Monthly Archives: July 2008

July, A record month for this blog and why

This month has really been a great month for this blog, it looks like Jason Dragon is getting some critical mass. July of 08 had over 2.3 times the unique visitors as the second best month, May of 08. Blogs are suppose to go up but this is a lot faster than normal. July 30 was the best day ever passing July 24 by 6 hits.

The stats say that this is due to a few things. First I started a Computer Entry section which is simply a page that has a list of all the blogs that I wrote on the subject of computer, but this page is very popular, it is on the top 5 of my pages every month. In that section I wrote an article about Laptop computers, and from the day I wrote it it has always been in the top 2 of all the pages. It now is by far the most popular article that I have ever written. But there is an article I just wrote yesterday, about StoresOnline, that had the LARGEST first day viewing of anything I ever wrote, it had more views than my entire blog was getting last month. The subject is something that many people are asking about online.

I also did a few things differently, I blogged a bit more with 14 entries, my previous record was 12. I also added my blog to StumbleUpon, I did not put the links from my blog so I really only got a few hits from that. But the MAIN area where I got more hits was by finding great blogs that had content that was much like mine and if I found a place where I could push the conversation forward, almost half of my new visitors came from that. I also was added to the Planet section of PF Buzz along with many of the top Finance blogs. I also was able to get more hits by adding more tags to my articles, I have about 20% of the hits coming from this. I also added myself to twitter finally, I have been trying it out before I publicize it but you can check it out if you like. I also rewrote my personal webpage at

My best blogging moment of the month was due to a fairly unpopular buy very important blog I wrote, about why our country is in trouble economically. I linked to the Perot Charts site and the right hand guy, Mike Poss, of Ross Perot noticed the link and came to my blog, read it and took the time to email me about it. I always liked Ross Perot so it made me feel good to get this note.

In other blogging news I am still in the race for the 7m7y contest. This is a contest that could be described as mentorship by a really great and successful guy. He is going to mentor only 7 people and he is willing to do it for 7 years. He will help them all become multimillionaires. He will document the process and write a book on it. In two weeks or so the final 7 will be selected, I really hope I am one.

Thank you to all my readers, and all the people that subscribe to this blog, if it was not for you I would not be doing this, and this process has really taught me a lot.

Thanks, Jason Dragon

The StoresOnline meeting, what I thought

I always am trying to learn about business. Today I attended an event that I received an invitation for. It is for a company called StoresOnline or It is a company that sends our huge amounts of direct mail with invitations to an event about how to make money on the internet. They promise free dinner and a free (128MB) MP3 player to everyone who shows up and stays for the whole event.

Well let me tell you what it is all about, and what you should expect if you ever go to one. First off they seemed professional and they really has their act together. While we waited for it to start they were showing a slideshow with facts about the internet and how big of an opportunity it is. It started on time then they spent about 30 minutes telling people about the internet, and how powerful it was. They then offered a website you could build yourself, selecting from about 40 templates, inserting your text and photos, and setting up your shopping cart with the items you want to sell. It was almost like the one that I currently use, PrecisionWeb, but they made everything through the website, no FTP, no domain name, no email or any of that (At least they did not mention this). For this service they charge a set-up fee of $199 (That if you bought before you left the room and thought about it would be reduced to $50.). Then they charged a hosting fee of $24.95 per month. I pay only $19.95 a month for my service and I get MUCH MORE than they offer.

Now here is where it starts to get really bad. They took some polls. First off most of the people there were over the age of 65. Next of the 200+ people there only 7 of the people in the room currently had a website of any kind. (That includes MySpace or blogs or anything) Next at least 2/3rds of the people I talked to there did not even own a computer. Now at the end of the meeting they handed everyone a order form/contract. If you sign it says they will bill your credit card the monthly fee until you cancel in writing. For me it was crazy. But I was surprised when I looked around almost half of the people there were signing up, handing over their credit card info and their money. One guy who signed up for his own web site did NOT even have a computer, and only used one a few times in his life.

The people who run StoresOnline know that almost all of these people will NEVER make even one sale. Whenever they talked about their success rate they always said “Very active clients” or something to that extent. Should you really be selling this service to people who you know with 98% certanty that they will never do anything with it, is that really ethical?

Now I would say that everything they said was very honest (They were careful about this), and they did disclose a lot of things about but they did not mention and success rates or anything that would make people think twice about this. Many times the pointed out how much that they were disclosing, even though the most important things were not. It was very polished.

Now they started talking about the fact that if you have a web site but nothing links to it, and no one knows about it, it will never be successful, which is very true. They now said that they have the fix for this, and they will show you how you will found with ease and how you can make a ton of money using their secret tricks to get listed first in every search engine. They then showed some examples of their clients, like the one who is FIRST on google with the keywords “inland empire thomas guide”. OK anyone that knows about SEO is laughing right now, I know. It was hard for me not to. If you search for “thomas guide” they are middle on the second page, not too bad. They listed 10 different methods that they will teach you to drive traffic to your site, such exciting things as, “Permission Email”, “Newsletters”, and “Affiliate Programs”, and they promised to teach you all the secrets of these. What was missing from the list is anything that is Web 2.0, such as blogging or and community like linked in or myspace. Everything they were showing was right from 2001.

Next they pushed an event in two weeks where they would be talking more in depth about internet marketing. You would need to buy the plan today in order to go to this event. And then they dropped the bomb, at this event in two weeks they will offer a package that will give you access to these secrets and the other things that you need to get people to go to your site it will ONLY cost $3,600, but they will make a special offer at the event, but you have to go to hear about it. They then talked a bit about dropshipping and how it is the KEY to success, then they told the only lie of the night about how people can go to your site, order something and some of the money is “Wired” to your paypal account while the rest of the money is sent to your dropshipper and it all happens while you sleep with nothing from you. I talked to them later and they said that it really is not possible to do this but they just wanted to make it simple to understand for the people there, and I found that acceptable. They talked a lot about dropshipping and that they had a special secret list of dropshippers. I do not know for sure but I would bet you that this is NOT included in the $3,600 that it is an extra charge. They also talked about 1 on 1 consulting and how important it is, this may or may not cost more.

So here is what I what I think about it all. If someone is clueless about what is out there, and they are really motivated to build a business and need someone to hold their hand they could be successful with this system. (But how many smart motivated business people are clueless, they don’t coexist.) There is always the few successful people in any group. But for the VAST majority of these people it will keep their hopes up, BUT they will never make a penny, and many will spend thousands. I think their products seems good, I have seen others sell less for more money, but I also know if you look you can get much more for much less. Of course when people pay a lot for a little many of them get angry and upset, I just found a blog that some of these people have created, visit it HERE. Be SURE to read that site before you do business with this company.

One really annoying thing is that during the break I started talking to some other people there about computers and how I sell them. One of the StoresOnline people came up to me and was not happy, he basically asked me to sit down and stop talking to people. It was too late, I already gave them my business card.

I am really impressed with their presentation and how it all works, it was very slick, and I am sure they make a ton of money. They really controlled the room, no one could talk to each other and every time someone tried to ask a question they would stop them, one guy even got mad and yelled over them, but he was ignored. Who would of thought you could sell $100 worth of stuff for thousands and still have people lining up. They are able to send out targeted direct mail, then hold a meeting, give away free food, and free gifts and STILL make a profit. I need to figure out how to do this with one of my businesses. Maybe get business owners in a room and talk to them for 90 minutes on how to get the most out of computer technology, then sell them computers, and show them send out cards. At least I would only talk to people who I knew could use the product, not just any dumb person with a credit card like these guys do.

A great source for motivation, PF Buzz.

The world of blogs is huge.  There are over a million active bloggers, and millions more who do it every now and then.  Tens of millions of people read blogs every day.  Of course you know this, you are reading this blog right now.  But what it new that I want to tell you about it a site called PF Buzz.  The PF stands for personal finance.  It is a group of about 50 blogs all about how to make more money and save the money that you make.  Almost anything you want to know about this subject you can find in one of these blogs.

Now I do not agree with all the other viewpoints, many are designed to show you as an employee how to save the money you make, but as I have said before earning more money is a much better focus than saving money. I am a business person not an employee. It is still great to know what other people are thinking.

The biggest value of this site is the awesome blogs on personal motivation, and there are many of them.  They tell you how to think correctly, how to be organized and how to set goals and generally how to be successful.  This is the important stuff that if you read every day will put you in the right mindset for success.  I have PF Buzz on my Firefox Bookmarks toolbar so it is always there, only a click away.  If you want to be successful I suggest you do the same.

We are in trouble, the numbers prove it

I am a numbers geek, I always have been.  I love charts and data.  Today I found a site that has some of the best data, presented in the best way.  It has been created by Ross Perot, another number geek.  Click here to visit Perot Charts.

It has charts on many subjects, but the one that made the most impact on me is the one about the suicidal spending of the US.  CLICK HERE to view it.  Basically it shows, plain as day with real, unarguable data the problem that the United States has, and how URGENT it is that we change it.  If you think the war is our main problem you are saddly mistaken.  The perscription drug benifit passed a few years ago costs us 6 times as much as we are spending on the entire war.

Our entire government is ran on only 38% of the budget, 9% is interest, AND the rest of the budget was spent on entitlement programs.  The pensions, social security and medical care that the government promised the older generation.  A generation that, for the most part, is no longer working to help our economy and is growing in size every day.  $1,143 trillion was spent in FY 2007 for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid alone.  This is more than $10,000 for every working household in the US.  If you have a job that means you gave away over $10,000 last year as a part of this Pyramid Scheme that can not exist in 30 years, unless we bankrupt our nation.  Most people I know who are on social security are MUCH better off than the people I know who are not on it, yet the government forces you to give to them.  This simply is NOT the place of government.  Are you MAD yet, I am.   Please read the charts, get all the data.

Drill Drill Drill

As you may have guessed this blog is going to be about Oil.  There is so much debate now about oil.  By far the price of oil and the worrys it has caused in the economy is the most important issue to the population of the US.  Over 70% of Americans think that we should drill as much as we can.

But most of the democrats are against this position.  They simply have to be against it because some of their biggest supporters are the radical environmentalists.  They know that this group is very vocal and will cause them problems.  But they also know that 70% of Americans see that the high price of Oil is killing our economy.  Every nation out there that has oil is drilling and sucking the oil out of the ground as fast as they can EXCEPT the United States.  Our leaders how bowed to the environmental lobby and for about three decades now have made it hard to drill oil and almost impossible to build a new place to refine it into gas.

The solution is to drill for oil.  We already know where massive amount of oil is.  There is enough oil off the coast of Santa Barbra, Ca to eliminate our importation of foreign oil for 10 years.  There is enough oil in Utah and Colorado in the form of oil shale that we could be a global exporter for decades.  There is enough oil in Alaska to run the US for the next Century.  But there is a ban on drilling off shore, so the CA oil is out.  And Oil shale takes 8-10 years to get government permits to even explore and then you have to start the process all over again to actually get the oil, so no major companies are even trying.  And we all know that the democrats won’t let anyone drill in Alaska.

We have the means to get out of this oil crisis very fast.  We have the capacity ready to go.  The oil companies are eager to drill, so investment is not a problem. 70% of the people want to drill now for more old.  The only problem is our leadership.  The good thing about that is that I think that most people understand this and this November we get the chance to change our leadership.  Anyone who stands to block more drilling will have a hard time being elected.

The democrats think that this problem can be solved ONLY by saving oil, and becoming more efficient.  That is a big part of it BUT it will not change prices enough in a short enough time to save the economy.  We need to do both save oil and get more.

So where do the presidential candidates stand on this issue?

Obama stands for slashing Carbon Emissions by 80%, no matter the cost to the economy.  He is for investing more in biofuels cause the price of foot to go up even more.  He wants to cap the amount of oil our nation can import, and he wants to not allow any more drilling.  This will cost our government much more for everything, and he wants to spent hundreds of billions on doing this.  This means that everyone will have to pay by having  much higher taxes.  Higher taxes, higher fuel costs, higher food costs, that is what Obama stands for.  Check it out for yourself at his site, CLICK HERE.

McCain stands for expanding domestic oil and natural gas exploration AND production.  He is also for investing in clean energy, promoting energy efficiency and protecting our environment.  He is for nuclear power, which is clean and has no carbon.  Click here for all of his views.

So when you go vote, remember you are voting for the future of our economy.  It is the number one issue that people are interested in but the media is hardly talking about the truth of what candidates are talking about.  They gloss it over with all this other talk, but it is easy for you to see just by looking at their official sites yourself.

There is one quote that I keep hearing Obama Saying that drilling for oil will not produce oil today.  He is implying that it will not fix the problem and he uses that to say the whole idea of drilling dumb.  Everyone knows that you have to drill and invest now to to get a benefit later.  It is like having a kid, it is not instant, and everyone knows that.  Obama’s speech on this just shows everyone how dumb he thinks most Americans are, and how easily fooled they can be.   I just hope he is not right, but I have lost many times before betting that Americans are smart.

Drilling for Oil, WILL have a fast effect on prices.  10 days again bush talked about drilling more and asked congress to act on this and remove all limits to off shore drilling.  After saying that the price of OIL has dropped by over 12%, almost $20.  If we actually passed this change it would drop by more, and as soon as we did the oil companies would drill drill drill and the price would be below $2 at the pump within 5 years, below $3 in a few months.

Computer Entry: How to Buy a Computer Monitor

This article is part of my Computer series, click here for the list of other entries.

When it comes to monitors there are many things to consider. I will tell you more than you probably ever wanted to know, at the end of this you will be a monitor expert and know more than almost any clerk at any store you walk in to. It may be a bit long with stick with it, you will be glad you did.

First we will start with the difference between a CRT and a LCD. By now the LCD has won the game for new monitors, but many still debate whether to keep the OLD CRT or to upgrade to the LCD. Well there are many reasons that a LCD is better, the only reason to use a CRT is if you don’t have the money to get a LCD.

But even with that it will still cost you. The average 19” LCD uses only about 50W of power, while the average 19” CRT is over 250W. In Arizona we have cheap power, costing only on average 9 cents per KWH. After taxes and such it is about 12 cents. If you count the heat created by the CRT and the power to cool this heat during the summer you would have to count about 24 cents per KWH during the summer and 12 cents during the winter. This is an average of 18 cents per KWH. A 200 usage will result in 3.6 cents per hour. I use my monitor about 10 hours a day, 7 days a week. That is $2.50 per week. With an average 19” monitor costing less than $170 it would only take 68 weeks for a new 19” LCD to pay for itself. If this is not reason enough to get one then let me give you a few more.

The LCD monitor will take up much less space on your desk.
The LCD monitor will allow you to work longer with less eye strain. Think of a CRT monitor as a particle accelerator aimed at your head.
The LCD monitor has a much crisper picture.
The LCD monitor is much less heavy in case you need to move it.

So now that you see clearly that a LCD is the best choice PLEASE don’t do what most of my customers want to do, they simply select a size and shop for the absolute cheapest LCD of that size. That is a very bad idea. Like anything else you get what you pay for, and in monitors if you pay a bit more you really get a lot extra. Well there are a lot of things to look for.

LCD monitors work by having a white light in the background, then each pixel blocks anywhere from no light to all of the light, it does it in Red, Green and in Blue. So to make purple it will only block the green, red and blue shine through and purple is created. Most LCD monitors can block each color in any of 256 different levels. This gives each pixel 16.8 million different color combos.

Monitors also have different speeds at which they can change these colors. Most are 5ms, meaning 5/100th of a second, or 20 times per second. Most humans can only see about 20-25 updates per second, the older you are the lower this number is. For anything except video or games 5ms is fine, but if you want to have faster refresh rates 2ms is a much better for only a little more money. The eyes of most people can not tell the difference between 2ms and 5ms so don’t get all caught up in this. Beware that some cheap monitors are 8 or even 10ms, this costs them less to make and many unaware customers looking only at price buy these, even people with bad eyes can notice video slowness in these monitors.

As I said there is a white light at the back, if you want great bright graphics you need this light to be brighter. They measure this brightness in cd/m2 which means Candle power per square meter. A rating of 250 cd/m2 would be like having 250 candles in a square meter. For me the higher this rating is the better. If you are in a bright room such as an office you really need to focus on this feature. Again many cheap monitors are in the 200-250 range, simple because it is cheaper and people often only look at price. 300 is actually much nicer and the most popular brightness level, but for a bit more money you can find 400 and 500 cd/m2 models.

Now because your pixels are blocking the light you have to be concerned of how good of a job they are doing. This is called Contrast Ration. 500:1 means that the whitest white is 500 times brighter than the darkest dark. We already know exactly how bright the white is by the brightness measurement so what we really are talking about is how dark the monitor can get. Dark is great for video games, and movies. If you are in a typical office environment just doing normal typical office stuff then forget this number, it means very little to you. But if you want great crisp colors and dark darks in you movie then look for a large ratio. 700:1 and 800: are good and very common, only the cheapest or oldest monitors will have numbers lower than this. 1000:1 is the most common, but 3000:1 is getting very popular among high end quality monitors.

Now you have to decide if you want speakers or not, I have a great set of speakers so I don’t care either way, but for most offices your computer probably does not have speakers. About half of these monitors have at least basic speakers. Because I don’t need them I will look for one without them or one that has them hidden. If you need them you may want to look at the different sound out put but I have found that almost all of them are a very poor 1 to 2 Watts of power.

Now you will see monitors that are grey, or black or silver, even white. For me a black border is by far the best. It is much less distracting to the eyes.

You also need to decide if you want the Widescreen 16:9 ratio or the normal 4:3 ratio. Because the size of the screen is measured diagonally a monitor of the same diagonal size that is 4:3 will be about 10% larger than a widescreen. But if you are watching a movie and 40% of your screen is the black bars on the top and bottom then your movie will be larger on a 16:9. For me I like to have wide screen monitors, because I can then put things side by side. It is better for writing things surfing the web. Humans see much wider than they see high, so it makes sense.

Now you also have the choice of inputs with most nicer LCD monitors. The cheapest ones only have VGA (15-Din), but the nicer ones also offer DVI and recently HDMI. Some even have component input. If your monitor has more than 1 then you usually have a button that lets you select which input you would like to use at any given time, this is useful for the people with more computers than monitors, like techs often are. DVI is digital and if your computer has a DVI out I would look for a DVI monitor for sure, it is much nicer, but if you computer only has VGA then only get DVI if it is free or you are fairly sure you are upgrading soon.

I saved the two most important considerations for last, Size and Resolution. Most people think too much about money and they instantly think that smaller is better, but in todays market a 15” and a 17” screen are the same price, and in many cases the 15” is more money. Also a 19” is often only $20 more than a 17” and a 22” is often only $40 more than the 19”. For most people I suggest a 19” for offices and a 22” for home use. If you use the computer a lot at the office then get the 22”. See you are already paying for the monitor, and if you want to upgrade at a time in the future you will not be able to get the full value for your smaller one, thus it will cost much more to upgrade later than it will to do so today, so buy the size you really want right now.

Next is resolution, this comes back to the eyes question. Most sizes have a resolution that makes up about 90% of the market for that size. Almost all 19” widescreen monitors are 1440×900 while most 22” monitors are 1680×1050. Every now and then you can find monitors for about 20-30% more money that jump to the next level, such as a 1680×1050 for a 19” Monitor. Most monitors are designed for what looks good at that size. I would only suggest someone to go to the higher resolution if they have very good way above average eyesight.

You should always try to run a LCD at the highest resolution that it can support, if you don’t then your images will look very bad. It works like this. If the monitor can display 1280 pixels wide but you select 1024 then that means that 5 pixels in the monitor are trying to display every 4. So they will not line up, it works like this. Imagine pixel 1,2,3,4,5 and data pixels a,b,c,d. Pixel 1 will show the color of a and 25% the color of b. Pixel 2 will show 75% the color of b and 50% the color c. Pixel 3 will be the average of half the color of b and half of c. This is easy math for your computer and monitor but it will make everything look blended and blurry. For all the people who can not see well lowering your resolution will make your screen look even worse than running at the correct resolution and resizing as much as you can to make things larger.

One of the first things that I tell people is to think about their eyes. How large do they like text. Computers today STILL mostly render things based upon resolution. In a dream world you should always run your monitor at the highest resolution, so things would be the most smooth but be able to resize things based upon your taste BUT this is NOT the case. Unfortunately MANY things in computers are still a set number of pixels in size. At least in vista they allow you to change most of your OS to make it larger, you really only have this problem on the web. So if a person with bad vision buys a really large 24” monitor and has a resolution of 1920×1200 and they use that resolution things will still be small, so they sent the resolution to something like 1280×768, now things are only about half as crisp and clear as they should be, there is no winning this game. They could always use the zoom feature of their OS but that is not very user friendly. I hope they fix this problem but I don’t see this ever being fixed.

Last, monitors die sometimes, also they often have dead pixels, a pixels that will not change to the correct color all of the time. Most of these are covered under warranty, but many companies will not return a monitor unless it has at least 6 or 8 dead pixels. You want to be clear of this before you buy. And if you are buying a really cheap monitor then test it before you leave the store. Almost every year a new company starts up and dumps a ton of cheap monitors on the market, they sell millions of units promising a 3 or even 5 year warranty, then after a year they go out of business, change the name on all the boxes and do it all over again. Now there are some really good quality monitors from companies you may never have heard of, just because you have not heard of them does not mean that they are not good, but if an expert has not heard of them beware. We currently sell Hanns-G for many of our mid range monitors and we sell Samsung or Viewsonic for our high end monitors. We have had great experiences with all three of these. We have had bad luck with KDS, Acer and a few other brands that are now gone.

So bottom line, think about what your needs are. Don’t shop for the cheapest. If you have more questions then contact me, I will be happy to help you select your monitor, and I will probably be able to find a much better one at a better price than you ever thought.

This ended up being much longer than I thought, thanks for reading all of it, please forward this to anyone you know who is thinking of getting a new monitor, they will be happy you did. Leave a comment if you liked this blog.

Update to laptop blog

10 days ago I wrote a blog about how to select a laptop.  It is the first blog that I have written that is really catching on.  Each day it actually gets MORE hits than the day before.  I guess people are emailing the link around.  So I decided to re-read it and I found that I had even more to say on the subject.

I decided to edit that post instead of making a new post so that everything would be in one location, so I am creating this post to let all my readers know about the update, If you read it and liked it then read it again for the new sections.  I put a section on power usage, and a large section about the process I would go through if I was selecting a laptop in todays market.

CLICK HERE to go to the UPDATED “How to Select a Laptop” blog entry.

Computer Entry: Flash Memory, Everything you need to know.

Another entry in my Computer Entry Series.

Flash memory is a type of memory that will store data even when there is no power for it. This is called Non Volatile memory. Why is this useful? Well it useful because you can store data, unplug the chip then move it or store it and at a later time plug it in and use it all again.

It is used all over the place but most people know them for the USB Flash Drives that many carry. You also have seen it in your digital camera, or your cell phone. Flash memory has replaced the floppy drive years ago for portable storage.

Now you probably knew all the things I have told you, now let me share some other facts that may help you.

Speed Counts: First, flash memory has a wide range of speeds. For small amounts of data, speed is not very important, but when you use flash memory often and for larger data it really starts to irk you. A good speed for many drives is about 1 GB in 2 minutes. This is the speed that my USB flash drive does, but many others I have tried take up to 10 minutes. Due to how flash memory works it is MUCH faster to read the data from a flash drive than write to it. For many digital cameras you can have major problems if your memory is too slow.

OS on flash: Did you know that you can install an OS (Operating System) on your memory card or USB Flash Drive.  Here is a great web page that lists many different OS choices that you can install on your drive and take your OS with you.  Boot up any computer and have everything with you.

Ringtone heaven: Almost all nice cell phones have a place for a memory card. Once you have one you can download thousands of free ringtones from the web, save them on your card, and have all the free tones you like. Never buy another ring tone. You can even make your own from any MP3, simply by making it smaller, and mono.

MP3 Flash Drive: For a few extra dollars you can get a 1 or 2GB Flash drive that also doubles as a MP3 Player. It uses ones AAA battery, if you love music and want to carry a flash drive then consider one of these. A 2GB flash drive/mp3 player is only about $30.

SD is the standard: There are many different types of non USB flash memory out there but SD has by far won the standard contents. It has the most devices that work with it, and it is supported almost everywhere. It is also now the cheapest because of the economy of scale. I would not even consider buying a different type. SD stands for Secure Digital because when it first came out it was meant to be a way to distribute music securely so that it would only be copied by those with permission.

Buy microSD: Most digital cameras use SD memory, but most phones use Micro SD Cards. The cool thing is that if you buy a microSD card you get a free adaptor to make it a normal SD Card. Most companies make much more microSD than SD now, and they use the smaller, higher tech stuff for it, so they are often actually faster. Also you can buy a group of these and use them for many different things and take them with you because it is such a small form factor. I hardly use my USB flash drive any longer because my microSD is so small I can carry it easier and most computers finally have a memory card reader. I keep an adaptor in the case for my PDA in case they don’t have one where I am going.

Backup Heaven: Almost all of our customers have one major problem in common, they don’t back up nearly often enough. The average user has less than 1GB of data that they really need to backup, the average small business has less than 4GB of data they really need to keep. With the small size, its ease of use and portability, flash drives are one of the best ways to back up data. I have a 2GB micro SD card in my cell phone, about half of that is music and ringtones I downloaded, but the other half is a backup I use often. I also keep a microSD card taped to the back of my drivers license. It is easy to make a simple back up script in windows, you simply use the backup program in your OS and you select what you want to back up. You can save this script and link to it with an icon on your desktop. Simply insert your flash memory, hit the icon, hit go and 5 minutes later you are done.

Oh no, I washed it! I have heard this more times then you would think. People are always forgetting their USB flash drive in their pocket and running it in the washing machine. I have done this at least 3 times. Each time I have seen this, if you simply let it dry it will work, just be sure to let it dry for at least a day. If you plug it in when it is wet it may short circuit, and this may cause it to stop working forever, but waiting has always worked for me. (I have not tried it after getting wet from salt water, but I heard it will not work even after drying)

A Flash Future: Flash drives continue to become faster, and cheaper. Some laptops and basic desktop computers are already being shipped with solid state hard drives, basically a large flash drive with a hard drive interface. They read almost as fast as hard drives for random small files due to having no seek time. Small ones that are 8GB or so are in use now as a cheaper alternative, but soon you will see larger drives. In a few

Our favorite memory as of this writing is a 4GB microSD Card made by AData. It is very fast, and it is also microSD so you have the most uses. It is 4GB so it will save all of the data of most of my readers. At a price of only $25 it is a steal. Email me if you want one.

Bottom line, if you have not made Flash Memory part of your toolbox you are really missing out on a great tool.

Daily Self Motivation Made Easy

If you read any good book on self motivation one of the main things that they say is put your goals in writing.  It is proven over and over that those who do are MUCH more successful.  As you know the top 5% of our nation owns about 80% of the resources of our nation.  It is also proven that among this top 5% over 90% have written goals.  They may have done that because they are success driven, they also may have become successful because they had written goals.  But the same data says that of people in the bottom 80% on income earners only 2-3% of them have written goals.  This is a huge contrast.  If there is anything that can determine success it may be having written goals.

I also have been talking to successful people, and almost all agree that you will not be really successful until you have a WHY, a reason why you NEED to be successful to meet the purpose of your life.  Many tell you that you need to have a BIG why.  You need it do be 10-20 years out.  For many people they like to put their why as a photo montage on top of just writing it, have the photos of the car, the house, and the lifestyle you want.  This makes it more real.

I take this much further, I also make a HOW.  It is great to have a why, but with no plan you can never get there.  Next I have Mid Term Goals, these are usually goals that are 6 months out, something that is hard enough that it will push me but not so hard that it is unrealistic.  Some of them are Goals on what to do with the success we make, others are business benchmarks to make sure we get that success.  Lastly, and most important, I have a Daily Action sheet, this is a list of activities, that I need to do daily in order to get to the Mid Term Goals.  If I do this action then the goals should be simple.

Now I take all of these and put them in 28point font and print them out and hang them on the wall of my bathroom.  It is a place where I have time to read a few times a day, but also a place where not too many others will see my goals.  Because I am a business person, I try not to share my goals with W2 people, you know the people who work for someone else.  The reason is simply because they don’t get it, and they almost always are more negative than positive.  But because my readers here are NOT like that I will share my list HERE, simply click HERE to download it, edit it so that it has meaning for you and post it.

Action Plan for today. If you don’t have it already, then write down your Why, How, Mid Term Goals, and Daily Action, and put it somewhere you can see it daily.  DO IT NOW, WHILE YOU ARE THINKING ABOUT IT

Tell me what you think, leave a comment, and you made your own signs I would really like to hear from you about what you put on your sign.

Computer Entry: How to select a laptop.

This article is part of my Computer series, click here for the list of other entries.

Today there are so many features on laptops. For most businesses they simple need a good laptop that works for a long period of time and at a great low price. So when they look at laptops they see units that are almost exactly the same with huge price differences. Many upgrades and things in the laptop world simply are not logical and not needed. I will talk about many of them and tell you the secret to finding the best prices.

For example 250 GB hard drives are fairly new, and 320GB laptop hard drives are still very rare. The standard is a 160GB hard drive. The larger hard drive, can ad 100-200 dollars to the price of the laptop, for just a bit more space. The average business customer uses less than 40GB of space so it is crazy to pay extra for this space.

One thing that you should know about laptops is that all laptops sold are really only made by 7 companies, and all of these companies are Chinese. Every brand you see is really a laptop from one of these companies branded with the company logo. Dell uses 5 of these 7 companies. Because of this you will notice laptops from different brands that look exactly the same, you will also notice laptops from the same brands that look totally different. The only one of these makers that sells laptops direct is Acer, but their laptops are usually very low quality and it is usually better to pay a bit more for better quality.

In the world of computers the price of something is more about how many of them are being sold and NOT about how good or complex the item is. The main cost in any item is the designing of the item and the equipment to make the item. For a CPU for example it costs up to a billion dollars to design a new chip and may cost less than $10 to actually make the chip. So if you make 20 million of these chips the cost is $60 per chip, but if you make 500 million of them your cost is $11 per chip. You even get more savings that that when you build a lot of the same item. Because of this many newer, better and faster things are much cheaper. Many CPUs are much higher in level than what you are buying but the maker just takes the higher ones and disables some higher features and sells them as a lower unit because it is cheaper to do this than make the lower unit any longer. RAM is also the same way, DDR2 is much better and faster than DDR but because it is made in much larger amounts it is cheaper. This is called “Economy of Scale” and it hold true from everything from your TV to you Car.

In the world of laptops this idea works all over the place. In my opinion HP and Toshiba make great laptops and because they sell so many they are actually better and more updated than laptops made for the same price by other companies. Because Sony is so much more money they sell less, and have a higher cost, a bad situation to be in. By far most laptops that are sold have a 15.4 inch screen, so laptops with this size are also the lowest priced of all laptops. Touchpads are by far the most popular and their price has plummeted so they now have the lowest price and are now the only choice most companies offer. DVD burners do everything you would want an optical drive to do, and because they are built in such number now they are cheaper than all of the lower types to put in, thus every laptop you will see has a DVD burner, because it is cheaper and has a larger perceived value to the customer.

The choice of CPU, Hard Drive, Optical Drive and many of the other parts of a laptop, and computers in general are based on this idea. Now to get the best deal you need to look at many different laptops and notice the trends. A laptop that floods the market may be $100 less than the others and yet be much better. This is why people hire my company to find their next laptop, we know the trends and we have a very small markup. They can pay us and still end up with a faster and better laptop and pay LESS money than if they went to wherever they normally go for laptops.

What Exactly to look for in a business laptop.

When you look for your laptop simply compare the specs from one laptop to another, but it pays to have a huge source and look at large lists of laptops because you will often find a better deal on that list.

Balance: When you look for any computer look for balance, too much CPU power at the cost of everything else will result in a slower computer. Also think about what you want to use the laptop for. If you want to play high end games then insist on a laptop with a higher end video card, it may cost $100 or more extra but will do what you want. With computers running vista you really need at least 2GB of RAM to do things efficiently. If you find a great deal on a laptop with only 1GB, buy it then upgrade the RAM later, it may be much cheaper. Don’t spend the extra money getting a much larger hard drive, first 90% of all users never use the space, second if you need more space you can get an external hard drive later, but mostly that extra bit of space really costs a lot of money in most cases. Almost every laptop comes with Vista Home Premium. This is ok for about 90% of the people out there, but if you expect to join a domain be sure to get the business version. Also if you really need XP you are looking for a older out of production laptop, these would have been sold at a much higher price to the seller and they will be asking more for them, and you get less new features than a Vista laptop.

Battery Life: Also think about battery life, for the road warrior out there it is important to have that computer last a long time. So this is what you should look for, first you need to have a processor that can scale back and use less power when you don’t need full power, but can scale up as when you do need the power. The AMD Turion is the best AMD chip at this job, but Intel really dominates this concept with their Core 2 Duo and their entire Centrino line.  Companies have spent a lot of time and money focusing on power saving, so newer technology chips are much better at this than older ones.  For any laptop the MAIN use of power is for the screen, usually it is hard to find the power consumption of the screen, but again newer technology is better.  To get all this best technology be willing to pay for it.

Size: For many people, the size of the laptop is very important, they want a smaller, thinner and more portable laptop. Because of economy of scale there is a common size that most makers make, small enough to sell in huge number and large enough to not be too much money to make. When you want to go smaller you fight economy of scale and also the fact that smaller parts cost more. Because of this smaller, thinner laptops cost much more. Every now and then a company will make a really small laptop in a large quantity and if you find that you can get a great deal on a laptop just the way you want. Don’t get the smaller laptop unless you really have figured out how much you are really paying for that option.

Laptops also change really fast. Think about how they are made. The design of the laptop, and making the first one is over half the cost of the entire run. So companies will make the really hard analysis to decide how many of a laptop design to order from the places that make them. Once the production run is over that laptop is usually never made again. Because it takes so long to build a container of laptops, maybe 2 weeks, then 2 more weeks to ship them it these companies have to predict upfront how many may sell. Usually the production run is less than a few full shipping containers. So the company, lets use HP, designs a laptop, orders 10,000 of them. They are made and shipped, they arrive in the US and are quickly sent to wholesale warehouses and retail stores all over the US. Amazon buys some, Wal-Mart buys some. Before the container even lands in the US HP will try to have it all sold. If it is all sold they may order another production run of 10,000. Almost every week a new, better chipset or CPU or something comes out, and often for a better price. So the designers are always looking to go to the next thing. And that brand new, popular design is now put out of production, never to be made again. Most designs are already put out of production before the first customer even gets one. It is a harsh business with huge risks and huge investments. This is also why only a few companies are really players in this business.

Every now and then a design is produced in a larger amount than that which can be quickly sold off. When this happens they slash the price and dump it on the wholesale market. Sometimes they just sold this computer for $700 to Wal-Mart and have only 500 units left and the design is no longer made so they dump it for $500 or less. Most wholesale companies only mark up parts 10% or less because there is huge competition. Only computer companies can usually buy from these wholesale places, this is exactly what we do here at Emerald Computers. We look for the best of these wholesale deals, select them and we post an online flyer and send email updates to our customers. If you are not getting our email you really are missing some great deals.

So what would I do it I was going to buy a laptop today? You choice for a laptop or any computer is based on what you plan to use the computer for and your personal habits.  Here is the logic that I use, if you need help choosing a laptop then email me your phone number and I will call you and help you with the process.  Lets make it fair and give me a budget of under $1000.  First I would budget in a Microsoft Wireless Laser Optical Laptop Mouse.  They are really a must have for me for long usage, and at under $25 they are a bargain.  Next I would look for a Turion based laptop unless I could find a special on a Intel based one.  The Turion ones are usually at least $100 less for the same speed.  I almost never go a long time on battery power so for me personally batter life is not much of a concern.  What is a concern is a high resolution screen.  I would stick to a 15.4″ size simply because it is just the right size for me, 17″ it is a bit to big, but I try to get at least the 1440×900 resolution, maybe the 1680×1050 (WSXGA+).  I would not get the very common 1280×800 because for me and my eyes I can see much better than that and I need the space.  I don’t game on my laptop so an average video card is good for me.  And I have a few external hard drives, and most of my data will stay on my main computer so a 160GB drive is ok for me.  I like to multitask so I would need 2GB of RAM, I would not get more than 2GB because it takes extra power to run that extra ram, and I almost never go over 2GB, also I like to hibernate my computer and more RAM makes that much slower. When a new OS comes out I may upgrade the RAM.  I would still look at computers with 1GB because I know can upgrade the RAM very cheap on my own.  I do watch DVD movies and I like to have good sound so I would look for a computer with a nice DVD drive and good speakers.  I would also look at a picture of the laptop first, different makers have much different styles and I only like some of them.  I also like black better than silver, but that will not kill the deal.  I found a laptop just like this for only a bit over the budget.  You need to look for one based on your needs.

So when you are ready for your next laptop you now have much more information, you will probably have more than the employee selling the products. I wish you good luck, and if you ever need help feel free to email or call my company, we will be happy to help you.