which is really just an allen wrench–so you can use any allen wrench that fits) to spin the motor in both directions until it turns freely. There’s a little key in the center of the underside where the wrench goes. Mine wouldn’t budge. I wasn’t being wimpy either–I’d lean on it to the point where the disposal itself was shifting in its mount, but the motor stubbornly refused to go anywhere.

At this point I’d about written it off. A 1/3 horsepower Waste King Legend disposal costs around $55 online, and sometimes you can get their low-end half-horse unit for around $5 more, so I figured I didn’t have a whole lot to lose, and I knew I couldn’t make the disposal any worse.

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How to clean your LCD monitor or TV cheaply and safely

I found a nice trick this week. If those microfiber cloths that came with your LCD monitors and TV(s) have all wandered off, you can use a dry eraser instead to clean your LCD. They’re bigger, so they’re easier to keep track of, and easier to use too. Just wipe the screen with the eraser like you would if you were erasing a whiteboard.

If you have fingerprints or other gunk on the screen that a microfiber cloth or dry eraser can’t remove, dilute some white vinegar 1:1 with distilled water and apply it to a soft cloth to clean the screen.

How to get that dusty old train running again

It’s the weekend after Thanksgiving. The time of year when nostalgia runs high and ancient toy trains come out of the basement or the attic and get set up again until sometime after the new year.

Well, hopefully they make it that long. Here are some tips for getting old Lionel, American Flyer, Marx, and similar electric trains running again.

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