Monthly Archives: July 2014

Newt Gingrich on Peace


Vladimir Nabokov on Prudence

Vladimir Nabokov

Some Tablet Tribulations


The HP TouchPad Fire Sale

It seems like a time to reassess my mobile computing needs.  I have a three year old HP Touchpad, which … is long in the tooth, along with a stillborn WebOS  and a dwindling cost conscious counterintutive fan base for support.  While I could continue to muddle along with relying upon a HP Touchpad, it is the content creation criteria which causes me to look elsewhere.






I have been a long time enthusiast about the Amazon Kindle, particularly the E-Ink devices.  My  Generation 2 device with 3G Whispernet, affectionally dubbed “Striker”, has served me well since 2010.  But the battery is going.  While batteries for the Kindle can be acquired, I am leery about installing it myself and I can not readily convince computer geeks to do it for me.

The easy answer would be to upgrade but that is not the right answer for me.  I inherited a Kindle Generation 3 with WiFi, which is better for reading but I can not use it for internet access to text based web sites without WiFi as can be done with a Gen 2 reader.

Upgrading to a Kindle Paperwhite has drawbacks.  Now even the 3G Paperwhite only allows access to Wikipedia and the Amazon site, so I wonder why would people pay the extra $50?  Moreover, Amazon has eliminated the headphone option on their E-Ink devices along with the Text to Speech ability.  That was a deal breaker for me. There are times when I want to consume the written word, but I can’t have my eyes on the screen.  But this “read to me” capability exists in two forms for the Kindle Fire.

As a consumer reward, I was able to get my eager hands on a Kindle Fire 2.

Despite having a few different bluetooth keyboards which could be paired with the Kindle Fire 2, the  7″ screen along with the available applications fails to  make it into a productivity device. And one of the supplemental cases which combines a bluetooth keyboard with a case makes the tablet seem bulky, which defeats the purpose of mobile computing. While I definitely anticipate using the Kindle Fire HD 2, its use will likely be as a supplemental reader and a visual content consuming device.

My digital discernment is that I should have a content creation mobile device.  Even though  smartphones are getting bigger displays, I do not think that such Phablets (phone tablets), lend themselves to prolonged productivity in mobile computing.   I am not looking for a laptop replacement as I already have a Windows 7 laptop, which suits my needs and runs software which will not work in a tablet environment.  Thus I want something in between a laptop and a tablet– a laplet.


These criteria leave room for the Microsoft Surface RT.  The 10.6″ 16×9 screen is large enough for immersive video viewing, but is also a good size for productivity without becoming unwieldy.  The draw of the Surface RT is to have a complimentary full suite of Office 2013 RT available (the O/S upgrade includes Windows 8.1. and Outlook).  But as an Ultraportable tablet to optimize productivity, it requires the keyboard cover.

The original price point for the Surface 32 RT was $499 with a $119 add on for the keyboard (or $699 for the 64GB with keyboard bundled)  which put it in the iPad price point, which was overpriced for the market.  Currently there are great deals on manufacturer refurbished Surface RT units.  When one can have a 64 GB unit for 1/3rd of the original MSRP through popular auction sites, it is worth considering by the Thrifty Techie.


SEE MORE at the Thrifty-Techie.US website


Bill Murray on Reading

Bill Murray

Friedrich Nietzsche on Life


Tony LaRussa on Baseball

A Bit About Who Is the Thrifty Techie

Perhaps I can be considered a rara avis by technology standards.  I relish technologies, but resist getting the
latest and greatest.  I have consistently opted for lesser popular products which better met my needs.
This technical preamble serves to stipulate that I have never owned an Apple product.  No Macs, no iPods, no iPhones
and no iPads.  When I tried out the  Apple LISA  in the early 1980s, I was not totally enchanted by the GUI interface, yet I appreciate howsome may be swayed by having
having an easy to use screen.  I thrice tried installing iTunes on a PC but found that the software tried to take over the CPU so I uninstalled it. From a bottom line perspective, Apple
products tend to cost much more than their counterparts because it is a vertically integrated company so they charge a premium for sleek designs “which just work”. For iPods, Apple took over 70% of the market,

When tablets first came out, they started at $600 which was way too much for a Thrifty Techie. So I was happy to get my HP Touchpad at 1/3 of the price.  HP tried pricing their WebOS tablet the same
price-point as iPods so few sold.  After 10 weeks of stagnant sales, HP decided to withdraw from the tablet marketplace and had a fire sales.  Although logistics prevented me from buying a bottom of the barrel price, I was happy with what I paid.  I knew that the OS was stillborn,
but believed that it had enough apps to be useful.  I termed that HP Touchpad tablet purchase as “turning into a torpedo”.  Three years later, I am happily using the tablet.  There are some challenges with not having new apps, but it still suits my purposes for quite a while.

I have  been a longtime ebook reader enthusiast.  I got in when the $300 price point was cut in half via refurbishments. At the time, Sony, Kobo (via Borders), the Nook (via Barnes and Noble) and Kindle (via Amazon) were the choices.   Aside from
assessing the ebook hardware,  ebook reader purchasers must really also include what merchant from whom you want to be locked into buying.  I chose Amazon
and never regretted it.  Their customer service, particularly for the Kindle, has been fantastic.  I have perhaps a thousand books but have only really purchased a score of them since Kindle readers often have promos available.    With the Kindle, some great features are constantly added yet some desirable features have been
discontinued on certain models (switching batteries, adding external memory,
unbridled Whispernet, text-to-speech) so upgrading is not always an easy
choice.It is interesting that several technology providers which I chose had brief market lives.  But with the rapidity of change in technology and the planned obsolescence, one should not plan that any particular technology to be forever viable, no matter how well kept it is.

What this techno retrospective has demonstrated is that this Thrifty Techie thinks outside of the box when choosing technology based upon his utility analysis.  This Thifty Techie is an inveterate bargain hunter but who knows that the lowest price is not always the best bargain.  By assessing features and pairing them with desired abilities, he can determine when it is better to hold onto a gadget or appreciate that one is sinking good money after bad on an

May the help you discern what is the best choice for you.

SEE MORE at Thrifty-Techie.US 

Some of Why Thrifty-Techie.US?


We live in a time where technology can overwhelm us. Perhaps 15% of the population are early adopters, who relish paying top dollar to get a shiny new techno toy which is supposedly the latest and greatest. The most devoted to this cult will camp out for days to be amongst
the first in line to get a newly released gadget.  There are plenty of places where these gadget
geeks can satisfy their techno lust.
Toward the other end of the technology spectrum, there are people could jocularly be
referred to as  neo-Luddites who do not consider technology a priority and may be a hindrance to living well.  Yet  few people  actually live without gadgets. Their lack of understanding and interest in technology sometimes traps them into a modus operendi which is both expensive and inefficient.
While I appreciate the onslaught of new technology, I want to find solutions which give
the most bang for the buck. 

Harry Browne on Government

Harry Browne

John Dingell on the Kardashians

When an official EPA Twitter account sent the message: “I’m now a C-List celebrity in Kim Kardashian: Hollywood. Come join me and because famous too by playing on iPhone!”, it got the attention of establishment politicians.  While the tweet was probably an automatic message sent by a game app which an EPA employee had on a work phone, it rankled the ire of twenty eight TERM incumbent Representative John Dingell (D-MI 12th).

Dingell’s staff tweeted the message that the Dean of the House had no idea what the Kardashians are.  Later, after being briefed, Dingell was only left with more questions.

While Dingell’s balliwick has been the Energy and Commerce Committee, this wasteful use of taxpayer dollars should call into question EPA budget issues.