What salary do I need to buy a house?

What salary do I need to buy a house?

What salary do I need to buy a house? I struggled with that question in my 20s and it probably kept me renting a year or so longer than I really needed to be. Then again, considering the housing crisis of 2007-2008, renting a year or so longer was a small price to pay to avoid potentially making the biggest financial mistake of my life.

One of the reasons for that financial crisis was not enough people asking that question. A second reason was banks being dishonest about the answer.

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What to look for in a USB flash drive

What to look for in a USB flash drive

USB flash drives are pretty much a necessity these days. They’re far more convenient for moving files around than optical discs, and they make good backup devices. But not all USB flash drives are created equal. Here’s what to look for in a USB flash drive.

Here’s a tip: I don’t just use USB flash drives for transporting data and backups. I like to keep a modest-sized USB flash drive plugged into my router, turning it into a small NAS. It gives me a convenient, reliable place to back up data from any of my computers.

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What can I do to improve the security of my digital information?

On Monday, March 13 at approximately 10:30 AM CST, I will be appearing on KFUO Radio’s Faith and Family program to discuss home computer security with host Andy Bates. One of the questions he’s planning to ask: “What can I do to improve the security of my digital information?”

This, fortunately, may be the easiest question to answer and the easiest step to implement.

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Cleaning the Windows registry – and optimizing

Cleaning the Windows registry is a popular and controversial topic. Many pundits tell you never to do it. When I wrote a book about Windows back in 1999, I dedicated most of one chapter to the topic. But today the pundits have a point. Most registry cleaning utilities do much more harm than good. I don’t recommend you clean your registry, per se, but I do recommend you maintain it.

I don’t want to dismiss the concept completely out of hand. There’s a difference between a bad idea and a bad implementation. Registry cleaning and maintenance is a victim of bad implementation. But that doesn’t mean it was a bad idea. So let’s talk about how to get the benefit while minimizing the drawbacks.

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Repair a Lionel train motor

If you want to fix a Lionel train, what you probably really need to do is repair a Lionel train motor. There isn’t much to the rest of the train.

The motors tend to be pretty rugged and they’ve held up over the years. Most “repairs” are really more of a clean and service job, not unlike taking your car in for an oil change. Here are some general principles to follow when you clean and service a Lionel motor.

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Keep Marx sliding couplers from hanging up

Keep Marx sliding couplers from hanging up

In Marx’s cheapest sets, it utilized cars that had sliding couplers with only a twist holding them in place. The end of the coupler had a couple of tabs, and a twist secured them without any additional parts.

The problem is, sometimes this twist catches the slot wrong when going around a turn and gets stuck. Then the cars derail as the train comes out of the curve. That’s probably not what you want.

Here’s a cheap, easily reversible modification to keep them from hanging up.

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Fasten Lionel track to foam board

Foam board is nice for building train layouts, since it’s lightweight and versatile. It’s easy to cut and shape into mountains and valleys and rivers. It’s also inexpensive. The problem is that screws won’t stick in it. So it’s tricky to fasten Lionel track to foam board. It’s difficult to fasten any other kind of track too.

Here are two ways to do it.

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AT&T U-Verse vs Charter Spectrum Internet

AT&T U-Verse vs Charter Spectrum Internet

I’ve had high speed Internet for about as long as anyone in my ZIP code–as soon as DSL was available, I signed up and paid through the nose for it. It took a while for fiber to become an option, but I switched once I did. I’ve been a Southwestern Bell/AT&T customer for a good 17 years. Over the years I weighed it and AT&T U-Verse vs Charter Spectrum.

Recently I switched to Charter though. There are pros and cons to each of them, so I thought going through them might be helpful. Keep in mind Charter recently acquired Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks, so this applies to former Time Warner Cable and Bright House areas as well.

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How to lubricate a Marx motor

How to lubricate a Marx motor

I found a video titled How to Lubricate with Labelle, and I thought I would elaborate on how to adapt Labelle’s advice to Marx trains. You don’t have to use Labelle oil and grease necessarily, though I do like their products.

Lubrication is a more controversial topic than it needs to be, but what I find is that when I follow the advice I’m about to present, the train runs cooler, more quietly, with more pulling power, and starts at a lower voltage. All of those are good things. With a single reduction motor, I can pull six of the metal 3/16 scale cars at 7-8 volts. An unlubricated motor might not even start at 7 volts.

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