How to get the Best Prices on Hard Drives [Updated for May-June 2012]

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The technique I outline here for finding the best hard drive prices is timeless, but the specific models and prices I’ve listed are good for only a few days.

Whenever I need a new drive, I shop around online for prices, but like most people, I’m quickly overwhelmed with the plethora of offerings (Thank Goodness for Competition!!!!).  There are so many models, with so many different characteristics (speed, capacity, interface, internal/external, brand, warranties, store, taxes, shipping, reliability, etc…) that I always fear that no matter what choice I ultimately make, I’m making a HUGE mistake by not getting another drive from another place that’s significantly cheaper, or faster, or with more storage capacity, simply because there’s not enough time for me to research them all.

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So, I’ve come up with a technique to help me greatly speed up my research and have a reasonable confidence that the choice I make is close to the best available, even if not the absolute best deal ever.

Here’s what I do:

First, I make a simple spreadsheet.  It doesn’t matter which spreadsheet program or online spreadsheet you use.  Pick your favorite, then follow along.

  1. Create a spreadsheet in your favorite spreadsheet app.
  2. Add columns for source (a link to the product page of the drive), capacity, & price.  Feel free to add more columns like Make, Model, Interface, RPMs, etc…
  3. Add a calculated field for price/capacity.  The formula for row 2 should look like:  =E2/D2 if column E is your price per drive column and column D is where you’re holding your drive capacity.  Make certain you use the same units for capacity for all drives.  For example, if you write Gigabytes for one drive, don’t put Terabytes for another or your calculations will be wrong (by a THOUSAND FOLD!!!).  Choose either Gigabytes or Terabytes, but don’t mix and match.
  4. Go to your favorite online store and search for hard drives, filtered to your needs (for example, maybe you’re only interested in external drives, so filter by that).  Use that online store’s feature to sort by cheapest first!
  5. Start entering the data into your spreadsheet.  I recommend to NOT add columns that aren’t critical to your decision.
  6. Once you enter a drive with a certain capacity, ignore any drives later in the list that are smaller in capacity because they’re a worse price/GB (since you’ve sorted by price).
    1. This part is important to the whole process.  Pay special attention to this part!  Since you’ve sorted by cheapest first, the first drive of say 500GB you come across will be the CHEAPEST 500GB drive.  If you run into LOWER capacity drives, just skip them.  Scan ahead in the list until you find a drive that’s BIGGER than 500GB!  THIS is how you significantly reduce time browsing the site!
  7. Go to another online store and repeat steps 4-6 at a different online merchant.  Continue this until you feel you’ve shopped enough online stores and have enough data to make an informed decision.
  8. Now, sort your spreadsheet by your calculated column.  The cheapest price per GB will be at the top.

Below, is a screen shot of my spreadsheet with affiliate links to amazon.com and plain old links to bestbuy.com.  Click the image to be taken to my actual Google Docs spreadsheet with the actual data in it and links to each product.  Keep in mind though that hard drive prices change on a daily basis, so this data is only relevant for a couple days, but the technique I outlined here should save you hours of research and hopefully save you lots of cash too, as well as give you confidence that when you do make your decision, that it’s well informed.

May-June 2012 (below)

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February 2012 (below)

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Oh!  One more thing:  I strongly encourage you to avoid buying a hard drive until the last possible moment that you need it.  Why?  Because hard drive prices are ALWAYS falling and capacities are ALWAYS getting bigger.  The later you wait, the better deal you’ll get.

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Unethical Displays for Terms of Service

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We’ve all seen it;  Tiny little windows for pages and pages of Terms of Service text that we’re supposed to agree with.  Look at this one from Charter. 

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Anyone involved in this should be ashamed of themselves, all the way down to the web developers that were likely told they had to do this (unless they voiced an objection).  This example is so blatant that it’s beyond shameful.

This type of display screams:

“LEGALLY, WE HAVE TO SHOW THIS TO YOU, BUT WE REALLY DON’T WANT YOU TO SEE IT BECAUSE WE’RE PRETTY SURE YOU’D TELL US TO GO TO HELL IF YOU KNEW WHAT WAS IN IT.  WE JUST WANT YOU TO BLINDLY ACCEPT IT, SO WE’RE MAKING IT AS INCONVENIENT AS POSSIBLE FOR YOU TO READ, IN HOPES YOU’LL JUST BLINDLY ACCEPT IT!”

Charter earns the Shame Of The Day award for this.

Here’s a “Hell No” section from the terms and conditions:

Sponsor may, in its discretion, modify these Terms & Conditions and/or any other rules governing the Program. Such modified Terms & Conditions and/or other rules will govern the operation of the Program, the use of the Program Website and other Program-related activity on or after the effective date of such modified Terms & Conditions and/or other rules. Continuously updated Terms & Conditions may be accessed at the Program Website.

I don’t think I’m going to write them a blank check on my acceptance of “Continuously updated Terms & Conditions”.

Here’s the full text of that agreement.  I don’t have time to read the rest of it.  I’ve seen enough to stay away, but feel free to read the rest of it yourself:

                                        TERMS & CONDITIONS OF THE LIVE IT WITH CHARTER(R) PROGRAM
Last Updated: 2-10-2011

Introduction

Charter Communications (“Sponsor”) has organized and is offering, in its sole discretion, the Live It with Charter(R) Program (the “Program”). The Program allows certain customers of Sponsor in good standing who register for the Program (“Members”) to earn points (“Points”) based on membership in one of three Program tiers and in connection with other Program-related activities. From time to time during specified periods, Members may redeem Points for discounts, goods and services (“Rewards”), and may obtain additional discounts and other benefits offered to Members, all as governed by these Terms & Conditions.

General Rules

Please read these Terms & Conditions carefully before using this website and participating in the Program. By establishing a Program account (a “Program Account”), logging on to the Program Account, redeeming Points, making purchases at the Charter Mall(TM) and/or otherwise participating in the Program, each Member confirms his or her acceptance of these Terms & Conditions, as they may be amended from time to time. The Program and use of the Program Website (currently located at www.liveitwithcharter.com) (the “Program Website”) are subject to these Terms & Conditions as well as the Sponsor’s Website Use Terms and Conditions, Website Privacy Policy and Online Privacy Policy, all of which are posted on the Program Website or Sponsor’s website at www.charter.com, as they may be amended from time to time. All decisions regarding the operation of the Program will be made by Sponsor in its sole discretion.

Sponsor may from time to time provide additional terms and conditions relating to specific activities or functionality made available on the Program Website (such as, for example, sweepstakes), which additional terms and conditions are incorporated herein by reference.

Modification of Terms & Conditions

Sponsor may, in its discretion, modify these Terms & Conditions and/or any other rules governing the Program. Such modified Terms & Conditions and/or other rules will govern the operation of the Program, the use of the Program Website and other Program-related activity on or after the effective date of such modified Terms & Conditions and/or other rules. Continuously updated Terms & Conditions may be accessed at the Program Website.

Who May Participate

Only individual persons who are residential customers of Sponsor in good standing, as determined by Sponsor in its sole discretion, are eligible to participate in the Program. Employees of Sponsor are not eligible to participate in the program. Each Member must be at least eighteen (18) years of age and must have a valid email address, access to the internet and a valid mailing address in the United States. Each Program Account may bear only the name of the Member whose name appears on the monthly bill statement provided by Sponsor.

Registering for a Program Account

To participate in the Program, a residential customer of Sponsor must visit the Program Website and register for a Program Account in accordance with the instructions provided on the Program Website. Registrants will be required to provide, without limitation, a Charter account number or Program Member number, billing address and billing zip code, valid email address and password. Sponsor may, in its discretion, require additional information and/or verification in connection with registration. Members are responsible for keeping their Program Account information up to date and for informing Sponsor if any such information (including without limitation the Member’s email address) changes. By logging on to a Program Account, a Member may redeem Points for Rewards from time to time, view the Program Account history, including the number of points credited to the Program Account and redeemed, as applicable, and take advantage of other benefits that Sponsor or third party vendors may offer from time to time.

Accruing Points

Only Members properly registered for the Program may accrue and redeem Points and otherwise participate in the Program. A Member may only accrue Points in his or her name, and Points may only be redeemed by the Member to whose Program Account the Points were posted. Points will only be credited to a Program Account for amounts paid after the date on which that Program Account is established.

In order to accrue Points, the Member’s subscriber service account with the Sponsor must be open and current with no past-due balances at the time that Points are to be credited to the Program Account.

Sponsor is not liable for any delay, whether within or outside of its control, in posting Points to a Program Account. Credits back to a Member’s subscriber service account do not earn Points.

Sponsor is the final authority on accrual and crediting of Points and reserves the right to deny or revoke Points at any time if Sponsor determines that they were improperly or mistakenly obtained, accrued or credited. Points cannot be transferred, assigned, pledged and/or sold to another Member, individual or any other Program Account for any reason (even if a Member maintains multiple Program Accounts). Points do not constitute the property of any Members. Accrual and redemption of Points are void where prohibited by applicable laws or regulations and are subject to change as may be necessary to comply with such laws or regulations.

Members can earn Points through service subscriptions and through such additional opportunities as Sponsor may provide from time to time, as described below.

Earning Points Through Service Subscriptions

Upon registration for a Program Account, each Member is placed by Sponsor into one of three tiers of membership (each a “Membership Level”) based on the monthly cost of the Member’s service subscriptions, excluding taxes and fees. If a Member changes his or her service subscriptions in a manner that changes the monthly cost for the Member’s service subscriptions, Sponsor will automatically adjust the Member’s Membership Level, as applicable.

The number of Points accrued by a Member depends on that Member’s Membership Level. The following list sets forth each Membership Level, monthly spend required to qualify for that Membership Level and the number of points earned in that Membership Level for each whole dollar spent:

Silver. To qualify, subscribe to services costing $1 – $94.99 per month in recurring charges. Silver Members earn 10 points per whole dollar spent on Charter products and services, excluding taxes and fees.

Gold. To qualify, subscribe to services costing $95 – $124.99 per month in recurring charges. Gold Members earn 10 points per whole dollar spent on Charter products and services, excluding taxes and fees.

Platinum. To qualify, subscribe to services costing more than $125 per month in recurring charges. Platinum Members earn 15 points per whole dollar spent on Charter products and services, excluding taxes and fees.

Additional benefits from time to time may apply to membership in a particular Membership Level. Current benefits may be found on the Program FAQ’s page at www.liveitwithcharter.com/progfaq.jspx.

Points will be credited to a Member’s Program Account within three to five business days after that member’s monthly bill statement is calculated and final.

Additional Opportunities to Earn Points

In addition to the foregoing, from time to time, Sponsor may offer other opportunities for Members to earn Points. Sponsor is under no obligation to provide such opportunities or a certain number of opportunities or to provide opportunities at any particular time or interval. In addition, Sponsor may provide certain opportunities to some Members and not to others or may provide certain Members more opportunities than others. Sponsor is under no obligation to notify Members of such additional opportunities at any time.

Expiration and Revocation of Points

If a Member’s subscriber service account is canceled or disconnected for any reason, all Points earned on that Member’s Program Account are automatically and immediately forfeited.

Points expire two years from the date they were originally posted to the Program Account. Program Accounts to which no Points are credited or from which no Points are redeemed during any consecutive twenty-four (24) month period may be terminated and, upon such termination, will no longer be eligible to accrue Points. Upon such termination, any points remaining in such Accounts will be forfeited.

Redeeming Points

From time to time, as Sponsor may determine in its discretion, Sponsor will provide Members with the opportunity to redeem Points for Rewards. Redemption methods may include transactions in the “Charter Store” section of the Program Website, transactions in connection with Redemption Days (as defined below), transactions conducted as part of Sponsor’s Bid For It! program and transactions at the Live It Outlet, all as described in more detail below. In addition, Sponsor and third party vendors may provide other special opportunities to redeem Points for other Rewards, including discounts, from time to time.

Only the Member whose name appears on the Program Account may redeem Points. Points are not redeemable for cash.

All Rewards available through the Program are subject to availability. Sponsor may in its discretion change the selection of Rewards or stop offering any particular Reward or Point redemption method at any time. Sponsor will not be responsible for any delays in processing or shipping Rewards. No substitution, cash redemption or transfer of the right to receive a Reward is permitted. Rewards may not be resold.

Redeeming Points at the Charter Store

Sponsor will from time to time offer Rewards that may be obtained by redeeming Points in the “Charter Store” section of the Program Website. To redeem Points at the Charter Store, log on to the Program Website, click on the “Charter Store” link, and follow the ordering instructions.

Redeeming Points During Redemption Periods

Sponsor will from time to time designate periods (currently referred to as “Redemption Days”) during which Members may redeem Points for particular Rewards offered during such periods (“Redemption Periods”). Sponsor will determine in its sole discretion the length of each Redemption Period and the frequency with which Redemption Periods will be offered. Members will be notified approximately one day in advance of each Redemption Period by electronic mail at the e-mail address registered for each Program Account on the date of the notice. To redeem Points during a Redemption Period, log on to the Program Website, click on the “Choose Rewards” link, and follow the ordering instructions.

Redeeming Points via the Bid For It! Program

Sponsor will from time to time offer opportunities for Members to redeem Points for Rewards in Sponsor’s Bid For It! program. Sponsor will determine in its sole discretion the frequency and timing of such offers.

In order to bid on a Reward offered in the Bid For It! program, you must be a Member, be logged onto the Program Website and provide a valid email address. At the time of bidding, you must have a quantity of Points in your Program Account equal to or greater than the quantity of Points that you bid. Sponsor may specify a minimum amount of Points per bid for certain items. To be eligible, bids must be placed and received by Sponsor before the specified bidding period expires, as determined by Sponsor. Sponsor’s computer will be the official clock for the Program. If the bidding period expires before your bid has been placed and received, your bid will not be valid.

Please place your bids carefully. As a general rule, all bids are final and cannot be retracted, rescinded, changed or cancelled. However, in limited circumstances, Sponsor will consider retraction requests when accompanied by evidence that an unintentional error has occurred, subject to the conditions and restrictions set forth herein. Retraction requests are reviewed by Sponsor in its absolute discretion and there is no guarantee that any retraction request will be granted, even in the event of an unintentional error. To submit a retraction request with respect to a bid you have placed, you must call Sponsor at 1-877-654-8348 between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday. Retraction requests must be made at least 24 hours before the scheduled closing time of the auction in question. Retraction requests will not be accepted less than 24 hours before the scheduled closing time of the auction, after an auction closes, or if they are submitted other than during the times and on the days specified above. Submission of multiple or duplicative bid retraction requests may result in termination of membership in the Program.

When you place a bid, the Points that you have bid will be placed “on hold” and will be unavailable for use in additional redemption transactions until after the Confirmed High Bidder (as defined below) has been determined, which generally takes up to two (2) full business days after the bidding period ends. Once the Confirmed High Bidder has been determined, the Points that you have bid will be re-activated if you are not the Confirmed High Bidder.

Following the expiration of the specified bidding period for each Reward offered in the Program, the Reward will be provided to the Member who submitted the highest bid in full compliance with these Terms & Conditions, as determined by Sponsor. If the highest bidder does not have a sufficient quantity of Points or otherwise has not fully complied with these Terms & Conditions, or if the highest bidder’s bid is cancelled or retracted for any reason, or if the highest bidder is no longer a Member, Sponsor will identify the next-highest bidder and will determine if that Member has fully complied with these Terms & Conditions. Sponsor will repeat this process as necessary until the highest bidder who has fully complied with these Terms & Conditions (the “Confirmed High Bidder”) has been identified. A Reward will not be provided to any high bidder in the Bid For It! program who is not in full compliance with these Terms & Conditions.

From time to time, Sponsor may offer more than one of the same Reward in a single auction. In such instances, Sponsor will identify a number of the highest bidders equal to the number of Rewards available, and each of those highest bidders will be treated as Confirmed High Bidders (subject to confirmation that each bidder has fully complied with these Terms & Conditions) and will receive the Reward. By way of example only, if Sponsor offers three of the same Reward in an auction, the three Rewards will be provided to the three highest bidders who have fully complied with these Terms & Conditions.

Upon determination of the Confirmed High Bidder, the number of Points that were bid in the successful bid will be permanently deducted from the Confirmed High Bidder’s Program Account. The Confirmed High Bidder will be notified by Sponsor by e-mail, telephone, mail or such other method as Sponsor may determine in its discretion.

From time to time, a particular Reward may be subject to restrictions or conditions, such as a requirement that the Confirmed High Bidder sign a release or other documentation provided by Sponsor before delivery of the Reward. Such requirements will be communicated via the Program Website or such other means as Sponsor may determine.

In the event a Reward is unavailable or cannot be provided for any reason after the completion of the bidding period for the Reward (including, without limitation, if a Reward involving an event or experience is delayed, canceled or postponed), Sponsor reserves the right, at its discretion, to offer a substitute Reward and/or to restore the appropriate number of Points to the Confirmed High Bidder’s Program Account.

Please note that although the Bid For It! program may from time to time be referred to as an auction, it is a Point redemption option, not a traditional auction, and Sponsor is not acting as or holding itself out to be an auctioneer.

Redeeming Points via the Live It Outlet

Points may be redeemed at any time at the Live It Outlet (the “Outlet”), which is accessible via hyperlink from the Program Website. Redeeming Points at the Outlet allows Members to purchase goods and services from the Outlet at a discount. The number of Points required and the cost to the Member for each Reward are disclosed next to each Reward on the Outlet website. Orders for Rewards purchased through the Outlet and selected during limited-time Redemption Periods will be placed immediately upon consummating the transaction, and the number of Points (indicated next to the Reward) required to order that Reward will be immediately deducted from the applicable Program Account. Rewards will be shipped only to the mailing address on record for the applicable Program Account and will arrive in approximately four to six weeks.

Please note: The Outlet is operated by a third-party vendor, not by Sponsor. Use of the Outlet website and all transactions conducted via the Outlet website are subject to the terms and conditions displayed on that site and the policies established by the vendor. Sponsor will have no liability with respect to the Outlet website, any transactions occurring via the Outlet website, any goods or services obtained in connection with a redemption transaction conducted at the Outlet, or any delay in or failure of delivery of goods or services relating to redemption of Points via the Outlet site.

Delivery of Rewards Obtained in Sponsor Redemption Transactions

The means by which Rewards obtained in transactions at the “Charter Store,” in transactions in connection with Redemption Periods and in transactions in connection with the Bid For It! program (all of the foregoing, “Sponsor Redemption Transactions”) will be provided to Members will be determined by Sponsor in its discretion. Rewards obtained in Sponsor Redemption Transactions will be shipped to the mailing address on record in the Member’s Program Account and usually will arrive in approximately five weeks. Certain Rewards cannot be shipped to post office boxes and Sponsor reserves the right to require a street delivery address with respect to such Rewards. Sponsor may require certain Rewards to be picked up by the Member at Sponsor’s offices located nearest to the Member’s residence.

If you do not receive a Reward obtained in a Sponsor Redemption Transaction, you must notify Sponsor of the same within three (3) months of the date you submitted your order or the date of the expiration of the bidding period, as applicable, by:

(i) sending an e-mail message to membercare@liveitwithcharter.com with the details regarding your inquiry;

(ii) sending a written notification to Sponsor, including the details of your inquiry and your email address, name and account number, at P.O. Box 290, Attn: Live It With Charter, Milford, OH 45150; or

(iii) calling Sponsor at 1-877-654-8348 between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday.

Certain Rewards may be provided and/or fulfilled by third parties. Sponsor may be required to provide the Reward recipient’s name, address, telephone number and/or e-mail address to vendors, shipping services and other third parties in connection with the provision of Rewards. By participating in the Program, you consent to the same.

Please note that the foregoing procedures apply only with respect to Rewards ordered directly from Sponsor in a Sponsor Redemption Transaction program. Any queries, complaints or other communications concerning Rewards requested in redemption transactions via the Outlet or otherwise directly from merchants, vendor or other third parties should be directed to the appropriate merchant, vendor or third party in accordance with their applicable procedures.

Returning Rewards Obtained in Sponsor Redemption Transactions

In the event that a Reward obtained in a Sponsor Redemption Transaction is received by you in a damaged or defective condition, or the wrong Reward was provided to you, and you wish to return or exchange the Reward, you must notify Sponsor of the same within fourteen (14) days of the date you received the Reward, by:

(i) sending an e-mail message to membercare@liveitwithcharter.com with the details regarding your inquiry;

(ii) sending a written notification to Sponsor, including the details of your inquiry and your email address, name and account number, at P.O. Box 290, Attn: Live It With Charter, Milford, OH 45150; or

(iii) calling Sponsor at 1-877-654-8348 between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday.

You will be required to return the item to Sponsor in accordance with such procedures as Sponsor may require. Without limitation of the foregoing, items must be returned unopened (unless the item was received in a defective or damaged condition) and in their original packaging, with all accessories. Sponsor will not exchange or restore Points in connection with defective or damaged items that are returned without their original packaging.

Please note that the foregoing procedures apply only with respect to Rewards ordered directly from Sponsor in a Sponsor Redemption Transaction. Any queries, complaints or other communications concerning Rewards requested in redemption transactions via the Outlet or otherwise directly from merchants, vendor or other third parties should be directed to the appropriate merchant, vendor or third party in accordance with their applicable procedures.

Reward Descriptions and Conditions

Sponsor attempts to be as accurate as possible with respect to the descriptions on the Program Website of Rewards offered via the Program. However, Sponsor does not warrant that the product descriptions or other content of the Program Website are accurate, complete, reliable, current, or error-free. The colors you see will depend on your monitor and Sponsor cannot guarantee that your monitor’s display of any color will be accurate. All features, content, specifications, sizes and prices of products and services described or depicted on the Program Website are subject to change at any time without notice. Certain weights, measures and similar descriptions may be approximate and are provided for convenience only. Packaging may vary from that shown. If a Reward offered by Sponsor is not as described, your sole remedy is to return it unopened in its original packaging in accordance with such procedures as Sponsor may require. Sponsor reserves the right to correct any typographical errors or other errors with respect to any Reward at any time (including without limitation, with respect to Rewards offered in the Bid For It! program, after the commencement of the bidding period) without prior notice.

Earning Statement Credits Through Purchases at Charter Mall(TM)

Sponsor will from time to time make available to Members the opportunity to purchase goods and services from participating third party vendors (each a “Merchant”) through the Charter Mall(TM). Purchases from Merchants via the Charter Mall(TM) may result in a credit being applied to a Member’s monthly billing statement from Sponsor for Sponsor’s products and services (the “Billing Statement”). As described below, the amount of the Billing Statement credit with respect to each such purchase conducted as described below (each a “Qualifying Purchase”) will be a percentage (which will vary from Merchant to Merchant) of the purchase price of the goods and services purchased in the transaction.

Making Qualifying Purchases

In order to make a Qualifying Purchase and receive Billing Statement credit with respect to that purchase, the purchasing Member must:

Be logged into the Member’s Program Account on the Program Website;

Use only valid links within the Charter Mall(TM) section of the Program Website to enter a Merchant’s website; and

Complete the qualified purchase at the Merchant’s website accessed via the Charter Mall(TM) link during the session generated by clicking the link.

Purchases made from Merchants without following the steps specified above (e.g., purchases made after accessing the Merchant’s website other than via a link within the Charter Mall(TM) section of the Program Website) will not result in Billing Statement credit. Members who are in doubt about whether or not a valid session is ongoing should reenter the Charter Mall(TM) section of the Program Website and then click on the desired Merchant’s link to complete a Qualifying Purchase.

Some Merchants’ websites may contain links to other retailers’ websites. A purchase made from another company after accessing its website via a link on the participating Merchant’s website will not be a Qualifying Purchase and will not result in Billing Statement credits, even if the other company also participates in the Charter Mall(TM).

Please refer to each Merchant’s website for all terms and conditions relating to a Merchant transaction, including but not limited to, guarantees and warranties, payment terms, shipping, delivery, taxes, return policies and processing of returns. Sponsor makes no warranties with respect to products and services ordered from Merchants via the Charter Mall(TM) and has no responsibility for fulfillment of any transaction between a Member and a Merchant. Any queries, complaints on other communications concerning any transaction with a Merchant via the Charter Mall(TM) or products or services ordered in such a transaction should be directed to the Merchant in accordance with its applicable procedures.

Calculation of Billing Statement Credits

Billing Statement credits to be provided in connection with Qualifying Purchases will be calculated by applying the percentage specified on the Charter Mall(TM) web page for the pertinent Merchant (the “Credit Percentage”) to the purchase price of the goods and services purchased by the Member from such retailer. For example, if a particular Merchant’s specified percentage is five percent (5%) and the purchase price of the goods and services purchased in the transaction is $100.00, the resulting Billing Statement credit will be $5.00.

Each Merchant’s Credit Percentage is established separately and Credit Percentages may vary from Merchant to Merchant. Sponsor and/or the Merchants reserve the right to alter Credit Percentages at any time with respect to future transactions.

Credits will be applied only with respect to amounts spent on the purchase of goods and services. Amounts spent on shipping, taxes, handling and additional services such as gift wrapping and monogramming will not be included in calculating the amount of the Billing Statement credit.

Some Merchants will not provide Billing Statement credit with respect to any portion of a purchase paid for with coupons, store credit, online currency, or gift certificates. Some Merchants will not permit purchasers to receive Billing Statement credit with respect to purchases made via the Charter Mall if the purchaser has also taken advantage of a separate promotional offer. Certain goods and services (including without limitation gift certificates and gift cards) may not be eligible for Billing Statement credit. Certain Merchants will provide a code that must be entered at check-out in order for the purchase to result in a Billing Statement credit. Other exclusions and conditions may apply. For further information pertaining to earning Billing Statement credits for Qualifying Purchases from Merchants, click on the link to “More Information” next to the Merchant’s name on the Program Website.

Applying Billing Statement Credits

On a quarterly (i.e. every three months) or other periodic basis determined by Sponsor, Sponsor will determine with respect to each Member the total amount of Billing Statement credits to be provided with respect to Qualifying Purchases during the applicable period (the “Qualifying Period”). Thereafter, Sponsor will apply a credit in that amount to a subsequent Billing Statement. The specific timing of when credits are applied and to which Billing Statement credits are applied will be determined by Sponsor in its discretion and will depend on the timing of qualifying transactions and processing time, among other things. Credits generally will be applied to the first or second Billing Statement issued by Sponsor following the conclusion of the Qualifying Period. However, Sponsor reserves the right to alter the frequency with which Billing Statement credits are calculated and applied in its discretion. For certain Qualifying Purchases made late in a Qualifying Period, the resulting Billing Statement credit may not be calculated and applied until after the conclusion of the following Qualifying Period.

To receive Billing Statement credit, the Member must be a current customer in good standing of Sponsor at the time Sponsor determines to apply the credit. No payment or other compensation will be provided with respect to credits not received if the purchasing Member closes the Member’s account with Sponsor or otherwise is not a customer good standing of Sponsor at the time Sponsor determines to apply the credit.

Other Terms

Sponsor reserves the right at any time to reverse, in full or in part, any credit applied to a Billing Statement for any reason including, without limitation: (i) upon notification by a Merchant of a failure to fulfill the requirements of a qualifying purchase, (ii) upon the return, for any reason, of any goods or services previously the subject of a qualifying purchase, or if any portion of a Purchase Amount is refunded by the Merchant to the purchasing Member for any reason, or (iii) if Sponsor or a Merchant determines that a purchase was made with the intent to defraud or otherwise to interfere with the proper operation of the Program. If Sponsor reverses a credit, any amount due as a result of such reversal will be added to the total amount due on the next Billing Statement sent to the Member following the processing of the reversal.

Sponsor reserves the right to terminate any Member’s access to the Charter Mall(TM) and/or the Member’s ability to obtain Billing Statement credits as a result of purchases via the Charter Mall(TM) for any reason in its discretion, including without limitation if Sponsor or a Merchant determines that a Member intends or has attempted to interfere with the proper operation of the Program or improperly obtain credits.

Sponsor reserves the right to eliminate, add, change or substitute participating Merchants without notice.

Program E-Mails

Periodically, Sponsor will send promotional and other Program-related messages to the e-mail address provided at the time of registration. By registering for the Program, each Member consents to receiving these messages. Members may opt-out of such Program communications by:

(i) sending an e-mail message to membercare@liveitwithcharter.com with the word ‘unsubscribe’ in the subject line;

(ii) sending a written request including your email address, name and account number to Sponsor at P.O. Box 290, Attn: Live It With Charter, Milford, OH 45150;

(iii) calling Sponsor at 1-877-654-8348 between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday; or

(iv) clicking on the “unsubscribe” link located at the bottom of all Program e-mail communications.

Opting out of receiving Program-related messages will not automatically remove a Member from any other e-mail distribution list maintained by Sponsor. To learn more about how to opt-out of all of e-mail lists maintained by Sponsor please see ‘Your Privacy Rights’ at www.charter.com.

Release For Use of Name, Likeness, Etc.

Establishing a Program Account and/or otherwise participating in the Program constitutes a grant of permission to Sponsor and its parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries and agents, and those they may designate from time to time, to use, reproduce, exhibit, distribute, disseminate and display the Member’s name, image and/or likeness for purposes of trade, publicity or promotion or other commercial purposes, in all media and formats whether now known or later developed, in perpetuity, throughout the world, without any additional notice or compensation (except where prohibited by law). For example, and without limitation, Sponsor may promote the Program by featuring the names and photographs of certain Members who have redeemed Points for Rewards on the Program Website. Do not establish a Program Account if you do not consent to the use of your name, image and/or likeness as permitted hereunder.

Program Changes and Termination

Sponsor may, in its discretion, change these Terms & Conditions and/or any other rules governing the Program, including those relating to the accrual and redemption of Points, credits and discounts and any other benefits, at any time with or without notice. This means, among other things, that the accumulation of Points in conjunction with the Program does not entitle any Member to any vested rights with respect to such Points. Any potential Reward offered pursuant to the Program may be withdrawn or subject to new restrictions at any time. All Rewards available through redemption of Points or otherwise in connection with the Program are subject to availability. Sponsor reserves the right to eliminate, add, change or substitute participating Merchants without notice. Sponsor may in its discretion change the selection of Rewards or stop offering any particular Reward at any time. In the event a Reward is unavailable after the Reward is ordered in a redemption transaction, the only remedy will be for the appropriate number of Points to be restored to the Member’s Program Account.

Sponsor is not responsible for changes to, or discontinuance of, any Merchant, any Merchant’s withdrawal from the Program, or for any effect on a Member’s ability to accrue Points caused by such changes. Sponsor is also not responsible for changes to or discontinuance of any special offer or coupon offered by a Merchant.

Sponsor reserves the right to terminate or suspend the Program at any time without notice. Points not redeemed or otherwise used as of the termination date of the Program will be forfeited.

Violation of Terms & Conditions

Sponsor reserves the right to disqualify any customer from participation in the Program (and to invalidate all Rewards) if, in its discretion, Sponsor determines that the customer has violated these Program Terms & Conditions or has attempted or intends to interfere or tamper with the proper operation of the Program or has engaged in any other conduct that Sponsor in its discretion deems to be detrimental to the operation of the Program.

Sponsor has the right to monitor all activities relating to participation in the Program, including, if appropriate, by auditing Member Program Accounts without Member consent. If required by applicable law, or if a Member violates any of these Terms & Conditions or the terms and conditions of an offer related to the Program or otherwise interferes or tampers with the operation of the Program or attempts to do so or has engaged in any other conduct that Sponsor in its discretion deems to be detrimental to the operation of the Program, Sponsor may freeze such Member’s Program Account and refuse to credit Points to the Program Account, allow redemptions and/or apply credits for purchases at the Charter Mall(TM). A Member whose Program Account is frozen may call Sponsor at 1-877-654-8348 between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday for more information. If usage of a Program Account shows signs of fraud, abuse or suspicious activity, Sponsor may close that Program Account, rescind any Points and/or reverse any credits applied to a Billing Statement. Sponsor reserves the right to take legal action against any Member who engages in fraudulent activity and may hold such Member liable for monetary losses to Sponsor and/or any third party vendors, including litigation costs and damages. Any Member who willfully violates these Terms & Conditions or engages in fraudulent activity may not be allowed to participate in the Program in the future.

Errors

If Sponsor believes that a clerical, billing or accounting error has occurred Sponsor reserves the right to correct the record of (i) Points awarded to a Member’s Account and/or (ii) credits applied to a Member’s Billing Statement pursuant to the Program. Questions regarding corrections and disputes regarding Program Accounts must be directed to Sponsor via telephone at 1-877-654-8348 between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday. Members must provide Sponsor with notice of any error within sixty (60) days of the transaction in question. Sponsor, and, if applicable, a third party vendor, will conduct an investigation and communicate the results and correct any error that Sponsor verifies as soon as the investigation is finished. If no error was found, Sponsor will provide an explanation. Each Member is responsible for monitoring his or her Program Account and Program transactions closely. In the event of an error, a Member’s exclusive remedy will be the crediting of the Points or applying of the credit in question, as applicable, or such other alternative comparable benefit as determined by Sponsor, which will have no additional liability whatsoever.

Non-Liability; Release of Claims; Taxes

All Rewards are provided “AS IS.” Sponsor makes no warranties or representations, express or implied, with respect to the Program or any Reward or other benefit, product or service that may be offered through the Program, including, but not limited to, any implied warranty of merchantability or fitness for intended use or a particular purpose or any warranty arising by statute or otherwise in law or from a course of dealing, performance or usage. Any warranty that is provided in connection with any Reward is provided solely by the manufacturer and/or service provider and not by Sponsor.

By participating in the Program, Members release Sponsor from all claims and liability of any kind regarding participation in the Program or the receipt or use of any Reward, or otherwise arising from or in connection with the Program, including without limitation claims or liability relating to personal injury, property damage or loss or death. Without limitation of the foregoing, Sponsor will not be liable to any Member, or anyone claiming through any Member, for any delay in or failure of delivery of goods or services, whether by Sponsor or by a third party, relating to the Program, or for any direct, indirect or consequential damages, or lost revenue or profits, arising out of the acts or omissions of Sponsor, any Merchant or any other third party in connection with the Program.

Each Member expressly agrees that participation in the Program, redemption of Points in the Program and the acceptance and use of Rewards are at such Member’s own risk. Each Member assumes all risks of loss, injury or damage of any kind and death in connection with the participation in the Program and the acceptance or use of any Reward. NEITHER SPONSOR NOR ANY OF ITS PARENT COMPANIES, AFFILIATES OR SUBSIDIARIES, OR ANY OF THEIR DIRECTORS, OFFICERS, EMPLOYEES OR CONTRACTORS, WILL HAVE ANY LIABILITY WHATSOEVER FOR ANY DIRECT, INDIRECT, SPECIAL, PUNITIVE OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES RELATING TO A TRANSACTION PURSUANT TO THE PROGRAM, ANY REWARD PROVIDED TO MEMBERS PURSUANT TO THE PROGRAM, ANY ERRORS OR OMISSIONS IN CONNECTION WITH THE PROGRAM OR ANY FAILURE BY ANY MERCHANT OR OTHER PRODUCT OR SERVICE PROVIDER TO HONOR ANY APPLICABLE PROMISE OR OBLIGATION, WHETHER IN AN ACTION UNDER CONTRACT, TORT OR ANY OTHER THEORY. THESE LIMITATIONS SHALL APPLY NOTWITHSTANDING ANY FAILURE OF ESSENTIAL PURPOSE OF ANY LIMITED REMEDY. CERTAIN JURISDICTIONS DO NOT ALLOW LIMITATIONS ON IMPLIED WARRANTIES OR THE EXCLUSION OR LIMITATION OF LIABILITY FOR CONSEQUENTIAL OR INCIDENTAL DAMAGES. IF THESE LAWS APPLY TO YOU, SOME OF THE ABOVE DISCLAIMERS, EXCLUSIONS OR LIMITATIONS MAY NOT APPLY TO YOU.

Sponsor is not responsible for late, lost, delayed, corrupted or incomplete e-mails or other communications, incorrect or inaccurate capture of, damage to, or loss of Member information, or any other human or technical errors of any kind relating to the Program. The foregoing includes, without limitation, any late, lost or delayed e-mails concerning bids or bidding periods. Sponsor is not responsible for undeliverable e-mails resulting from any form of active or passive e-mail filtering by a user’s Internet service provider and/or e-mail client or for insufficient space in user’s e-mail account to receive e-mail.

Sponsor has no control over and is not responsible for the content of, or claims made on, the websites of Merchants linked from the Program Website. The terms, conditions, warranties and representations associated with any transactions between a Member and a Merchant are solely between the Member and the Merchant.

Members are solely responsible for any taxes, including sales tax and/or income tax, associated with accrual or use of Points or otherwise arising out of participation in the Program, unless otherwise expressly stated in writing by Sponsor in advance of a transaction hereunder. Please consult with a tax professional for income tax advice relating to participation in the Program and/or receipt of a Reward.

Only the individual in whose name a Program Account is registered will be entitled to access that Program Account. However, Sponsor complies with court orders and subpoenas and cooperates with investigations by state and federal agencies. If requested by such authorities, Program Account information may be shared with others with or without the knowledge or consent of the Member who name appears on the Program Account.

Governing Law

These Terms & Conditions will be governed by and construed in accordance with the internal laws of the State of Missouri, without application of conflict of laws rules. Any disputes regarding or arising out of or relating to these Terms & Conditions shall be heard only in the Circuit court of St. Louis County, Missouri or the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. Headings in these Terms & Conditions are inserted for convenience only and in no way alter, amend, modify, limit or restrict the terms of participation in the Program or obligations of Members under these Terms & Conditions.

 

 

 

The Program sponsor is: Charter Communications Operating, LLC, 12405 Powerscourt Drive, C-3865, St. Louis, MO 63131-3660.

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Is your ISP hijacking YOUR browser search preferences?

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Many Internet Service Providers are overriding your choice of search engine on your own computer so they can show their OWN search page and advertisements, regardless of what you chose for your search provider.  Yes, this is slimy and unethical, but what can you do about it?

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First, you need to test to see if your ISP has actually hijacked your browser’s search settings.

Do this:  In your browser, set your preferred search engine:

  • Chrome:  Open the wrench menu, choose “Options”, in “Search” section, pick a search provider, any one of them.
  • FireFox:  [Alt]+[D], type about:config in the address bar, then [Enter].  find browser.search.defaultenginename and set it to Google or Yahoo or Bing.
  • Inter Explorer:  Stop using this browser and use Chrome or FireFox.

Now, in your address bar, type a search term like, stop sopa then hit [Enter].  Did your search results show up in your selected search engine?  If not, your ISP has hijacked your personal preferences.  What do you think about that?  You like it?  You like that someone else has decided they know better?  Of course you don’t.  Now, call your ISP and bitch.  Bitch like it’s going out of style.  What right do they have to do that to you?  Then, read below to find out how to override their hijacking.

Did you search come up in your chosen search provider?  Still doesn’t mean your ISP didn’t hijack it.  It just may be that the search provider you chose is the same one your ISP chose.  Now, go back up to the bullet list and change your search provider to something else and repeat your search.  Did it come up in the new search provider?  Then you’re golden.  Your ISP has NOT overridden your choice.  But what if they do in the future?  How can you prevent it from happening in the first place?

How to tell your ISP to go to hell and tack control back of your search preferences:

You need to change your computer’s DNS settings.  Don’t be intimidated.  It’s easy.  Here’s how in Windows 7:

  1. Open your start menu and type “network and sharing center”, then click the name of your network as in the section below below:
    1. image
    2. image
  2. Click the “Properties” button.
    1. image
  3. Then select “Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCPIPv4)” and click “Properties”.
  4. In the “Inter Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4) Properties” dialog box, in the lower half for DNS server addresses, WRITE DOWN WHAT’S THERE IN CASE YOU NEED TO CHANGE IT BACK!!!!!  Then enter the values shown below:
    1. image
  5. Click OK, OK, then close.

Go back up to the top to verify your search provider preferences are now respected.

So, what did we actually do?

When you type in a domain name like CSharpner.com, your computer doesn’t know how to get to the server that hosts that web site.  Your computer has to get to web sites via their IP addresses.  So, the structure of the internet has servers that will convert the domain name you provide into a current IP address for that site.  These servers are called Domain Name Servers (DNS).  There are thousands and thousands of Domain Name Servers, but you only use 1 or 2.  Your ISP has their own DNS servers and most likely, your computer is using THEIR DNS servers.

Now, here’s what normally happens when you enter an invalid domain name:  Your bad domain name is sent to the DNS servers, which don’t find it and return an error that your browser then displays, unless you have a default search provider set up in your browser.  In that case, instead of displaying an error, your browser then submits that text to your preferred search engine and then displays the results.

So, here’s what your ISP did to hijack your preferences:  When you enter an invalid domain name, instead of your ISP’s DNS servers returning an error to your browser, they instead do NOT return an error and will do their OWN search with a search company they’ve partnered with to get a percentage of the advertising revenue.  So, your browser will NEVER receive an error from your ISP’s DNS servers, hence your search preferences in your browser are never used.  You’ve now been hijacked.

What we did with the instructions above was told your computer to NOT use your ISPs DNS servers, but instead use some free DNS servers whose IP addresses happen to be 4.2.2.2 and 4.2.2.3.  These aren’t the only ones out there that you can choose from.  Google hosts some.  Their IP addresses are 8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4.

Now, if your ISP did, in fact, hijack your search settings.  Call them up and let them know what you think about it.  I highly recommend switching to one of their local competitors and let your old ISP know why you’re switching.

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You’ll find an actual working versions of them at the top and bottom of this article. Please click the appropriate buttons in it to let your friends know about this article.

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Software Piracy & Illegal Downloads: Not necessarily wrong

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And not necessarily right either.

Say what?  Yes, you read that headline right.  Don’t confuse the words “wrong” and “illegal”.  It’s still illegal, but is it morally/ethically wrong?  It’s entirely possible for something to be against the law, but now wrong, such as speeding up past the posted speed limit to prevent being squashed by an 18 wheeler.  It’s also possible for something to be wrong, but perfectly legal, such as being rude.  So, let’s not confuse the 2 terms and note which word I chose in my headline!

The RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) and the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) would have you believe that downloading one song is the equivalent of walking into a record store and stuffing a Lady Gaga CD down your pants and sneaking out the door with it.  They would have (and have had) judges believe that allowing 24 songs to be downloaded from your PC is the equivalent of a major crime ring stealing 100,000 CDs worthy of a fine of nearly $2,000,000.  They would have (and have had) a UK court believe that simply providing a hot link on your website to a Michael Jackson MP3 file on someone else’s website (not even offering the MP3 on your own site) deserves a harsher prison term than actually KILLING MICHAEL JACKSON!

You think those are crazy examples?  Nope!  Well, actually yes, they are crazy, but unfortunately, each one of those really happened!

But, let’s get back to the main topic:  The morality of downloading digital files that you didn’t pay for, whether it be MP3 music files, movie files, photos, or software.  Is it the equivalent of stealing a physical product from a store?

Absolutely NOT!  And it doesn’t take a lot of brain power to understand why.  But, apparently, the lawyers at the RIAA and MPAA don’t have enough of that gray matter to understand it, so please allow me a moment to explain it to that crowd:

You see, when you steal something tangible (like a CD or a car), the person you took it from doesn’t have it anymore!  There’s an actual loss there.  Something of value is no longer there.  Actual loss occurred.  Now, when someone downloads a file, the original file is… guess what?  STILL THERE!  The file it was copied from is unaffected.  The person that owns the original file still has it.

Hey, RIAA and MPAA… Still following along?  Good.  Now, that’s NOT a justification for copying.  That’s just an important part (a really important part) to understand.  You must understand and accept that to move on.  Denying that simple truth proves 1 of 2 things:

  1. You’re excruciatingly closed minded.
  2. You’re an idiot.

Those aren’t insults.  They’re just simple, factual observations.  It’s not possible to logically deny the fact that when you copy, the original is not gone.  Therefore, making a digital copy is NOT the equivalent of stealing something tangible.

Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean that there wasn’t a loss.  There very well could have been a loss.  But, copying, in and of itself, does not equate to loss.  There has to be something else:  That being that the file being copied was for sale.  Those two things still don’t equate to loss.  It also has to be true that the person copying the file didn’t pay for it.  But, there still has to be more.  That file would have to have been available for sale to that person at the place and the time when they copied it.  What I mean by that is say a file is only available for sale in America, but the person copying is in the U.K.  If the UK resident can’t buy it anyway, it’s impossible for there to be a loss when he copies it.  That person that copied the for sale file without paying for it would also had to have paid for it had they not been able to copy it and it would had to have been available for sale in his location.  In other words, if that person would have and could have paid for it had it not been possible to copy otherwise, yet they still copied it, then, and only then could that be a loss.

I submit that the vast majority of copying does NOT fit that category.  For example, in the 1980’s, when I was a pre-teen and teenager, the “thing to do” for all us computer enthusiasts was to share all the software we had.  I’m talking hundreds of games and utilities.  Now calm down RIAA and MPAA readers… No one’s saying that’s a justification.  Just follow along.  Now, think of that situation:  Teenagers copying thousands, or possibly even millions of dollars of software (per teenager), if you add up the retail value of it all.  Do teenagers have that much money?  No, of course not.  Hey!  I said CALM DOWN!  Again, this is not meant as a justification.  Please follow along RIAA and MPAA readers…  We’ll all pause for a moment while you unbunch your panties.

All better now?  Good.  Let’s continue…

So, back to the teenagers that copied thousands of dollars or even a million or so dollars of software.  Was that an actual loss by the software companies?  Well, only if those kids would have forked over thousands or hundreds of thousands, or in some cases, millions of dollars (per kid) had that software not been copyable.  Obviously, that is not the case, so it’s impossible to claim that they lost sales for each of those copies for the full retail value    It’s mathematically impossible for there to be a loss greater than the value of money the copier has available.

Further more, there ARE cases where pirating digital content actually HELPS sales.  How? Let’s go back to the 1980s again.  Why did so many teenagers talk their parents into buying them a home computer in the first place?  Because of all the “free” games!  Yes, software piracy kick started the PC revolution in the 1980s.  The possibility of free software caused more sales of hardware.  And, as a natural feedback loop, once people had the hardware on hand, they were now entered into the software market.  No one will buy software if they don’t have a computer!  So, even though lots of software was pirated in the 1980s, it let to a larger market, which in turn, led to more software sales.

The point is not to legally justify digital pirating.  The law is clear.  It’s against the law.  But, on the moral front, there ARE cases where it actually HELPS!  That environment in the 80s actually got ME into computers and since then I’ve spend probably over $100,000 in hardware AND software!  Not only that, but because I’m an expert in my field, I have somewhat of a rippling effect of software and hardware purchases due to my recommendations.  I even brought other people into the computer market in the 80s that otherwise probably wouldn’t have until the mid to late 90s, increasing both hardware and software sales.  So, there was most definitely a net GAIN.

Take another example:  Say a really expensive piece of software like some high end CAD software or 3D rendering software… Some teenager gets ahold of a copy and learns how to use it, decides that’s what he wants to do in college, gets a degree, gets a job, starts a business and BUYS CAD software.  When teenagers pirate software, many times it creates a whole lifetime of a career including all the hardware and software they purchase along the way.  And, since the teenager could never have purchased the software in the first place as a teenager, it wasn’t even a lost sale.

Now, what about today and what about music and movies being copied and shared online?  Let’s take some real life examples.  It’s not unusual for college students to amass a library of say 100,000 songs.  If they were to pay for those, it’d be $100,000.  Clearly, no college student is going to (or even COULD) spend $100,000 on music files.  They’ll never even listen to the vast majority of them.  Clearly, the vast majority of that collection does NOT represent lost sales.  There’s no way those sales would have EVER occurred.  In fact, many studies show that as people download songs for free, they get exposed to new music they’d have never been exposed to in the first place, generating new interest in new artists, eventually generating actual sales!  Again, this is still illegal, but is it immoral?  In many cases, it is an emphatic “NO!”

Got it RIAA and MPAA members?  Good.  Apologies to everyone else that followed along with something they already knew and was so blatantly obvious, but someone needed to point this out to them.

What do you think about the claims by the RIAA and MPAA that every illegal copy is truly a full lost sale?

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Review: Toshiba Satellite L775-S7309 Notebook PC

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Toshiba’s Satellite L775 Notebook PC is a great bang for the buck, so much so that I bought it myself.  I’ve avoided laptops for, well, forever, because for whatever laptop you could buy, you could by much more computing power in a desktop for the same money.  I’m a tech junkie and spend too much time browsing around stores like BestBuy.  Every time I’m there, I examine the notebooks and every time I’m sorely disappointed at the high prices and lack of power.  I’ve never found anything worth using under $800 or so.

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Finally, after years and years of browsing through the laptop aisle, I finally found a laptop with enough power and a low enough price, and, this one’s radically important for me, a high enough resolution (vertically) for me to personally get some programming done.

[Here’s my affiliate link to this notebook on Amazon]

So, let’s get into this PC’s specs:

image

Feature Value
Screen Resolution 1920×1080
Screen Size 17.3″
Screen Aspect Ratio 16:9 Wide Screen
RAM 4GB DDR3 1333Mhz
CPU Intel Core i3-2330Mhz CPU, 2.20Ghz
Hard Drive 500GB
Mouse Touch Pad w/ Multi-Touch
Keyboard Full keyboard with full number keypad.
Ports 3 2.0 USB, 1 HDMI, 1 RJ11, 1 VGA, Power, Media Card reader
Optical Storage DVD +/-R/RW with LightScribe (The drive can print images on the label of your DVDs if you buy the right kind).

What’s Good about it?

The price vs. performance is the best I’ve found – ever.  With all of the specs above, I was able to get it for under $500.  And, all other notebooks I ran across with a vertical resolution over 1024 were nearly $1,000 or more.  With 4GB of RAM and a 500GB HD and a Dual Core processor, it’s plenty powerful enough for most anything I’d need for a computer on the go.  All I really needed was something with a decent screen size to remote control my home desktop, so power and hard drive space weren’t really all that important for me, but this one’s got enough to use it as an actual computer as opposed to just a remote terminal.

I was also pleasantly surprised to find out that the touch pad is a multi-touch pad.  Yes, you can pinch to zoom.  It has built in wireless networking (as should be expected by any modern laptop) and a full size, wide keyboard.

What’s NOT to like about it?

It gets HOT…. REALLY HOT!  If you put it on your lap, you left leg will burn.  You’ll get actual flesh burns.  Also, and I find this unacceptable (aside from the low price); where you rest your right palm while typing gets really hot too… hot enough to cause bodily damage.  They actually have warnings about these 2 hot spots.

The volume is pretty low.  You’ll have to turn it up to max for most things to hear it.  And, even though I mentioned the full size of the keyboard and the large screen as an advantage, it makes the whole unit pretty big… a little too big for a notebook, but if a compact size isn’t an issue for you, then this won’t be a problem.  It fits nicely in my notebook backpack.

Installed Software

It comes pre-installed with Windows 7 Home Premium.  They are also guilty of shoveling on lots of other software.  Here’s a list of some of it:

  • WildCoins games.  Lots of fairly decent games, including Pac-Man (you can NEVER go wrong with Pac-Man!)  imageBut, you’re given a handful of virtual coins and can play the games with your virtual coins, but when they’re used up, you’ll have to purchase the games(s) you want.  Also, if you run the game launcher, it’ll install an icon on your desktop EVERY TIME YOU RUN IT!  I like to keep my desktop slim on icons and this stupid thing keeps adding an icon on my desktop, against my will, without asking, without warning.  Shame on you WildCoins!  And shame on youToshiba for lowering your standards to allow this.
  • Corel LabelOnce – This app let’s you design labels to print directly onto your CDs and DVDs (if you buy the write kind of discs made for this).
  • Google Chrome
  • NetZero dial up software?  Really?  What centuryis this???
  • Skype – Not something I’d install for myself and easy enough to download if you want it.image
  • Toshiba utilities – Lots of Toshiba specific utilities, including making your own rebuild media discs.  This is inexcusable to NOT provide the Windows Media discs.  It would cost Toshiba maybe $1.  But since they didn’t it will cost YOU many hours of babysitting the computer while you’re burning DVDs, making many trashed “coasters” in the process.
  • Microsoft Office 2010 – Don’t get too excited… The filesare there, but if you don’t have an install key, you can’t use it.
  • There was some anti-virus demo app on it too… either McAfee or Norton… don’t know, don’t care.  I uninstalled it and installed Microsoft’s free “Security Essentials”.

Battery Life

Of course, no mobile device review is complete without talking about battery life.  Toshiba has pre-installed some software to maximize and monitor your battery and your enabled features.  It will dim your screen, slow down the CPU, stop spinning the hard drive, etc… to reduce power consumption.  It’ll even give you a score of green leaves (a little annoying if you’re not a tree hugger), and a real time graph showing power usage so you can tune things to get a good balance of performance vs. battery usage.

Conclusion

I’ll end this review where I started it.  This is the best value vs. performance notebook I’ve ever seen… so much so that I bought it… I’m even writing this review with it.  Let’s put it this way, on a 5 star scale, ALL prior notebooks I’ve run across would never score more than 2.5 because of the ridiculously high prices and unusable low screen resolutions.  This is the first one I give a higher score to.  I’ll give it 4 stars out of 5.  If it weren’t for the painful heating and lack of install media, I’d give it a full 5 stars.

[image%255B23%255D.png]

[Here’s my affiliate link again to this notebook on Amazon]  (I don’t provide affiliate links to products I don’t use myself or that I don’t want myself.  This is one I definitely use myself).

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You’ll find an actual working versions of them at the top and bottom of this article. Please click the appropriate buttons in it to let your friends know about this article.

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