A new beginning

Workshop 3Starting over isn’t easy, but when your site is hijacked, the database corrupted, well, sometimes it is best to put the past behind you.

I took a hiatus from this blog as I finished up work on our latest book: Basic Electronics: Theory and Practice which is being published by Mercury Learning at the end of this month. I was neglectful of its care and feeding and what happens?

I do want to take this opportunity to thank The Internet Archive Wayback Machine. The previous contents of this blog is discoverable here. Little by little, I’ll resurrect some content that I think is still meaningful and leave behind the reviews of now-surpassed technologies.  Take a minute to donate to them so that the glory that is the Internet glanced backwards from the future is viewable for posterity.

Holiday thoughts

Being a Geek means being obsessed, and obsession often leads to collecting. Collecting can be costly and so being a Geek means coming up with ways to keep our obsessions in line with the budgets that allow us to live without stress in our lives or in the lives of our families.

Most of us have stories of when our purchases got out of hand and put a kink in our finances. Our family, like many others, wants to have the latest hardware so that we can keep up with the advances in gaming, photography, mobile computing and coding. We don’t have the best, the biggest, the most insane-level devices–but current standards. Our electronics wouldn’t impress those order their devices as soon as the press conference starts, or impress those who consider themselves experts in the relevant field. My husband does some coding for work and for his own side-projects, my son is a hard-core gamer, daughter is a digital artist and photographer and I try to stay up-to-date on devices that allow me to do my work on the road, at home or while waiting in line running errands. There is constant pressure to upgrade and constant financial pressure to push back and get more value out of what we already own. We have to admit it though, technology is expensive and we have to be realistic in our spending.

Here are a couple realizations that we’ve come to on being a Geek family on a budget:

  • We live in an age of wonders–embrace older and cheaper tech. The next generation in gaming consoles came out this holiday season and on the top of most Geek’s wish list, but the generation of consoles (XBox360, PS3) they replace are still impressive. The Wii console first came out in 2006 but it remains a popular gaming platform with new games still being published. Used consoles and games are widely available and very affordable. The iPhone 6s might be the newest Apple model, but the iPhone 5s isn’t that far behind on specs or functionality. At some point, it does make sense to upgrade but just because you don’t have the most current model doesn’t mean you are falling behind.
  • ‘Tis better to give than receive–use your skills to give a gift of great value. If you are the family go-to tech gal, your expertise can be a gift that is greatly valued by those who have come to value your advice and help. A gift of a hour of training or to give their computers a check up and update with the promise of patience and non-judgment can improve their daily experience of technology throughout the year.
  • Take inventory. You might be surprised by all of the tech that is gathering dust in your home. Decide what might be appropriate to refurbish and sell, gift or donate. That 6 year old laptop might not be appropriate for the uses you subject your computer to, but would be a step up for someone on an even tighter budget or who doesn’t need to be any where near the bleeding edge of innovation. Before you recycle something that isn’t saleable, consider whether or not it can be repurposed for a DIY project.
  • Clear the clutter. A lot of times when we are under stress we add to it but not dealing with the clutter of cords, hard-drives, monitors and the like. Clearing the clutter can yield items that can be sold, recover items that we thought were lost and room to organize what we have left.
  • Don’t live in a state of wanting things. Letting go of the endless quest for more stuff frees your mind to enjoy what you have and can relieve the financial damage that yielding to the constant temptation can bring. You can find ways to satisfy the very natural desire for novelty by finding new activities to share passions with others in your Geek community. The library is always a great place to start or online communities devoted to your interests. Go outside, build something from what you have lying around, volunteer with community groups, read the books lying in unread piles around your home and maybe give that great fantasy novel you have been wanting to write the chance to live on the page instead of just in your dreams.