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How To Control Your Data Online

by Justin Thomas •

We’ve become accustomed to online companies hosting our data, but this practice is actually highly inefficient. This page explains the situation pretty simply. My advice is to use “unhosted” online services that support personal data control, or “zero-knowledge” services that encrypt your data before it leaves your computer. I’ve created a list of suitable services at the end of this …

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Efficient In 2012: Collaborative Consumption

by Justin Thomas •

The rise of collaborative consumption is perhaps the most efficient movement arising in society today. Basically, collaborative consumption is based on an economic model where products are shared or rented instead of owned. This model may become pervasive enough to replace the ownership-based model we have today. For good introduction to this movement, see the video above. It’s by Rachel …

Efficient: Private, Decentralized Networks

by Justin Thomas •

The Internet is a wonderful invention, and we are now entering a time where the Internet is becoming nearly ubiquitous in our lives and quickly supplanting traditional forms of media. However, today the Internet is often censored and tracked by Internet Services Providers (ISPs) and companies like Google and Facebook, as well as governments around the world. (I’ve outlined some …

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Mint: A Free, Easy-To-Use Operating System

by Justin Thomas •

I’ve converted my Apple computers to run Mint Linux in place of OS X. Mint Linux was built to be easy to install and a system that novice users could enjoy. Based on Ubuntu, Mint became the poplar desktop version of Linux this year. Linux is a free, open-source operating system that been around for 30 years. It’s not widely …

The Best External Hard Drives

by Justin Thomas •

External hard drives allow you to add terabytes of storage to your computer for a few hundred dollars. External drives connect to PCs and Macs via their external connectors. Almost every computer has a USB 2.0 port, so it’s the most common type of connection currently. Here’s the speed of other interfaces (from slowest to fastest): FireWire 400, USB 2.0, FireWire 800, eSATA (external …

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The Best LED Reading Lamps

by Justin Thomas •

The small size and directional light output of LEDs make them ideal for personal reading lights, and they are energy efficient too. Here are some of the best LED reading lamps:

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The Best Stereo Amplifiers

by Justin Thomas •

This year, we found that Onkyo and Harmon Kardon are the brands that produced the best budget stereo amplifiers. Above the $500 level, your best bet is a amplifier like the Marantz PM6004 Integrated Amplifier. It received What Hi-Fi’s Product Of the Year in 2011. See also our master list of American-made amplifiers and audio products on Reactual. The Best Budget Amplifier: Onkyo …

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The Best LED Camping Lanterns

by Justin Thomas •

LED Lanterns are perhaps the most useful portable lights — they can be used as camp lights, work lights, or emergency lights. The LEDs inside aren’t susceptible to shocks, and they burn for decades.

The Best Golf Cart Chargers

by Justin Thomas •

What do you want in a golf cart charger? Golf cart batteries are lead-acid batteries that operate at 36 or 48 volts. Like all lead-acid batteries, they must be charged at a specific voltage and amperage levels. They cannot be fast charged — a full charge requires 14 to 16 hours.

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A Review Of NiZn Batteries

by Justin Thomas •

NiZn (Nickel-Zinc) batteries are a type of rechargeable AA battery that operates with a nominal voltage 1.6 volts, which is very close to the 1.5 volts of alkaline batteries. This makes NiZn battery perform well in high-drain devices like handheld games.