The Cheapskate's Guide to Bargain Computing: With CDROM

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The indispensable shopper's guide for every computer user!

Don't waste another dime! Whether you're a PC or Mac user, a novice or an expert, The Cheapskate's Guide to Bargain Computing can save you a fortune.

Discover 300+ great low-cost sources for hardware, software, peripherals, even Internet services. And learn the insider's buying tips ...

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Overview

The indispensable shopper's guide for every computer user!

Don't waste another dime! Whether you're a PC or Mac user, a novice or an expert, The Cheapskate's Guide to Bargain Computing can save you a fortune.

Discover 300+ great low-cost sources for hardware, software, peripherals, even Internet services. And learn the insider's buying tips salespeople never tell you…

  • Save big buying "almost-new" PCs
  • 50-70% software discounts: are you eligible?
  • The multimillionaire who's giving away free E-mail accounts
  • "Great deal" strategies for online auctions
  • Never pay for another floppy diskette!

With the Cheapskate's Guide, you'll never be ripped off! Discover…

  • What you must know about buying mail order
  • Slippery fine print in PC warranties
  • Hardware and software upgrades to avoid
  • 12 steps for evaluating a used PC
  • Tough questions for Internet service providers

There's more! 75 top tightwad Web sites. Low-cost repairs you really can do yourself. Why faster CD-ROMs aren't always better. Big savings on printer cartridges. Dirt-cheap 19Ó monitors. $50 home networks. You get a CD-ROM library of the world's best freeware and shareware for Windows 95, 3.x, Mac and DOS…word processors, spreadsheets, PIMs, graphics and Web tools, edutainment--even a Web page linked directly to your best online sources!

The Cheapskate's Guide to Bargain Computing: 500 pages stuffed with buying tips, great sources, and more. There's never been anything like it. Don't buy without it!

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780137564040
  • Publisher: Prentice Hall Professional Technical Reference
  • Publication date: 9/23/1997
  • Edition description: BK&CD ROM
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 528
  • Product dimensions: 7.01 (w) x 9.29 (h) x 1.46 (d)

Read an Excerpt

PREFACE: Introduction
This book is for you, if

  • You want, need, or already have a computer.
  • You believe in the value of a dollar—and you think it is vaguely (or explicitly!) immoral to waste money.
    Computers are extraordinary tools, and for some of us, they are awesome fun, too. It really doesn't matter whether you're simply trying to get the job done, or you actually like noodling around with computers: There's still no excuse to waste one hard-earned dime.
    The fact is, nowadays you can find awesome technology dirt-cheap. And there's some technology that isn't worth buying at any price, no matter how slick the advertising is.
    That's what this book is about: Helping you figure out what you really need and then showing you how to get it at the lowest possible cost.

    How This Cheapskate's Guide Will Save You Money In this book, I'll show you exactly how (and where) to shop for the best deals in

    • Computers
    • Software
    • Peripherals
    • Internet and other on-line services
    • Accessories and consumables
      I'll also show you what to watch out for—and what new technologies aren't all they're cracked up to be.
      Then I'll show you how to make the most of what you may already have. It's amazing how many people buy expensive software when their computers came with software that will do the job they need, at no additional cost.
      And on the accompanying Cheapskate's CD-ROM, you'll find a comprehensive library of Windows, Macintosh, and DOS shareware and freeware. When you don't have the right software, look here first, before youvisit your local computer store. This disk could contain practically all the software you'll ever need.
      You'll also find a Web page you can use with your Internet connection and Web browser to link to some of the world's best sources of inexpensive (or free) computer stuff. It will also link to our own Cheapskate's Web site—with up-to-date information on the world's best computer bargains.
      Speaking of the Internet, you'll find a lot more Internet resources in this book than I ever expected when I started writing. It turns out that, for the Cheapskates among us, the Internet is heaven on earth. I often wonder how long it can last—getting all that stuff for free on-line. Free software. Free information. You name it: While it's there, I say grab it.
      Things change fast in this business. I've tried my best to focus on sound buying principles and avoid using examples that will be out of date by the time you read the book, but inevitably some of the specific deals and prices I'll mention may change. We'll try to keep you updated as best we can on our Web site, nis.net/~bcamarda/cheapskt.htm.
      Whether you're a novice or an old hand, a PC user or a Mac aficionado, this book is designed to help you get more for your computing money. I hope you'll let me know how well I've succeeded. If you have good sources I haven't mentioned, tell me about them. I'd also like to hear about your experiences with the companies and buying techniques discussed in this book. Just e-mail me at bcamarda@nisnet.
      Thanks for investing your hard-earned dime in Cheapskate's Guide to Bargain Computing. I sincerely hope you'll come to depend on this book as your ongoing resource for getting the best value in everything computer related.

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Table of Contents

1. Buying a Computer—The Cheapskate's Way.
First Computer versus Second Computer. Unlimited Possibility = Unlimited Expense. Generations: How Much Computer Is Enough for You? What Are You Trying to Accomplish? Buying a Computer for Your Small Business. Buying a Computer for Your Family. Buying a Computer for a Writer. Buying a Computer for an Internet User. Buying a Computer for a Nonprofit Organization. Do You Need Windows 95 (or Windows 98)? Windows or Mac? Buy Now, or Wait? The Network Computer: For Individuals, a Pig in a Poke? New, Refurbished, or Used? Summary.

2. Buying a New Computer: Where, When, and How.
Name Brand or Generic? How Do You Evaluate a Vendor? What Are People Saying? Poor Customer Service Reputations. Ask the Right Questions. Processor and Bus Speed. Memory. How much memory do you really need? Hard Disks: Know When to Say When. Floppy, Keyboard, Mouse, and Operating System. "Useful" Software. Peripherals. Expandability. Warranty and Support. New Systems under $1,000—Finally! The Packard Bell C115. Everex Explora 995. Compaq Presario 2200 with the Cyrix Media GX. Where to Buy: A World of Market Channels. Superstores: How Super? Warehouse Clubs. The Direct Channel. Buying on the Web. Comparing Many Sellers at Once. Targeting an Exact Configuration or Price Point. Hallelujah! The Better Business Bureau Goes On-Line. Buying Generic PCs. Build It Yourself, from Scratch? Should You Ride Bare-bones? Computer Shows and Swap Meets. You're Not Finished When You Get the Box Home. Summary.

3. Refurbs, Preowned, andJust Plain Old.
Big Savings in Refurb Systems. Refurb Reliability. Is Your New Computer a Refurb in Disguise? The Refurb/Used Computer Jargon Hunt. What Brands Show Up as Refurb? Where to Get Refurbs. Manufacturer Outlets. Systems Coming Off Lease. IBM Credit Corporation. GE Capital. Rentex. Retail Refurbished Computer Outlets. Computer Renaissance. Where the Refurb Vendors Get Their Stuff. Government Surplus. Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service. Say Uncle: U.S. Customs Auctions. Other Government Sources. On-Line Auctions. On-Line Auction Tips and Tricks. Buying Used. The Late, Lamented. Just Too Old. Evolutionary Dead Ends. Commercial Sources for Older Used PCs. The Internet Clearinghouse. Finding Private Sellers. On-Line Classifieds. Buying Used Computers from a Private Seller. The Cheapskate's Twelve-Step Program for Evaluating a Used PC. Nonprofit Computer Recycling Programs. Summary.

4. Software "Onthe Cheap".
What Do You Already Have? Windows 95 Applets: A Gold Mine. The WordPad Word Processor. The HyperTerminal Communications Program. Microsoft Fax Software. Microsoft Exchange. Microsoft Paint. Microsoft Phone Dialer. Calculator. Microsoft Games. Windows 3.1 Applets: AnÉ UmmÉ Silver Mine. Windows Write. Windows Paintbrush. Windows Terminal. Windows Cardfile. Macro Recorder. Freebies That Come with Dos 6.x. Big News: DOS Is Now Free. GEOS: Faux "Windows" on Your Ancient XT. Cheap Commercial Software. Academic Software: Brilliant, If You Qualify. Dirt-Cheap Business Applications. Get the "Works": Integrated Software. The Cheapskate's List of Useless Software. The Learning Company (Formerly Softkey). Essex Interactive. Software Upgrades: When Are They Worth It? Rebates: How Manufacturers Have Their Cake and Eat It, Too. Why Does This Rebate Exist? Buying Software by Mail. Alternate Sources. Buying "Previous Version" Software. USox. Seven Pointers for Buying Used Software. Free Software on the Web. The Microsoft Web Site. Symantec: It's Always Something. Turn Your PC Into a High-Powered Workstation. Summary.

5. Peripherals and Upgrades: What's Worth It, What's Not.
The Limits to Upgrading. Memory: The Universal Upgrade. The Mysterious Memory Market. What Memory? I Forget. Where to Buy Memory. Used Memory. Memory Sources. Hard Drives. Do You Need a New Hard Drive at All? Data Compression: Something for Nothing? Repartitioning: Waste Not, Want Not. Buying a New Hard Drive. Bare Drive or Package? Hard Drive Sources. CD-ROM Drives. More CD-ROM Buying Tips. The Spectre of Multimedia Past. Monitors: What You See, and What You Get. Monitors by the Numbers. A Ten-Step Guide to Evaluating Monitors. Good Deals on Refurb Monitors. Giant Monitors, Tiny Price. Video Cards. Modems: When to Buy? A Closer Look at 56K Modems. The Long-Term Move to Software Modems. If You Only Need Fax. All the Modem Answers You Could Ever Want. Where to Buy. Sound Cards. Printers. Refurbished Printers. Processor Upgrades. Overclocking: Live Fast, Die Young? Assorted Stuff That Doesn't Fit Anywhere Else. Summary.

6. Accessories and Consumables.
Diskettes. Superstore Loss Leaders. If You Can't Wait. Use 5.25" Diskettes if Possible. The Late, Lamented AOL Diskette Airlift. Laser Labels. Laser Printer Paper. Laser Toner. Laser Cartridges: Remanufactured vs. Refilled. "Economode" Printing. Inkjets: Initial Cost vs. Consumables Cost. Inkjet Refills. Cables. Books. The Book Bargainbot Search Agent. Free Books On-line. Summary.

7. Cheapskates On-Line! Inexpensive and Free On-Line Resources.
Choosing an Internet Service Provider: A Cheapskate's Guide. Internet Access through Colleges. Internet Access at Your Public Library. Be in the Right Place at the Right Time. Free Introductory Internet Access Offers. Hourly Rates for Light Internet Users. Free, Advertiser-Supported Internet Service. Pay-in-Advance Discounts. Account Sharing. Pseudo-SLIP Shell Accounts. Community Networks and Freenets. Internet Access: They're Not Making It Any Cheaper. Choosing the Right Internet Service Provider. Finding ISPs. Basic Questions to Ask Any Service Provider. Spend Less Time, Spend Less Money. Taking the Wait Out of the Web. Free and Evaluation Web Browsers. Surfing the Web from DOS. Free Web Pages for Businesses. For the Courageous Cheapskate: Free Web Servers. Now That You're on the Web. Net Freebies. Free Directory Assistance. Free E-Mail. Juno. Hotmail. More Free E-Mail Sites. The Same E-Mail Address, Forever. Free Long-Distance Phone Calls. Discount Videoconferencing. Free News. PointCast. Individual NewsPage. Mercury Mail. Trade Magazines on the Web: Insider's Secret. Summary.

8. The Cheapskate's Guide to Troubleshooting ,Repairs, and Preventive Maintenance.
Your Computer's Physical Environment. Smoke Gets in Your Drives. Static Kills. Feel the Power: You Won't Like It. The Heat Is On (and On, and On). Protecting Your Software and Data. Backups: The Topic Everyone Hates. Making Sure Your Tape Backups Really Back Up. Make a System Startup Disk. Windows 95 Registry Problems: Be Prepared. Know When to Leave Well Enough Alone. See That Button? Don't Press It. Run the Latest Antivirus Software. A Little Routine Drive Maintenance. Inventory Your System. Drivers, He Said. See What's in CMOS. Get Yourself a Diagnostics Program. The Worst Happens. Now What? Some Overall Troubleshooting Guidelines. Forgive Me for Asking a Stupid Question, But. "I Turned the Computer On And Nothing Happened". Blame the "Cable" Company (So, What Else Is New?). Beep! Checking POST Codes. "It Can't Find My Hard Drive!". "It Just Hangs—Even More Than It Used To". Battery Problems. A Few "Easier Said Than Done" Ideas. Resurrecting PS/2s from the Dead. It's Alive. Now What? Repairs and Upgrades in Order of Difficulty. Cheapskate or Computer Nerd? Cutting the Cost of Technical Support. Finding the Right Service Technician. Repair or Replace? Summary.

9. The Cheapskate Mac.
Macs in the Late 90s: The Big Change. If You're Buying Now. What to Ask When Rhapsody Arrives. A Guide to Apple's Macs—and the Clones. Getting Buying Information on the Web. Apple. Discount Sources for Apple Macintoshes. Power Computing. UMAX. Motorola StarMax. APS Technologies. PowerTools: Build Your Own Bare-bones Mac. Clone Buying Tips. Buying a Used Mac. Sources for Used Macs. A Word about Compact Macs. Free Repairs: Apple Repair Extension Programs. Power Macintosh and Performa 5200, 5300, 6200 and 6300 Series. PowerBook Models 5300, 5300c, 5300ce, and 5300cs; 190 and 190cs. PowerBook 5300 and PowerBook 190 computers. PowerBook 5300 computers only. AppleVision 1710 and 1710AV Monitors. Forgetful Old Macs. Cheapskate Software Performance Upgrades. Connectix RAM Doubler 2.0. Connectix Speed Doubler 2.0. Motorola's Free Math Libraries: LIBMOTO. Cheapskate Hardware Performance Upgrades. Like Cache in the Bank. Clock Chipping. Free Macintosh Technical Support. Get Your Old Monitor to Work with Your New Mac (or Vice Versa). Cheapskate Mac Software Sources. Cheapskate Mac Buying Tips That Didn't Fit Anywhere Else. Summary.

10. Networking.
Printer Sharing. Low-End Data Sharing. MS-DOS 6.x Interlnk. Windows 95 Direct Cable Connection. Your Own Private Ethernet Network. Making Your Network Work. Summary.

11. Where to Find Out More.
Print and CD-ROM. Computer Shopper. Processor. PC World. PC Magazine CD. The Cheapskate's Top 50+ Web Site List. Information. Computers. Software. Peripherals. Accessories and Consumables. Internet Resources. Troubleshooting. Mac Stuff. Books. Summary.

12. The Cheapskate's Software Library.
If You're Craving Even More. Windows 95 Shareware Library. Word Processing. Painting. File Converter. Compression. Web Browser. Web Authoring. Web Utility. Project Management. Children's Educational. Windows 3.1 Shareware Library. Word Processing. Spreadsheet. Personal Information Manager. Painting. File Viewer. Compression. Web Browser. Web Authoring. Web Utility. Personal Finance. Children's Educational. Utilities. MS-DOS Software Library. Word Processing. Spreadsheet. Database. Painting. Personal Finance. Children's Educational. Macintosh Shareware Library. Word Processing. Spreadsheet. Integrated Software. Personal Information Manager. File Viewer. Web Browser. Web Authoring. Web Utility. Personal Finance. Project Management. Children's Educational. Utilities. Summary.

Appendix A: Source Quick Reference.
Appendix B: The CD-ROM.
How This CD-ROM Is Organized. Getting Decompression Software. Decompressing the Files. Running the Software. More Important Information about This Software.

Read More Show Less

Preface

PREFACE: Introduction
This book is for you, if

  • You want, need, or already have a computer.
  • You believe in the value of a dollar—and you think it is vaguely (or explicitly!) immoral to waste money.
    Computers are extraordinary tools, and for some of us, they are awesome fun, too. It really doesn't matter whether you're simply trying to get the job done, or you actually like noodling around with computers: There's still no excuse to waste one hard-earned dime.
    The fact is, nowadays you can find awesome technology dirt-cheap. And there's some technology that isn't worth buying at any price, no matter how slick the advertising is.
    That's what this book is about: Helping you figure out what you really need and then showing you how to get it at the lowest possible cost.

    How This Cheapskate's Guide Will Save You Money In this book, I'll show you exactly how (and where) to shop for the best deals in

    • Computers
    • Software
    • Peripherals
    • Internet and other on-line services
    • Accessories and consumables
      I'll also show you what to watch out for—and what new technologies aren't all they're cracked up to be.
      Then I'll show you how to make the most of what you may already have. It's amazing how many people buy expensive software when their computers came with software that will do the job they need, at no additional cost.
      And on the accompanying Cheapskate's CD-ROM, you'll find a comprehensive library of Windows, Macintosh, and DOS shareware and freeware. When you don't have the right software, look here first, beforeyouvisit your local computer store. This disk could contain practically all the software you'll ever need.
      You'll also find a Web page you can use with your Internet connection and Web browser to link to some of the world's best sources of inexpensive (or free) computer stuff. It will also link to our own Cheapskate's Web site—with up-to-date information on the world's best computer bargains.
      Speaking of the Internet, you'll find a lot more Internet resources in this book than I ever expected when I started writing. It turns out that, for the Cheapskates among us, the Internet is heaven on earth. I often wonder how long it can last—getting all that stuff for free on-line. Free software. Free information. You name it: While it's there, I say grab it.
      Things change fast in this business. I've tried my best to focus on sound buying principles and avoid using examples that will be out of date by the time you read the book, but inevitably some of the specific deals and prices I'll mention may change. We'll try to keep you updated as best we can on our Web site, nis.net/~bcamarda/cheapskt.htm.
      Whether you're a novice or an old hand, a PC user or a Mac aficionado, this book is designed to help you get more for your computing money. I hope you'll let me know how well I've succeeded. If you have good sources I haven't mentioned, tell me about them. I'd also like to hear about your experiences with the companies and buying techniques discussed in this book. Just e-mail me at bcamarda@nisnet.
      Thanks for investing your hard-earned dime in Cheapskate's Guide to Bargain Computing. I sincerely hope you'll come to depend on this book as your ongoing resource for getting the best value in everything computer related.

Read More Show Less

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