Monday, November 30, 2009


This past holiday week was undoubtedly uneventful here on MyEconoBlog. Between office issues, waiting on hold with various customer service representatives and stuffing our faces with turkey, not much was done. So now on this Monday, it seems everything is business as usual. You may notice that the page layout is changing. This is also another reason for no new posts in so long. Software recommendations and other new bits are popping up on here and there is more to come.
It seems like the week of Thanksgiving was not the best week to be lazy, but I promise, there are more deals out there than those on Black Friday and we WILL fill you in on them. The holiday shopping season has only begun and as we move in to December, the need for great gifts at a great price will become increasingly important for those last minute shoppers out there. With that said, stick around or check back at your convenience. There are great thinks to come at MyEconoBlog.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Budget BackUp Drive

I don't know too many people that don't use a computer on a daily basis. The computer has become an important part of our everyday personal and professional lives. With that type of importance, it should be equally important that we take care in backing up the data on our computers. With viruses, coffe spills, and other hazards out there, it's a pretty good idea to have a backup of your computer's hard drive. Small external hard drives are a smart choice since they use little power and are relatively easy to store.
There are plenty of "cloud" computing resources for backing up our systems and so far they have proved to be pretty reliable. However, there will always be the possibility of these services failing and even with a backup service, a hard copy of your system should always be handy. There are plenty of external hard drive solutions provided by manufacturers like Iomega, HP, and Western Digital, but their prices may be a little steep for some people in this recession economy. To offset the cost, try making your own external hard drive. The process is surprisingly simple and affordable.
The most portable of external drives use a 2.5" SATA drive, the most common drive found in today's laptops. Stores like offer these drives at a fairly good price and there are always discounts available if you look. To start off with a good amount of memory for backup, a 250Gb or 320Gb hard drive is recommended although some users may need more or less. A 320Gb Fujitsu hard drive running at 5400 rpm costs $59.99 on I chose an even cheaper route. I looked on eBay for a new or used drive and found a 250Gb Toshiba drive and won it for $15. A good deal can't be guaranteed on eBay, but it doesn't hurt to look.
The next piece of equipment you will need is an enclosure. Most online stores like and offer a 2.5" SATA enclosure for $9.99 with free shipping. These enclosures make building an external drive a snap. All of the electronics inside are pre-wired and ready to go. All you need to do is plug the hard drive in and close the enclosure. Again, although there are plenty of good enclosure deals at stores, I was able to find an enclosure for $7 on eBay. My total cost was $22 for a dependable backup drive.
It is also possible to make a backup drive with an old hard drive you may have around the house. There are connectors and enclosures for all types of hard drives. Just make sure you know what type of drive you have and locate the appropriate enclosure.
After you have your drive together, plug it in and use your computer's formatting utility, then set up how often and in what ways you want your computer to be backed up.

I was able to build my backup drive fairly cheap. Tell me about your experience and what kind of deals you found. I'm sure someone was able to do this for less money.

Weekly Deals 11/11/2009

1) Are you in the market for a DVD drive for your computer? Target stores have reduced the price on two DVD drive models made by HP. Both models used to retail for $84.99 and now have been discounted to under $45! Both are external models that connect via USB. One model is better than the other, though. The one I would recommend has write speeds of up to 22x, is multi-format and features LightScribe disc labeling. Hurry in to Target before they are gone!

2) Speaking of Target, their holiday toy catalog will be hitting mailboxes this week. The discounts are pretty solid and the center of the catalog features coupons to add to the savings.

3) Many retailers like Sears, Macy's, Eddie Bauer, JCPenney, and others are offering Veteran's Day sales with discounts of up to 90%. Check your local adds and use these sales to get some of that holiday shopping done.

Next Weekly Deals Post: Tips for Smart Holiday Shopping

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Cloud Computing Part 1: MobileMe

MobileMe is a very full-featured cloud computing service offered by Apple. MobileMe allows its users to sync their contacts, calendars, preferences and files between their iPhone/iPod Touch, Mac, and PC. At $99 a year, MobileMe is a more expensive cloud computing option but it provides many services that can be very beneficial to people that manage businesses or work in a field that requires them to use multiple computers. To get the full effect of what MobileMe really has to offer, we will start out with the example of someone that uses multiple Macintosh computers.
Say you already have your personal Mac set to your liking. It has all of your personal contacts in Address Book, your favorite web pages bookmarked in Safari, all of your important dates and appointments saved in iCal, and your email is all set up on Mail. Your Mac at work has all of your professional contacts, web pages, appointments, and email all set up, but you really want to have everything all in order at home and work. Having a MobileMe account will give you the ability to combine all of these features from both computers. This will give you the same basic computing experience on both machines. These features will also automatically be in sync when anything is added, edited, or deleted and these same features are available on the iPhone.
Using MobileMe on a PC is a little different. Safari is available for PCs and the bookmarks will sync, but Mail and iCal are Mac only. MobileMe will sync your Outlook dates and contacts instead. Do you need to have certain files available at home and work? Using iDisk will make will make files available on all computers you have registered with MobileMe. Not only that, but you will receive your own MobileMe email address and have the ability to post websites created in iWeb. Many people feel that MobileMe offers too many features and comes at a steep price. You can judge that for yourself with a 60 day free trial at For those of you that just want to have secure back ups of your computer, share files with friends and family, or just want to have files readily available anywhere you go, check out future posts for reviews on other cloud computing services.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A Final Christmas Wish

I saw this on Facebook today. Please help this little boy to have a good last Christmas:

"The most courageous 5 yr old, Noah,has been battling cancer for the past three years. His journey is coming to an end. Noah's mom is making Christmas Day happen this coming weekend...tree...decorations... the works. Please send a Christmas card to Noah. Noah Biorkman, 1141 Fountain View Circle, South Lyon, Michigan 48178. "

Apparently all Noah wants for Christmas is to receive Christmas cards. The doctors say he won't live to see Christmas this year so his family is going to celebrate it early for him. My wife is going to have her second grade class make cards for him. Please send a card to this poor little boy.

You can read Noah's story here: